How to Put a Stop to your Binging and Purging
The cycle of binging and purging can be difficult to break when you’re struggling with an eating disorder. Not only does it involve damaging behaviours that put a significant strain on your body; the process also comes with troubling thoughts and emotions that can lead to poor mental health. Unhealthy thought patterns are closely connected with binges and purges, as they can both trigger the behaviours and be a result of them. This will often require therapeutic support to overcome. However, there are steps you can take now to start to break this cycle and learn to cope with day-to-day life.
Read on to find out more about how to stop binging and purging.
What is binging and purging?
Binging is essentially compulsive overeating. A person with an eating disorder can feel compelled to binge eat even when they aren’t hungry, to the extent of feeling uncomfortably full. When someone binges, they are often trying to avoid processing difficult feelings, filling an emotional hollow within themselves. These binges often take place in private settings, turning them into secretive acts that only intensify the associated feelings of shame.
Purges are behaviours that attempt to rid the body of the excessive amount of food. People purge in different ways, including vomiting, laxative misuse, over-exercising or fasting for a period of time after a binge. This is driven by an obsession with weight, poor body image and low self-esteem.
There are serious health risks to binging and purging, which are important to be aware of to stop this cycle before it causes any further damage. These include:
- Tooth decay
- Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat
- Complications with pregnancy
- Kidney failure
- Problems with the digestive system
- Issues with your cardiovascular system
- Esophagus damage
Binging and purging is typically followed by feelings of guilt and self-loathing, which, over time, can lead to co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Which eating disorders involve binging and purging?
Binging and purging would typically be behavioural symptoms of these eating disorders:
- Bulimia – bulimia nervosa creates a fixation on controlling food intake, through both binge eating and purging. The over-eating can amount to around four times a standard portion of food, which will often be unhealthy foods such as crisps or chocolate. The subsequent purges then try to balance this out, to quickly rid the body of calories. This means someone with bulimia often won’t gain or lose a noticeable amount of weight, making the condition go unnoticed
- Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) – this is an eating disorder that doesn’t meet the requirements of a formal diagnosis of one of the main conditions, such as anorexia, bulimia or BED, but would still be considered an eating disorder. So someone with OSFED may still carry out binges and purges, but on a less frequent basis. This doesn’t make the behaviours any less unhealthy and they can still severely impact mental health
There is also binge eating disorder (BED), however this doesn’t involve any purging after binges. Because of this, the binges can lead to weight gain and obesity, which often intensifies the cycle of eating as the person feels increasingly worse about their body image and weight.
How to stop binging and purging
Here are some steps to take to stop binging and purging:
- Identify the triggers for your binges and purges – if you start to pay attention to your behaviour patterns and learn what usually sets off your binging and purging, you can be prepared for the urge to perform these acts and be ready to stop them before they happen. These might include things like experiencing an upsetting event, enduring stress at work or speaking to a certain person
- Plan your meals ahead – this can help you to think through what’s going to be good for you and to make healthier choices for yourself. This means eating enough of each food group and planning portions that won’t leave you hungry and prone to bingeing. It will help you to ensure that you always have enough food in the house and, if you have a set plan, discourage you from skipping meals
- Eat at regular times throughout the day – eating regular meals will help to keep your blood sugar levels stabilised and reduce the urge to binge from hunger. Preventing spikes or crashes in blood sugar levels also helps to regulate your moods and minimise anxiety levels. At Life Works, we encourage eating three meals three snacks per day, with no more than two to three hours in between
- Schedule in regular time for activities you enjoy – keeping up hobbies and socialising with people not only helps to physically distract you from carrying out unhealthy behaviours, it will also help to improve your mental wellbeing to combat the negative thoughts patterns that can lead to binge eating and purging
- Practise self-care every day – this can help you to get into positive habits with your wellbeing that will help you to process anything you may be going through. Activities like journaling, meditation and yoga can help you to feel more connected to your sense of self, become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and be more compassionate to yourself
Most importantly, telling someone about what you’re going through is the first step to acknowledging your behaviour to others, and asking for help. They can help you to seek professional treatment and provide all-important support as you embark on your recovery journey.
Getting treatment for an eating disorder
Eating disorders can be lonely conditions, but we want you to know that you’re not alone. At Life Works, our experienced mental health specialists have helped many others to reach long-term recovery from an eating disorder, so that they can go on to lead a happier way of life.
Treatment at Life Works involves:
- Comfortable surroundings within a beautiful manor house setting in Woking, with landscaped, peaceful outdoor grounds
- Inpatient (residential), day care or outpatient formats
- One-to-one therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
Read more about our full range of options for eating disorder treatment.
Contact us today for a free assessment and we can determine the best course of treatment for your own needs.