Tackling Binge eating: My journey
My name is Keith and I blog over at Sleepless in Newcastle and I was asked to write a guest post about how I tackled a very large problem that affected every part of my life in a massive way. I hope you enjoy it.
I have been suffering from binge eating disorder and compulsive eating disorder for around 20 years of my life. I did seek help for it around 10 years ago and was offered some cognitive behavioural therapy which was supposed to last a whole 12 weeks! That’s right the N.H.S (National Health Service in the UK) expected the psychologist to ‘cure’ me in that short a time. In actuality I only received 6 sessions because the psychologist that I was under decided to leave the N.H.S practice for a private practice, meaning I was simply ‘let go.’ From there on I was on my own to try and work out my own ways of coping and I would like to share them with you.
Love yourself and the life you live
This is probably the hardest step to try and get to grips with and is something I still struggle with today, although with the support I have from people who read my blog and tweets it is getting easier day by day. I realised that a lot of the problems I was coming up against were because I had such a low opinion of myself. It had been drilled into me from a young age that I had to strive to be perfect in every way. This put me under huge amounts of stress as a teenager and was one of the contributing factors to the start of my binge eating.
Find your triggers for your binge behaviour
There will be triggers to what puts you in the vulnerable position for your binge behaviour to begin. If you can identify these then you have an important tool in your toolbox to start tackling the behaviours you want to rid yourself of. It is a very difficult thing to do but once you can figure this out, things can be a whole lot easier.
Practice distraction techniques to avoid your triggers
Distraction techniques were vital to my personal journey in tackling the binge eating. Once the triggers started to show themselves I was able to stop and change activity into something that distracted me from thinking about foods or the emotions that were driving me to eat. For me it was either creative writing or gaming on my computer. Anything that distracts you enough to get you engrossed will be a good combat strategy for binge episodes.
Writing therapy worked for me
I found that creative writing or even writing about my binge behaviours helped me keep a focus on how I was doing and what I was finding difficult throughout my journey. You don’t need to keep the things you write if you don’t want to, in fact it can be just as therapeutic to destroy the writing as well. I found it useful to keep a diary to see how far I have come from the beginning when my binges were the worst, to the present day.
Do things to make yourself happy. Be selfish once in a while
I spent so much of my time focussing on what everybody else wanted and how to make sure they were happy that I forgot about my own happiness. In fact, I used to make myself unhappy just to see others happy. It became a vicious cycle where I would binge because I was so unhappy but then the binges would make me feel much worse and onward the cycle would go.
Surround yourself with positivity and focus on that positivity
I am fortunate to have a very understanding wife and children who have helped me remain so positive but also I found positivity in people I have never even met. Through my blogging I found that people are interested in my experiences and the support and kind words that I have received from people has been a major factor in my recovery journey to date. In fact the author of this blog is one of those people that have helped me the most and I class as a true friend even though we have never met or spoke in person.
I realise that this is not for everyone but I found that meditation techniques helped clear my mind and break the obsessive thoughts about food. Often if I was having a rough time in dealing with my emotions and feelings I would sit for 10 -15 minutes and just relax and meditate as best I could. It helps give a good energy boost to see you through the day as well.
Celebrate the good things that happen, no matter how big or small they are
This ties in with keeping a positive outlook. If you focus on celebrating the small things it can help lift your mood and make the day just a little easier to get through. It can be something as simple as somebody smiling at you on the street or getting a phone call from a friend, right up to the big things like a job promotion or a monetary windfall. I personally use an old biscuit tin and me and my family write down the things that have made us happy throughout the day on post-it notes and put them in the tin. Every New Year’s Eve we take the tin and open it up and read all of the wonderful things that have made us happy throughout the year. It is a wonderful thing and I suggest you try it even if you don’t have binge problems!
BE REALISTIC! Change takes time and effort!
Don’t expect the changes you want to happen overnight because it takes time to change. Remember that your binge behaviour did not start overnight so ‘curing’ it won’t happen overnight either. It is a gradual process and it will take time but if you stick at it and use some of the techniques I have mentioned you will see the results start to come.
So there you have my personal journey through self-treating my own binge behaviour. I am by no means cured and I still struggle at times to deal with the binge behaviours but each day is a new challenge and each day that I manage to get through is a victory in the battle against my binges. I hope that some of these things have helped other people in their journey and I hope that I can offer some inspiration through talking about my experiences.
Sleepless in Newcastle