After You "Mess Up" With Food, Do You Say To Hell With It And Eat Even More?

Is this how you feel about yourself and eating? It could be getting in the way of you getting sane about food!

I so used to. My favorite thing to tell myself after a binge—or even just a small misstep—was, “Screw it. I already messed up anyway, so why not keep eating?” That seems to be a pretty common thought process for people like us. In fact, I’ve heard women in my support group call it getting a case of “the f*ck-its” because you overeat and then say, “f*ck it!” and binge your face off, making yourself feel ten time worse.

But, I have a hopeful little story to share that inspired this post: I ate more than I needed to yesterday—a bite of pumpkin bread here, a few spiced nuts there—something that would’ve totally triggered the “I messed up, so screw it” mindset in me a few years ago. That one day of less-than-ideal eating would’ve turned into two or three days of free-for-all, ending in a big binge and a promise to go on a strict diet.

But now? My attitude has changed so much that instead of spiraling into a vicious overeating cycle I just…went back to normal. I woke up this morning and had good breakfast, as usual. Then I had a good, normal lunch. With no lingering guilt. And that—banishing the guilt—is the key, I think.

I don’t think I’m BAD because I ate too much food yesterday. I don’t even think that eating too much food yesterday was BAD. It’s just not ideal for my every day life and I’d rather not do it too often. Letting go of that black and white thinking which used to tell me that some foods are evil and some ways of eating are evil and learning to stop attaching that label to myself (“I ate too much bad food, therefore I am bad”) has allowed me to grow into a healthier, more balanced, infinitely more pleasant relationship with food and my body. Wow!

I used to think that kind of balanced attitude would be impossible for me to attain. Shows you what a few years of (yes, hard at times) work can do for a girl. :) What I want to know from you guys today is, how do you react when you “mess up” with food? Are you stuck in the vicious cycle? What can you do to break out of it?

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7 Responses to After You "Mess Up" With Food, Do You Say To Hell With It And Eat Even More?

  1. Reader says:

    Good for you! I’ve recovered from an eating disorder and it took the longest time for me to be able to nibble here, “have a taste” there, have two sweets in one day and be OK with it. For years, I would have three cookies and a bite of a brownie and then think, well there goes that, and start binging. Now, I think, hey! That was good, or I don’t feel so great, but move on. Accepting this was one of the hardest things I had to do on my road to recovery but now I feel great. Keep it up.

  2. Trish says:

    When I mess up, I don’t spiral out of control so much as I bash myself for messing up. I sit there and say, “I can’t believe I just ate that, I’m horrible, that’s why I’m fat” or I’ll start thinking about how none of my skinny friends eat that much or would eat what I ate and that’s why they get attention and I don’t. Or I’ll try to add up how many extra calories I consumed and convert that into how much longer I have to stay at the gym tomorrow. How can I break out of it? I need to not sit around after I eat like that…I need to find an activity to occupy my brain so I STOP thinking horrible things and mentally bashing myself. The thing that gets my mind the furthest from itself is reading a new book or magazine — it totally gets my mind off of whatever I’m thinking. I think I’ll make a run over to Barnes and Noble and pick up some new reading material so I can be prepared next time the mental self-abuse starts!

    • Sunny says:

      Hey Trish! I do think that the cognitive distortions list common in cognitive behavioral therapy comes in very handy in the moment.

      But, you know, what worked for me was less a matter of finding the one thing or one strategy that could stop the cycle of punishing thoughts and more a matter of moving forward in my overall growth and healing. I think I’m in this place now because of all the time I spent reading books, talking to a therapist and sitting in support groups. It’s no easy fix-and not fast-but it sure worked!

  3. Tara says:

    Thanks for this post, Sunny! I definitely tend to feel more sorry for myself if I feel I’ve eaten too much, which makes it way harder to move forward with healthy choices. I don’t necessarily go off on a huge binge, but I definitely hold on to the negative thoughts about myself for a LONG time. For instance, I am still feeling guilt for having seconds at dinner last night. I’ve been seeing a therapist for over 2 years and we’re just now getting into the really HARD stuff, which is blowing my mind. It hurts, but I hope I will come out “better” in the end. I love your perspective that Food Issues come in more flavors than “Anorexia” or “Bulimia”. Keep up the great blogging!

    • Sunny says:

      You’re welcome, Tara! Thanks for weighing in. Those negative thoughts are hard to kick-I know they come at me sometimes even now. Like today, for instance. :) But we just keep putting one foot in front of the other, don’t we? Moving toward being healthier all the time!

  4. […] with yourself about what you can handle, but also don’t beat yourself up and try avoid the black and white thinking that Sunny talked about last […]

  5. I resonate completely with having a reaction to overeating. I would “sniper” myself by saying terribly mean things and feel terrified I would gain weight. Now I have developed a series of flash cards that I review daily to remind myself:

    “I don’t have to react to overeating by hurting myself, or by getting scared.”
    “I can control wailing on myself no matter how much I eat.”
    “I don’t have to sniper myself as a form of weight mgmt. I fact, it only makes things worse.”
    “Snipering isn’t a part of weight mgmt at all, merely a remnant of bad things. More evidence is that other times in my life I did not sniper and I still successfully managed my weight.”
    “All this energy I expend on snipering could be used where I struggle most…”

    After about a year of reading these cards and living their message, I have changed my thoughts. But I continue to read them because I don’t want to ever go back.

    I appreciated reading your posting and your success story. If you are interested you can read about my successes on my blog

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.