I used to be a binge eater.

At the time, I felt like I was so alone- like I was the only person struggling with this problem. Now, I know better. Women are constantly telling me that they struggle with binge eating and that they don't know how to stop, so I wanted to share my story with you to make you feel less alone.

I'd struggled with food for a while – cycling between undereating and overeating – but the bingeing really began when I moved to Tasmania in 2017. This was around the time that I became really restrictive with my food, because I wanted to be 'healthy' (read: skinny).

My entire life was focused on being smaller, was focused on becoming less of myself. That is where I was putting all my energy- I was walking or running in the mornings, going to the gym at night, focusing on what I was going to eat, meal prepping, having the supplements, doing all the things. Surprisingly (not), that was hard to maintain. It's hard to maintain a diet. It's hard to maintain tracking your macros. It's hard to maintain an intense, rigid exercise regime.

So, what happens when it becomes too hard? You go the other way. You binge.

When we binge, we blame ourselves. We think that we're the problem. We don't stop to consider that, actually, our restrictive lifestyle was the problem. Our approach was the problem. Our brains and bodies aren't designed to live that way and they're just trying to protect us (albeit in a very annoying way).

I didn't understand how I could be so 'good' all week, have so much willpower and live a 'perfect' life... until the weekend rolled around, I had the house to myself and I had free rein to eat myself into oblivion. I never kept chocolate or 'bad' food in the house, so when the urge to binge struck, I'd pay an exorbitant amount to get food delivered (joys of living in Tasmania when we didn't have UberEats!) or spent $50 on snacks at Coles to eat in one sitting.

Eventually I reached the point where I was bingeing daily, hiding food at work or sneaking out to the shops in the middle of my shift because I just couldn't stand the cravings. I'd sunk further and further into depression, anxiety and, finally, binge eating disorder. I was in a dark place, but at least I finally realised that I needed help and that something was actually wrong.

I went into therapy and did all of the 'right' things. I'm a straight up nerd so I did all of my homework, practiced everything my psychologist told me to do and showed up for all of my sessions, but nothing seemed to work for me. I still wanted to binge all of the time. I still felt like an awful human for doing it. I still couldn't find the freedom I was desperately seeking.

Honestly, I did most of the work to get better on my own!

1. Working out what actually constituted a binge
This is something that I question my clients about a lot. 'Binge eating' can get confused with just 'overeating' sometimes. Often, I hear women say that they've binged, when actually they just mean that they've eaten past the point of comfortable fullness or have eaten more than they wanted to eat (like eating half a block of chocolate instead of a couple of squares). To me, a binge is when you consume a really large quantity of food and feel out of control doing it – like you physically cannot stop yourself. While I was bingeing a lot of the time, as I moved through my recovery journey I realised that sometimes I was actually choosing to eat past the point of comfortable fullness – not bingeing. That was a really empowering feeling for me that helped me to overcome the bingeing itself.
2. Removing the restriction and learning to eat intuitively
If I hadn't stopped restricting food, I would still be stuck in that binge eating cycle. Intuitive eating saved my life and taught me that there was another way – a way that didn't need to be full of misery and constant struggle. When you are allowed to eat all foods, you don't feel the need to go wild and demolish them all. This piece of the puzzle was essential to letting go of binge eating long-term!
3. Working out my triggers
I think this is the one that everyone knows – it's pretty obvious. I knew that being alone was a trigger, certain emotions were triggers and so much more. The caveat on this step, which I don't think is talked about enough, is that sometimes knowing something is a trigger can MAKE you get triggered. Once I recognised my patterns, I found myself playing into them. For example, if I was home alone but had no urges to binge, the thought 'oh no, being home alone is a trigger' and I would INSTANTLY feel the need to binge. This plays into my next point...
4. Stopped identifying as a 'binge eater'
Identity plays SUCH a huge part in how we behave, and this was actually the biggest catalyst for change for me. We play into our identities and our patterns. Like above – I had the identity of someone who binged when she was home alone, so I kept doing it. I had 'binge eater' as part of my identity, so I kept bingeing. Removing these things from my identity was the greatest shift for me and where things really started to improve.
5. Getting help
Yep, I know that I said therapy didn't give me the answers, but I don't regret going. It doesn't have to be from a psychologist – just get help from someone who understands. Someone who can help you through this awful process and hold your hand until you come out the other side. It's bloody hard to do it alone, and you don't have to.
I've been binge-free for years now. If you told me back then that I'd reach this point, I don't think I would have believed you. I genuinely thought I was going to be bingeing until the day I died.

If you can resonate with any of this, please seek help. Book a free coaching session so that I can help you, or, if I can't, I can point you in the direction of someone better suited to your needs.

In the meantime, if you want a short-term solution to stop snacking on sugar (which seems to be one of the most common binge foods!), you can download my FREE 5 Steps to Stop Snacking on Sugar (In 15 Minutes or Less!) guide here.

I'm an online Body Image & Food Freedom Coach and I'm here to burn diet culture to the ground.

I'll transform your life through food and body freedom, so that your days are full of fun and pleasure.

You can love your body, feel confident, create sustainable healthy habits and become your best self without diets and their BS!