Years ago, I would stand in my kitchen late at night and binge on cookies. I’d then take my stuffed, sugarcoated belly to bed along with intense feelings of guilt, shame, self-loathing, frustration and anger. When morning came, I’d promise never to do it again only to find my resolve weakening as the sun went down.
There are many reasons why we binge eat. It’s not because we’re weak, bad or flawed. It’s not a lack of willpower. It’s a lack of understanding.
A Gift to Open
Everything changed for me when I began to understand that my binge eating was not a problem to solve; it was a gift to open.
By looking at my behavior with curiosity instead of criticism, with love instead of loathing, with compassion instead of contempt, I was able to finally see what was driving my compulsion, the life lessons this unwanted behavior was trying to teach me. This was far more effective than locking my cupboards or swearing off cookies for life.
Counterbalance to Control
Slowly peeling back the layers, I discovered there were a few different things fueling my cookie raids. A big one for me was control.
The body is always seeking balance. Binge eating is a brilliant balancing act by the body. It’s an out-of-control behavior reacting to an area of tight control.
During that phase of my life, I was obsessed with controlling my appetite, diet and weight. My eating was very restrictive and my exercise was excessive. I religiously and rigidly tracked every morsel and mile. Binge eating was the release my body needed to restore balance. It was my body striving to cut loose, to expand my very contracted life.
For others, areas of tight control might be work, relationships, home life, money, emotions or intimacy.
Our relationship with food can be very complex and multi-faceted, and there are always exquisitely good reasons why we do what we do. When I finally understood the positive intentions behind my binge eating, how it was an attempt to take care of myself, to fulfill unmet needs, it began to fade away. By addressing the imbalances in my life, including my areas of tight control, I no longer needed food as a counterbalance.
If you struggle with binge eating, ask yourself, “Where in my life am I in tight control? Where is life asking me to surrender, open or relax?”