“I was doing so well with my day until I binged and now I ruined EVERYTHING.” Sound familiar? A binge can be difficult in recovery for a few reasons. Binges tend to make us feel like all of the progress we’ve made is forever lost. The act of binging, as well as binge urges, can both make us feel completely out of control (which, ironically, may lead to the binge itself). They are also difficult because they can (often times) perpetuate a binge-restrict cycle that disrupts our body’s metabolic functioning as well as our body image and sense of self-worth.
Because simply “moving on” with your day may not always feel easy or realistic, take a look at some of the suggestions I have to figure out what works best for you. Ps, “moving on with your day” does in fact happen to be included in this list!
Don’t you dare take a step on the scale
After a binge, it’s likely that the scale will show a number that you do not feel comfortable with, or a number that you’re not familiar seeing. Binges can result with a great deal of water retention, hence, a higher weight displayed on the scale. Getting on the scale immediately after binging is the ultimate way to self-sabotage (which does nothing positive for recovery). It can feel incredibly defeating and discouraging to get on a scale following a binge. Occupy your time with things that do not involve any access to a scale. If you absolutely MUST get on a scale, hold off for at least two days.
Own up to binging and forgive yourself
Taking responsibility of the binge can actually result with a great deal of self-awareness as well as an increased sense of control. A significant piece of the “binging puzzle” is the feeling that there is a lack of control. Taking ownership of the binge (“yes, I’ve chosen to binge and yes, I also take responsibility for the feelings that may follow it”) can lead to a greater ability to identify emotions and situations that may trigger a binge, while also developing more effective ways to avoid a binge. Taking ownership of the binge also allows us to forgive ourselves. No other external factor is to blame, which places the forgiveness component directly on ourselves. This is not to assume or conclude that external factors do not play a role in what may have triggered the binge; however, we ultimately have control over how we react to the world around us, and whether or not we choose to binge as a coping mechanism.
Get back to your normal routine
The aftermath of a binge tends to go in one or two ways. 1) All-or-nothing thinking leads us to believe that because we binged at one meal, then the entire day is ruined, so we tend to continue binging. 2) We feel the need to “make up” for the extra calories, which means we restrict food intake the next day. My best advice? Do neither of these! Get back to your normal routine. If you binged at lunch, eat a balanced dinner as you typically would. Your whole day does not have to be made up of binges. On the other end of the spectrum, restricting subsequent days after binging can actually result with the binge-restrict cycle.
Get out of your environment
Staying within the same environment where binging occurred is extremely toxic right after the binge. Remaining in the same environment is a constant reminder of your actions and the feelings associated with it. Binges rarely occur in public when surrounded by family or friends. It is truly a disorder that occurs in isolation; breaking free from that isolation following a binge can serve as a way to separate yourself from food and the disorder.
Move on and move forward!
Like I said, easier said than done. However, if we stay fixated on the fact that binging occurred, then we’re 1) not forgiving ourselves and 2) not progressing in recovery.As soon as we accept that setbacks WILL happen, and that there will be days we make “mistakes,” the sooner we are able to identify what went wrong, and what we can do instead next time. View binging as a learning lesson. Collect data on the emotions you were experiencing before, during, and after the binge to increase self-awareness the next time you feel that binging is an option. Most importantly, move on with your day. One binge does not have to dictate the rest of the day, or the rest of your week.