Binge eating may be one of the worst feelings in the world. Feeling like you have lost control and that uncomfortable overly full feeling can fill you with regret and shame. If you are wondering what to do after binging to combat that feeling in the most productive way, you are in the right place.
What you do right after binge eating is going to be very important in that it can help lead you down the path to recovery or another cycle of binges.
So, what is it going to be? Recovery or relapse?
Are you going to treat your body with kindness or disgust?
What you do after binging is going to directly impact what the future holds for you. Punish yourself for binging and you will actually be more likely to binge in the future. Being kind to yourself after the binge will actually help prevent binges in the future.
So, be sure to choose the right path!
But, before we jump into the proper strategies for what to do after a binge, let’s first discuss what a binge is, how it affects your body, and then jump into what to do right after a binge.
What is considered a “binge”?
Binge eating is defined as when you eat a large amount of food in a short period of time, typically less than 2 hours, and feeling as though you can’t control how much or what you are eating.
You may have Binge Eating Disorder if this happens at least once per week over a period of three months.
If you fall into this category, I highly suggest you seek out professional help. This can be your doctor, psychologist, or ideally an eating disorder professional.
If you are not ready for this step, you can check out this website for more resources and information.
If you are binging every once in a while, but not every week, it still is important to seek help and work towards healing your relationship with food.
This article is a wonderful start, but I would also highly recommend the resources listed at the end of this article.
What happens to your body after a binge?
Well, simply put, your body starts digesting the food you just ate.
Depending on what kind of foods you ate, your body may be producing more insulin or other hormones to help digest these foods than normal.
But whatever you ate, your body will take care of the digestion part. Trust it to complete this process.
As long as you are healthy and your digestion is functioning normally, your body will handle this just fine.
You may notice some abdominal discomfort or pain due to it being full. This is normal and expected, and it will pass over time.
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that your body won’t go haywire after binging. It knows what to do when you eat large amounts of food and it will do its job.
If anything, your body is likely going to be happy that it finally got that food it desired, since your body was the one pushing you to eat these foods.
So, trust the process, and I promise you that nothing bad is going to happen with your body after a binge.
What about my mental health?
What you may notice after a binge is that you feel down. You may feel guilty, or shameful after binging.
This is also very normal.
When you feel this way, the first step is to forgive yourself.
Binging is a normal, human response to restriction. It wasn’t you “losing control” or “being bad”.
Therefore, you shouldn’t punish yourself. Your body was actually trying to help you out.
It noticed you were restricting either calories, food groups, or certain foods. It sensed you were in a state of starvation or lack of food, and it compensated by making sure you were all stocked up on calories.
Now, this almost primal response does not translate well to today’s world, but it is important to work with it not against it to combat binge eating.
So, to sum it up, it is normal to feel down or discouraged after a binge. What matters is the next step you take.
Will I gain weight from a binge?
Eating more calories than what your body needs to run will make you gain weight (in the form of fat).
So, if you ate enough calories to put you above your maintenance calories, then yes, you will gain weight.
But, it will likely only be a fraction of a pound.
If you notice the scale go up after a binge, it is likely extra weight from your body holding onto extra water.
This is normal and expected and not something to stress about.
I highly suggest putting away the scale after a binge. I promise you, you aren’t going to be gaining several pounds from a single binge.
What should I do immediately after a binge?
So, we know what a binge is and what happens to your body after a binge, but what should you do immediately after a binge?
Well, as mentioned earlier, you need to start by forgiving yourself.,
Binging is a normal human response to restriction. Your body is just doing what it thinks is best to help you survive!
I highly suggest doing something you enjoy right after a binge, something that is relaxing for you.
This could be meditation, yoga, reading a book, watching a movie, whatever you like to do.
Use this time to unwind and ground yourself. This is not time to punish yourself for binging. It’s time to treat your body nicely and give it time to digest.
And after that? Just carry on life normally!
How do you eat after a binge?
You may not be interested in food while you are digesting immediately after a binge, but once you are hungry again, eat!
Remember, the root of binge eating is restriction.
So, if you don’t want to continue the cycle of binging, you need to stop restricting. Eat when you are hungry, eat foods you enjoy, including “unhealthy” foods.
You should not modify your diet after a binge to “make up” for it. In fact, this will lead you right back down the path to binge eating again.
To sum it up, follow these three steps immediately after a binge:
- Forgive yourself.
- Do a relaxing activity that you enjoy.
- Continue with your normal eating patterns.
This sounds so simple, but it’s truly the only way to recover from binge eating.
Follow these 3 steps after binging, and over time, you will notice that you will be binge eating much less.
But, there will be additional steps you need to take to stop binge eating for good.
What further steps can I make to stop binging for good?
Now that we have discussed what to do immediately after a binge, let’s discuss how to stop binge eating for good.
I go into this in great depths in this article, but to sum it up:
You need to stop restricting yourself.
This sounds so simple, but getting there can be a long bumpy road. It involves giving up the pursuit of weight loss, adding “fear” foods back into your diet, embracing mindful eating, and learning to enjoy food again.
A great way to approach this is with intuitive eating.
If you are unfamiliar with what intuitive eating is, I highly suggest checking out this article, which goes into depth about what it is.
I suggest this book as well (affiliate link), written by two Registered Dietitians who created the concept of intuitive eating.
They go into detail about what intuitiv,e eating is, and the steps to become an intuitive eater.
I also have several articles on my blog that discuss several intuitive eating topics. Check those out here.
All in all, binge eating can seem impossible to overcome. It can be very tough on your mental health and self esteem. But, you don’t have to continue down the path of constant restriction and binge eating. I highly suggest you check out these resources to finally overcome binge eating, for life!