Binge Eating to Numb Out


Binge eating is a frequently discussed  topic with Green Mountain alums. One woman was telling me about her desire to just numb out at the end of the day.  She was looking to the binge to help her cope with feelings, but she didn’t have a clue about what the feelings were.

I call the  process  of looking for the feelings “exploring the storm of the underneath” and often times the only way to discover the underneath is by guessing.  She guessed anger, which is a common underneath feeling for women who use food to cope.

I was reading a blog by Leora Fulvio in which she talked about retroflection which comes from Gestalt therapy.  She writes:

Retroflection is  being angry at someone else, and hurting yourself in response. Do you ever notice this happening? Have you ever felt so angry at someone and wound up in the middle of a binge?

It’s incredible how we can often hurt ourselves when we really want to hurt someone else. Of course hurting anyone is never the answer or the correct response, but punishing yourself after someone has hurt you is devastating and the last thing you need.

You’ve already been beaten up enough, you don’t need to join in. It can lead  you become isolated, lonely, and unsupported.

Even if you are not aware of the anger, frustration, disappointment, you may be using bingeing in this hurting yourself way to numb out.

Doing something as simple as free writing for 10 minutes to see if you can guess at the feelings underneath can be a way to interrupt the self punishment.

What other strategies do you use to help yourself guess about what is going on underneath?

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

Marsha has been a guiding force at Green Mountain at Fox Run since 1986. In addition to overseeing a professional program that helps women establish sustainable approaches to healthy living, she is a respected thought leader when it comes to managing eating, emotions and weight. She has been a voice of reason for the last three decades in helping people move away from diets, an area in which she is personally as well as professionally versed. An accomplished writer and speaker, Marsha is the author of six books, including the online course Disordered Eating in Active and Sedentary Individuals (co-authored by Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, Human Kinetics), What You Need to Know about Carbohydrates (Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics [The Academy]), What You Need to Know about Vitamin and Mineral Supplements (The Academy), and The Pregnancy Cookbook (co-authored by Donna Shields, RD, Berkeley Publishing). She has worked extensively on a national basis to educate the public about nutrition and the impact of dieting on eating behaviors, including binge eating and emotional eating. Active in many organizations helping to further the cause of health and wellness, Marsha currently serves as vice chair of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and vice president of The Center for Mindful Eating and has been active in the Association for Size Diversity and Health in support of Health at Every Size(R) principles.

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