The road to recovery is never the same from person to person. Strategies that seem to work for “everyone” could actually work against you, or you might discover an effective strategy that no one else has ever used. One of the most frustrating aspects of recovery is that there will be a lot more strategies that don’t work than do work. The only way to find strategies that work for you is through trial and error – a long, difficult, sometimes crushing, but ultimately rewarding process.
Recovery can be exhausting: it’s not easy to stay on track without becoming dejected by perceived “failures” (i.e., binges) on top of the trials and tribulations of everyday life, which unfortunately grow in number when you have BED. Hopelessness is not an uncommon emotion to feel during this process, and giving up often feels like the most reasonable option. However, my counsellor was highly impressed with how many different strategies I would earnestly try. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.
Below is the list of strategies that allowed me to reach my goals in recovery so far. I cannot stress enough that you should not become discouraged if these strategies do not work for you. But if you haven’t given them a try, please do. You have virtually nothing to lose.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – This was absolutely essential. I couldn’t have overcome my depression and gained the confidence required to fight BED without CBT.
- Having a treat every day – See my post HERE for details.
- Setting the right goals – See my post HERE for details.
- Exercise – I hate exercise. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But exercising lets me eat a little over my limit without the guilt bearing down on me.
- Doing household chores – When I feel like binging at home, I get up and do chores like vacuuming, mopping the floors, cleaning the bathroom, or doing laundry.
- Writing on cue cards – Another way to prevent a binge is to write down a list of things you could do instead of binging or a positive affirmation such as “I will beat my eating disorder” over and over again until the urge passes. I then store the lists/affirmations (along with blank cue cards) in my desk at work, in my purse, inside my school agenda, etc. so that I’ll always have a reminder close by.
- Keeping a food diary – This forces me to always stay accountable for what I put into my mouth. I plan my meals and snacks the day before but allow for some flexibility. Filling in my intake at the end of the day informs me if I should try to cut back a little tomorrow or if I can have an extra treat. I no longer allow myself “write-off” days because that invariably leads to bad habits returning. Write down every single thing you eat or drink – lying to yourself will only hinder your recovery.
Try to stick to a strategy consistently for at least two weeks before deciding it does not work for you. I knew that a strategy was not right for me when, after two weeks, it still caused me to binge right after doing it. This outcome happened more often than you might expect! My next post will be on commonly recommended strategies that just flat-out failed for me, though they might work for you.
How have you successfully combated overeating or binge eating?