What to do after a binge

This topic really resonates with me, particularly today. I haven’t talked a ton about bingeing on the blog, but it’s something that has affected my life for a long time. My research over the years has shown me that TONS of people, especially women, are affected by bingeing. I plan on dedicating a large amount of blog space to the topic of bingeing-what it is, how it’s discussed (or not) in the U.S., and how to overcome it.

Today, I’m writing about what to do immediately after a binge, as in the few minutes after we put the food down and the reality that we’ve just binged sets in. In those moments, we often recoil in horror as we assess the empty food cartons, half-empty bags of chips or gallons of ice cream, and the half-eaten loaf of banana-chocolate chip bread. Unfortunately, the post-binge horror, shame, and embarrassment that we inflect upon ourselves is counterproductive. If we wallow in those feelings, we hit the food again, and often harder than before.

To avoid a second binge and to restore our minds and bodies to a peaceful state, here’s what you do:

You just move on. You binged. Acknowledge that. Then go on with your day (or night).

What does it mean to “just move on” look like? Specifically, it looks like taking a small, simple action to get yourself out of binge mode and into mental and physical calmness.

Here’s a list of small, simple actions that you can take to shift your entire day or night after a binge (I did all of these myself today):

1. BREATHE. Amidst all of the food wrappers and crumbs. Take 3-5 deep breaths. Try this technique:

2. Sip on a glass of water. No, I’m not talking about warm lemon water with cayenne so that you can detox immediately in a desperate and ill-advised attempt to lose weight fast. Just fill a glass with cool water. Sit down and drink it. Hydrate your body.

3. Research something cool/interesting/productive on the internet. Watch a TED talk. Plan your dream vacation; look up all of the cool places to visit. Today, I opened my laptop and did some job research. I found a couple of jobs that I want to apply to. This stuff takes your mind off of your binge, giving your body freedom to digest and your mind a break from post-binge anxiety.

4. Shave your legs. I know the last thing you want to do after a binge is see yourself naked. But I took a shower and made a point to shave my legs really well. Afterwards, I felt clean and a little sexy and summery. Not in a bingeing mood, that’s for sure.

5. Say really sweet things to yourself. Today I said (in my mind and out loud), “I love you. You’re doing great. You’re okay. I’m so proud of you. Everything will be okay. You’re doing the best you can, Sarah ol’ girl (a la Helga Pataki).” Say that stuff to yourself. It really does make you feel better.

6. Promise yourself that you will keep going and fighting. It’s so easy to wallow in self-hatred and hopelessness after a binge. But that mindset just sets you up to binge again. Make a promise to yourself that you WILL overcome bingeing, that you will never give up on yourself, and that you WILL live binge-free.

7. Do something with people. Post-binge feelings are smothered by positive social interaction. I went to the pool with a friend today and am going out with more friends tonight. Make a date with one or more people who make you feel happy and relaxed. This not only gets you out of the house (isolation increases the likelihood that we’ll binge), but it also takes your mind off of your body and food. My friends, and most of them don’t realize this, have pulled me out of my darkest post-binge feelings.

Take this list seriously. If none of this resonates with you, generate your own list of small, manageable actions that you can take SECONDS after a binge so that you avoid another binge and feel peaceful.

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