Tools to Stop Binging

8 December 2017, Comments: 0

You’ve likely researched recovery extensively in your quest for abstinence and will know about many of the following tools, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least briefly touch on them. The trick is actually using them. I was terrible at that before I got serious about recovery. I had a full-blown tool belt full of the best quality gadgets. I’d accumulated them over two decades, but they were just too heavy to pick up in the face of a bulimic episode. That changed when I flicked the switch from unwillingness to willingness—I went from being a little weakling with spaghetti string arms to a powerful Olympian. The weight of the tools was all in my head. I just had to begin using them.

Below is a list of practices you can implement to either decrease the urge to binge in the very moment or to decrease the number of binges coming on in the first place. There are hundreds of tools to distract or relax you, so in time you can develop a list of your own. For now, here are some that worked for me. I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Flee temptation! If the food in your fridge or cupboards is calling you, get out of the house, and do not bring money. If you have work to do, go to the library or some other safe place. Ed is tricky, and you’ll have to outsmart it. I can’t tell you how many times I did the right thing by leaving the house only to find myself buying binge foods ten minutes later. But no money = no food. Be smarter than Ed. 
  2. Call your sponsor or trusted friend. Please give up your independence, even if just for a while. You need people deeply in this stage of recovery. You need people in every stage, but particularly in this one. I found that most people are desperate for true and honest connections in this crazy digital world and are therefore delighted to be your confidant. 
  3. Go for a walk. There’s nothing like the endorphins created by exercising in nature to help ease the urge. Set your watch for 30 minutes, and just get out there. No questions, no thinking, just action. 
  4. This was an invaluable tool for me, and I think it will be for you too. Your eating disorder is trying to get real needs met in harmful ways. Writing can connect you with that cut-off part of yourself and can bring it into the light. Your unmet needs start to be exposed. Explore your feelings, your longings, the things missing in your life. Notice your negative thinking and write the opposite, as in the example above. Just explore. This distraction can be the difference between a massive breakthrough in self-discovery and healing or simply acting out in another useless binge/purge session. 
  5. Draw a hot Epsom salt bath. Then light some candles, grab a book or magazine, and treat yourself to some beautiful nurturing down time. It will soothe your soul. The magnesium will even help with any mineral deficiencies your bulimia has likely caused. 
  6. Hit the mat. Yoga is the spiritual movement and medicine my internal doctor ordered. I started yoga in my early 20s, but could never stick to it—I was just too squirrelly. But as recovery became increasingly solid, the mat no longer felt like a torture chamber. It was no longer claustrophobic. It had become a lifeline I will use for a lifetime. You might want to add it to your tool kit, too. 
  7. Get consistent sleep. Did you ever notice your resolve is much lower when you’re tired? As mentioned earlier, studies indicate most people’s optimum number is seven to eight hours each night. Do what it takes to give yourself that gift. 
  8. Eat consistent, small, nutritious meals only when hungry. If you never get ravenous, the likelihood of a binge/purge session diminishes. And if you are nutritionally satisfied, your body is less likely to scream for food when you aren’t physically hungry. To help keep portions smaller, use smaller plates—the standard American dinner plates have become huge. And before even putting something on your plate, ask yourself, is this a recovery supporter or a recovery saboteur. Then act accordingly. Only you will truly know what works for you. Lastly, only eat when you’re hungry. It may seem obvious, but sometimes the best food choice is no food at all. 
  9. Do your favorite hobby. During my first stab at recovery in the late 1990s, I loved sewing quilts. Something about all the colors and textures and design possibilities was intoxicating. I loved creating something beautiful out of nothing. I wound up teaching classes on various techniques, and it became my passion. This was the perfect recovery hobby. It was soul nurturing, and it kept my hands busy. Stuffing my face and sewing were mutually exclusive activities—I only have one pair of hands. Find a hobby that will support your recovery, and dive in. 
  10. Throw away left over food. Then pour water, coffee grinds, or anything on it that will make it repulsive. I’m not joking. Do whatever it takes to avoid a binge. If you can avoid the binge, you can avoid the purge. 
  11. Pray and meditate. This step came later down the process for me. It seemed as though at first I had to conquer unhealthy action with healthy action. Just sitting in one place in prayer and meditation would last all of 20 seconds before my squirrely mind had me up and running toward the fridge. Anything to ease the angst. But as I logged more and more free days, I was able to actually do the practice that has been prescribed for millennia. I’m not saying you can’t be praying and meditating as you go about your active day, but the prayer and meditation I’m suggesting here is a quiet, intentional, focused connection with your Source. Be still. Why? So you can connect with your true identity, your worth, your amazingness. Being totally available to not only transmit your thoughts and heart, but also to receiving Source’s highest thoughts and intentions for you. There are countless forms of quiet meditation. Just find one that works for you. 
  12. Lastly, if you sense a binge/purge coming on, again, HALT! Ask yourself, Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Then choose to address the need in a healthy way.

Remember, the more you use any of these tools and the more you resist the urge to binge, the more you will create new habits, combat your reward sensitivity, and create new neural pathways. The old channels were creating a seemingly insatiable desire to binge. The new ones will bring you recovery.

You’ve got this!

Much love,


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