Of course there will be times when you are about to binge or you are in the middle of a binge and feel that you can’t stop. That is the time to HALT!
HALT is borrowed from 12-step groups.
Take a pause and think, am I:
H – hungry?
A – angry?
L – lonely?
T – tired?
Stop and try to calm yourself down. There are several ways to do this:
- Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body and as such it holds the most tension. If you need to release some tension, put a pillow over your mouth and scream as loud as you can into it. It’s a great way to release stress.
- Massage your jaw. You don’t have to hold your mouth open, you don’t have to hold it closed, let it fall into a neutral position and massage little circles into your jaw. This will help relax you.
- The thymus tap: The theory is that tapping on your thymus helps to stimulate the immune system and elicits a calming response.
- Take a deep breath into your belly. Breathe in slowly to the count of 5. Then, release to the count of 5. Do this 10 times. Your body should relax enough to give you some time to rationally decide whether or not this is what you really want to do.
- EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique: This is tapping on acupressure points in order to let go of the urge to binge. Begin by assessing how badly, on a scale from 1–10, you want to binge.
- Postpone a binge with protein and a kitchen timer. When you are about to start eating, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If you are, let yourself eat a protein-dense food. If you’re not, tell yourself that you are absolutely allowed to go and binge, but you are going to wait 20 minutes before you do anything. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Just sit and breathe for those 20 minutes or go for a walk. Tell yourself that you can come back when the buzzer rings if you still need to.
- Find some distractions: This is the most popular post on my blog – 101 things that you can do instead of bingeing. Many of them don’t require deep introspection or recovery activities. They’re just straight up good healthy ways to distract yourself when you want to binge. Sometimes you might just be able to distract yourself right out of a binge.
- Find a mantra, and repeat it over and over. Some that I like:
How to do it: Make a fist and start tapping your fist on the middle of your chest, above your breastbone. The first tap is heavy, and the next two taps are a little softer. There is a pause between the first and second tap. So, the pattern is: tap, pause, tap, tap.
The tapping should be heavy enough to make a drumming sound in the chest. The vibration of the sternum caused by tapping helps to improve the thymus gland. Breathe naturally as you do the exercise, focusing on your breathing the entire time.
“My urge to binge is at a 10”
Then, create an “even though” statement such as:
“Even though I want to eat all the cookies in the bag, I deeply completely accept myself.”
“Even though I have the urge to keep eating even though I’m full, I deeply completely accept myself.”
“Even though I (fill in what you feel), I deeply and completely accept myself.”
As you say this affirmation out loud, begin tapping certain points on your body. Tap lightly, enough that you feel it, but not so much that you hurt yourself.
• Tap the side of your hand and as you do, say your “even though” statement three times.
Then, as you tap the pressure points, repeat the middle part of your even though statement. For instance: “want to binge on cookies, want to binge on cookies” as you continue to tap.
• Tap the outsides next to your eyes – near your temples
• Tap under your eyes
• Tap under your nose
• Tap under your mouth
• Tap under your collarbone
• Tap under your armpit next to your breast
• Tap the top of your head
• Tap the side of your hand again
• Tap inside your wrist
• Tap the top of your hand between your pinky and ring finger
Assess from a scale of 1–10 how badly you want to binge after you finish this cycle. Repeat this until you find some relief. For more information on the Emotional Freedom Technique, see emofree.com.
- Call a friend, your sponsor, a support person, anyone who you can talk to who will either get your mind off of food, or someone to talk to about whatever it is that you might be feeling.
- Go for a walk.
- Drink a cup of tea.
- Take a relaxing bath with nice bath salts or essential oils.
- Give yourself a manicure/pedicure – you can’t binge with wet nails.
- Go to a movie if the food there is not a trigger.
- Watch a funny movie at home.
- Get organized: sort out your bills, create a budget – organize your home, your closet, your life! Often getting organized can help you feel more in control and enable you to thwart a binge, which can often feel very out of control.
- Draw, paint or color.
- Take a nap.
- Get out of your house and into your car, go to the beach, the lake, the park… somewhere pretty and relaxing.
- Clean out your closet, donate your old clothes or sell them on eBay.
- Go window shopping.
- Read a good book.
- Write in your journal.
- Garden – a bacteria called Mycobacterium, which occurs naturally in soil, has the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant medications, so gardening if you enjoy it can be great for mental health – not to mention the benefit of getting out into the fresh air!
- Tell the binge that you are stronger than it is. You are stronger than the urge to binge. Just because you want to, doesn’t mean you have to.
- Write a letter to your future self, your recovered self, about what you’re going through right now.
- Call a friend or relative who has been unhappy lately and needing some support. Sometimes giving support can be incredibly heartening and also supports the supporter.
(This is a shortened version of the list in the book)
.Find a mantra, and repeat it over and over. Some that I like:
• Just because I want to, doesn’t mean I have to – the want will pass.
• I am stronger than the urge to binge.
• I am perfect, whole and complete just the way I am.
• I will feel worse later if I binge now, the satisfaction is so temporary.
• It’s hard now, and I’m hurting, but I will feel better later.
• Every time I work through whatever is bothering me and avoid binge eating I become stronger, and the disease becomes weaker; I’m trying to get stronger.
Leora Fulvio has been working professionally in the eating disorder recovery community since 2005, and has been involved as a volunteer and participant since 1999. She is also the author of Reclaiming Yourself From Binge Eating: A Step-by-Step Guide to Healing. She has trained at a few different Eating Disorder facilities, and has both worked and volunteered at various Eating Disorder Treatment Centers doing individual and group therapy as well as hypnotherapy and meditation for healing. She also has advanced training in treating Eating Disorders. Because she understands the difficulty in getting treatment (be it the cost, the inaccessible nature of treatment, or the problems with actually incorporating treatment with life) She created the blogRECOVER to help people find support in dealing with their Eating Disorders.
Leora is on the board of directors for BEDA (The Binge Eating Disorder Association) and participates in many projects and trainings related to size and diversity acceptance. Her hope is for everyone to feel safe in her office no matter their size, shape, gender or race.
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