If you feel shame about your binge eating, you’re not alone. Binge eating is probably not something you’re proud of and you might be thinking there’s something wrong with you. You don’t want people to know about it and if you binge, all you want to do is hide.
In this episode, I’m going to help you to drop the shame and not feel so bad about yourself no matter how long you’ve binged for. Binge eating doesn’t have to come along with a serving of shame. Listen in to find out how you’re going to feel better about yourself and feel less shame.
Hello! Is it a beautiful day where you are right now? Because it’s not so much here. It’s dark and windy and rainy but, that’s okay, I just turned on some extra lights. And, I’m not letting the gloominess bring me down because, #1, this is part of what I signed up for when I moved out of southern California back to New England and I think it’s great to have variety in the weather and 2, because I am in the first week of a new round of the Stop Binge Eating Program! We are getting down to business, getting to work, we have our first coaching call this week, and I’m so excited to help all these people stop binge eating.
It really is such a brave step to commit for them to take this work to the next level and to go all in on themselves. So many of my group members do it even when they’re not fully believing that they will be successful. But they believe in the process and believe it could be possible and that’s all you really need in the beginning. You start there, then you begin seeing results little by little as you go through the work, and your belief in yourself grows and grows and it’s so amazing to watch. So if you’re not fully believing you can stop binge eating, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s totally normal to have doubt. You can have doubt and move forward anyway if you also have some belief along with it.
For those of you who missed this round of working with me and want to dive deeper into this work and get my direct help, registration for the next round of the program will be opening on December 16th, of 2021. So mark your calendar and get ready to change your relationship with food and with that, change your life. Create the life that binge eating is stopping you from having!
You can go to coachkir.com/group to get all the info about the program.
Alright, let’s move on to today’s topic. Binge eating shame.
I think most people would say that they experience a lot of shame around their binge eating.
When I was bingeing, I personally used the word, “embarrassing” a lot when I thought about my eating but, the two words are really so close in definition.
I made my binge eating mean so many things about me as a person and I thought there was something wrong with me and I imagined what people would think of me if they knew how I ate when I was alone, especially the ones who had this idea of me being such a healthy eater.
It was like I had this dirty little secret that made me a glutton, gross, someone with no self-control, and a fraud after having lost significant weight, thinking I had figured it all out, and then I’d start bingeing again and put some of the weight back on and they could see it.
Because I was so embarrassed, and even though I didn’t think the word to myself, I probably felt shame too, I kept it a secret from most of the people in my life.
I can think of 4 people that I told. Because when you’re ashamed of something, you’re probably not going to share it with the world.
When I did finally share it with the world, when I started my coaching practice and put word out to people who binge that I can help them, when I posted my first video on Facebook, to all my Facebook friends, telling them that I binge ate for 10 years, I was feeling very little embarrassment and shame.
And it wasn’t just because I wasn’t doing it anymore.
I’ve known people who have stopped binge eating and still don’t want anyone to know they ever struggled with it because they continue to feel ashamed of it.
There are also people who binge and are very open about it while feeling little shame.
Because it’s not the act of binge eating that causes you to feel ashamed.
It’s how you think about yourself, being someone who binges or used to binge, that causes the shame.
You feel shame about your binge eating because you’re thinking there’s something wrong with you. You think you’re broken, screwed up, a loser, a failure, disgusting, all these awful things about yourself that make you feel bad about yourself.
And this isn’t helping you in any way. When you feel bad, you’re probably going to treat yourself badly. Thinking this way about yourself is not only unuseful but, it’s also optional.
You don’t have to think this way about yourself whether you binge daily, binged an hour ago, or haven’t binged in years.
You don’t have to think there’s something wrong with you and start labeling yourself with such mean words and mentally beat yourself up.
Shame isn’t a useful feeling to feel and although you’re most likely not going to be able to eliminate it from your life completely, and the same goes for most of the other feelings you feel, you can do work around your thoughts to decrease the amount you feel. Maybe even eliminate it when it comes to your eating even if you don’t eliminate it completely with all circumstances you’ll ever experience.
I honestly don’t feel any shame or embarrassment about my binge eating history. I talk to people about it whenever it comes up, and it does from time to time since my career is centered around it, and I don’t hold back, hide, or lie. I just tell it like it was and I do my best to explain it to people who have never experienced it before.
And I don’t feel the shame because I don’t make it mean anything bad about me as a person.
For me, it’s become quite neutral. It’s a thing that I used to do for about 10 years. This is how it was for me. This is what I did.
I talk, and think about it, mostly in a very factual, neutral way.
But what many of you do, is think very little about the facts, and a lot about what you think is screwed up about you and why binge eating makes you a bad person.
Spending your time thinking about how messed up you are and thinking about all the things that are wrong with you, and calling yourself mean names, isn’t going to drive you to live your best life.
You’re going to isolate yourself, hide, and eat to feel better or eat because it’s all you can fathom doing because you can’t imagine seeing people right now and going out into the world.
That’s where shame will lead you.
So let’s work on letting it go and dropping the shame.
There’s two things I’m going to share with you that will help you do this.
One is normalizing your binge eating and the second is neutralizing it.
For the first one, when I say normalizing, I don’t mean changing your eating from bingeing to normal eating. You don’t have to do that to feel less shame about how you’re eating. Like I said, there are people who have completely stopped that feel shame about their binge eating in the past.
What I mean is that you see that there is nothing wrong with you and in fact, your brain is functioning exactly as it’s supposed to.
If your binge eating began because you were on an overly restrictive diet, then your brain was doing what it’s supposed to do by urging you to eat all the food you could when you could. It was trying to keep you alive. It was afraid you were starving or going to starve so it signaled out for you to eat a lot of food.
If your binge eating began because you transitioned from emotional eating into binge eating, your brain was doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. At some point, you trained your brain that you eat food to avoid uncomfortable feelings. So your brain learned, as brains do, they learn, and it just did what it was trained to do. Then it kept repeating this over and over until it became a habit and happened more often and in larger amounts. You trained it to think that more was better, it learned, and that’s how your brain continued to think.
When your binge eating became a habit, your brain was functioning exactly as it was supposed to. Brains create habits so they’re using less energy and this is a great thing. You love that you can train your brain and create habits in so many areas of your life. You love when some things are simply habit. The fact that your brain created a habit of binge eating doesn’t mean that anything has gone wrong or malfunctioned. Your brain is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s great at creating habits.
When you binge, your brain is avoiding pain, seeking pleasure, and using the least amount of effort possible. This is how our brains were designed and way back in the primitive days, that’s how we stayed alive. Pleasures, like food, kept us alive, pain, like an injury, could kill us, and because food, fuel, was scarce, we needed to conserve energy. Now in the modern world, our circumstances are different but our brains have stayed the same in this way. And it can be do our detriment rather than our survival because our brains aren’t good at differentiating life-threatening pain vs emotional pain and has a plethora of pleasure to take away the pain and it’s so easy to do it.
So all in all, your brain learned, created a habit, seeks pleasure, avoids pain, and wants to do what’s easiest.
This is a normal brain. It’s not broken or bad, it’s just a brain doing what brains do.
So you can stop thinking about how messed up your brain is and see that it’s a normal brain that simply learned things and created habits that you don’t want to have.
It happens to all of us in so many areas of life. It’s just how brains are and there’s no need to hate on your brain for doing what it’s designed to do.
So that’s normalizing. Your brain is normal.
The other thing is neutralizing and here I’m talking about emotions.
This is where you’re going to separate the facts from your thoughts.
You’re going to observe what is factually true and what you’re just thinking is true.
So for example, a fact would be that you ate a whole pizza and a pint of ice cream. It’s something that could be agreed on by everyone, that there was a whole pizza, a whole pint, and you ate all of it.
Then what you’re thinking is true could be thoughts like, “I’m so disgusting, I’m a monster for having eaten all that, I knew I’d do this again, I’m such a failure.”
Those thoughts you’re thinking are true are what is going to create the shame for you. Without those thoughts, there is no shame and like I said before, they’re totally optional ways of thinking about yourself.
What’s going to create less to no shame is just looking at the facts and what’s even better, is thinking more neutrally about the facts.
You ate a pizza and a pint of ice cream. That in itself probably isn’t going to cause shame until, you have a shameful thought about it.
What’s not going to create shame is a thought like, “I did that, I’m okay, and I’m going to figure this out.
How would you feel if that was what you were thinking is true?
Probably better than ashamed.
You can feel better by thinking better. You can stop being mean to yourself and look at the facts. Then decide how you want to think about the facts. You can think about them in a way that’s going to create more neutral emotions rather than negative ones like shame.
Just because you ate a lot of food doesn’t mean you have to feel ashamed of it. Just because you’re someone who eats a lot of food or used to, doesn’t mean you have to feel ashamed of it.
You can see it as your brain acting normally and you can forgive yourself, have compassion with yourself, and feel determined to figure this out.
And don’t think that thinking it’s normal and neutral is going to lead you to continue doing it. It’s not. It’s going to put you in an emotional state that will allow you to have clear, rational thinking about your next steps so you can get to work on this.
It’s shame that could lead you to do doing it more. When you feel shame you’re going to isolate, hide, and eat, remember?
So let’s choose the neutral thoughts about what you did so you can get to work on training your brain to create new habits.
Let’s get to work on managing your brain in this modern world we live in, and choosing to think differently about our brains, our actions, and ourselves, because we can’t just allow our brains to run our lives on its primitive autopilot if we want to thrive and not just survive.
You don’t have to be ashamed of your brain and what you do.
You’re not bad or wrong. You’re a human with a normal human brain. You’re a human who ate food.
Your default may be to immediately think shameful thoughts about your brain and yourself but, intentionally choose to normalize and neutralize when it happens.
You get to think about yourself however you want to.
You don’t have to sit there and listen to all the negative thoughts you’re hearing in your mind about yourself. You can talk back and tell yourself something more neutral and useful.
You don’t have to spend your life in shame just because you do or did binge eat.
Alright, I’ll talk to you next time. Bye bye.