When you’re feeling a strong urge to eat a lot of food, it feels so necessary and urgent.
Since it’s coming from your own brain, it seems like the need is real and that you have to do it.
But it’s not and you don’t, because your urges are separate from your true self.
It can be hard to separate the two when you’re feeling an urge, but not so much when you’re not.
Think about it right now, or if you’re feeling an urge right now do this when you’re not. What kinds of thoughts drive you to binge and what thoughts are you thinking right now that cause you not to?
Any thought that tells you to binge is coming from your urge and anything that tells you not to is coming from YOU.
If you don’t know how our brains work in these instances, this concept may sound weird. Isn’t it all you?
Well, it is, but there’s many parts of our brain and when it comes to binge eating there’s two parts at play. Here’s a quick explanation of how it works.
In the lower part of our brain, there’s our primitive, animal brain that is all about survival. It wants to avoid pain and seek pleasure using the least amount of effort possible. Over time, you’ve trained your brain to eat to solve both of these. Feeling something painful? Looking for pleasure? Eating is the easiest way to do both.
Luckily for us, we have more than just our animal brain. We have a fantastic part of our brain that makes us human, called the pre-frontal cortex (PFC). This right here, is where YOU are. Amongst other things, this is the place where you get to control your behavior.
Your urges to binge come from the animal part of your brain and it’s in the pre-frontal cortex where you get to decide whether you’ll give in to that urge or not.
Every time you feel an urge, it’s just a signal from your animal brain. You do not have to comply.
It’s no different than any other urge you feel. Feeling an urge to punch someone in the face? Well, you’re probably not going to because you’re using your PFC to decide not to.
You can do that same thing with your binge urges.
Why wouldn’t you punch someone even though you felt an urge to do it? I bet it would feel really good to do it in that moment! But you probably don’t because of the consequences and you’d rather be with the urge to punch than deal with the consequences…. even though it would feel good to do it.
It would feel really good to binge in the moment when you’re feeling an urge to do it, but maybe being with the urge would create a better outcome than the consequences that binge eating brings.
Your urges don’t decide what you do, you do. Your urges are not you. That voice you hear, even if it’s quiet, that tells you maybe you shouldn’t binge, that right there is you. That is the voice you should listen to.
Your urge may be in your head, but that doesn’t mean it’s what you really want. It’s just what you’ve trained the pain avoiding, pleasure seeking part of your brain to ask for. It doesn’t know any better, but you in your PFC do. Re-train it. Teach it that this is not what you need and not how you want to experience pleasure or how you want to avoid pain.