Seven Ways to Avoid a Binge in Eating Disorder Recovery

Grey wolf
A Native American grandfather was talking to his grandson about
how he felt about a tragedy.

He said, 'I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart.
One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. 
The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.'

The grandson asked him,
'Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?'

The grandfather answered,
'The one I feed.'

Cravings, urges, temptations each stimulate and lure you to the edge of action. Will you eat the ice cream or diet frozen yogurt? Will you do a drive by at your ex-boyfriend's house? Will you stay on the treadmill another hour? What is the power behind your decision?

If you are in eating disorder recovery you know that these activities are not in your best interest. But the desires are strong. Your clever mind rationalizes yet again that a binge one time more won't hurt anyone.  It's late in the day.  You'll start fresh tomorrow.

If  you act on these powerful desires and binge you will feel gratified for a short time. Then, soon after, you will feel guilt, shame, sorrow and fear. That leads you to self criticism and self condemnation. And that sets you up to crave your destructive soothing activities even more.

How can you escape this binge trap you set for yourself?  The wolves are warring within you.

One of the main reasons you are trapped is that you believe will power will stop you from a binge. Since you can't stop yourself you then believe you are weak and your self esteem plummets because you accuse yourself of not having enough will power.

To pull out of this trap you need to back up. You need to prepare well in advance to avoid irresistible lures that lead you to a binge. Your psychotherapist can help you. You will need support. But you can do it.

When do your cravings come?
  1. If they come when you are tired, make sure you get enough sleep.
  2. If they come when you are lonely, make sure you have adequate social contact.
  3.  If they come when you've been dieting, make sure you eat three meals a day and have two snacks. Don't let yourself get too hungry or too thirsty.
  4. If they come when you feel you are inadequate in the world, find ways to educate yourself and increase your life skills.
  5. If they come when you are jealous of someone, find ways to nourish yourself with activities and people so you can enjoy your own accomplishments.
  6. If you  deprive yourself of any kind of nourishment you feed the wrong wolf and set up a binge on food, a person, exercise or more. Find new and effective ways to nourish your authentic self.
  7. If you think about your binge and make it easy to indulge you are supporting self destructive urges. Keep ongoing tasks you enjoy available to give you better things to occupy your mind: e.g. hobbies, gardening, reading, music, writing, shared projects with friends.
You need little will power to avoid destructive behaviors designed to soothe emotional pain caused by your internal imbalance if you exercise compassion and nourish yourself into a healthy state.

Within you is self destructive fear and self compassion. Both are powerful forces, like the wolves in the story. Which wolf within will you feed?

Joanna Poppink, MFT

*pix  Grey Wolf, Taken at Omega park in Quebec, 10 October 2015, by Bert de Tilly 
 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.


0 # Overwhelmedshh 2016-05-28 16:42
I realise that my urge to binge is usually fuelled by feeling overwhelmed.
Unfortunately feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of everything I feel I should be doing is something that comes quite easily and quite frequently to me. Sometimes I can reach myself before the food reaches my lips, I know the drill, I know it works - sit myself down, journal for half an hour if needs be, write down 3 small tasks I'd like to achieve that day, forget everything else, put it all out of my head and just focus on the 3 simple tasks....Rome wasn't built in a day, just keep chipping away, baby steps and all that.

My challenge isn't knowing how to handle things - my challenge is to kick those actions off before I've started bingeing, or even mid-binge.
0 # OverwhelmedGuest 2016-06-08 23:42
Dear Shh,

You've been working hard on your recovery. Forgive me if I make a suggestion you've already put into action.

Do you have a regular routine of doing what you describe in your post regardless of whether a binge feels imminent?

A regular time or times spaced throughout the day where you sit, journal and write down three tasks might help you keep your equilibrium.

Prevention instead of rescue is so nice, but not as dramatic. What do you think?


(sorry about the Guest attribution above. I forgot to sign in. :))

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