I've read a lot of blogs and Q/A here about how to remedy a binge. Fasting, IF and variations of that is often recommended here in the paleo world...
However, EVERY non-paleo advice (seriously,just look it up) to deal with a binge is to "do the next right thing" and "not to restrict to compensate" and to just eat normally because restricting just perpetuates the cycle and sets you up for a binge. I've been in treatment twice, and the advice was to always just eat anyway even if you feel nauseous/sick. The thinking is that just eating normally after a binge will help you break the cycle and get back into a normal eating pattern. Seriously, every piece of professional advice from ED experts advise this.
I always felt like it just felt so unnatural to just eat normally after I've exhausted myself through a few hours (yes, a few hours) of mindless grazing/binging. I've been IF and I just feel so much better and "cleansed" after a horrific binge episode. I feel better emotionally and physically because it gives me the feeling of truly starting all over. Why would you force yourself to eat if you feel physically exhausted from binging? When I say binge, I don't mean that I overate a little. I'm talking maybe 6-8 pounds or more of food. Basically, I'm a dysfunctional monster.
I struggle with binging as well. I used to spend a LOT of time thinking of ways to remedy a binge, and I've tried both IF and eating normally. For me, neither "remedy" worked very well, because they always came AFTER the binge.
A few weeks ago, I was REALLY having the binge itch. Like, the chocolate and ice cream were screaming my name. I was going through the pre-binge rationalization and justification that would allow myself to binge (which, for the record, is never rational or justified). I was planning all of the things I would do the following day to remedy it. Then, I had this lightbulb moment. Why was I focusing on what would make the binge "better" AFTER I did it? I know myself, and I know NOTHING can make that feeling of guilt/shame/disappointment really feel better. So, instead of focusing on what I could do AFTER a binge, I realized that I should probably work on the part BEFORE the binge. Like, right now.
For me, thinking of remedies of a binge - whether it be IF or eating normally or something else - never helped me actually tackle the binge itself. My binges have gotten MUCH smaller and much less frequent since I've focused on the "before" part. Identify your triggers. Understand why you want to binge. Understand why you feel like you HAVE to binge. The second you hear yourself think "well, tomorrow I can just IF and it will be like this binge never happened" is the second that you're allowing yourself to binge. Be able to identify those thoughts and understand that they are a RED FLAG. Grab a journal, call a friend, go on a walk. Have pre-binge strategies that distract you from that irresistible urge to binge.
Binges will probably still happen, and that's okay. It's a process. But uncontrollable binges are controllable if you understand how they happen.
Binging is like emotionally getting run over by a truck for me. There's no "best way" to get up and continue walking (mentally). The only way is to get out of the way before the truck hits. I wish you the best of luck.
When I was on SAD and out of control, I tried not eating "normally" and eating that way and neither one worked. I was a yo-yo and binge eater for 50 years. And you're not a monster but as a binge eater you are by definition dysfunctional--I remember many times as a binge eater I was so full of food I couldn't swallow.
When I came to this lifestyle, I went through a series of learning/adjusting cycles and I've been in control since August 2011. Briefly, my phases were:
I'll try to leave out useless details, Here are some things to consider:
My way may not help you at all, but here's what I did.
Step one: The first food of the day had to be fatty meat--it doesn't matter if it's a pound of meat, as long as there's plenty of protein/fat. The purpose of this is to make sure your body has essential nutrients. Note: this will not stop your brain from firing up impulses to binge, but if you're already stuffed with fatty meat your ability to binge on junk is seriously impaired and you've started to overcome any malnutrition. If you like them, it's okay to have veggies as well but most of the meal must be the meat.
Step two: If you are able to do step one, and start to feel hungry, pay attention to your hunger signals--are they cramps and squeezes coming from your stomach, or "eat" messages from your brain? If you open the fridge and cupboards--which should NOT have anything but whole, healthy foods--do you get a "No" message? Do you see where I'm going with this? Hunger is just a physical sensation from your stomach and there's no true urgency. Brain messages are much stronger, very urgent screams from your brain--and that's addiction. If you're full of fatty meat and your brain is screaming for junk, your best options are to distract yourself and get away from your kitchen. Go for a long walk, drive to the laundromat or hardware store or garden center.
Step 3: Okay, you ate lots of meat and you delayed eating until your stomach said it was time to eat again. Don't worry about whether that's in 3 hours or not until the next day--the important thing is that the urge comes from your stomach. Now, eat a leafy salad unless there's a health reason you can't--a LARGE salad that's just leaves and crunchies such as celery, cukes, etc. After your salad (oil and vinegar) guess what? Eat more fatty meat!
Step 4: If you find yourself not needing food again until the next day, that's IF and it's fine. If you need more than one meal per day, who cares? Keep paying attention to your urges--true hunger will come from your stomach and won't be over-whelming. Cravings will come from your brain but if you're eating plenty of fatty meat they'll be less powerful--distract or get away again.
Let's face it, at some point you may binge again. I know I did. DO NOT say "I'm a monster." Say, "Well, back to step one." Keep hitting the fatty meat to help moderate your cravings and help your gut heal.
In my case, I give a lot of credit for my remission/cure to water kefir. When I started drinking it, I soon noticed that if I got "itchy" with binge urges and sat down to sip a fizzy bottle of water kefir by the time I finished the water kefir the cravings were gone.
Saying "I failed" or "I'm a monster" is part of the disorder. Starting again is part of the recovery. Which do you want?
Disclaimer just my personal opinion One of the issues with eating disorders is the idea that you can somehow "make up" for your "badness" in regards to food by fasting or purging or exercising until you turn blue. This is 100% mental. I feel like you should eat when you are hungry after a binge, just like any other time. Don't IF on purpose, but get back into proper eating habits with the practice of eating when you are hungry or and stopping when you are full. Deciding to stop eating for a period after a binge creates a mental state of deprivation and hunger that sets you up to fail. Instead of thinking about how many hours it is until you can eat again or how long you have to IF to compensate for consumed food volume, try to listen to your body and respond to it's cues- are you hungry, or not? Likely after consuming that much food you will not be hungry for some time, but when you are, you should eat instead of trying to create a calorie deficit through purposeful IF.
This is a lot easier than it sounds. I won't say I know what you're going through, but struggling to define one's relationship to food is an insanely tough battle once food has taken on significance other than sustenance. Good luck.
I've always recommended fasting post-binge to deal with the physical aftermath and discomfort that many of us Paleo folks feel after eating decidedly non-paleo foods. I do not suggest it to deal with a food addiction or other (usually more severe) eating disorder.
Frankly, in that situation I would recommend going with the professional advice. If an unhealthy relationship with food exists, and you feel that fasting is some sort of self-punishment, then the last thing you want to do is further that sort of mentality and behavior.
Without question there is a significant emotional component to binging. However, it is important to look at the physiological components as well. What I've discovered in my clinic is that blood sugar imbalances (dysglycemia) can be a biological trigger for binge eating.
Very commonly, people who tend toward the hypoglycemic side of dysglycemia can experience urges to binge if their blood sugar drops too low. Things to look for symptom-wise: irritability, light-headed, and/or spaced out feeling with skipped meals, waking up about 3-4 hours after falling asleep, no desire for breakfast upon waking, and unusual hunger patterns.
There's a lot more to the physical side of binge eating, but I hope this provides some insight on what may be happening on a biochemical level.
Shawn Soszka, ND, LAc.
I do this too occasionally and it's horrible! (i'm sorry I'm not really about to help solve your problem, I just wanted to share my thoughts and see if we had any similarities with post binge effects)
I can eat like 20 servings of nuts and dried fruit in one go, I'll just sit there with a packet and wont stop though i KNOW i should. sometimes after I am actually physically sick because I dont think my tummy can handle so much food, it's horrible :\
the next day i am NEVER hungry. I'll probably eat 2 small meals, when I usually try to eat 5/6ish. it's not that i choose not to eat, I just literally dont have any room! I think fasting to compensate is probably the wisest thing - why add more contents to your already blocked digestive system!
if anyone could shed any light or tips I would also appreciate it!!!
Do whatever feels right. Sounds like IF'ing does the trick for you mentally and physically. I would avoid making it in to a habit though, where you start to think that IF will simply reverse everything. It is a great tool but its not a fix-all sadly.
Also, you are definitely not a dysfunctional monster. Your a person who enjoys their food, and as a person we can all get carried away sometimes. I've had 7000 calorie binge days in the past, and I welcomed them with open arms. I just don't do it all the time, haha.
If the binging is mentally caused, makes sense to me to do whatever you think works for it. Look for what sets you off and try to avoid it. If its a physiological command, then you may want to look more closely at your diet to see if you can turn off the trigger.
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