One of my clients recently said to me, “It’s hard to stop binge eating, because I actually look forward to the pleasure it gives me, even if it’s temporary”. This is a completely normal feeling and response to making big changes, and shifting habitual patterns. These habits are there to keep you safe and comfortable.
Even though I wanted to let go of food rules and stop the restrict-binge cycle so badly, binging became something I looked forward to, almost like an epic cheat meal after restrictive dieting for a long period of time before a fitness competition. The feel-good endorphins, relief and pleasure I initially receive in the first 15 minutes of eating all the yummy foods I deprived myself of, became an addicting high.
So even though I no longer wanted to engage in these self-sabotaging behaviors and stuff myself with food, it became something I craved and something I thought I needed to feel good (even though it was temporary).
I understand that it became a habitual pattern that I was conditioned to act out on and it made me feel comforted (in the moment). The pleasure I received was intense and it was hard to think about letting that go… completely.
So, I get it.
Here was my advice to her.
Think about receiving that same type of pleasure, but for longer periods of time, and without the repercussions of shame, guilt, and sadness, which comes along with binge eating. What if you were following your passions or engaging in a healthy habit or hobby that gave you this same “high” feeling, but actually was making your life better, more enjoyable and fulfilled?
Wouldn’t it feel so much better to actually wake up everyday feeling happy, healthy, and excited for the day ahead? Instead of obsessing over food and constantly worrying about engaging in habits that you eventually give in to as soon as you find yourself in a stressful situation?
It begins with an awareness and understanding that the temporary pleasure is your mind playing tricks on you. Your subconscious brain is making you think there is no other way to receive this type of pleasure, because you’ve been so closed off and unable to open yourself up to experiences other types of pleasure that will actually be so much better for you, your health, and your life.
For me, teaching spin classes always made me feel incredible and gave me that endorphin-high I needed.
Yoga does the same for me now too, allowing me to release tension and feel more open, strong and peaceful.
Writing and helping others also brings me joy.
Being in nature and hiking to the top of a mountain gives me SO much pleasure, making me feel ALIVE and grateful.
Connecting with my partner through intimate conversation and massage makes me feel safe, comforted and loved so much more than food ever would.
These are the things I crave most when I am stressed out and need comfort. Food no longer has that power, because I don’t give it that power. I am too busy engaging in other self-care and feel-good practices that make me feel so much more ALIVE! I choose health and abundance over temporary comfort and pleasure any day.
Once you become aware that the pleasure you are receiving from overeating, is really hurting you more than helping you, you can start to shift your focus and make better choices, doing things that WILL give you more pleasure and happiness, long-term.
Find what makes your soul happy, and DO more of that.