This is adapted from an original piece by Kensington, Administrator of Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders

Regardless of which eating disorder a person has, millions of people have used binge eating as one of the behaviors. Everyone who has done so knows what the Binge Trance is like. You binge with no real connection to your food, as if in a trance.

When I first joined Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders and entered recovery, I adopted a philosophy after reading about “eating with your brain on.” I decided to dissect the binge and figure out how to change my binging before I figured out how to lessen the amount of times I did it. The first part of this is huge:

I gave myself permission to binge eat.

I told myself, “No guilt when this is over. This is not the same old binge, this is me trying to find a way out of Binging Hell.”

I sat with my binge food and nothing else. No tv, no book, no computer. I tasted the food. I put down the fork or the food piece between each bite. I was actually able to feel and taste texture, specific ingredients and how it felt to actually chew and be cognizant while I did it. I took as long as was needed to finish what I was eating. Much longer than your average Stuff & Run binge time table used to allow.

I did this many times over. And it wasn’t easy. I would forget and go into “binge mode”. I had to remind myself of what I was doing. Remind myself to slow down and experience the food. Remind myself of my “no guilt” rule.

I moved into letting myself watch a show, read or use the computer while I ate, but always kept in mind that I had to eat each bite fully aware of what it tasted like. I ate slowly. I delighted in the taste of the binge choice of that lesson.

And with some time, it made a huge difference. One reason the binge never satisfies – the binge we fantasize over, the one we can’t wait to get home or be alone & have – is because we eat with our brains off when we binge.

I led myself out of the habit of coming out of another bout of binge eating and thinking, “That was it? It’s over?” I no longer sat there thinking, “That wasn’t the big, joyful, cure-all-my-blues answer I thought it would be.” I stopped immediately planning the next round of binge eating, thinking that next time everything would taste better and last longer.

Most importantly, I stopped picking up the proverbial stick with which to beat myself for being so bad and so out of control.

In time, the number of times I reached for this behavior began to subside. The amount of food I consumed lessened. I deconstructed the binge itself, and that led to less and less desire to do it.

It’s impossible to address what’s really going on or take positive steps if we are just stuck in the same old fancy footwork of eating with our brains off. And, of course, there is plenty of emotional work to do, too. But changing behaviors is important as well.

Learning to eat with my brain on was the pivotal first step I took in entering recovery and I encourage anyone facing this problem to try it for themselves.