Self-Compassion For Binge Eating

Most people how struggle with binge eating have little to no compassion for themselves. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Binge eating is usually mired in a relationship of shame and self-deprecation. Very few people struggling with this level of emotional eating actually stop to look at the function binge eating serves. We all have parts of ourselves that perform a role in our lives. For example, my angry or fearful part of myself functions to alert me to the need for protection from danger. It may be that binge eating has done that for you. In my experience, most individuals suffering from this condition have some sort of trauma in their history. It may not be what we consider to be a big “T” trauma like abuse or war, but being teased about your body on the playground in 2nd grade can have a similar impact on you depending on your ability to process the experience at the time. If that prior experience caused you to think about yourself in a negative way as a result may lead to behaviors with devastating consequences down the line. When we have painful experiences, we develop behaviors to protect ourselves. It is a survival mechanism. If in your childhood, you suffered from some sort of trauma, food may have been the only means to soothe yourself at that time. It protected you from the effect of the pain you were going through. Over time, this relationship with food may have evolved into disordered eating in which you felt you had to eat to the point of pain either to punish yourself, numb yourself or distance yourself from emotional pain by creating physical pain. At a certain point, you were no longer in control and the food began controlling you. Often what happens is that our “protectors” still think we are the children they began protecting. They don’t realize that we no longer need them and that they are now doing more harm than good. I would encourage you to get in touch with the part of yourself that looks to food for comfort. Get to know it on a deep level. Find out what part of your child self it is protecting. Identify your fears around letting it go. Instead of trying to battle this part with shame, allow yourself to be curious. You might be amazed what you find out!



Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.


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