16. January 2014 by swissfitchick
I really can not think of any smart intro to this post, so I’m just getting straight to the point.
My last binge is far away. I touch wood when I say that, but I’m very happy about it – if I can not remember when my last binge was, then that’s a good sign. I also don’t feel the URGE to binge – which is huge, cause many times in the past (and especially in winter) I had a hard time fighting against this urge.
After several years of battling bulimia (Anorexia 1994, then switch to bulimia which was on and off. On: 1997 – 2000 off: 2000 – end of 2005 on: 2005 – around 2013 and til today – sporadically), I can say that I tried so MANY things to avoid binges and if they happened even though, to recover from them. I think that today I am in a place where I can actually share successful cognitive strategies that worked for me. Source
I’m going to focus on the recover part – cause I always got so many tips and advices on how to avoid a binge – but what do you do when it happened anyway? I think what you do AFTER a binge is just as important as what you do before.
1. Don’t think about what you ate.
When I was deep in my Eating Disorder, I ate a lot when I binged. Countless calories. Several chocolate bars, whole packs of cookies. bread worth for 3-4 breakfasts. Sugar Overload. When I sat there, desperate, empty from purging or stuffed from all the salt and sugar and I imagined how many calories just went into my body, I TOTALLY freaked out – heck that’s the reason why I wanted to get it all off as quickly as possible – by exercising excessively, gulping down pills or purging. So – the calories are there, and going crazy about it does not help. Stop analyzing. Don’t look back – it happened. Look forward. Focus on what GOOD you can do to your body now after that shock. If I have a slip up (I call it slip up, cause I don’t really feel like if I’m bingeing) I use to apologize to my body. I say sorry. That I filled it up with so much food which it can’t handle in one sitting. That I hurt it. And the next thing I do is something good for me and for my body. And that’s the next tip.
2. Go back to a normal routine right away.
I know the vicious cycle SO WELL. Oh God, it was my LIFE. Fighting, being hungry. Wanting to binge. Fighting. Giving in. Bingeing. Purging. Swallowing pills. Cardio for hours. Starving and restricting for 2 days. Fighting. Being hungry. Wanting to binge. And so on.
No matter what time my slip up is – I plan my next meal exactly the same time as I would if I didn’t have a binge. Yes – even if I feel stuffed to the top, I eat a little protein and a small portion of veggies and fat for dinner. Not only does it help the body to handle the junk I ate, but it makes me go back to my normal routine right away. The more you lengthen out the disordered behavior, the longer this binge can unfold its power. The earlier you are able to forget it and move on, the less the dominance is. I don’t mean you should ignore it – it’s important to face the emotions behind a binge – I only talk about the behavior. Go back to normal as soon as possible. Try not to compensate in extremes – cause this is the really unhealthy part – going from one extreme to the other. Rather than that, try to shift yourself into balance. You have to break the cycle and that only works if you stop obsessing im extremes.
Additionally to that, treat yourself – not with chocolate of course, but with something you love. There is obviously something bothering you and in times like these, any kind of ‘hug’ helps – if that is a manicure, buying your favorite perfume, listening to your favorite song, calling a friend or getting a REAL hug from one of your loved ones – do something to lift you up and to console your soul.
As delicious as food is, it does not hug you back. Some of it works wonders for our souls, but not if you just came from a binge. At least not for me.
And here we come to the 3rd tip.
3. Don’t restrict.
This one is critical. I absolutely know the fine line between restricting and allowing when you are bulimic. For years I wasn’t able to touch a piece of chocolate without falling into a binge right away. It was all or nothing that worked for me and only that. On the other hand of course I eyed all the food that I wasn’t allowed to eat like a hawk. And when I binged, I ate it all. ‘Just for this only time and then never again’. Yeah, SO doesn’t work. I restricted after a binge for several days by only eating green leaves or drinking disgusting juices only to step right into the next binge a few days later. So even if you feel that you ate so much bad stuff, don’t cut back on everything – you will only want it even more.
It took me a long time to figure out a balance between eating well without overeating, indulging without bingeing and enjoying food without feeling guilty and still staying in shape and reaching my fitness goals.
But I can say for sure that when I started eating balanced (that’s when I started working with Danielle back in fall/winter 2012), my cravings started to slowly disappear. I felt energized, and I lost weight – by eating more and exercising less. Interesting, right? Balanced eating for me meant to incorporate carbs into my diet, healthy fats (I used to eat almost carb-free and fat-free) as well as my favorite treats. I was still very mindful of what I was eating, cause I was terrified of gaining weight, but I finally started to eat REAL MEALS that consisted of all the nutrients my body needs. Slowly but steadily I worked my way into healthy eating habits which includes all the foods I love – from veggies to fruit to dairy, meat, eggs, seafood, fish, chocolate, cake, cheese and nutbutters. Yes, I watch my intake since I have certain fitness goals – but I ENJOY it. And that’s the main thing, Source
And yes, I had set backs and relapses, loads of them and STILL HAVE. I am not perfect at all and I have anxieties and struggles from time to time. I have disordered behaviors which I might keep for the rest of my life. But I don’t feel restricted. And most obviously, my body does not either.
4. Stay positive.
I know this one is SO hard. My mindset after a binge was a DISASTER. I was crying, screaming, I felt helpless, hopeless, like a failure, ugly, desperate, fat and unworthy. Nothing, absolutely nothing could lift me up.
To change your mindset is in my opinion the hardest, yet the most important part. Thoughts are energy, and thoughts are actions. I practise positive thinking, gratitude DAILY in my meditations since 3 years now. And I finally see great results. But this one needs a lot, a lot of patience. Bear with yourself. This does not happen overnight, but it really is something that you can practise daily with little actions. Journaling, meditating, using affirmations, praying. This comes in SO handy when you are in a difficult situation like after a binge. Even though you dislike yourself and you feel completely negative, just TRY to see something positive in the situation. Don’t beat yourself up for what happened – it does not help, it only makes things worse. LIFT yourself up. This will make you stronger every time and the more positive you are, the less deep you fall.
Here are some great sources/articles to practise and learn:
Journaling – yes or no? (jessieloves2run.com)
Stop chasing happiness by choosing happiness (runningwithspoons.com)
8 things I learned since turning 30 (fitswisschick.com)
Oh, and….don’t step on the scale. Just DON’T. Trust me. Besides that NO number defines your value, it’s just a really dumb idea to step on the scale after a binge. Or actually, in general. Toss the scale. For good. Look at yourself and say that you are beautiful. NO matter what. NO matter what (yes I intended to say that twice).