Your eyelids reluctantly lift from their resting place as the harsh light washes over you, signaling it’s time to rise from this intoxicating slumber. You’d like to pull the warm comforter back over your head and disappear into the abyss of ignorance – the place where you can forget the shame of last night.
But your body won’t let you forget. You feel the distinctively sharp pains deep in your belly; you still feel the food sitting high and heavy. Your mind spins in circles, looping in and out of the names that last night held such beauty and power, but now elicit a feeling of disappointment. Oreo and Oscar Meyer and Special K and Hostess. Those bastards – letting you down once again.
You promised yourself this wouldn’t happen again, you wouldn’t let food leave you feeling bent and broken in the morning. But here you are – alone, frightened of the voraciousness of your hunger, and desperate to get out of this cycle.
Handling the day after a binge episode is most certainly not for the faint of heart; it is one of the most difficult challenges that we face in overcoming emotional overeating and binge eating. When all we want to do is hide under the covers is the precise moment at which what we need to do is call on all of our reserves and prepare for battle. We are no longer just fighting against the temptations of trigger foods, but also against the insidious voices that try to undermine our recovery.
When you’ve just binged and come out on the other side, try these tips to bounce back:
1. Journal. And then journal again. Try to think of a binge episode as an opportunity to discover something totally new and interesting about yourself. No matter the circumstances and how familiar they might be, each binge is different and has its own identifiable triggers – environmental and emotional. Journaling is a fantastic way of analyzing the thoughts and feelings you were having prior to, during, and after the binge. If you’re getting stuck in the embarrassment or frustration you’re feeling now and can’t even remember what was going on before eating, then just explore those feelings. Your truth lies within the words – or images – that you can get on paper. There’s no wrong or write (pun intended!) way – just let it flow.
2. Eat protein. Not just protein of course, but make sure you incorporate protein rich foods into your diet after a binge. Many of those who binge tend to do so on high carbohydrate foods, and there’s a scientific and perfectly comprehensible reason for this. Carb-rich foods help the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin – the “feel-good chemical” in our brains. When we binge and eat lots of carbs, we increase our serotonin levels and voilà! – we feel good. But as you might expect, as our blood sugar and serotonin levels even out or drop, we can feel sluggish, irritable, and depressed. Eating protein-rich food ensures we’re getting enough tryptophan and keep our mood in check.
3. Start using those affirmations you’ve been collecting. You’ve heard them before. Maybe you’ve even written them in your journal, put them on your vision board, or recite them in the shower. Well, now is the time to pull out all the self-love wisdom you can muster and pour it on yourself. Some of my favorites: A lapse is not a relapse. I treat myself with kindness and patience. I forgive myself and others, release the past and move forward with love in my heart. Every day is a chance to recreate my life. What are some of your favorites?
4. Exercise. Gently! Exercise should not be used as a punishment – ever! Don’t plan on setting any marathon PRs today or burn XXX calories in hot yoga. Instead, focus on doing something that makes your body feeling utterly amazing and do it mindfully. This means keeping present with the way that your body moves and feels, even as you take a gentle walk or stretch out your limbs. Shifting your perspective from seeing your body as your enemy to seeing it as your ally will help prevent treating it with disrespect in the future.
The moral of the story is to be kind and patient with yourself. Tearing yourself down or throwing your eating schedule off even further with restriction or more binging will just make it more difficult to develop the healthy relationship with food and yourself that you want. Try something new this morning and start with self-love. And some protein!
Now, what actions do you take the day after a binge or slip? Please share! xo…Sunny