What Does My Brain Have To Do With Binging?
Binge eating occurs because we feel urges to binge. So how on earth do we stop an urge? By not giving into the urge!
Do you ever feel powerless to a binge? Like the urge to binge happened so fast that you had NO choice but to act on it? Turns out there is a reason for that and you my friend, are not alone.
The science behind binge eating is still growing but for now we’ll simplify things. Your urges come from the lower brain: the monkey mind or the animal brain. This is the first part of our brain that developed and it’s what helps us survive. It functions to incorporate pain avoidance, subconscious processes, emotions, instincts, and pleasure seeking. By taking information and processing things automatically, we then have an urge. The urge is then accompanied by automatic thoughts such as, “I need to binge, NOW!”
Let’s set the scene and look at how this can play out.
You walk by a store where you often buy binge foods and your brain automatically responds with an action command telling you to “binge!” It does this because its been conditioned to think this way. When you engage in repetitious behavior overtime, your brain becomes conditioned to see a certain store or food and think, “binge time is on!” The automatic thought is a lower brain response. Luckily however, us humans have a part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex which is where our rational thinking takes places.
Prior to the binge, the lower brain sends an automatic response, a thought about binging, and the urge to binge. Then, the prefrontal cortex acts as the decision-maker and decides the course of action. The lower brain may act like the persistent toddler demanding a binge, but nothing will happen until you make a decision with your prefrontal cortex. And, guess what? That decision can be NOT TO BINGE!
You always have the decision to say N-O. No, after all, is a complete sentence.
Every time we binge eat we reinforce the behavior. Start to notice the shift from the urge to binge to the actual decision to do so. Pay attention to what’s going on with you before the binge. Where are you? What are you feeling? Are you with anyone or are you by yourself? What do your thoughts sound like? Notice what’s happening before you decide to pick up the food and remember, your cravings and urges don’t control your actions!
Now that you have some of this information, it’s up to you what you’re going to do with it. You’ve got this!