Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Disorder

Repeated Patterns in Disordered Eating

What are the 10 things our clients do, over and over again, that do not help them? An interesting article I read recently on the “10 Things Successful People Never Do again” summed them up perfectly.

I am always looking for tools, resources and handouts that support my clients, and I recently came across this article by Dr Henry Cloud – “10 Things Successful People Never Do Again”.  Well, who’s not going to click on that? So I did.  On reading the article through, I was really struck by the fact that the majority of these behaviours are so often brought into counselling with clients who struggle with any form of disordered eating.  I invite you to read Dr Cloud’s original article (link is at the end of this post) for comparison, but I have taken the headings and taken the liberty of re-writing the text in the context of Eating Disorders.  

“We all make mistakes but the people who thrive from their mistakes are the successful ones”. Dr. Henry Cloud June 24, 2014

Dr Cloud states that successful people never again do any of these 10 things.

1. They Never Return to what hasn’t worked.

If there was ever a behaviour that doesn’t work, it is binge eating, or bingeing and purging.  And yet, clients will cycle in and out of these behaviours for years and years. Bingeing and purging are behaviours that develop as a way of managing, or avoiding, difficult feelings.  However, they more usually create a new set of negative feelings – shame, disgust, guilt and helplessness. And yet, clients repeat the behaviour again and again. Habits are an entire area of research on their own, and the evidence is that they are HARD to break, willpower alone is usually not enough.  But getting structured help and support can and does achieve change. So the first shift for someone struggling with this yo-yo cycle, is to admit to themselves that they cannot do it alone, and then reach out for help. One of the four pillars of support in our program is neuroscience – explaining how your brain works, how binge eating disorder is linked to habit and autopilot, and most importantly, how to break those links so you can choose to something other than eat when you are not hungry, or keep eating when you are already full.

2. They Never Do Anything that requires them to be someone they are not.

Clients who come to us for help are almost always “People Pleasers”.  Terrified that family or friends will reject them or no longer want to be friends with them if they knew the truth, or if they became a ‘burden’ by being ‘needy’, they NEVER ask for help or support, and they keep their true selves well hidden from the world, even from their nearest and dearest.  This is not a healthy or positive way to maintain relationships, for two main reasons.

1) People can often tell when someone is being ‘fake’, and it creates a feeling of distrust or dishonesty. It can often result in the other person too becoming less open or forthcoming, as they perceive the relationship to be ‘one way’ – “I’m always telling her about my problems and how I feel and she never shares with me…” .  

2) When we repeatedly bend over backwards for others, at our own expense, we get resentful, because the recipient of our generosity never seems to understand fully the sacrifice we have made. But why should they? They would be horrified if they knew, because, let’s face it, they would never sacrifice their own time/plans the way you do!

3. They Never Try to change another person.

Many of our clients have a false belief that if only “my mother/partner/boss/children” were “different/easier/not sick” or whatever… then their life would be so much easier and most of their problems would disappear.  The interesting thing about looking at someone else as the source of your problem(s) is that “if you spot it, you got it”. So whatever it is you struggle with about the other person, it is triggering something inside of you, about you.  And the only person you can ever change? It’s You.

4.  They Never Believe they can please everyone.

This goes back to no.2.  Being a “people pleaser”, spending all your time simply trying to ensure you never upset anyone else is absolutely futile.  First, there will always be people who just don’t get you, or like you, or want to be your friend. Second, when you are constantly focused on ‘others’, you are obviously not focused on yourself and your own wants/needs.  But ironically, you cannot fill a cup from an empty jug!  Imagine a world where we all appropriately looked after ourselves and took care of our own needs first, then extended out our care and attention to others AFTER that.  Think about it.  It would literally be Heaven on Earth.

5. They Never Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit.

If there was only ONE trap I could support clients with, it would be the instant gratification vs delayed gratification trap.  Emotional Eating and Binge Eating is the perfect example – instant gratification of the sugar/fat/salt lighting up your brain’s dopamine centre…. but very quickly followed by disappointment, guilt, remorse, anger.  The problem here is again your brain – hard to believe but the truth is, when you want to binge, the LAST thing your brain is going to think about is the consequence – how you will feel afterwards. It is simply focused on the ‘reward’ – numbing out, being comforted (momentarily) by food.  Learning how to tap into meaningful and TIMELY delayed gratification is a key strategy we teach clients, and it can be a game changer.

6.  They Never Trust someone or something that appears flawless.

Seriously? And this guy Cloud isn’t even talking about my clients who binge eat or are trapped in the diet/crash/binge/guilt/diet cycle!  Photoshopped Instagram/Facebook pictures anyone?  Unsubstantiated claims of “100% Success Rate for Weight Loss / Dropping Two Sizes in Two Weeks / Being Buffed in 21 Days” / Whatever the latest online marketing lie is……

If ever there was a group of people who consistently chase after the ‘next shiny new thing (diet/weight loss program), it’s our clients.   But there are NO quick fixes, reader. They have NEVER worked in the past, and they WILL never work.

7. They Never Take their eyes off the big picture.

Again with the instant vs delayed gratification. I talk about ‘the teaspoon effect’.  A binge and a binge and a binge is like a teaspoon and a teaspoon and a teaspoon. Each episode in and of itself doesn’t feel like a big deal – “I’ll start again tomorrow, or Monday”.  But every episode keeps you exactly the same distance away from reaching your life goals – all the ones that are on hold…. UNTIL. Until you lose ‘the weight’, or ‘get my relationship with food back on track’.  We do work on this – tying the longer term into the shorter term.

8. They Never Neglect to do due diligence.

Back to point 6 here – never believing anything or taking it on face value that it works without doing research.  If you look back at all the diets, weight loss programs, food plans, exercise and diet plans etc that you have tried over the years – have any of them worked permanently for you?  NO. And that is because DIETING doesn’t work.  All the scientific evidence will tell you that dieting/calorie restriction DOES NOT WORK for permanent weight loss. All it does is mess with your metabolism, your hormones, your stress level and your head.  Our program, Eating Freely, works. If you DO the work.

9. They Never Fail to ask why they are where they find themselves.

Why are you where you are now with your food and weight? Have you ever actually asked yourself that question? And if you have, can I tell you, the answer is NOT “because I have no willpower and I just cannot resist chocolate.. or wine.. or both”.  You are where you are because a) diets don’t work and b) there’s something deeper than your eating going on, that you haven’t yet addressed. Or if you have tried to address that thing, you didn’t go to a specialist who can untangle the links between your emotional distress/your past, and your eating.

10. They Never Forget that their inner life determines their outer success.

All I am going to say here is – fundamentally transforming your relationship with food, and yourself, is an inside job.  The main bulk of the work we do is on your MINDSET, and how you FEEL about YOURSELF.  Yes we’ll talk about food, yes we’ll give you tools to address bingeing and emotional eating immediately, but over the course of the program – online or in person – the bulk of the work is on YOU, and how you treat yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally.  As the old saying goes – Happiness is an Inside Job.

Dr Cloud ends his article with:

Everyone makes mistakes…even the most successful people out there. But, what achievers do better than others is recognize the patterns that are causing those mistakes and never repeat them again. In short, they learn from pain—their own and the pain of others. A good thing to remember is this: pain is unavoidable, but repeating the same pain twice, when we could choose to learn and do something different, is certainly avoidable. I like to say, “we don’t need new ways to fail….the old ones are working just fine!” Our task, in business and in life, is to observe what they are, and never go back to doing them again.

See Dr Cloud’s original article in full here: http://www.success.com/article/10-things-successful-people-never-do-again?utm_source=Happify&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=link+exchange

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