What was it that allowed me to finally overcome my binge thoughts and binge eating? That’s a common question my clients ask.
First, I finally understood that I had grown addicted to a behavior; I was using eating as a distraction from my life. I used thinking about food, binge thoughts, and then eating, for various reasons. It was something to look forward to, a reward, excitement, a way to transition from one part of my day to the next. But mostly, I focused on food to avoid feeling—anything. Food became my only way to self-soothe. Eating became the focal point of my life. Emotional eating became a deeply entrenched, self-defeating habit.
But those important insights were NOT enough to help me change. When I had powerful food thoughts and I felt out-of-control, I thought I had absolutely no choice but to act on those food thoughts. Change did not come until I grasped the following.
I am NOT my binge thoughts!
Once I learned how to OBSERVE and MANAGE my thoughts and feelings, I stopped feeling controlled by them. I worked on getting more mindful; increasingly, I could recognize what was going on in my mind without feeling overwhelmed…or feeling the need to judge or avoid my thoughts. I learned what I call “emotional handrails”. When uncomfortable feelings hit, I noticed those feelings and then I reached for my emotional handrails to help keep me in the moment… instead of flipping on the old “mindlessness- eating switch”. Soon, the food thoughts began to lose their power over me.
Author and psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel puts it this way. “…a great transformation begins when we look at our minds with curiosity and respect rather than fear and avoidance. Inviting our thoughts and feelings into our awareness allows us to learn from them rather than be driven by them. We can calm them without ignoring them; we can hear them without being terrified by their screaming voices…”
Frankly, after so many years of overusing food for emotional reasons, I didn’t know I could calm a feeling without ignoring it…or tolerate my thoughts and survive the moment. Surprisingly, it turned out it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I just had to learn how…and be willing to practice the heck out of my new skills and behaviors–just as I had practiced the heck out of my binge thoughts and overeating :-).
If you’d like to learn more about the “Emotional Handrails” I’m speaking about, be sure to register for one of my free phone seminars. Find my next Binge Eating Recovery Seminar dates and Register Here.
I’m Ellen Shuman and for the last two decades I’ve specialized in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out Life Coaching & 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”, email@example.com, 513-321-4242.