I binged today. Here’s what I learned.

I say I’m in recovery from BED for a reason. It might be over four months since I last binged, I may be succeeding in my intuitive eating journey, but at times of stress, I still sometimes return to those thoughts and behaviours that sustained me since childhood.

Today was one of those times. I started the day doing stomach exercises, and since then have cried and eaten to the point of pain, stretching out those sore abs.

It was time to get out the emotion wheel and figure out what’s going on. I try to use each relapse as a learning exercise. Here’s what I learned today.

I looked at the wheel and realised my emotions today were in the dislike area.

Why these feelings? I thought back and yesterday I caught sight of myself in a shop mirror and felt disgusted, repelled. How had I let myself put on so much weight? I realised I had been feeling this way about my body all week. Yes, I have been more bloated than usual (the joys of IBS), but I was wearing a dress I bought 2 years ago, so the facts didn’t add up.

Then I realised how far I had been out of my comfort zone all week. I had a hospital appointment on Monday in a department where I had experienced weight stigma. Even getting there involved driving the furthest I have in a year.

On Tuesday I met a dozen colleagues indoors for lunch. No masks, no social distancing. For the first time in 18 months. I have been extremely careful during the pandemic, only meeting others outdoors or with masks. Recently I have struggled to leave the house at times, so this was a massive step. This was followed by a face to face meeting I had been dreading. Again, indoors and without masks.

Wednesday and Thursday included more difficult meetings. Plus a glut of new referrals. And all this through a heatwave, which meant less sleep and a reduced appetite all week.

In other words, this week provided the perfect storm for a binge. Increased stress and anxiety, less sleep, lower food intake, and all the extra energy used by getting ready and actually leaving the house. No wonder I was bloated. No wonder I was extra hungry. No wonder I reverted to default mode and took it out on myself.

Thankfully there aren’t many weeks like these for me. But the reason I’m recording it is to remind myself how far I have come. This is only my second binge this year, and both times I was able to pinpoint why and get straight back on course.

If you’re reading this and you’ve binged too, please believe me when I say it’s OK. You don’t need to punish or hate yourself, or feel ashamed. Look at it with curiosity. What was the binge trying to tell you? What can you learn from it? Take that forward with you to help you next time.

Recovery isn’t linear. It’s messy sometimes. But that’s OK, because most worthwhile things are. And I’m here to tell you that recovery is so, so worthwhile.

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