Summary: Be Mindful, Love Yourself
Background: I read the post outlining tips to stop overeating (good info) and I thought I would add my $.02 about a subset of overeating behavior known as binge eating. Binge eating involves the complete loss of control and frenzied consumption of hundreds and often thousands of calories in a single sitting.
This is a problem that I have struggled with for most of my life stemming from a childhood trauma (I know, I know, boo-fucking-hoo!). It resulted in me becoming morbidly obese. And, while I am still extremely fat, I have almost completely eliminated the extremely destructive binge episodes from my life. Now I just have the same problem regular fat people do, but I'm well on my way to a healthy weight having lost about 50lbs with another 100lbs to go.
Obviously, this post isn't for everyone. Binge eating is rare, but if you've got it then here are the two ways that I overcame my own binge disorder (also 4 dry grams of psilocybin mushrooms, but that's another story for another post).
1. BE MINDFUL
Mindfulness is an incredibly powerful tool. I recommend it in general, as an important aspect of a man's life.
Mindfulness involves shifting your focus to become attuned to details in the present moment. It means to stop thinking about the past or the future and simply check in to what is going on right here and now.
When I binge eat, it is as if my eyes roll into the back of my head and I lose control. I am using food to numb myself. Mostly to numb myself from negative emotions, such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, and self-loathing.
What I practiced doing was to purposefully check back in to the moment. I would not try to stop myself from binge eating. I would simply force myself to become aware and present during the binge. Attune myself to what I am feeling as I eat. Feel the emotions that are pulling on me, experience what my body is feeling, experience what I am tasting, smelling, hearing.
Again, the important thing is not to attempt to stop the behavior. Just let it happen, but make sure you experience it fully as it happens. This is mindfulness.
At first I figured that since I was going to eat all this pizza and cake and ice cream, I might as well enjoy it. Half the time I would binge and eat so fast without paying attention I would get no pleasure at all. I would be sitting there after with a stomach ache and tears running down my cheeks (not even from emotions, but just from the physical act of shoving so much food down my throat). So I resolved that if I was going to eat all this food, I was going to at least take my time and enjoy it. I treated the binge like a frightened animal, and I made no attempt to restrict myself. I simply slowed it down and tried my best to pay attention and experience the taste and texture of the food as I ate it, if only for the sake of additional pleasure.
The hilarious thing is that whenever I stopped to enjoy the food, I immediately and automatically cut my binge in half (or more). I would eat to my heart's desire, but because I was eating slowly I would feel myself getting full and then the food started to lose its taste so I just stopped, completely freely.
Over time, as my mindfulness increased, I started to notice the triggers for the binge. It was rarely related to hunger at all. It was stress, anxiety, negative emotions. Using mindfulness, I would often counter-act these negative emotions by removing myself from them and detaching from them, and checking in to the present moment. I would still experience them in a way, but more like an observer and less like a wounded animal. And I would still allow myself to eat, but now the feelings were so faint that what used to be a whole cake and half a gallon of icecream became one slice of cake with a single scoop. I know I'm repeating myself, but I never tried to consciously limit the amount I was eating. I gave my reactive animal full permission to eat his fill, but with the condition that I would sit in on the experience and pay close attention and enjoy it as much as I could.
I don't know how to describe it, but this method is like magic (for me). It's been a very long time since I've had a full-scale binge. I still over-indulge from time to time. But it's just normal-person overeating now, and not the red-hot, emotionally charged blackout with thousands of extra calories in one sitting.
Tip- to build mindfulness, practice sitting and meditating. I like to simply sit in a quiet place and focus on my breathing. Empty your mind of thoughts, and just feel the moment. Feel your body. If a thought comes, acknowledge it, and let it go. Return to the breathing. Slow, deep breaths. That's it. I do ten minutes of this a day, and it has worked wonders in my life.
2. LOVE YOURSELF
So much of binge eating involves negative judgement of myself. I feel shitty and stressed, and I cope with this by binge eating, which makes me hate myself even more and causes more stress and self-loathing, which I cope with by binge eating, and on and on in a vicious circle.
I needed to love myself. I know it sounds cheesy, and it's the type of BS that chicks talk about and use as an excuse to stay fat. But it is so true.
My new perspective: I am just a man. I am just a human male, a homo sapien, an upstanding primate. My higher consciousness can look at my animal body in a mirror, and see a frightened, emotionally reactive creature that is destroying itself with food. Where once I felt judgment and disgust, I now detach myself from the animal. It is not me, not the deepest me. It is scared and lonely and maladapted. It is not evil. It is weak, and it needs help. It deserves compassion. It deserves love. I deserve compassion. I deserve love.
I have learned to detach my higher consciousness from my animal body and all its tumultuous, reactive emotions. And in doing so, I have learned to love myself. The same way you would love a wounded gorilla. Free from judgment or resentment or hate. I have learned to see the potential beauty in myself, the strong masculine waiting to emerge from this morbid obesity. And I love him. He has not given up. He keeps fighting, keeps trying, and keeps showing love to others despite how fucked up he is. The least he can do is love himself, just show himself the cursory amount of love and compassion that he would give to any other person in his life.
And so I have. I love myself, inasmuch as I love any man or any person. And when I fuck up or when I am weak, I forgive myself and encourage myself to do better next time, instead of beating myself up and abusing myself with vicious thoughts.
By loving myself, I have eliminated one of the biggest driving forces which was a root cause of my binge eating.
Lessons Learned: Binge eating can be overcome. Become mindful, practice being present in the moment. Detach your higher consciousness from your animal self and go easy on yourself, learn to love yourself.