Why do you want to binge? A client example
On last week’s episode of my podcast, I was talking a little about eating whatever we want and how that’s actually a healthier way to approach food than from the fear and control that drives, "I can eat this but can’t eat that" type of thinking.
Eating what we want is our birthright - but it’s gotten associated with being “unhealthy” because often, we struggle with wanting to eat things that help us feel our best.
We feel like all we ever want to eat are the things we know make us feel like crap.
But, when that’s the case, it’s not a sign that we need to try harder to control ourselves and not eat the “bad” foods… it’s a sign that we have to change WHY we keep WANTING to eat the things that make us feel like crap.
Changing that why is the key because it’s what drives all our choices.
Why do you want to eat in ways that make you feel like crap?
Some messages I recently got from one of our newest members in the CEA are a beautiful real-time example of some of what keeps us from wanting to eat things that help us feel our best -- an example of the things that drive self-sabotaging or self-destructive eating patterns.
Her message started with, "I’m on the verge of a binge".
She went through some of the new practices she’s been learning since starting the course, got a few answers on her own from that, and then reached out to me via text.
Like I said, the following is a great example of why it’s so vital to understand WHY WE EAT - to understand what an ENORMOUS role our thought and behavior patterns play in the choices we make for our bodies.
And since I’m sure you’ll probably be able to relate to soo much of what she said, I’m sure it’ll be helpful for you.
Anyway, she started with, I feel like I’m about to binge.
After going through her practices to uncover why she felt like she wanted to binge, she heard “I just don’t care”.
She went through more digging into why she didn’t care and said,
“I really feel like I need to workout, to move etc but I couldn’t because after work I had to get my daughter and had stuff I needed to do. Then started feeling guilty because I didn’t work out and don’t work out as much as I used to so I beat myself up about motivation. Then I started feeling really bad about myself, yelled at my daughter and felt even more guilty, then yelled again after promising myself I wouldn’t. Now I just feel awful.”
Keeping in mind that we treat ourselves the way we believe we deserve to be treated and we tend to use food to numb uncomfortable emotions, can you identify what might have been driving her to feel like she wanted to binge in that moment?
I’m sure you can but we’re going to do a little bit of a deep dive into all of that because I’d be willing to bet you’ve said all of those exact things to yourself, too.
It started with the thought, I need to workout and the knowledge that in that moment she couldn’t.
The first question to consider here is WHY was she telling herself she needed to workout in the first place?
Was it because her body was sending her messages that it was genuinely craving some movement and she was tuned into and listening to those messages… or was it more likely because of the pressure she puts on herself to look perfect and be fit?
Well, if it was simply a matter of her body craving some movement, there were likely any number of ways she could have gotten in a little movement when she picked her daughter up.
But if it was because of the pressure she was putting on herself to keep up appearances and be fit… she wouldn’t even think about that because she knows what she needs to do to produce the look she wants and if she can’t do that workout, why bother doing any?
So right there, we know that this “I need to workout” thought is coming from brain - it’s coming from fear and the need to control - in this case, specifically the need to try to control what her body looks like or can do.
So it starts with a thought in the brain “I need to workout” ...a thought that’s likely driven by fear - and has nothing to do with what the body actually needs.
Because again, if it was about just tuning in and listening to her body and her body said, I want to move.. She could have played chase with her daughter or danced with her or something for a few minutes.
Her body would have gotten what it needed, her daughter would have had fun with mom, and she wouldn’t have had that initial, “I feel so guilty for missing a workout” thought that made her feel bad about herself.
Because if she wasn’t feeling bad about herself and had given her body what it needed, she may felt less stressed and have been less likely to yell at her daughter, which would have eliminated all of the “I’m a bad mum” thoughts… and feelings.
And everything would have turned out differently.
But that’s not what happened. What happened was that she was repeating a pattern she’d likely been repeating for years.
A pattern that started with fear.
The fear of not being good enough as she is.
That fear drives the need to have a perfect body, and be a perfect mom.. Perfect wife, employee, daughter, sister, friend…
It drives feeling like if we aren't perfect in everything we do, we’re bad.
So she feels guilty about missing a workout because she’s telling herself she’s supposed to get a workout in - when she doesn’t do what she thinks she should do, she tells herself that’s bad.
That she’s unmotivated, which she’s also telling herself is bad.
So all of those THOUGHTS are what created the feelings - they’re what made her feel guilty, and bad about herself.
So it started there… with those original thoughts that made her feel bad about herself. She picked up her daughter while already feeling bad about herself.
And what happened? She yelled at her.
What happened when she yelled at her? Again, she told herself that was bad - that she must be a bad mum for yelling at her kid.
And when she tells herself she’s a bad mum, how does that make her feel?
It makes her feel like… a bad mum.
She feels like she’s a bad mum because she’s telling herself she is one.
So now here she is feeling guilty and bad for missing a workout because she told herself it was bad to do that.
On top of that she feels like a bad mum because she told herself she was one.
She went on with some other things from earlier in the day that contributed to her feeling so badly about herself but we won’t go into them all.
Let’s just stick to these.
So those things then make her feel bad about herself, as a person.
It started with a thought. That’s it.
The initial thought created a feeling.
The feeling created more thoughts and feelings and then, they drove her actions.
Because that’s what they do. That’s actually what feelings are designed to do.. Produce an action.
Whenever our brains sense a problem… like uncomfortable feelings… they look for a solution.
And for those of us who use food self-destructively, our brains have associated food with the solution to almost every problem… so when we feel bad, or something we don’t want to feel… our brains immediately send out a signal for food…
and the worse we feel, the more food we may start to feel like we need.
So whenever we have behaviors that don’t serve us - like constantly wanting to eat in ways that don’t serve our best interests, we have to look at the patterns and the FEELINGS underneath those behaviors.
What thoughts and feelings are driving the behavior?
Because here we had this incredible young lady who busts her ass to create a wonderful life for her daughter… feeling like she’s a terrible mum… and about to binge as a result.
Because again… how do we treat ourselves when we feel terrible (in general or about ourselves? Terribly.
Which is exactly why, when she considered how a binge would make her feel and she asked if she wanted to feel that way, she heard… I just don’t care.
Because she felt all kinds of bad about herself and didn’t believe she deserved any better in that moment.
And… where did those feelings originate? Where did they come from?
Well, she said the feelings of guilt were because she missed a workout, and yelled at her kid. And that the feeling of being a bad mom came from the fact that yelled at her kid.
As though those feelings were completely justified - like she should feel bad about herself for those things.
And that’s what we think, isn’t it.
When we feel a certain way about ourselves, we believe those feelings to be true and we believe they’re because we deserve it… because we did something bad.
But, the only way you’d feel guilty for missing a workout is if you told yourself you should and were judging yourself because you did.
I miss workouts all the time - and I used to feel guilty in the same way she described - but I never do anymore.
Why? Because I stopped telling myself I should. I stopped judging myself as being bad or unmotivated for missing a workout.
If you stop telling yourself you’re a terrible, lazy human just for missing a workout, you’ll stop feeling guilty when you do.
And when you stop feeling bad about yourself for it, you’ll stop feeling like you need to punish yourself for it.
And again, that’s actually where the feelings came from - they came from her thoughts.
Same when she said, “I feel like a bad mom”.
She FELT like a bad mom because she told herself she was.
It started with the thought - I can’t do anything right as a mum.
Because these are likely thoughts that she’s been repeating on autopilot for years, she believes them and they create feelings - I feel like a bad mum (because I’ve been repeating that thought so long that I believe it now).
So when I asked her how she felt, and she answered with like a bad mom… I said, nope. That’s coming from a thought, not a feeling… and I asked her to bring her attention into her body and tell me what she was actually FEELING ...in her BODY.
When she did that, she said she felt stressed, tired and heavy. Her belly felt heavy. She felt tension in her neck.
As we discussed what she was feeling, WHY she was feeling it and what she actually needed, she decided what she really needed was to relax, breathe and do a couple minutes of yoga.
She messaged a while later to report that 10 minutes of yoga turned into 40 and that’s exactly what she needed - no binge desire any more and she felt a whole lot better.
Because when she took the time to uncover what she was feeling, why she was feeling it, what she ACTUALLY needed and then gave herself that, it changed everything.
When we uncover WHY we’re about eat in ways that don’t serve us, and we what we actually need instead, we’re able to start shifting those patterns - changing our choices.
Because the thing about our thoughts is that the more we repeat them, the more we believe them.
Try this… repeat, in your head, a silly random thought about yourself that’s ridiculous… I’m a pink-polka-dotted baby squirrel.
You don’t FEEL like actually are one because you haven’t spent years or even decades telling yourself you are.
Compare that to a thought you’ve heard yourself say to yourself over and over for years…. I’m a bad mum.
When you hear that thought, you BELIEVE it. You believe it because you’ve been saying it to yourself for years - every time you don’t live up to what are probably completely unrealistic expectations of yourself.
Same with the guilt over working out thing… we tell ourselves it’s bad to miss a workout ...and start feeling like we’re bad… we start feeling guilty and bad about ourselves.
Same with the things we eat.... We tell ourselves it’s bad to eat certain things, so we start feeling like we’re bad… we start feeling guilty and bad about ourselves.
And what do we do when we feel bad about ourselves? We look for ways to numb and avoid those feelings and ...we self-punish.
What better way to kill those two birds with one stone than to overeat things that make us feel momentarily comforted but then ultimately a whole lot worse, or even physically sick?
The more we repeat the same thoughts, the more we believe them. The more we believe them, the more REAL they can FEEL, the more we identify with them..
They start having the power to impact how we feel about ourselves, in our bodies and the choices we make… and when they impact the choices we make, they also impact our results.
They literally create our lives, in this way… but also, they drive WHY we eat.
When you stop and gain insight into what’s really going on, into what you’re about to make the choice you’re about to make… THEN and only then do you have any power to break the old patterns of heading straight for the food… or even a binge… and give yourself what you ACTUALLY need.
And when you start breaking those patterns and tuning back into your body, you start hearing it when it tells you what it actually needs…
And THAT’S how body and self-trust starts being rebuilt.
Joining the CEA comes with many benefits but one of the most impactful is this… the ability to reach out to me in real-time when you’re struggling the most so we talk through exactly what’s going on and make a plan that will not only help you feel significantly better in the moment, but also start changing those patterns long term.
Cognitive Eating Can Help You
The Cognitive Eating Academy combines a wide range of scientifically proven modalities into an easy-to-follow step-by-step process that helps you understand why you can't stop eating in ways that don't serve your best interests and how to change it. It has been meticulously crafted and tested for almost three years with one goal in mind - helping you move past all the things that are keeping you stuck repeating the same self-destructive patterns so you can find peace and start living and feeling better.