How to Stop Binge Eating Without Relying on Willpower
Author: Julie Latz
April 4, 2013
When you think of how to stop binge eating and lose weight, one of the first things that probably crosses your mind is gearing yourself up to find the willpower to stick to a diet. It seems like you need willpower not only to follow the diet plan but also to commit to starting an exercise plan, and to endure other difficulties for an extended period of time in order to put an end to the insanity of yo-yo dieting and food addiction. And what happens if you do get to your goal weight and stop bingeing? Then you likely feel that you have to try to maintain the same level of willpower to prevent yourself from gaining all the weight back and having those old habits return to haunt you. All binge eaters have experienced these struggles.
So is there a way to actually stop bingeing and lose weight without relying on the pressures of trying to maintain willpower? The answer is a surefire “YES!” I have coined this tool as “wantpower.” Having “wantpower” means you choose your actions based on small things you are willing to do not the things you are forcing yourself to do.
For example, as a binge eater, you probably feel compelled to put something into your mouth as soon as you think of food. But when you use “wantpower” you may decide that you’d be happier if you wait a while before eating breakfast. Maybe it’s too early in the morning and eating so early would make you way too hungry later in the day which would lead to eating a lot more food than you need to lose weight. By waiting awhile before eating, you are showing yourself that you don’t have to give into the impulsive behavior you normally engage in. It feels great to be able to tell yourself that you can decide to put the food off for a little while. Just initiating that control feels empowering because it is not coming from a place where you are forcing yourself to do something. Instead you are choosing when to eat.
Another example would be if you went to get frozen yogurt at an ice cream shop and you ordered a small portion but instead they gave you a tremendous amount. The impulse would be to just down the whole thing. But when you use “wantpower” you might stop and think for a minute how much of that portion you could eat and feel happy when it’s over. When you decide how much that would be, you could then choose to scoop off some of the yogurt from the top and throw it away.
I spent 45 years trying to figure out how to stop binge eating, and I was not successful until I ditched the concept of willpower and started thinking in terms of “wantpower.” Now that I have overcome my obsession with food and the torturous life of feeling like a slave to food, life is filled with endless possibilities. There is no longer a fight and a struggle all day long with what to eat and what not to eat. It was the little things I was willing to do that got the momentum going so that I could free myself from the hold food had on me. I realized that lofty goals (combined with willpower) always resulted in failure.
Now, as a Certified Food Psychology Coach, I teach my clients how to stop binge eating for good so they can have the freedom to eat to live instead of living to eat. The first thing I suggest to them is to question how they will feel after everything they eat before they just dive in and start gorging themselves. This allows them to mindfully make choices that use this concept of “wantpower.” Their actions become effortless when they are in this state of mind because they are choosing to do things based on an outcome that they know ahead of time will make them feel good.
To really learn how to stop binge eating, you must think about change. The interesting thing about change is that unless you are willing to do it, you won’t. But that willingness, in order to last, has to be voluntary. Voluntary change is easier than trying to muster up the energy, courage and effort to effect change in your life by searching for willpower.
When you have “wantpower,” you are not feeling goaded into sticking to your diet or exercise plan, you just want to make better choices because of the brighter vision you have created for yourself. You are not going against your natural interests or tendencies, you are instead following them. This is the first step in learning how to stop binge eating for the long-term.
For a free audio, The 5 Beliefs That Keep You Out of Control with Food, click here to visit my website at peacefuleater.com
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Stop Binge Eating and Start Living Again
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