How I Stopped Binge Eating and Started Living
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How I Stopped Binge Eating and Started Living

Brynn Johnson via Dr. Josh Axe — Food is Medicine
Oct 2, 2018

Don’t let fear of food and self-doubt hold you back from truly living. Seek the help of therapists, support groups and the people that love you. A beautiful life is waiting for you.

Most people have experienced overeating or emotional eating at some time in their life. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted occurrence like mindlessly eating a whole bag of potato chips while watching Netflix. However, some people become held captive by binge eating disorder.

Binge eating disorder is defined in the DSM 5 as recurrent and persistent episodes of binge eating. Binge eating episodes are associated with eating more rapidly than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating alone and feeling disgusted with one’s eating.

I am a recovered binge eater. I personally and professionally know the anguish this issue causes women all over the world because I am also a life coach specializing in helping women overcome binge eating behavior.

One of the most powerful ways to help overcome binge eating and disordered eating behavior is to realize you’re not alone. Once you learn about how others have fought through their own challenges, the shame lifts.

My Story of Binge Eating & How I Overcome It in 8 Steps

I would like to share my story with binge eating and how I found healing.

For me, my disordered relationship with food started in high school. The alchemy of teenage hormones, newly-realized pressure to be thin, and my perfectionism led me to try my first diet. I was 16, and I didn’t feel at home in my skin. I was gaining weight like most young women do and hated the loss of control I felt.

I compared myself to my “skinny” girlfriends and thought I should have abs like Britney Spears.

I remember finding my first diet like a scene from a movie. I was at a shopping mall bookstore, back when bookstores still existed. I walked through the rows and saw a book, a well-known 90s diet plan.

I followed the diet religiously. I lost weight and people rewarded me with glowing compliments, fueling my need for approval.

Thus, began my cycle of restriction. For the month leading up to my Junior prom, I followed my diet and took it to the extreme. After prom, I came home and experienced my first binge episode. I didn’t know it at the time but as I grabbed the tortilla chips and cheese and made a huge plate of nachos, I was in the throes of a binge.

I ate with a numb ferocity that I couldn’t understand.

For myself and the hundreds of women I’ve coached, once you have a binge eating episode, it’s almost as if something switches in your brain. You access a feeling from food that is emotional and euphoric, but only temporary. 

For years after, I cycled between food restriction, militant exercising, and powerful binge eating episodes. Over and over, the pendulum of my eating swung from one side to another. If I was eating according to my diet or set of rules, I felt in control and “good.” If I was eating outside of the plan, I was bad, wrong, immoral and ashamed at what I saw in the mirror.

Through college, my binge eating thrived. The restrictive phases filled me with hunger, fear of food and anxiety. The binge eating phases helped soothe the anxiety and shame I felt.

After each binge, I would emerge from feeling worse about my body and vowing to be even more rigorous and restrictive.

By my mid-20s, I’d sunk into an exhausted state of depression. The harder I tried to lose weight and gain control with food, the worse I felt. My body image was at rock bottom.

I was spending so much of my mental energy worrying about food that I was barely participating in my own life.

Vacations were a disaster because I was confronted with delicious food and an unrestricted schedule. I’d completely lose my mind, eat out of control and instead of making memories …

Relationships were almost impossible. It was difficult to be present and loving with a partner when I felt ashamed of my eating behaviors and my body.

I knew I didn’t want to live the rest of my life stuck with food obsession and a terrible body image. Bravely, I started the slow, hard work of ending binge eating and beginning a new, more fulfilled life…

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