Sunday, February 3, 2013

Binge, restrict, repeat: stopping the cycle.

I have received several emails lately asking me how I stopped binging.. Most of these emails have come from young women who suffered from a restrictive eating disorder and are now developing a binging problem. This post will be directed towards this group; however, the message can be applied to anyone in recovery for any eating disorder and/or addiction.

When it comes to binging, most of us feel shame, regret, and a certain degree of self-hatred. And binging is especially strange and difficult for those that once had anorexia or bulimia and later develop a binging problem. To spend so long telling yourself that food is the enemy, only to develop the problem of not being able to stop eating is a big change.

When I first started binging, I did not understand what was happening. I was anorexic, yet I occasionally snuck away at night to eat jars upon jars of peanut butter? It didn't make sense to me.
I approached my dietitian, and she told me that my body needed this food in order to recover. I had deprived myself of too many calories and nutrients, and my body was going to get them any way it could.
I was not okay with this explanation, but on some level I understood the reasoning.

However, as time went on, binging became even more of a problem. I noticed that as I moved farther into recovery from anorexia, I was moving deeper into binge eating disorder.
Binging was no longer about getting my body calories and nutrients. It became a way for me to fill a hole, to numb whatever feeling it was that I wanted to avoid.

If my boyfriend and I had a fight, I would binge. If my mother relapsed, I would binge. If I didn't make a good grade on a test, if I wasn't the best in the workout that day, if my friends did not ask me to hang out.. Soon, everything became a reason for me to binge. I couldn't picture going to bed at night without binging.

And how did I combat this horrendous habit? By exercising and restricting, of course!
I was not going to let my body gain all the weight that I had surely put on the night before by binging! I  would tell myself that the day after a binge I would have to revert to restricting.
The night of a binge I would consume maybe 2500 extra calories, on top of what I had already eaten that day, so it made sense to me that the day after a binge I should consume 500 calories or less, to balance it out.


Even if I did eat only 500 calories the next day, the following day I would binge, thereby repeating the cycle.

If you really want to solve this problem, you have to get to the root of it.
You cannot possibly get better by continuing to punish your body.
You must ask yourself, "Why did this binge happen? Did something trigger me? Did I just want to eat? Did I not let myself eat as much as I wanted during the day today (if the binge occurs at night)? Is there something that I feel pressured to do? Did I binge because I feel inadequate about something?"

Think over these questions, giving yourself ample time to answer them. Maybe write down your thoughts- that has always helped me. And then what?
Yes, I know that must be so hard, knowing that you screwed up so bad and you can't counteract what you have done. But trust me, forgiving yourself is the key to stopping this destructive disorder.

I remember hating myself so much for binging. Little did I know that this self-hatred was the reason behind my problem!
My eating disorder began to melt away as I learned to forgive myself, allowing myself slip-ups, and appreciating all of my small accomplishments.
I finally let go of binge eating when I realized that I did not HAVE to be perfect nor did I have to be thin.

Eating disorders cannot exist if you accept yourself. No one struggling with an eating disorder loves who they are; that goes against the whole idea of the disorder.

So my advice to you is to cut yourself some slack. Appreciate the things you do right. Write down 5 things you love about yourself. Write down reasons to appreciate your body. Allow yourself to eat the food that you fear the most, the food that you binge on. Eat it throughout the day, in small amounts. If you overindulge on this food, don't give up. Continue to eat it, even if it scares you, because isn't that what recovery is about: facing your fears, stepping out of your comfort zone, and exploring the world around you?

One last thing, you are going to fail. You are going to mess up. It's not going to be easy. But you can get through this. You can get better. You can recover.

Just keep swimming.
xoxo Haley


  1. Love this...I needed to read it tonight :) Love and miss you!

  2. You are an inspiration, Haley. So proud of you and happy for you!

  3. This is one of the most inspiring posts I have ever read, seriously. Thank you. And it's inspiring to hear you have come as far as you have in your recovery.

  4. Great post Hays! Glad to read this.

  5. Love this, girl! Such good advice for anyone struggling!

  6. Man, I love your posts. You strength is incredible :)

  7. You are so, so strong. I look up to you girly!

  8. I've looked up to you for a long time now. My boyfriend told me last night that he thought I was developing a binge eating disorder. Now take into consideration that I weigh a measely 103 pounds after excessively running for four years, a year in there I was running because I was concerned about my body image. Tonight I knew exactly where to go to find advice so thank you so much.

  9. Great advice! I totally understand that "not knowing what was happening" when you were restricting and found yourself eating a ton in made it even easier to deny that i had an ED

  10. Your blog is really excellent. It inspires the readers.Thanks for sharing this information and hope to read more from you in your next article.

  11. Your blog is really a good one to read.
    I really hope that I could follow suit, and I have a blog that has the similar intentions of wanting to recover.
    Please feel free to comment or just view my blog.
    Thank You,

    Anorexic Recovery

  12. I just came upon this blog and I have no words as to how much this post affected me-I feel like YOU are ME! I am barely a week into recovery from BED and it is SO.HARD. The hardest thing I have ever done in my LIFE! Please keep posting! I am going back now to read over the rest of the blog. xoxoxo


  13. Just found your blog, thank you so much, just what I needed to read after yet another failed week of trying to stop the binge and restrict (although more just plain old binge) cycle I have fallen into. Just the wake up call I needed. THANK YOU :)

  14. Good issue discuss in this blog.

  15. Thank you so much for this. I am an 18 year old guy who just came back from college and was alone at home all day, eating, eating, and eating. Tomorrow morning, this will be the first thing I look at again, and it will remind me that I need to stop binging, that I CAN. I am such a perfectionist and self-critical of myself to the n'th degree. No more. Thank you :)

  16. I really needed to hear this today
    Thank you x

  17. Thanks for be willing to share the messy parts of your struggle, as well as the hope that comes from allowing grace into your life. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read today :)

  18. You have no idea how much this post helped me.
    Thank you so much <3

  19. Thanks so much for this post! i've favourited it so i can read it whenever i feel like bingeing

  20. I've bookmarked this post, you are seriously an amazing person and I think you have helped a lot of people here judging from the comments above! This makes me have faith that although recovery is tough, although it sucks, it IS possible xx

  21. I love this. Thank you :)

  22. Thank you so much for writing with such honesty. I admire your strength and will be reading this a lot. Thank you.

  23. you are my hero :3
    thanks so much for this! it's exactly what i needed to hear at this exact moment!

    ~God Bless~

  24. Binge Eating Disorder or BED is one of the different Classifications of Eating Disorder that is very rampant in US.

  25. Thank you so much for sharing this. I struggle with binge eating (after moving through recovery from anorexia). Every night it is the same process of binging, then eating less during the day, either because I feel I must since I ate SO much the night before, or because my stomach is in such upset because of what I all ate. I know I can't keep on this way, or my health will suffer, but it's so hard to break free. I'll keep trying though, no matter what.

  26. Yeah, I had anorexia and it took 6 months to recover- from the beginning I warned them I could revert back into the habits I've had with bingeing since I was 5. I don't blame my ED team, because when they rationalized the bingeing I should have been confident enough to stop and save myself. Now I'm not overweight but as a result people find it 'funny' or 'stupid' that I went from anorexia to binge eating(from 1000cals to 7000). I don't restrict anymore but unless I'm out the house I can't stop myself. I've just been looking for someone else who's been there to make me seem less of a freak.

  27. What are your thoughts on working out during recovery? I started recovery from an RED about a month ago but I've only really started increasing my food intake within the past couple weeks. My dietician is allowing me to workout but is trying to get me to decrease times and distances. However, my psychologist and psychiatrist don't want me working out at all. I've started bingeing the past few days and have had at least one serious episode a day. It's really freaking me out. I've continued to workout as usual but I don't want the working out to create a cycle. I'm not restricting my foods the rest of the day so I want to get control of this binging before it becomes a habit!! HELP!

  28. Good for you, this was inspiring to read. It is so hard to kick certain habits, I can imagine that binge eating could be one of the harder ones to kick. I will show this to some of my girlfriends who are struggling right now.
    Cynthia |

  29. Thank you for sharing. The most helpful thing I've found my myself and my friends is blogs like this, where other people share their experiences and how they got through it. You really are an example to me, and to a lot of girls.

    Jenn |

  30. Eating Disorders are a growing problem especially in the Muslim world which should be resolved and it is possible If we spread awareness. For more information visit our blog.