For many years, I was ashamed of the fact that I would "binge" eat. Nobody knew, not even my family or best friends.
If you've ever binged, you know that one of these episodes encompasses a wide variety of feelings. At first you feel excited — you can barely wait to eat all of the delicious foods you've been denying yourself. Then, while you're eating and on the verge of feeling sick, you feel ashamed.
And then there's always a little twinge of excitement and hope. You tell yourself, "tomorrow I get an exciting, fresh start. I got all of these cravings out of my system, and now I am truly going to be able to stick to my diet so I can have the life I want! " But then the cycle repeats and you begin to wonder if you'll ever be able to stop.
When I started opening up about my bingeing, I got an overwhelming response. I realized this happens to a lot of successful, beautiful and smart women, and that I'm nowhere near alone in this.
I've since studied binge eating and worked with hundreds of women on helping them get to the other side. Today, I understand what I simply couldn't years ago.
If you're struggling with binge eating, here's what I want you to know:
You're not binge eating because you have a problem. It's because you've bought into outside guidance — from the diet industry, your best friend who worships the Paleo diet, or maybe even your mother who grew up counting calories.
Everywhere around you, you've been taught to believe that certain food is good or bad, and that certain behavior around food is good or bad. And you've been trained to believe you can't trust yourself and your desires around food; instead, you need to follow certain outside rules telling you what to eat.
Binge eating happens for two primary reasons:
1. You think you've done something wrong and you're ashamed.
Imagine for a second that how you ate wasn't "bad," that everything you did today was perfect. Would you still dive into a pint of ice cream at night?
2. You're deprived.
I wish I knew then that it was OK to eat bread at every restaurant, chocolate every night and wine multiple times a week. It would've saved me many stomachaches from bingeing on junk. When you diet, you ignore your intuitive desires around food, therefore you feel constantly deprived.
When I stopped labeling food as "bad" or my behavior around food as "wrong," I had no food shame left to binge away.
And when I started getting picky about what food I ate and decided to eat food I absolutely loved, the appeal to eat four ice cream cones in one night was gone.
I really wish 10 years ago I knew that there was nothing wrong with me and that it wasn't a lack of willpower that caused me to abuse food. I wish instead that I knew there was something wrong with the way I had been taught to think about food.
If you struggle with binge eating, I want you to take a deep breath right now and know that there is nothing wrong with you. If you want to truly stop binge eating, your mission should be to do the real work to unravel years of thinking about food in a confusing, black-and-white, good-or-bad way and start getting back to eating in a way that comes from your own internal wisdom.
For more information and support on how to stop binge eating, Jamie's free class can be found here.