What causes a binge? I think it is a combination of tempting food chemistry as well as our own attitudes and beliefs. If addictive food chemistry were the only thing involved, there would be nothing we could do to help once we started eating. That would be very liberating on one hand – “I clearly couldn’t help it” – but not really very empowering at all.
After eating a little bit of something that has always turned into a binge in the past, the opportunity in real time lies with the thoughts about it. Noticing unsupportive thinking allows us to challenge established attitudes and beliefs like “Here we go again.” If we believe we can’t control ourselves, we surely will be right. On the other hand, even if we are scared and unsure of our abilities, the first step is opening the door to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, there could be another outcome this time. In order to do that, we must be present. Check out, and it just plays out as it always has.
My guest blogger, who has been challenging her habitual thoughts adds her insights:
When my daughter read my last blog post, she thought I must have stretched the truth to make a funny story. I did not. “Why would you eat something if you aren’t enjoying it?” she asked incredulously.
What a question! One I have asked myself thousands of times before. The truth is that not only do I NOT enjoy it, I barely even taste it. So why do I do it? “You’re a loser, a failure, a complete dud”, I hear. “Not to mention fat, ugly and disgusting! Did I mention fat?”
“Yes, you did. Twice.”
It all started to change when I was able to eat just four pieces of Halloween candy, not the whole two bags. This time, when my daughter asked that question, I stopped and thought about it. I was really curious.
Obviously, I have a strong addiction to certain foods, especially sugar, and especially, especially chocolate. Like an alcoholic who can’t stand to leave a half-full glass, or a vampire who gets that first taste of blood (yes, just like that), I must have more Hagen Daz and Halloween candy.
My solution has been total avoidance. Not one bite. Not one crumb. Not one lick. It’s worked well for me most of the time. But, once in awhile, it doesn’t. It’s been a bad day, maybe I have not eaten enough good food and I just don’t care any more. I dip a toe into the forbidden waters and, the next thing I know, I’m way over my head, drowning. Sometimes, I say to myself, “This time is different. You haven’t eaten sugar in months. You must be over it by now.” Or, “You always spoil the fun by just sitting there watching everybody eat their Kopp’s ice cream cones. Have a little fun! Don’t be a party-pooper…AGAIN!!!” Well, after that ice cream, I keep thinking about it until… well… until I do what is necessary to pass out in a sugar coma again (only a slight exaggeration). I resolve to start over tomorrow (always tomorrow), but that doesn’t happen.
Everyone knows that sugar releases wonderful feel-good chemicals into the brain, but why can my friend Pat dole out one (can you believe it? one) square of a chocolate bar to herself every day after dinner and feel satisfied and I NEVER feel satisfied? NEVER. Maybe I have a genetic mutation causing food addiction… or quite possibly it’s low serotonin… or (here’s a good one) the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls appetite) is not sending correct messages about hunger and fullness…or, or, or…. How delightfully liberating to find a cause over which I have no control. I’m really not a loser, after all!
But, damn! As tempting as it is to blame it on something, somebody… ANYTHING but me, I just can’t do it. There is no turning back now.