Recovering from Binge Eating: the plan

In my previous post I wrote about how I have been diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Since then, it’s felt like a major weight has been lifted off.

Naming it and owning it meant I could move on.

Once I had worked through my emotional outpouring and tears, I took a deep breath and did what I do best. I began planning and writing.


I broke my recovery down into three major steps:

  • Diet/Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Mental health

Admittedly, I hadn’t expected mental health to be a thing when I first wrote my “rock bottom” post. It was only once I realised I had an eating disorder that I realised there was a lot more work ahead of me. I think its presence on that list is a big nod to being a more long-term plan than just a “quick fix” weight loss plan. This is truly a lifestyle change for the better.

So let’s check it out, and I’ll show you what I came up with. Bearing in mind this is still the early stages and likely to change as time goes on. Because….life, right?

Diet/Nutrition

Lite n’ Easy

This is the first step I’ve taken, which was to get onto a meal plan where the food is already organised for me. I joined Lite n’ Easy a day after my rock bottom post. The main things to note about this plan:

  • I needed to remove any decision making over food while I’m regaining control. Knowing the plan has been set and the food is readily available at home when I need it means I’m more likely to stick to the plan (2 weeks solid so far baby!)
  • I know it’s not a long-term plan; it’s not going to teach me nutrition or having control when the entire cupboard is available to me. I’m realistic about that.
  • It gives me time to take the pressure off food-wise while I work on the mental side of things
  • It will still teach me discipline in rejecting the urges to binge, or temptations when out at events

I don’t have a goal in mind of how long I will be on this for, but as long as it’s working, I’m able to focus on the other parts of my plan and we can afford it, then it makes sense.

Don’t keep bad food in the house

My problem was that if I could see the food then I also couldn’t stop thinking about the food.

The simple solution was to not keep bad food in the house.

Realistically speaking, sometimes that’s not always possible – my husband bakes and regularly makes food for work or events. As a result we frequently have baking chocolate, chocolate chips and other related items. These weren’t safe in the past – I’ve been known to finish a block of baking chocolate or a bag of chocolate chips over the course of a day.

The good thing is that I know myself well enough that I also know how to manipulate myself.

Enter the “naughty box”.

Essentially this is a box where all the temptations go in, and the box is moved out of sight, right out of the kitchen. Currently it’s in the spare room and I don’t know what’s in it. I don’t want to know. The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is so true in this case. And it’s ridiculously effective for me.

Remove myself from situations

If there’s a situation that I know I’m going to be tempted and I’m not confident I will be able to resist, then remove myself. This isn’t a long term solution, but for now until I build up my ability to resist then it doesn’t make sense to tempt myself. Case in point: birthday cake at work. I kept busy and bowed out.

Find distractions

When the urge to binge comes on it can be debilitating. That’s all I can think about. While I work on learning to dismiss the urges I need to find a way to distract myself. Right now I’ve got a number of ideas:

  • Knitting (I’m learning to make beanies, so doing this means my hands are busy and my mind is focused)
  • Go for a walk
  • Drink water
  • Go to bed (if craving at night time)
  • Read a book

I’m forever adding to this list, and if you have suggestions I’d love to hear them!

Identify points of weakness

This is pretty much what I’ve done by writing this plan. Find my points of weakness and make a strategy for each of them.

Plan for events

This is the hardest one, and the one that if I can nail I feel like I’ll have long term success. It’s too easy to go to an event, say a birthday, dinner, or a night out with friends, and indulge too much. I need to find a balance that combines not missing out (fomo after all) with being sensible.

Things like:

  • Eat something before I go so I’m not hungry (not always an option if going out for dinner, but I could have a snack and then I don’t want a full main meal)
  • Setting my limits e.g. I can have three things, and then choosing what they would be wisely (e.g. two savoury snacks and a sweet treat, or two savoury and a glass of wine). Give myself boundaries that can’t be broken

What this list consists of will vary depending on the event, but if I plan for it then I won’t get there and feel like I just want to go crazy with eating.

Mindful eating

Ever since I can remember I’ve always read something while I eat. I don’t pay attention to what I eat at all, I’m always distracted. I want to change that. I want to enjoy the taste, the smell, the textures. It would be nice to actually appreciate the art of eating.

Plan for once the weight is lost

This is a work in progress, and is my long-term plan. My “maintenance” phase if you will. Essentially, how can I make sure I never find myself in this position ever again.

I’m sure I’ll write about this more once I get there.

Exercise

Exercise is something I really enjoy, and what I’ve been struggling to do with this extra weight. Movement is harder than it was, but I know the more weight I lose the better this will continue to feel.

Create a strength plan

At the moment everything I’m doing is cardio based, and I’m not making time for strength. I need to, because the more strength I do the more fat my body will burn. The stronger I am the more active I can be in my son’s life. And most importantly, the stronger my muscles the more they can support my body. When my legs are strong they support my knee, still weak from my knee reconstruction in 2009.

Running at work

It’s been hard to try and fit time in for running. I’ve been lucky enough to borrow a treadmill from my in-laws so I have been able to run at night, but sometimes after a day at work I’m drained and ready for bed.

Likewise, when I’m in the office it’s very easy to become caught up in what I’m doing and not take a break for hours. Before my son was born I was a workaholic. I don’t want to get into any bad habits, which is why it’s important for me to take a break from the desk.

Our office is located in a beautiful part of the world, with beaches and rivers nearby. Hence the idea of a lunch time run. Get out of the office, get fresh air and some vitamin D, and get in a good run. This is something I want to try and do at least 2 days out of the 3 that I’m working.

Walk with the pram at home

Pretty self explanatory – go for walks with my son when I’m at home and running isn’t always possible.

Create my next 5km running training plan

I still have a goal to run 5km non-stop as my first fitness “check point”. I don’t care how long it takes, I just want to be able to run the distance.

Allowing for approximately 3 – 4 days of running a week, I want to create this and follow that through to completion. Having a plan to follow will motivate me, as I begin crossing off each training session.

Plus it’s like a list. And I like lists.

Schedule catch ups around active things

I love catching up with friends and family, but traditionally it’s been around eating, or coffees and cakes. Instead I want to try and organise them around walks. Something where we can burn some calories while we catch up. Every little bit helps right?

Sign up for my next event

I love running events, I get such a high afterwards. I’ve just come off an awesome 5km event with friends, and I’m super keen for the next. It’s always good to have something to look forward to.

Mental Health

Ah, the one that I didn’t realise would come into my plan. How do I restore my body confidence, feel happy and stop feeling like a slave to food?

Work on my body image

This one speaks for itself, I need to find a way to feel confident and proud of myself. I saw my GP (see my next point) and talked to him about it. He said in essence it’s ok to look in the mirror and be pissed off because I’m overweight. This is not a normal body type for me. But I still need to find a way to not feel like I need to hide away, or refuse pictures etc. I still need to find the beauty in myself.

Some ideas I currently have:

  • Do things that make me feel good physically. Straighten my hair, get a pedicure, fake tan etc.
  • Work on giving myself positive reinforcement. Focus on the body parts I love. Encourage myself.
  • Most importantly, buy flattering clothes! Don’t just deal with unflattering or tight clothes just because I don’t want to be at this weight forever. I still need to present well, so that I feel good.

See my GP

I put this one in because it’s important to see professional help. I’ve already seen my GP, and in his opinion I don’t appear to be someone who is depressed or in a state that this is a long term thing. It’s a blip on the grand scale of life.

However, we both agree I need to work on some coping mechanisms for when life gets hard, or curve balls are thrown my way. This is where therapy will come in. He’s also offered referrals for dieticians and therapy.

Read the book “Gift of Imperfection”

I was put onto this book by Emily of emilyalma.com. Essentially it’s all about embracing your imperfections and experience life from a place of feeling worthy. It has some “guide posts” to work through.

I’ll post more of a recap once I’ve finished it, but it sounds like a great book from a highly revered author.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Listen to the podcast “Brain over Binge”

This one I got put onto by Katie from Runs for Cookies (you can read her series on Binge Eating here).

Essentially the theory is that what makes you binge is the urge to binge, not the “other” stuff (depression, anxiety, stress, boredom etc). Their argument is there are a lot of people that suffer from those ailments, but don’t always binge. They don’t have the urge. Binge eaters do. So focus on killing the urges. The podcast discusses this in more detail.

Given that a large portion of my issues stem from the urge to binge, and the constant thinking about the next binge, this is going to make for some interesting listening and practice.

Find a support network

Huge, huge one. I think I can already cross this off the list. So far I have:

  • Reached out to all of you, my readers. I’ve exposed myself with raw honesty, and have had nothing but love back (thank you all). That was pretty scary, but also revitalising. I feel like I have a safe space for me to talk about my experiences, and others know they can talk to me as well. No judgement here!
  • Joined a Binge Eating support network online where I can speak to other people that also suffer from BED
  • My family and friends – people checking in and making sure I’m ok, or available for me to reach out when I’m struggling
  • A therapist – I don’t know how long this will go for, or if it’s just a short term thing. But just getting some support from a therapist that can help to come up with some coping mechanisms when things get tough

Work on controlling my binge urges

Right now I’m in a bit of a honeymoon phase where I’m not binging, but that’s because all of this is so new. Soon it will return back to day-to-day life, and temptations will creep in. I will get stressed. I will be tired. I will be bored, or hungry. I will crave sweet things (hellooooo period). I need to learn how to control the urge to binge. Only once have I conquered that will I have truly consider myself recovered. And then begins the rest of my life.

So that’s it! The conclusion of the world’s longest post! I’d love to hear what you think about all of the above, or any suggestions you might have.

Otherwise, I look forward to touching base again with an update on how it’s all going!

Let me know your thoughts!