When I work with individuals that suffer with binge-eating or bulimia, I tend to notice that some common thinking patterns often trigger or precede the binges. Some of the thinking pattern triggers that I see very often include:
1. "I will start my diet tomorrow/on Monday/next week"
One of the most common traps for binge-eating is planning to start a diet/restrictive meal-plan tomorrow or at some point in the future. As an individual anticipates starving themselves, they use this as justification to over-eat "one last time" before they begin on their diet and make everything better. The issue I notice however - is that very often "tomorrow" never comes - and an individual just ends up in a cycle of trying a diet, failing, bingeing and then trying another diet. This pattern often leads to considerable weight-gain in a short space of time.
2. "I deserve it, I have had a tough day"
So many of the people I have worked with use food as a reward for a tough or challenging day - sometimes it is the only thing getting them through the day - and other times, on autopilot mode they just stop off and pick up their favourite treat on the way home. However the short rush from a bit of sugary/fatty food is very often short lived - and still feeling awful/stressed from their day - an individual can then reach for more and more .... to try and sustain that hit or the temporary positive feelings they got from the food.
3. "What is the point - I am fat anyway"
Many clients justify binges or over-eating by feeling that there is no point in even trying to lose weight. Their low self-esteem and confidence sometimes also means that they don't even feel as though they deserve to look and feel great.
4. "I have way too much weight lose so there is no point in even trying"
When the goal-post a client has set for themselves seems SO far away - it can be easy to just keep putting off even starting that journey to getting there. Many of the people I work with are desperate for a quick-fix or miracle cure. When they think it will take them too long to lose the weight they want to lose, they can end up feeling demoralised and then eat to make themselves feel better.
5. "I'm feeling sad/down today - so I will be "good" tomorrow"
There is nothing wrong with sometimes using food as a coping mechanism however I notice that many of my clients turn to food as their only coping mechanism whenever they feel a bit sad or a bit down. When these individuals do not have any other ways to manage these emotions or how they are feeling - this reliance on food to feel better can very quickly lead to weight gain ...often making that individual feel even worse and even more down than they did before.
6. "I am SO hungry" / "This diet is silly anyway"
I notice that binges are also often triggered when an individual feels very hungry from depriving themselves of food on a diet. The body can't actually tell the difference between starvation and a diet - so it often responds by encouraging us to eat as much as possible - just to protect us against any further starvation.
7. "I will never be able to have sugar/gluten/dairy/something else ever again so I might as well eat as much of it as I can right now"
Banning food groups, or feeling as though food groups should be banned - is also a very common trigger for binges. If you feel as though you should NEVER eat dairy or sugar again - you may just want to cram in as much of it as you can get today. I often find however that this can lead to a very dysfunctional relationship with food - and cycles of starvation and bingeing.
I work with clients to help them to change how they think and how they feel so that they can halt binges for good. If you would like support in ending your binge-eating or bulimia for good - please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 20 minute phone consultation.
"“And I said to my body, softy: I want to be your friend”. It took a long breath, and replied: "I have been waiting my whole life for this.”"