It's been almost a week since I "quit" binge eating and I am reminding myself often that the first 3 weeks are the hardest! But, it hasn't been as hard as I always thought it would be (before I discovered "Brain Over Binge", I posted about how I just had to accept that recovering from BED would be really hard!) Don't get me wrong, there have been some tough moments - such as when in the middle of making white chocolate mousse and it seemed like every fiber of me was yelling to eat the leftover white chocolate (Cadbury Dream, mmmm). For me, the hardest part has been figuring out what urges are "neurological junk" from the lower brain, not really me, and what is just normal day-to-day cravings and "non-hungry eating". I now firmly believe that they are two separate issues, albeit both important to tackle.
The thing is, I am wary at the moment of giving in to urges from the "lower brain" so I have been a bit scared to overeat or do any eating that wasn't pre-planned. But life isn't always pre-planned and you never know when someone is going to offer you a chocolate at work or when you go to someone's house and they offer you some biscuits with tea, or whatever. It's natural to accept those little indulgences here and there, unless they are happening a LOT. I want to live my life with full appreciation and enjoyment of food and not be so strict (except with grains and gluten of course). So I thought I would make myself a little list separating what constitutes each type of overeating.
Binge Eating Examples:
- Stopping at Coles on the way home from work to buy a block of chocolate and a pack of gluten free biscuits, then proceeding to eat them all on my bed and drink cups of coffee to wash it all down, while I zone out watching movies.
- Going to the movies with friends and buying a whole block of chocolate to eat in the cinema and eating most of it myself and being reluctant to share much of it.
- Being preoccupied about when I can next eat something sweet. If I'm at a friend's house, thinking only about how much chocolate or biscuits I can have without seeming like a pig. Planning to buy more on the way home.
- Planning to have a night in eating chocolate, then getting a call from my boyfriend asking if I want to come over, and being disappointed that I can't spend the night eating chocolate. Planning to buy it on the way there and eat it before I get there without him knowing.
- Making a batch of biscuits or cakes, intending to share them, but then eating most of them myself or even eating the whole batch myself, and then cleaning up all the utensils so no one knows I have made them.
- Planning to be really good and not eat any sugary treats, then having one, and thinking "Oh I've screwed it up now" and going on a binge because I can start again tomorrow.
- Buying a block of chocolate intended to have a little bit each day, then eating the whole thing in one day.
- When I was in high school, walking via the supermarket on the way home and buying a packet of muesli bars for me to have for morning teas that week, then getting home and eating them all.
Non-Hungry Eating Examples:
- Having second helpings of a delicious dessert at a family gathering or a party.
- Going to the movies with some friends, and getting sweets to share or just a single chocolate bar for myself (as opposed to a whole block!)
- Eating a couple of biscuits when offered them at my boyfriend's place when his stepmum makes me tea.
- Licking the spoon while making cake.
- Feeling overfull after Christmas lunch.
Well, that's all I can think of for now. The point is, the second group of examples are normal things to happen, and unless they become extremely regular occurrences, then I don't think they would come in the way of a healthy diet. For the most part, trying to eat slowly and savour your food, and asking yourself what you really feel like, are all ways that you can ensure that you don't do much non-hungry eating. Most of all, remembering that you don't have to feel guilty for indulging now and again is very important.
Today I had a big family lunch, and I had two slices of this delicious white chocolate mousse cake, but I think it is balanced out because I didn't overeat the main meal, and I didn't have much of the pre-lunch nibblies because I wanted to save room for the cake. It's around about dinner time and I'm not hungry yet, I just had a mandarin before because that is what I felt like. If I get hungry later, I will have something but for now I am content to just let my tummy do its thing and digest :)
As Kathryn, the author of "Brain Over Binge" suggests, setting a limit before your non-hungry eating is a good idea. For example, when my boyfriend's stepmum offered me those biscuits I decided that two would be a good amount and I stuck with it. Predictably, urges to keep eating came after that but I knew that they were to be ignored and it was fine.