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Emotional Fillers: Confronting My Binge Eating Disorder

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As long as I avoided experiencing my emotions, I resorted to addictive patterns. And even though I have maintained a 200-pound weight loss for nearly a decade, I still do. The reason is pretty simple - I am human and not perfect. I am not always in touch with my emotions and sometimes I only know that I am upset when I am halfway through what I call a mini-binge. I call it a mini-binge because my binges used to be eating for a family of five. Now it's just a couple pieces of pizza. And since I no longer always do black and white thinking (you know, seeing only the extremes as alternatives), I can stop and go back to eating in a way that works best for my body. My last mini binge was a few days ago when I was feeling discounted. That particular button is a kicker for me, as it can be triggered not only by others' behavior, but also by my own as well. As a matter of fact, I'm probably much better at discounting myself than the world is at discounting me. I used to see people as divided into two categories (there's that black and white thinking again) -- the "what's wrong with me" people and the "what's wrong with them" people. For years I was a "what's wrong with me" person. Now I know it's a "nothing's wrong with anyone" world we live in, where we are all doing the best we can with what we have. My little mini-binge was part of a process I call using fillers. As addictive behaviors go, ones dealing with food and eating are among the most complicated and complex. I'm not suggesting that alcoholism is by any means easy, but it is possible to stop drinking alcohol entirely and live a balanced life. The same goes for most drugs. Even sex. But when it comes to food and eating, abstinence is not a viable alternative. So those of us who deal with these particular issues have a pretty tricky row to hoe. One of the tricks is learning how to deal with the fillers. First we need to recognize that the behavior is going on and then learn how to deal with the underlying emotional kickers and needs that the food or eating behavior is satisfying. This week we'll take a look at some of the ways in which we use food as part of addictive processes. Next time, we'll dig a little deeper into those you find the most interesting, so be sure to comment on your particular mini-binge trigger from the list below.
  • Using fillers to stuff uncomfortable emotions such as depression, loneliness, sadness and anger.
  • Using fillers to avoid taking action such as confronting the real issue or problem that is facing you.
  • Using fillers to punish you when you feel guilty or blameworthy or are the guest of honor at a pity party.
  • Using fillers to plug up the empty places you feel inside instead of working to develop fulfilling relationships with yourself and others.
  • Using fillers to block childhood's empty places instead of healing the past and moving on.
  • Using fillers to get back at others, as in "I'll teach you," or "I'll show you," who is in charge here.
  • Using fillers to make yourself sick and thus creating an excuse for not being your best self, or even trying to be.
  • Using fillers to avoid intimacy by not learning how to trust yourself or by pretending not to know your own worth.
  • Using fillers to avoid maturity such as choosing not to take care of you responsibly and in extreme cases, not at all.
  • Using fillers to suppress your fear in order to combat feelings of vulnerability.
This list, like most, is neither complete nor comprehensive, but it does offer a starting place from which we can learn to identify self-destructive eating patterns. The distorted thinking patterns we've talked about before were a little easier to deal with because they dealt with thinking, and thinking is what the experts call negotiable. Thoughts can be examined in the cold hard light of day, recognized for what they are and changed. Not that the change doesn't take time, but the process of changing thinking is considerably easier than that of working through emotions. So for now, let's just concentrate on discovering what is occurring inside of ourselves when we binge. Believe me, we'll have plenty of time and opportunity moving forward to learn how to deal with emotional triggers and fillers. Let me know some of your fillers or which one of the above you relate to. Also, this is a good time to start observing what you're eating when those difficult or uncomfortable feelings kick in. Love and light.

Either comment below or email at JanShep@aol.com

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