After a binge I’m sure the last thing in the world you’re going to believe is that life will actually go on. Even if you do nothing to “correct” for the food you just consumed, the world will actually continue to turn. Sure, it may feel incredibly uncomfortable and you may be nauseous or in physical pain. Especially when you have gastrointestinal problems to start with, you’re going to feel terrible post-binge. It’s normal to potentially eat foods you typically avoid (for health or other diet reasons) when the compulsion to eat overwhelms you and it does not make you a bad person. Of course, the binge can certainly be psychologically damaging, especially if you felt a loss of control over your eating during a binge, you were eating in secret, or this binge eating just keeps happening.
Been there, done that, I know it sucks (most people have, in fact, been there at some point). So what can you do now that you’ve binged? Here are 8 ways to help keep the world turning so that you don’t have to use compensatory mechanisms:
- Name the Incident
What exactly just happened? A binge is a very subjective experience. There is no set amount, but technically it’s considered a binge if you eat an abnormally large amount of food in a short period of time compared to what others might eat in the same amount of time under similar circumstance, and is likely accompanied by a feeling of a loss of control over eating during this period.So are your two cookies a binge? Not technically, but if it felt like a binge to you, label it as such so that you can track your behaviors. Speaking with your dietitian or therapist can help you to reframe the episode and label it correctly as it pertains to you and your behaviors, but I can’t very well help you do that in a brief article on the internet right now.
- Don’t Just Sit With It
You’ve probably been advised to “sit with” your feelings of fullness after meals. That’s well and good, but if you’ve just binged and feel like you’re going to explode, it’s beneficial to move your body. If you can, take a short, mindful walk. Notice what’s going on around you in order to focus your attention outwards. It also helps get your digestive system moving for faster physical recovery from the binge. Don’t plan an intense workout to make up for the binge. You’re going to feel more sick afterwards and it just reinforces the belief that eating needs to be compensated for.Check out some helpful gentle yoga videos I love which are specifically for digestion (here, here).
- Drink Up
I know how uncomfortable it can feel to put more volume into your body after a binge, but drinking water, seltzer or tea can ultimately help you feel better. The fluids will help speed up digestion and reduce bloating caused by the binge. Stick with un-caffeinated teas like ginger, peppermint and fennel to soothe your stomach.This tea has helped me numerous times.
- Do Something Else
You’re fortunate if you have someone in your life who you trust to be honest with and talk about your binge. That’s certainly the best bet, but if you don’t have someone you can confide in, do the next best thing.Get outside your head and just talk with anyone about anything. I know it might seem like you have a glowing aura around you after a binge and it seems like everyone knows, but trust me, they have no idea and they likely don’t even care what you just ate or didn’t eat.
- Eat Again
Yes, looking at food might make you feel sick, but no matter what, you still need to eat your next meal. It will help keep your blood sugar stable and decrease the potential for further binges. Keep the meal as simple as you need it to be, but have something.
- Find Out Why
What was going on that caused you to binge? Were you feeling overly hungry? Were you hungry at all? Did something happen to make you feel like you needed to eat? Were you bored? Lonely? Sad? It may feel like a lot of work to explore the reasons behind a binge, but we often keep bingeing for the same reasons, and once you figure out what your reasons are, you can work to stop it from happening again. Bring you findings to your therapy and nutrition sessions; you definitely don’t have to figure it out alone.
- Avoid the Scale
I know no one’s weighing themselves, but if you are, know that the number on the scale might change after a binge and that’s normal and you don’t need to compensate for those changes because the number will even out again.
- Forgive Yourself
That’s all there is to it. You need to forgive yourself for the binge (and potentially any compensatory behaviors) and move on. You won’t be able to move forward if you’re constantly obsessing about your past mistakes.