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THREE common mistakes I see in Binge Eating recovery

In a world which encourages excessive consumption, I think that people can truly underestimate how tough it can be to recover from Binge Eating, no matter how big or small a part it plays in your Eating Disorder.

So today, let’s discuss THREE of the biggest mistakes I see people making in binge eating recovery as an Eating Disorder specialist and how to avoid them!

Thinking binge eating is JUST about food

Firstly, we must acknowledge that binge eating has little to do with food!

That may sound odd for me to say, but hear me out.

Binge eating is a coping mechanism to detach ourselves from unprocessed trauma. That means troubling memories or flashbacks, emotions that feel too much to hold, or negative self-beliefs we want to avoid. 

By binging, we engage in an activity that helps us temporarily distract our brains. In fact, binging may feel quite numb or robotic for you, and this makes complete sense as your mind would rather you feel that, than the overwhelming feelings attached to your unprocessed trauma. 

If you binge eat, you may also engage in other activities that allow you to “detach and self-soothe”, like overspending or excessive shopping, binge drinking, gambling, or excessively working, to name a few.

When we simply try to “stop binging” without processing the underlying traumas that we are trying to avoid, the reality is that we will relapse or move to another coping mechanism that gives a similar effect.

I’d also gently remind you here that no trauma is “too small”, and if you are ever struggling to reach out to a local service provider or accredited professional like myself.

Becoming involved with HAES

For a background on the HAES movement, I would highly recommend Kiana Dochertys video which I will link below for you, but let’s discuss in a nutshell why the HAES movement is so damaging to binge eating recovery.

Whilst I truly believe in respect at every size, because every single person regardless of their size does deserve to be respected, I cannot as an eating disorder specialist say we can be healthy at every size.

The HAES movement uses techniques akin to a high control group (aka a cult) such as bullying, alienation, isolation, and pseudoscience to convince it’s followers that their size, no matter how much weight they may have gained, is healthy. One of the many problems behind this argument is that it not only ENCOURAGES damaging binge eating, but it also, therefore, minimises the traumas that lie behind it.

Your struggles were real and incredibly impactful, and they deserve a space to be seen, heard and processed in a healthy, sustainable way. 

You deserve respect at every size, and your size does not dictate your intelligence, kindness, or beauty, but we know medically and psychologically that binge eating is an incredibly harmful coping mechanism that does have serious long-term implications; it is not something to be celebrated. If you have found yourself in the HAES movement and are unsure how to step away, please talk to family, friends, or a registered professional who can help you take the first steps instead towards recovery.

Self-sabotaging in recovery

I have made a whole video on self-sabotage in Eating Disorder recovery which I will link for you below. Let’s discuss why we might specifically sabotage our recovery from binge eating.

Often when my clients and patients begin to gently and slowly lose weight in their recovery, they either have thoughts of self-sabotage or in fact, do self-sabotage, and there are a couple of reasons why!

Firstly, we may be using our weight as an invisibility cloak. We can often assume that if we are bigger, we are less likely to be looked at or seen, and for many of us with unprocessed trauma that can feel incredibly safe. Our unprocessed trauma may mean that we are incredibly afraid of rejection, humiliation, or disappointment, and we feel that being “hidden” will protect us from these experiences. 

Similarly, we may feel unworthy of recovery, and think we truly are the lazy, greedy, unmotivated person that our bullies, abusers, or society has told us we are. This lack of self worth can truly push us to self-sabotage our recovery when we begin to see progress happening.

When encountering these barriers with my own clients and patients I like to engage in exercises that allow us to reflect on their Inner Child (or teenager!), asking them if this is how they would care for them, by helping them binge and keeping them hidden, or would they support their Inner Child in a different way? Would they treat that child with kindness, compassion, encourage them to honour their body and mind? Inner Child work can be incredibly rewarding, so I would absolutely encourage you to tap into your own inner child, whether that be alone or with a registered professional, if it feels safe to do so.

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