The Day After a Food Binge

Photo by  Alan Hardman

Photo by Alan Hardman

Navigating the mental and physical responses to over indulgence.

Originally published in: the Post-Grad Survival Guide

My eyes strain open, a feeble moan escaping my lips…

At some point along the way, this sound gradually transforms into some strange concoction halfway between a burp and a yawn.

I rub my belly, ever so sensitive to the touch.

It feels like something curled up and died inside there…

More melodies, that no one should have to hear (let alone produce), escape the depths of my body as I lumber my way towards the bathroom.

On the journey over, I briefly encounter some long lost acquaintances:

Oh, hello there Regret!

What’s up Guilt?

Where did you run off to Shame? It’s been a while!

I’ve had a fair few mornings like these. The ones proceeding food binges that originated from an overly restrictive lifestyle centered around ego, greed, and craving.

But this morning is different.

Though I still revert to these old habits, namely the comfort of mindlessly eating whatever the hell I feel like, a wonderful shift has occurred in how I relate and react to over indulgence.

This article will not address the root cause of binge eating, nor even techniques to stop it.

Instead, I hope to help reframe such instances as opportunities for learning that needn’t be accompanied by the guilt, shame, and regret that often make others too scared to speak to similar issues around food.

I’ve weathered many binge-related storms, survived 100% of those days, and now know on an experiential level that the feelings that make binges suck will pass

It isn’t the binge in itself that feels “bad”, persay, so much as what I’d learned to associate with those feelings.

I’ve been equipped with many practices, techniques, and wonderful tidbits of information that help me overcome binge eating, and I’m excited to share them.

So you had a food binge…what now?

I’m proud of the man that I am today.

I’m proud of the relationship that I’ve developed with food and with my body: far from perfect, but one of appreciation and enjoyment.

There have been many instances where I’ve woken up to feelings of intense shame because of as eating too much the night before.

These things never seem as petty as they are in those moments.

First things first: guilt doesn’t do you any favors

Don’t beat yourself up.

Easier said than done? Big time.

I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a mental body scan as soon as I wake up.

Regardless of the perceived positivity or negativity of the sensation that I feel in the moment, like a sluggish queasiness, I try to observe the prevailing ones in as objective of a light as I can.

This is done so with the understanding that whatever the sensation is, it will pass. No matter what. That’s a biochemical truth.

So, to put this into context, when I feel like some long-lost relative to Jabba the Hutt after a binge, I do my best accept the reality of the moment, and of the sensation. Without attaching any emotion, negative or otherwise, to it. Eventually, it passes.

This can only be cultivated with practice, but its a practice worth practicing!

Water is your friend

Drinking lots of water is a life-practice I recommend getting into, regardless of your eating habits.

However, water can be particularly beneficial when recovering from a binge.

It can be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or another stimulant first thing, but you’re likely dehydrated at this time and this may just add to the building constipation.

Water can help prevent this unwelcome stuck-ness that often results when we consume too much sugar (or food in general).

Listen to your body on this: your pee is likely indicative of dehydration after a binge, but you can assess your needs based on coloration.

Try a cold shower

Even if you can only manage 15 seconds, cold showers are always game-changers for me.

Though I take them on a regular basis, I’ve found them to be especially potent methods of mind-control after a food binge. In essence, they shock the shame and self-pity out of my system.

Cold showers are soooo refreshing, and prove to myself that I can do something that my mind doesn’t want to do (which tends to be important after binging).

That…and all the other health benefits inherent to cold showers.

Keep breathing…

Breathe-work is something I self-prescribe to handle or improve a lot of situations, and so here again I say: BREATHE!

The two exercises that always calm and refresh me, which I judiciously employ post-food-binge, are alternate nostril breathing and breathe of fire.

Be wary of over-restriction

A natural response to eating too much is to flip the switch and starve yourself the next day.

This perpetuates binge behavior, and won’t bring only what a consistent, balanced lifestyle does.

Eat when you’re hungry. Perhaps opt for more protein-dense food if your body calls for it, and don’t forget to give yourself a massive break!

I hope this has been of service in some capacity, and would love to continue this conversation in the comments below.

Thank you for reading!