Why do you want to stop binge eating?

Your answer may reveal crucial insight to your current relationship with diet culture and your readiness to embrace the intuitive eating lifestyle.

So be honest — which of these two resonates most with you:

1.) I want to stop binge eating because it is preventing me from living a fully engaged life.

2.) I want to stop binge eating so I can get back on track to lose weight.

If you answered the first one: Hey, future intuitive eater! You sound like you’re in a great headspace for recovery.

If you answered the second…you may have a longer road ahead. I say this with deep love and affection and understanding, because I get it. It’s hard to give up on a vision of that nebulous dream body that has driven the direction of your life for as long as you can remember.

Unfortunately, if your priorities continue to revolve around achieving a certain body type, it is very unlikely that you will be able to fully commit to the “eat whatever you want whenever you want it” mindset. You will likely be thinking of the weight you might be gaining, how you will lose it later, how you will offset your eating at the gym, etc etc etc. In short, you won’t be committing to the trust fall that is intuitive eating.

Don’t get me wrong — I am sure that there are other ways that people have found to address their binge eating. Truly! One of my favorites mantras is “A technique is anything that works.” Whatever works for you is great, because it works.

But in my personal experience trying to overcome binge eating, nothing I tried worked. Every strategy out there felt utterly unsustainable. Here are just a few of the things I tried along the way before diving fully into intuitive eating:

  • “Out of sight, out of mind” — If you just don’t SEE the food in your kitchen, then you won’t want the food….right? Haha nope. Tried it, failed it. It’s like putting a band-aid on a broken leg.
  • “Abstain from sugar” — Look, life is too short to feel bad about birthday cake. Learning about added sugars in sneaky places is not necessarily a bad thing (random example: packaged vegetable broth…why would broth need sugar? This is so odd). But living in utter terror of ingesting sugar is an entirely different story, and frankly, a warning sign of disordered eating.
  • “Track calories for the rest of eternity” — Really though? This is a pretty low bar for existence.

The trouble with each of these binge eating “cures” is that they are just more diets. Rule-based, pass-or-fail, unsustainable in the real world, and incompatible with living a full life.

Before you’re really ready to ditch diets forever, you have to face some difficult truths. You have to mourn the idea that you can diet your way into a different body type — if your body was meant to look a certain way, it would be able to look that way without under-eating and over-exercising.

And then you have to really, really, really mourn the idea that you can diet your way to happiness — the problems and struggles you have today will continue to exist no matter how your body changes. Even if one of those problems is a negative body image or low self-esteem! I don’t care how much weight you lose…low self-esteem will always help you find new things to fixate on. Low self-esteem is handy that way.

It’s trite, but it’s true: lasting change starts from the inside. Diets only address the symptom, rather than the root cause, of unhappiness. But self-acceptance builds a foundation for a fuller, richer life. When you’re ready for real, sustainable change, intuitive eating will be waiting for you.

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