In discussions with women who come to Vermont’s Green Mountain at Fox Run, I frequently hear stories about the out-of-control urge binge eaters sometimes have to prepare for binges as the end of the week approaches. The excitement, the planning, the shopping around for just the right foods. And then wishing they weren’t dealing with food addiction. A frequently-heard comment: “At least I am not at home alone for the evening; I have my food.”
This is what I hear:
I am burnt out by Friday
I don’t want to talk to another human being
I want relief from the stress
I am looking for escape
In our discussions, we talk about why and how the binge eating works for many of us. As we binge, our brain releases dopamine and we then feel soothed—at least while eating. What can follow is a sense of despair and feeling disgusted. This process disconnects our heads from our bodes and we no longer have to feel the emptiness or stress or loneliness in the moment. Although a cycle can ensue.
What to do about this habituated pattern around which a binge eater organizes her week?
We start with the process of problem solving. Just taking guesses and starting to look within and most importantly what would help you not feel so alone. Someone might realize during that process, for example, that at this time in her life she feels so burnt out from giving her energy to others and leaving almost none for herself.
The strategy she might choose to focus on is to front load stress management in her week, deciding to start filling herself up in small ways throughout the week so that the depletion was not so extreme on Friday. The tools she might choose could be:
- Get a massage
- Email a friend she had made at Fitwoman so she could get support using the plate model
- Go out for a 10 minute walk each work day at lunch
What is one small step you can take to fill up?