How I Beat Binge Eating: Part 4

This is How I Beat Binge Eating: Part 4. In case you missed them, here is the Intro, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Things Got Better!

My eating slowly but steadily began to improve. I found myself using a lot of the ideas from intuitive eating but plugging them into some structure. For example, when I first began, I decided I’d eat three meals and two snacks a day, trying my best to eat them when I could feel that I was hungry but not sweating it if my day’s schedule didn’t permit that. I’d let myself eat whatever I felt like for those meals and snacks, provided it was FOOD and not dessert. I began experimenting with how often desserts should be in the mix, and after trying a small one daily, then a big one weekly, I found that 2 (maybe 3) normal-ish desserts a week felt best.

food addiction beaten
Me with my little family on my sister’s wedding day in Fall 2014.

That rough gameplan didn’t make my binges go away entirely, but it did help a lot. Later on  I discovered MyFitnessPal and found it to be a wonderful tool. I started seeing my eating as a budget. I had a set allotment of calories to work with, but within that? I could choose whatever I wanted! No more rigid meal plans for me. As odd as it sounds, calorie counting has been amazingly liberating for me.

Also, thanks to MFP. for the first time in a really long time I was eating enough calories (some days—keep reading for why I wasn’t on others). It felt amazing after years of starving or overstuffing myself. I came to believe that while some foods have addictive components (for me, SUGAR!) I didn’t really suffer from some sort of food addiction at all. I had simply let myself be perpetually hungry for years. No wonder I was rebounding with binge eating!

Things weren’t magically all better, and I still binged once or twice a month. I felt at peace, though, like I was on a good trajectory. And my weight, without aggressive undereating or overexercising, returned to my pre-pregnancy 140s. It took 8 months to get there, but I got there in a happy, healthy, relaxed way. The difference between losing baby weight after Sophie vs. after Rorie was like night and day.

Parties and gatherings were still hard, though. Events where huge plates of cookies and brownies sat on a table for a few hours while everyone mingled were still challenging for me to negotiate healthily. I’d often eat a healthy snack before going somewhere like this, knowing from my time with intuitive eating that arriving at a tough food situation starving was just setting myself up to overeat. But by the party’s end, still I found I’d usually succumbed to the slippery slope of “I’ll just have one cookie as one of my snacks today” > “Shoot, I had two.” > “Crap, now the day is ruined.” > “I’ll eat 10 more since today’s already shot and start over tomorrow.” Binge thinking still got the better of me fairly often.

Cannon Beach
Mark and I spent a weekend in my childhood stomping grounds near Portland, Oregon last year. This was the first (but not last!) vacation I went on without getting even close to bingeing. I was so, so proud.

As a result, I would shy away from social and family activities more than I should have (or at least cry and get stressed out an hour beforehand before redoing my makeup and going despite my fear). But it was encouraging, at least, to note that my binges in day-to-day life at home were fading out almost entirely. I still struggled in “unusual” food situations like parties, vacations,  and holidays, but by and large my eating was really beginning to normalize.

Resources That Helped Me Keep Changing

I continued to read up in books and online about bingeing and emotional eating, and I came across a few things that really helped me.

I found a handful of bloggers who shared their own frank experiences with binge eating. The two that stick out in my mind at being significantly helpful are Runs for Cookies and Nia Shanks. I’ve never faced the challenge of having to lose 100+ pounds like Katie, and don’t really care for lifting like Nia, so some aspects of their sites and experiences don’t apply directly to me. But their posts about binge eating and how to overcome it spoke right to my heart.

I’m grateful to these two brave, brave women for sharing what they do and helping me feel less alone in my struggles. Some of their practical suggestions have also been a big help to me as I’ve continued to experiment and find out what was going to work for ME eating-wise. I highly recommend hitting those two sites and reading any of their content on bingeing, because it’s good, sound stuff.

Reading Brain Over Binge

Just as big a deal for me was the book Brain Over Binge, by Kathryn Hansen. This book, and Kathryn’s accompanying website, is wonderful. I’ll just say up front that I don’t 100% agree with everything in the book (again, I’ll address this in a few minutes), but the main premise made total and complete sense to me.

Essentially, she explains how she recovered from her binge eating by separating it from other emotional issues. While so much literature on binge eating teaches that you need to dig out the deep, root, emotional causes of your bingeing, Kathryn argues that you can (and should) address such issues as depression, perfectionism, insecurity, and anxiety, but that you don’t need to totally solve all of those things before you can stop binge eating. By following a series of logical steps in your thinking, you can retrain your brain to simply not listen to binge urges. Binge urges, she explains, often begin from your HEALTHY brain’s sending you messages to eat more in response to dieting and restricting. I know this happened in my case: remember how I’d walk past that bakery back at BYU and feel like I NEEDED to get those brownies? It’s because my brain—which is healthy and whole, by the way, not broken and crazy—is designed to help me survive and wanted to get me to eat more so my body could be nourished. These binge urges recur and become habit as you continue to restrict and then binge, which reinforces the wiring in your brain that creates habits.

Therefore, if you can simply stop repeating the action of listening to those urges and bingeing, you can get to the point where those urges eventually stop coming because you’ve treated them as “neurological junk” and unwired the bad habit of bingeing! Seeing binge urges as simply bad brain wiring that can be fixed rather than some dragon that would take years to slay gave me hope and confidence in myself. The notion that I could just CHOOSE to stop bingeing rather than spending years slogging through other issues rang true to me.

My Takeaways from Brain Over Binge

That was a really quick and incomplete summary. But it’s what I took away from the book, and I found that idea very empowering. After years of believing I was emotionally damaged and unwell and binged in reaction, I got validation for an idea I’d already suspected was true: my binges were simply HABITS formed by repeatedly bingeing. They weren’t the result of anything major I needed to spend years working out! Sure, I had insecurity and anxiety I wanted to keep working out. But so did a lot of other people I knew who weren’t binge eaters. I sometimes felt angry, wondering why I somehow had to become this superhuman person with no emotional issues so my bingeing could stop, while others could keep being imperfect yet not have eating problems.

If any of these ideas ring true to you, I strongly advise you to hop on Amazon and grab this book ASAP. It is well worth the time and money, and was a real turning point for me in feeling empowered and able to beat binge thinking. If you’re unsure, or simply waiting for the book to get into your hands, I’d go onto the Brain Over Binge website and subscribe to Kathryn’s emails so that you can get her free eBook. It’s a great introduction to the ideas in her full-length book and does a much better job than I did explaining how binges are a result of urges to binge, and that’s that.

In her book, Kathryn describes how once she figured all this out, her binges stopped right away. I wish it’d been such an ON/OFF switch experience for me, but it wasn’t. I still binged even after reading this book. But, I found that the 5 steps she gives for responding to binge thinking when it creeps in were gold. I wasn’t successful every time, but at maybe 1 in 3 parties or gatherings where I had to be around a lot of sugar, I found that I could make it through an evening without giving into my binge urges. It didn’t work all at once or right away, but I had solid proof from my experience that Kathryn’s ideas did in fact work. And I kept using her 5 steps, practicing and practicing, trying to get that brain wiring to keep changing. I still use this technique today, and like any muscle of the body you repeatedly and persistently work, I feel that my brain is truly becoming stronger and better able to beat binge thinking.

Scaling Back on Running

One more critical piece of the puzzle fell into place around this time. I figured out that even if I ate 2000ish calories a day, burning hundreds of calories a day through exercise made it hard for me to feel full enough to resist binge thinking.

I truly love running. I love how it feels. I love the sense of accomplishment I get any time I run farther or faster than I ever have before. I love how being able to whittle down a mile or 5K time gives me a way to chart progress with actual numbers—I find when I have those healthier numbers to focus on, the number on the scale means less and less. Running is fun and empowering and all-around wonderful.

But.

Have you ever run 10 miles? Or 13? Or more? If so, you’ve likely experienced what I call RUNger: the crazy waves of hunger that hit a few hours post-run and make you ravenous for the rest of the day. This is a healthy body’s normal response: a 10-mile training run, for example, burns about 1000 calories for a woman of my height and weight. This means for my body to carry on and do its normal thing, it wants 1000 extra calories to make up for the ones my run gobbled up.

In theory, the solution is simple: eat 1000 calories and stop being hungry. A lot of people properly refuel after runs and don’t have any problem. For them, running long distances is healthy and great.

But I found that being THAT HUNGRY made it hard for me to not give into binge thinking. While it would have been fine, in terms of calorie math, to eat a big pile of cookies on a day where I ran 10 miles, it didn’t feel emotionally good to do so. In my still-recovering mindset, eating a higher-than-normal quantity of food, even a healthier food like a big sandwich, would trigger my binge thinking. “You’ve eaten a ton today. Just go on and finish the remaining 9 cookies since you had 7 already,” the binge urge would say to me. And too often, I listened.

It was frustrating to me to discover something I loved so much was in fact making my recovery harder. But I couldn’t deny the correlation I was seeing with long-run days and binges whenever I’d train for a race longer than a 5K.

5K
Mark with me at a 5K we ran together in August 2014.

Shorter Workouts = Less Binge Urges

So for my personal situation, I decided to, for now at least, cap my exercise to 45 minutes a day max. This kept my calorie burn via exercise low enough that I did need to eat some extra calories to maintain normal hunger/fullness levels, but not a ton. This was hard for me. In fact, I did cave and run one last half marathon with some friends in the spring of 2015 just because it sounded so dang fun. But I knew that I was feeling better and eating better when I went back to shorter workouts once that race was over.

In short, high levels of running left me too hungry to beat binge thinking. I may have been eating 2000+ calories a day, but because my runs were so long in the past, that 2000 wasn’t nearly enough to keep me healthy and full. And having to eat SO MUCH to make up for my exercise was stressful and hard as I was still trying to figure out healthy moderation. As much as I hated coming to that realization, it was the truth.

So for my workouts, I shifted gears to 5K training. I was surprised to find that this kind of running was still satisfying and fun, but I could simply do a lot less of it and still reap almost everything I loved about running. Once it was too cold and dark to run outdoors in the morning, I’d do shorter workout DVDs daily.

Right now, it seems like “30 minutes a day or less” is really trendy in the fitness DVD world. This works out great for someone like me, who’s all about working hard but is trying to limit the total time and calorie burn to a reasonable level. I personally love Beachbody’s T25, Jillian Michaels’s Body Revolution, and Jillian Michaels’s Ripped in 30 DVD programs—all challenging, fun workout sets that kept me working out for a reasonable amount of time each day that didn’t make my hunger levels hard to deal with. I’ve also got Insanity: Max 30 and Jillian’s Bodyshred on the docket to try out after I have this baby and feel up to such tough exercise again.

Sarah McConkie
I’m famous! I ran the 5K at SLC’s 2015 Comic Con and the photographers liked my bright-red Nikes enough to snap a picture. 😉  Making this switch in my running made such a difference in my eating.

Recovered?

I was so, so pleased with myself. It was a miracle! My binges were steadily decreasing both in frequency and volume. I was finally figuring things out, like I’d promised myself I would when I was pregnant with my daughter Aurora. I felt amazing.

But would it stick long term? What came next would put all my new habits and beliefs to the test.

How I Stopped Bingeing: Part 5

How I Beat Binge Eating: Part 3

This is How I Beat Binge Eating: Part 3. And good news! Here’s the part where things start to get better, and where I finally started to truly leave disordered eating behind! 🙂 In case you missed them, though, here is the Intro, Part 1, and Part 2.

Newly pregnant and terrified that I would slide back into my old ways, I decided that nothing mattered more than figuring out what “healthy” really was and then fighting for it tooth and nail. One night, when I was about 8 weeks along with Aurora, I promised myself that I’d once and for all tackle all my food issues, and that I wouldn’t stop working until I’d figured it all out and truly gotten better.

I’m proud to say that I’ve kept that promise.

pregnant
Here I am at 29 weeks pregnant with Aurora.

Trying Out Intuitive Eating

One of the first things I did that night was dig out the book my counselor from my freshman year had  recommended. Intuitive Eating, it was called. The main tenets of intuitive eating (as I understood them) are as follows:

  • If you simply listen to your body and eat when you are hungry and stop when you’re full, and allow yourself to eat whatever foods you feel like, you will settle into a pattern of feeding yourself exactly what your body needs and wants.
  • Furthermore, your weight will stabilize at a healthy, happy place.
  • Your body comes pre-programmed to be hungry when it needs nourishment, and if you listen to it, it will also tell you when it’s had enough.
  • Reconnecting to internal cues is the ultimate key to normal, healthy eating and ultimately a healthy weight.


Aren’t those beautiful ideas? I read Intuitive Eating from cover to cover within the week, and I wanted what it offered.  The lifestyle the book described of listening to your body, eating the foods you want without ever bingeing, and never following a diet again sounded like a dream come true. I wanted that. And  I was determined to do whatever it took to become an intuitive eater.

Julie

I went online and found a list of dietitians and therapists who specialized in helping patients master intuitive eating. I signed myself up to see both a dietitian and a therapist in my area that very evening. I committed to seeing them both regularly for as long as it took to straighten out my eating.

The dietitian I went to see, Julie, was absolutely wonderful. Julie was a practicer of intuitive eating herself and was convinced that it was a wonderful way to live. And I truly believe that for her it was the answer. She seemed healthy, genuinely happy, and all-around what I wanted to one day be like.

I loved meeting with Julie. She was kind, compassionate, and a wonderful listener. Yet she was also willing to tell it to me straight and help me see where my thinking and eating simply wasn’t healthy or logical. She reacquainted me with basic nutritional information I’d learned once but forgotten thanks to so many diet books and magazines. I learned that many of my old ideals—1200, maybe 1500 calories a day tops, for example—were insanely low for someone of my age and height and activity level. I also learned that trying to stay under 100 grams of carbs a day (something I was trying at one point) was similarly nuts. No wonder I was grouchy so much of the time! Most importantly of all, she was able to convince me that I needed to eat much, much more than I had been eating, especially now that I was pregnant.

We talked a LOT about how restricting was never, ever going to be the answer to my problems. And for me, restricting took on two forms. I was limiting how much I ate, as I’ve described, but I was also very restrictive in what particular foods I deemed okay to eat.

“Scary” Foods

We sat down and listed all the foods I thought were “bad.” Candy. Cookies. Cake. Doughnuts. Sugary cereal. Brownies. Ice cream. You get the idea. We grouped them into the “scariest” foods—the things I’d never dream of taking home and keeping in my kitchen for fear of bingeing—to things that were less tempting to me. One of my lower-tier “scary” foods happened to be Golden Grahams cereal. Julie challenged me to go and buy a box of Golden Grahams and have some. I was supposed to then keep them around the house and eat them whenever I wanted to, and when I ran out of them, go buy more.

WHAT?!?

I was terrified of this idea. Why on earth would I keep something like that close at hand? And then openly eat it whenever I wanted to? Well, as intuitive eating explains, the magic of forbidden foods wears off after a time once they’re no longer deemed forbidden. Sure, you are likely to overeat at first, but eventually the Golden Grahams would become nothing special as I granted myself true, full permission to eat them. The idea was to eventually reach this place with all foods. Nothing would be off-limits. All foods were mine for the taking whenever I was hungry.

birthday dinner
The dinner I ate on my 24th birthday. A big-but-not-insane plate of my favorite things with a sugar cookie instead of cake because I LOVE SUGAR COOKIES and was finally allowing myself to eat them guilt-free again. Being able to sit down and eat a meal like this was a major victory for me, because before this point my meals were tiny plates of only foods I deemed “okay,” and I was simply bingeing in between as a result of being so restrictive.

So I dove in, doing everything I could to follow Julie’s instructions. I bought the Golden Grahams and kept buying them. I moved onto other favorites: sugar cookies, ice cream, Cadbury chocolate. I kept them around and ate them, doing as best I could to not feel bad or guilty for doing so. In a lot of ways, it felt so, so good. I was no longer a sinner, a loser, a joke every time I ate a brownie. Detaching moral wrongness and rightness from certain foods was a big deal for me in seeing myself in a more positive light.

Along with all this, of course, I was also focusing on another core principle of intuitive eating: figuring out when I was both hungry and full. I was trying to listen to my body for things like tummy rumblings and headaches that indicated that I was physically hungry (as opposed to just in the mood to eat). And when I did eat, I tried to really savor my food slowly and determine when I was full. I always had permission to eat again any time I felt hunger, but I was to try to stop once I was satisfied.

Changing My Disordered Thinking

As I mentioned before, I was also meeting with a therapist during this time. It was scary and embarrassing and humbling to call up a counselor and schedule myself that first appointment, but I’m so I chose to do it. If you think this is something that might help you, I strongly encourage you to seek professional help too.

Anyway. I’ll call my counselor Karen. Karen was a key figure in my getting better as well. I feel like Julie helped me untangle the knots in my disordered eating, and Karen helped me finally start to change the disordered thinking I’d had such a hard time shaking off before this point.

The major takeaways I had from Karen were this: I was so, so negative and mean and critical in my self-talk. I was outright cruel in the way I’d berate myself for even the tiniest of mistakes. Karen helped me see myself more clearly and appreciate that while I wasn’t yet where I wanted to be, I was doing a lot of things really well. I’d been practicing mean self talk and negative thinking for long enough that I think I needed an outside source of help to pull me out of my old patterns.

She also helped me “reframe” a lot of my thinking in general. I used to make a LOT of assumptions about others’ intentions and about what was true. For example, back in college, I was sure everyone thought I was fat and ugly. But had anyone actually SAID I was either? Ever? Once? No. Had anyone done anything to me that suggested they thought that? No! This was something I simply assumed everyone else thought, for all sorts of dumb reasons that didn’t hold up to logic when I wrote them down or said them out loud.

half marathon
Old assumption: “I’m not really a runner and I don’t have friends.” Oh, wait. Isn’t that a picture of me right after running a 1:54 half marathon and surrounded by friends who did it with me? Unraveling all my old wonky, negative, illogical thinking was part of what made the clouds finally start to part for me.

More Key Realizations

Another big assumption Karen helped me tear down was that being thinner would help me be happier. It’s sad to look back and see how fiercely I believed that. It’s true that our society puts a premium on appearance—remember how much attention I got for losing weight both in junior high and at the start of pregnancy #2—but Karen helped me reason through how in my day-to-day life, thin doesn’t really correlate with happy. Taking good care of you body does, yes. Being a good mom to my kids certainly does. Taking time to get back in touch with things I loved doing, like writing and playing the piano, could too. Running could as well if I kept it in its place and didn’t do it excessively. But would simply being thin make me happier? NO!

For the first time I questioned my erroneous assumption that weight loss was my ticket to everything I wanted to have and be. And once I’d kicked it off its false pedestal, it was much easier to relax in my eating. Eating a cookie was now eating a dang cookie, not making a choice that would take me away from the happy life I dreamed of and therefore something to feel extremely upset and guilty about.

Learning how to think logically about my thinking patterns was a huge, huge deal. I began to consider other possibilities than my own assumptions when it came to my outlook on life. I used to be so quick to conclude that others didn’t like me, or that qualities and problems I had automatically made me a bad person, and so on. Reframing my thinking finally gave me the ability to start changing my actions.

I slowly began to accept that maybe my body had looked just fine all along. This was the biggest breakthrough: my realization that although I had been absolutely convinced that I needed to lose weight, maybe I’d never needed to. Maybe all of my reasons for believing that were bizarre, illogical, overly negative assumptions. Finally kicking the stuffing out of my disordered thinking was a tremendous, important victory for me.

Internalizing those key ideas from Karen was a critical turning points for me. I’m grateful that she helped me so much in this way. After our first few months of meeting, though, I felt like our talks became meandering and odd. Karen didn’t seem to listen well anymore or understand the things I was trying to say. Sometimes things got so strange and irrelevant to me in our sessions that I wondered if she had me mixed up with somebody else. In retrospect, I should have kept trying to find a therapist that was a better fit instead. But I decided to keep on trying with Karen in the hopes that maybe all the random things we’d talk about at our appointments would eventually come together and make sense. But they didn’t. So once my baby Aurora arrived and getting to appointments became tricky and stressful anyway, I decided to call it quits with Karen and simply work with what we’d accomplished to that point.

Intuitive Eating: Not My Answer

I carried on with my meetings with Julie and efforts to eat intuitively, though, through, that entire pregnancy as well as for few months after my Aurora was born. I was diligent in noting my hunger and fullness. I sincerely tried to stop restricting food and thinking of it in terms of good and bad. I read and re-read the Intuitive Eating book, marking helpful sections in hot pink and orange highlighter. I did every last thing Julie urged me to . . . yet still didn’t see myself becoming the intuitive eater the book promised I eventually would.

My Rorie was born August 15, 2013. I'll always look on my pregnancy with Aurora as the time when I really began to change. How fitting that the name Aurora means DAWN.
My Rorie was born August 15, 2013. I’ll always look back on my pregnancy with Aurora as the time when I really began to change. How fitting that the name Aurora means DAWN.

I felt like many of the ideas and principles from Intuitive Eating were things I needed in my life. I needed to stop hating my body. I needed to allow myself to eat enough food to stay nourished and energized. I needed to stop allowing myself to eat so little from day-to-day and totally restricting certain types of foods, because all that ever led to was more bingeing. And my life’s mission was so, so much more than to simply hit a certain weight.

These are things I still strongly believe, and I’m grateful for the time I spent with intuitive eating because of what it taught me. I wholeheartedly recommend intuitive eating to anyone who thinks it may be helpful for them. But I couldn’t deny a few troubling things that I was seeing in my eating patterns throughout this time I spent trying to eat intuitively.

Maybe I was doing it wrong. Maybe that year I devoted to it wasn’t enough. Maybe I wasn’t really giving myself unconditional permission to eat. I don’t know what to say except that while I felt worlds better emotionally and was finally seeing myself in a more positive light, I was still overeating pretty regularly. I resisted thoughts of “you shouldn’t eat that” when it came to sugary treats, thinking that was my old diet thinking coming into play, and just plain ate a lot of indulgent and sugary foods. I’m sure the total number of calories I ate was dramatically lower than when I was full-on bingeing, but the quality of my day-to-day nutrition tanked. And I began to feel the effects physically after several months.

Saying Goodbye to Intuitive Eating

I started to long for my dieting days in one sense. I felt like committing myself to listen solely to my stomach to know when I could eat was simply restricting in another way. What if I wanted to eat lunch while my baby was sleeping simply for convenience, even if I wasn’t super hungry yet? Or what if I wasn’t really hungry but felt like having a cookie or two at a party? Or what if I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the amount of sugar I was eating? What if I truly wanted to go back to eating less of it so I’d feel better physically? I felt robbed of the ability to choose how I wanted to eat for fear that those choices were in fact “restrictive.”

More than anything, I felt like there was in fact some truth to sugar having an addictive component. Keeping treats around and getting habituated to them did take my overeating down a few notches, that’s true. But I feel like it meant I could now eat 10 Oreos at a time instead of a whole package. No matter how long I kept at it, if I had sugar in my house, I’d eat plenty of it. The “magic” of sugary foods never wore off like it was supposed to. Intuitive Eating promised that eventually I’d be satisfied with an Oreo or two, but that never happened for me.

About 6 months after my daughter Aurora was born, I decided I wanted to take back my power when it came to eating. I wanted to call the shots on what I ate and when I ate it, not rely on some book or the “hunger cues” that never did become particularly clear or consistent for me. Instead of assuming I was broken or stupid or doing things wrong, as I would have in the past, I reasoned that I had worked extremely hard at this and that it simply wasn’t the right approach for me personally. And I decided that while intuitive eating had been a helpful stepping stone in my journey, and likely was a great final destination for others out there, it wasn’t going to work long-term for me.

 

Sarah McConkie baby
Me with Aurora on Christmas Day of 2013. I was way less aggressive in taking off the baby weight this time, and ironically the weight gradually came off all the same. It took longer but I was SO much happier at this point in time than I’d been right after I had my first daughter, Sophia.

Takeaways from Intuitive Eating

So. In my year or so of experimenting with Intuitive Eating, I concluded that it wasn’t for me. In the end, I fundamentally disagreed with its logic. Would intuitive shopping work, for example? No—there’s no company on the planet that doesn’t operate on a budget, and for good reason. How about intuitive parenting? After the first time your child runs into oncoming traffic they’ll learn it’s a bad idea, right? Or intuitive piano playing? Just practice when you feel like it and you’ll be the next Mozart. Or intuitive living generally, from a moral standpoint? Just do whatever you want to in the moment and eventually you’ll end up happy and successful. All these scenarios seemed preposterous. So why was eating magically different from anything else in life? Why was discipline and structure such a key element of success in any other area I could think of, but an absolute no-no when it came to eating?

beat binge eating
More of my Rorie as a baby. Wasn’t she adorable?

I decided that I believed that overly harsh restrictions on my eating were a bad plan that would only fuel my bingeing. Intuitive Eating was spot-on there. I made a firm decision that my endpoint healthy lifestyle was going to include lots of healthy, wholesome foods, but that it was also going to include brownies in moderation. Doing so would safeguard myself against bingeing. Also, brownies are good!

But back to my beef with intuitive eating. Is structure itself always a bad thing when it comes to eating, as the book suggests? Are all forms of discipline, rules, and guidelines inherently evil? I decided that the answer here was NO. I decided a healthy lifestyle, for me, would be a  matter of finding a balance. What things in my eating were keeping me locked in a cage, and what things were acting as guardrails to keep me from careening off a cliff?

I believed I had the right to lay down some ground rules, some structure to my eating. I wanted to figure out how to eat in a healthy way that made me feel both emotionally AND physically good. Intuitive eating and counseling got me to where I was no longer terrified of food and no longer hated myself and my body, yes. But I couldn’t deny that eating as much junk food as I was during this time made me feel sluggish and generally blah. So armed with some great principles and beliefs from the two professionals I’d sought help from, but with some equally firm convictions of my very own, I decided to jump back into the fray solo. I would put my newfound experiences and realizations to work, yet allow myself to be the one to call the shots once more.

Coming Next: How I Beat Binge Eating: Part 4