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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Binge Eating Thoughts; What Did I Really Need?

Binge eating thoughtsThese days, if I ever feel I’m at risk for binge eating, actually, whenever I have a food thought these days, I calmly ask myself, “What am I asking this food to to do for me?” (That’s Empowerment Tool # 2 in our Members’ Circle. Get access with a free trial). Then, in my mind’s eye, I imagine myself reaching for food and I ask, “What will actually satisfy me, right now?”

Last Sunday, the truth that came to me had absolutely nothing to do with food.

Last Sunday I had been working on a journal article for eight long tedious hours. My colleagues and I had just learned our deadline was three weeks sooner than we’d thought…and the person with whom I was writing the section on “Weight Stigma” had an unexpected pregnancy complication. So, she was no longer available…and she was the one with the extensive research data base, as well as more experience writing academic papers for peer reviewed professional journals than I.

I had just been asked to take the lead on that section. But now, instead of feeling excited about the project, I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed, very insecure, not good enough. By 6 pm that night, I was pulling my hair out. Then, like a freight train about to run me over, the binge eating thoughts started. “I could order a pizza from Papa Johns, and get one of those huge chocolate chip cookie I saw on a commercial last night.”

The binge eating thoughts felt like they’d come out of the blue…old but familiar binge eating thoughts… all at once relieving, soothing, distracting, intrusive, infuriating!

I knew binge eating, consuming a pizza and a humungous cookie, was not going to make completing this project easier…quite the opposite!

So, I asked,”What am I asking the food to do for me?” I was clear I was asking the food thoughts to take away the stress, to distract me from the task at hand, to relieve my insecurity. “What would actually satisfy me, right now?” Then, I knew. What I really needed was emotional support…not a pizza and a huge cookie!

So, I swallowed my pride and called another member of the team and told her how I was feeling. (At first, I got her voice mail and almost hung up…but, instead, I left a message admitting how I was feeling and asked her to call me back, which she did in 15 minutes.) I have to admit, it was very hard for me to be that vulnerable with a colleague, but I was so glad I took the emotional risk. It made all the difference in the world! She said I was not alone; that we were all feeling overwhelmed due to the circumstances. She said we’re all in this together and with support, we’ll all get it done. And that’s exactly what we did. We made the submission deadline!

Sunday night, when I hung up from that phone call, I felt immediate relief. My binge thoughts were gone!

If you’d like to learn more about the skills and tools I use, personally and professionally, to combat and defeat binge eating thoughts, please  join me for one of my Free TeleSeminars…


Ellen Shuman is an experienced Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.


  1. I like this post. I am an emotional eater. Ive been aware of this fact for perhaps :years now. I wouldn’t mind but I am a woman in my mid 50s. I must admit however that I had not thought of it in terms of “What do I I want this food to do for me?” For me it has always been a case of, “I know this food is doing something for me” otherwise I would not be addicted to it or addicted to how it changes my feelings. Perhaps I should ask your question and see what it brings up. I just wish I could get over this addiction once and for all…

  2. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Recovery Coach; A Weigh Out says

    I’m glad you found the post helpful, Shirley. That question can be so useful…it creates that moment, that space between the trigger and how we choose to respond. Let us know how it works for you…

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