How Do You Get Over the Dreaded "Morning After A Binge" Feeling?

No guilt!

Anyone who’s ever binged late at night knows what the morning after feels like: Bloated, sluggish, hung-over, heart-burny, and most of all guilty. The physical effects feel bad—but the guilt, the guilt is the worst.

There were several times in my mid-twenties that I called out sick (from a job I loved!) because a binge the night before made me feel like I simply couldn’t face the day. Couldn’t face other people. I couldn’t stand to look at myself, let alone have other people look at me. Sure, I felt fat, but the feelings weren’t really about anything physical. It was like I felt so nasty and ugly about myself on the inside, that the only way I could process those painful feelings was to place them on the outside—blame them on my body.

In my late teens and early twenties, before I had a real grasp of what was going on and how to help myself, I often spent the day after doing a fast—or drinking tons of water to hopefully “flush out” whatever it was I’d poured into my mouth and belly the day before. That usually just compounded the guilt, because I was never a starver and usually “failed” at these little attempts to fast. Even when I did succeed, it didn’t make me feel any better on the inside. Rather than a gentle forgiveness and nudge forward toward health, those fasting and water-soaked days were actually punishments. I was trying to atone for the “evil” eating I’d done. But you can’t. And you don’t have to.

I thought about all of that this morning after reading a comment that HealthyGirl.org reader Deanna left for me. She wrote: What do you suggest for “morning after” feelings? Let me explain: Eating has been going better, but yesterday, yikes, not such a good day. I woke up feeling bloated and sick. On a positive note, I went walk/running anyway. It wasn’t a great exercise session, but at least I was out in the fresh air and doing what I know is good for me. I ate a moderate breakfast, but, somehow, the demons in my head are really loud on days like this. Maybe they feel louder today because they haven’t been there for a while. I don’t want to go back to feeling like this on a regular basis. That is how I used to live. Suggestions?

Here’s what I’ve come to believe, Deanna. Every binge, every day spent emotionally eating, is an experience to learn from. Slowly but surely over the years as I read more, went to therapy, and started support meetings, I came to believe that I was right where I was supposed to be at any given time, even if that meant I was bingeing. No, of course the Universe didn’t want me to harm my body with extra food—but if I was emotionally eating, my body and mind were obviously trying to tell me something.

So, I started treating those morning-after binge times as times to reflect. To journal a bit, to ask myself, “Hey, what was going on that made you suddenly turn to food like that after so many weeks?” or whatever. I’m telling you, having a gentle, curious, forgiving attitude made me feel better so much faster than buckets of water or pounds of guilt ever did before. And, bonus, I actually started learning something from those “slip ups” with food. I learned the warning signs for binges. I learned what I needed to do—namely, take some time for myself, journal, exercise, meditate—in order to avoid them.

Now, on the rare occasions when I turn to food emotionally, the guilt doesn’t ever have a chance to kick in. Miracle of miracles, my default setting has become gentleness, forgiveness, and curiosity! And I’m able to quickly implement other, healthier tools, to help myself deal with life—because the guilt and self-hate are no longer in the way.

Now I’d like to open it up to the rest of you: How do you deal constructively with the “morning after”? Have you been able to learn something from your binges and have a sense of understanding and forgiveness for yourself? xo…Sunny

11 Responses to How Do You Get Over the Dreaded "Morning After A Binge" Feeling?

  1. I actually wrote a post on the topic a few weeks ago, if you’d like to check it out! :)

    http://www.healthforthewholeself.com/2010/06/eating-after-overeating/

  2. Nadia says:

    Thank you for this Sunny. The great thing about this site is that I can hear about women who have gone through/are going through what I do. I’ve also missed days of work after a binge because I’ve felt so terrible about myself. Taking a sick day for this reason makes you feel even worse about yourself.
    I relapsed two weeks ago, for a week I couldn’t stop eating everything in my sight.
    After telling myself countless times, that I could have whatever I wanted as long as I was hungry, that I should wait to feel true hunger, that I shouldn’t weight myself everyday… I finally slowed down and things are back on track. The morning after feeling that I had that week was awful but I found that repeating the things that made sense helped me in the end. I also ‘moved’ my body and made sure that I didn’t spend time on my own. Know your triggers and fight them.

  3. Deanna says:

    Gentle? Forgiving? Curious? How foreign! But, it sounds better than angry and hateful and vicious. Thanks for the suggestions, Sunny. I will work on this. Health is so attractive. To self and to others.

    • Sunny says:

      I know–it probably does sound kinda foreign, right? It took work to get there, but, man. It’s a revelation when you stop beating yourself up! xo…Sunny

  4. Heather says:

    I found this post quite timely as I had what I’d class as a binge nowadays last night. Thankfully, I find it more difficult to binge than I used to (I think this is because of my increased awareness of what’s going on for me). However it left me with mixed feelings, and if you don’t mind, I would like to use this space for a bit of thinking aloud!

    I think I can see the reasons behind it as:

    - Feeling ill. Though now I am wondering whether this was instead depressive feelings, as I am quite unhappy in my working situation (understimulated; lack of concentration; loss of any motivation to work; anxiety and fear at the thought of going or even applying elsewhere).
    - Being bored at work.
    - The feeling of loneliness and disappointment I get after having spent a weekend with my boyfriend and going back to a less-than-brilliant flat where I don’t feel quite at home.

    Whatever the reasons, I ate when I wasn’t hungry. This left me feeling heavy, desperate, unhappy, disappointed in myself, anxious and guilty.

    Looking back, I can see why I might have turned to food: for comfort. Comfort because I wasn’t feeling great; because my job situation isn’t great; and because of my loneliness. I can understand myself.

    I know that the bingeing doesn’t help with those issues, in reality. So instead, what might I have done?

    - Called a friend or someone from my ED group
    - Gone to the gym class I had been planning on going on before I felt bad
    - Gone for a walk, upon coming home and being tempted by food
    - Not gone straight to the supermarket – go home and think about what I really want first

    • Sunny says:

      Hey Heather. The process you went through right now in the comments is so important. And I’m so glad that you seem not to be berating yourself at all–just looking at it and gathering info, like, OK, so this makes sense. Now, what can be done next time to help myself in a more healthful, effective way? Thank you for sharing this! xo…Sunny

      • Heather says:

        Thank you for your comment, Sunny! It’s nice to know that all this work I’m doing makes sense and seems logical to others. I know that my ‘Inner Critic’ is on hyperdrive, so it’s difficult to see things objectively, though, as you can see, I’m working on it! :-)

  5. [...] Healthy Girl, How Do You Get Over The Dreaded “Morning After A Binge” Feeling? [...]

  6. poiseinparma says:

    just discovered your blog via medicinal marzipan. dealing with this exact issue today. I told myself eat what you want for breakfast (savory oats) and get yourself to the gym. I ended up having one of the best sweat sessions in a long time this afternoon. funny how a setback ends up getting you to take huge strides later.

  7. Ms. Moran says:

    This is what I need to hear right now. I have to forgive myself for not being “perfect” and move on. Or the guilt and bad feelings will pull me right back into the bad eating cycle.

  8. MARJE says:

    HAVE KEPT OFF APPROXIMATELY 100LBS FOR 4 YEARS. HAVE NOT HAD BINGES AS A PROBLEM UNTIL RECENTLY. I KNOW IT IS COMFORT EATING IN MY CASE. DOES NOT
    SEEM TO MATTER IF I TRY TO CALL SOMEONE IF I AM ALONE. IF IT IS AT NIGHT, CAN’T
    GO WALKING. TRY SHOWER AND DVD EXERCISE. TRY READING OR SOME PROJECT. NOTHING WORKS. WHEN I AM DONE WITH WHAT EVER I TRY, I STILL WANT TO EAT MORE THAN USUAL. I KNOW I AM NOT HUNGRY. HAVE BEEN EATING NOW FOR THREE DAYS AND TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY I FEEL I CAN GET BACK ON TRACK. I HAVE GAINED AND LOST THE SAME 7 LBS NOW SEVERAL TIMES. AT LEAST I DO STOP. I AM AFRAID THOUGH, THAT I WILL ONE DAY JUST CONTINUE TO EAT AND PERHAPS GAIN ALL THE WEIGHT BACK.
    I KNOW THE PROGRAM OF HOW TO GET BACK TO HEALTHY EATING INSIDE AND OUT AND I DO FOLLOW IT.IT WORKS. ONLY PROBLEM IS, I DON’T KNOW WHEN THE DREADED FOOD MONSTER WILL ONCE AGAIN AWAKEN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *