binge eating recovery

In today’s episode, I will be discussing 5 points of resistance in trying to overcome binge eating disorder that can keep you stuck, repeating the same behaviors over and over again. I will discuss specific ways to address these stumbling blocks so you can overcome binge eating disorder.


What you’ll learn listening to this episode:

1. The 5 Key Points of Resistance in healing from binge eating disorder
2. What is exercise trauma
3. How do you shift your mindset to avoid food confusion and diet thinking?
4. How body hatred sabotages binge eating disorder recovery


Self-reflection Moment:

How is diet mentality and the focus on being thin at all costs affecting your life?

Overcoming Resistance to Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

Hi everybody, it’s Dr. Carolyn Coker Ross, and today is Episode 41. Overcoming resistance and binge eating disorder. If you’ve been wondering why you can’t stop binge eating despite your best efforts, then stay tuned.

Okay, so today we’re talking about why you can’t stop bingeing now, bingeing can be triggered by excitement, being upset, being stressed being overwhelmed. And it’s not uncommon that people with binge eating disorder may face a number of obstacles that can keep them stuck as they work to change their attitudes and behaviors around food, body image and health. Now here are some of the obstacles. Let’s just get right down to business. The first one is a big one that most of you will probably identify with. And that’s diet thinking and food confusion. And you may have tried every diet in the book from keto, to being a vegan to paleo, too low fat and low calorie to meal replacement and low carb. Some people even become attached to one particular diet and believe it’s the right way to get healthy. First of all, you know, you don’t have to lose weight to be healthy. This is the most important point you can take away. You can be healthy no matter your size. So let’s not use health as a reason to continue being on the diet treadmill. And I know this is a hard pill to swallow because I’m sure you’ve been told all your life and many times by people in my profession, the medical profession. Therefore, you may feel the need to rebel against recommendations to stop dieting, because you’re afraid you’re going to just blow up gain even more weight. But actually the opposite is true and it’s so important to recognize that dieting never works.

An always makes things worse. So I can hear your minds turning all that died work for me. This one worked for me. Well, how long did it work for you? And what was the result after you got off the diet? So most of us when we go on a diet, and then we get off and regain all the weight plus usually more, we usually blame ourselves – instead of blaming the diet. So you may have had thoughts in the past of well, if I just stayed on that diet, or I was too weak, or I didn’t have enough willpower. I hate to say it, but that’s all BS. It’s dieting itself. That is the problem. There is no perfect diet because no one can stay on a diet for the rest of their lives. So going off of a diet doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you a failure. It makes the diet of failure. So let’s now talk about food confusion, food confusion comes about because you’ve probably gotten so many recommendations you see so much in the media, on Facebook, on Instagram everywhere, there are messages about food, what you should eat, what you should need, what’s bad, what’s good, etc. So the best way to handle food confusion is with simple guidelines that are easy to understand and follow, and the time tested wisdom of just eating real food. Now you can use the plate method of filling half your plate with vegetables – one quarter with protein sources in one quarter with starch. Or you can start to listen to your body, which is part of what’s called intuitive eating. Now sometimes if you’ve been having binge eating disorder, most of your life or for a decade or more, you may not know what normal eating is like.

It’s helpful to speak with a dietitian, like the ones that we have in the anchor program, who can give you specific advice that’s based on any health issues you have medications you’re taking, and what kinds of foods you enjoy eating. So to develop a healthy mindset though – around food – and restore the joy of eating well, it’s important to embrace some principles. First of all, no food is bad food. Oh boy, I hear you screaming at that one. Well, what about chocolate? Well, what about fried chicken? I reiterate one more time no food is bad food. I love some fried chicken and waffles. I don’t know what kind of food you like. But it’s not bad. The problem with what we call bad food is how we’re using it. Sometimes we use food in a quote unquote bad way we use food to deal with our emotions or to help us feel comfortable when we’re on you’re overwhelmed. And even that isn’t “bad”. It is what it is. And when you use food that way, if you pay attention, you can learn a lot about yourself. And then we can talk later about skills you can use to not use food as your only way of coping. The next principle is deprivation affects the body, mind and spirit. So whenever you deprive yourself of food you want to eat that just set you up for the next binge. So any deprivation sets you up for the next binge. The third principle is variety is the antidote to diet thinking. So in diet thinking, we are always restricting what we eat, and can’t eat, and  that candy that’s not on my diet. So if you can include variety in your food plan and what you’re eating that will help reduce diet thinking. And then the last one is judgments about what you eat are counterproductive. Let’s just say you have a binge. What usually happens is the next minute, the next hour the next day, you are beating yourself up, I shouldn’t have done that. This is ridiculous. I’m a horrible person. You know, I’m not worth anything. All of those judgments, again, set you up for the next binge. So work very hard at interrupting the judgments that you have about yourself. And instead substitute a mantra such as I’m doing the best I can. I’m learning more about myself or I’m on my journey to recovery, something that will replace the judgments that are so counterproductive. Okay, so we’ve talked about diet, thinking and food confusion as a point of resistance. 

Let’s talk about stress. Now you’ve heard me in the very recent podcast episodes talk a lot about stress and stress eating will stress also has an impact on binge eating because it can perpetuate and trigger binge eating disorder. Stress can also affect sleep and mood. It can even increase the stress hormone cortisol, which then makes you want to overeat. So to overcome this, there’s some integrative stress management techniques you can use. So for example, set up a system for yourself where you are always engaging in some kind of stress management technique. So I don’t mean all day every day, but that you have a system that works for you. So for example, I get a massage once a month. I also see my acupuncturist at least once every couple months, exercise regularly and that’s my stress management program. So see what works for you some of the recommendations besides acupuncture and massage would be taking supplements and in the previous podcast on stress eating, I talked about using a B complex supplement omega three fatty acids, which is fish oil, etc. So refer back to that podcast if you want more information about supplements that are directly targeted to stress management. Yoga is another stress management exercise and simple breathwork techniques. guided imagery, any kind of relaxation tapes are all natural stress relievers. So these are important and then when you are under stress, be particularly attentive. When you’re eating, just pay more attention and notice how the food feels in your body. Notice what you’re eating and how it makes your body feel. And that will reduce the likelihood that you will overeat or stress eat. So the next point of resistance is that doggone thin ideal. I wish I knew who started that whole process. Because it’s it’s affected generations of women robbing them of energy and time and money that can be spent perhaps in more productive ways. But anyway, like much of the rest of society, we’ve all been exposed to this thin, ideal, and the thin ideal is the message that to be desirable, lovable, healthy, happy and worthy. You must be thin as a result. I know it’s difficult for all of us to accept and feel good about ourselves.

No matter what our current body looks like. It’s important though, to develop a deeper relationship with your body and to look at your body with a sense of gratitude, and all. Okay, what does that mean? gratitude and all? I think many people have an adversarial relationship with their body soon. They’re not. They’re not only not feeling grateful they’re feeling hateful towards their bodies. So, feeling hateful, what are you going to do to something you feel hateful towards, you’re going to avoid it, look away from it, you’re certainly not going to take care of it. So it’s important to start shifting this hatefulness or dissatisfaction to one of neutrality with the goal of getting to gratitude and appreciation. So instead of focusing on only on how your body looks, think about what your body does for you on a daily basis and what it has survived in your life with you.

It may be surviving endless pains, joint pain, back pain, etc. Many joys and many losses as you go about your normal life, sometimes taking care of your body, sometimes not taking care of your body, your body has stuck by you throughout all of that. It’s stuck by you when you’ve undergone surgery, childbirth, grief, and loss, and trauma. Your body has been along for the ride. And yet, despite all of the things that we’ve done, like dieting, to hurt our bodies, your heart keeps ticking your lungs, keep breathing, your body keep standing by you. So most of us learn to pay a lot of attention to our thoughts and emotions. But there’s a lot to gain by listening to your body.

Your body has its own wisdom and guidance for you. The body tells you when you’re hungry, but if you’re on a binge restrict program, you’re not going to get those hunger cues. So even if you have a binge, go ahead and eat at the next meal, and try to eat regularly throughout the day, so that your body can learn to depend on you to give it what it needs. The body not only tells you when you’re hungry, tells you when you’re tired, it sends you signals when you’re in danger. Think about hairs on the back of your neck standing up. It tells you who to get close to and who to stay away from. You know how you can meet somebody for the first time and you just feel sort of repelled by them or feel unsafe around them. Well, that’s you by giving you an important signal. And although you don’t always listen to it, this form of intuition can be a powerful guiding system in your life. 

So body wisdom is very important to listen to. Okay, the next point of resistance is resistance to exercise. Many people with binge eating disorder may have really negative, deeply entrenched negative views of exercise in some cases in the past, exercise may have been painful, embarrassing or boring. And you may be reluctant to commit to a regular fitness routine, or you may have had what I call exercise trauma. So exercise trauma can happen at any age. It’s pretty common though to children, especially children who are in larger bodies, to be told you’re too fat to be on the soccer team or, you know, you’re too fat to participate in this sport. And that can really be damaging to a child’s view of themselves.

So if something like that has happened to you, or if you’ve been embarrassed as an adult around exercise, it’s really important to talk about that. That’s something that in the anchor program we address head on. I’ve just had so many patients, I’ll tell you an example of one who sticks in my mind forever. And she was one who was told – she was very athletic as a child. She even saw herself as an athlete and was loving playing soccer and then – was told by her coach, you’re not going to be on the team next year because you’re too You’re too fat. And at that point, she shut down all interest in exercise, something that she loved to do. So anytime she was in a program or anytime she tried to start up an exercise routine, she was never successful. And she wasn’t connected to what had happened to her as a child and how that had made her feel. So once she was in the anchor program, we were able to talk about that. And then she was able to connect to that exercise trauma, which brought her to tears thinking about her little nine year old self being told something so cruel that it shut down something she loved to do, which was move her body. So when you are able to address any exercise trauma, you may find yourself wanting to move your body and however you do it is fine. So here’s some guiding principles that can help you with resistance to exercise. Focus on moving your body not exercising to lose weight. Most people start up a big old exercise program when they go on their next fad diet. And then what happens when you get off the diet, you stop exercising, so don’t connect, moving your body to losing weight or to dieting, make moving your body something that you find you enjoy.

Because you choose something that you want to do. And this could be anything. It could be dancing, it could be swimming, it could be water robots, it could be hiking, walking, yoga, there are so many different ways to move your body. So find the one that’s best for you know, exercise is better than another, but some exercise is better than none. So experiment with different types of body movement until you find the one you enjoy. And you may be shocked. Like for me, I was shocked to find that I really love Taekwondo. So my son got me into it. And then I ended up getting a black belt in Taekwondo if you can believe that. I had never, ever thought I would enjoy martial arts. And so there are many things that you may think you won’t enjoy. That’ll be right up your alley if you try it.

Look for a gentle way to move into exercise. And again, do something you really enjoy. That’s the most important thing I can tell you there. Okay, another point of resistance is lack of self care. This is where you put yourself last on the list. You know, you have to take care of the kids, your partner, your work, your boss, your sister, your mother, you know, and the list is endless, isn’t it? So the belief that everyone else’s needs come first is a huge obstacle to healing your relationship with food and your body. In addition to affecting your diet and sleep patterns, lack of self care causes spiritual deprivation. This is where our cup is empty. And yet we keep trying to give to other people more and more and more and never refilling our own cup.

So there are a number of daily practices that can nourish your spirit including what we mentioned earlier, finding gratitude and sense of awe and forgiveness. So what is awe? Well, that’s a w e, not all like aww. Awe is you know, looking at the sunset, walking along the beach, anything that takes you out of your own thought processes that makes you kind of go, you know, get a gasp something beautiful, even being in an art gallery, playing with the baby. That always gives me a sense of awe. So there are many ways to nourish your spirit and gratitude is another which we talked about earlier.

The other point of resistance is when you relapse, what do you do? So most people when they relapse just feel Ah, you know, it’s over. I’m done with that. I failed. So I might as well just eat whatever I want. But what I’m here to tell you is that relapse is a common part of recovery from binge eating disorder. And here’s some principles that might help you. When you find yourself in a relapse. First of all, avoid global thinking. So that’s what I just mentioned, where you, you fall off your diet, or you fall off your movement plan, or in some way feel like you’ve failed and then you just throw up your hands and say, Well, I might as well eat the whole box of candy, even if you go through and eat the whole box of candy. So what just get back on the horse, get back to avoiding that diet mentality and doing some of the things we talked about. Recognizing that and avoiding the scale can also be a relapse risk. So many times we don’t want to know the numbers on the scale which is fine, but there’s also some benefit to knowing the number on the scale, or to just being willing to take in information about ourselves without allowing it to affect how you feel about yourself. The next thing is have what I call emergency foods available to you, which can help avoid relapse. So you know, you have those days at work where you thought you were going to get off at five and next thing you know, you’re working until eight or nine at night. And you certainly by that time are really really hungry. If you have – for me, it’s a kind bar in my purse or, you know, banana and to nuts or whatever – you like to have as a snack that can help prevent a big binge when you get home. So just think about emergency foods that you can keep at work or in your car that will help keep you from your next binge, and don’t skip meals, even when you overeat. 

As I said earlier, do not skip the next meal. Because again, when you restrict, you then are set up for the next binge. You can also have an accountability partner buddy. What I love about the anchor program is we have a WhatsApp group. And the people in each group are able to support each other in real time on WhatsApp and to get feedback from the team. So you can set the same thing up for yourself. Or you know, maybe have an accountability partner for body movement, someone that you feel comfortable with and trust. So success overall is measured not by avoidance of relapse, but by how quickly you’re able to return to your journey. Okay, so that’s the end of overcoming resistance for binge eating disorder.

The next podcast will be on: What should I do? How do I treat binge eating disorder? I’ve tried everything. What should I do now? So that’ll be coming up soon, Episode Number 42. So, between episodes, I invite you to take the binge eating disorder quiz. You may be thinking, Well, how do I even know if I have binge eating disorder? Well, you can go to and look for the binge eating disorder tab. And on that page, you will find information about binge eating disorder. But more than that, you will find the binge eating disorder quiz. Alright, so I’m hoping you’re going to leave a review for the podcast, tell your friends about it. And join me next time. Remember, this is the work of recovery. I look forward to talking with you soon. Thank you.

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