Recovering from binge eating can be an uncertain, lonely and also scary process for everyone who struggles with it. There is no certain guideline that tells you what are the exact steps of recovery, what are the exact results and what is the exact pace to make enough progress. The reason for it is because recovery is individual to every person. As we are all individual and unique human beings, also our recovery process, including the steps, results and the pace are individual and unique. However, there are great news: There are a few main steps or also called stages that were found to be similar in each sufferer from binge eating.
These are the so-called “basic stages of recovery from an additive behavior“ or how researchers like to call them “stages of change“. It was found that there are five certain actions that people tend to go through when they are recovering from an eating disorder such as binge eating disorder. Understanding these specific stages can give you both motivation and orientation along your recovery journey.
In the following paragraphs you will receive information about each stage and what you can do to get better.
Stage 1: Pre-Contemplation Stage
The Pre-Contemplation Stage is the first stage of the recovery process of binge eating. During this phase you notice that something is going on with you. You regularly eat way past the point of fullness and hide the fact that you have eaten all of the food. It can also be possible that your friends or family members have noticed that something is wrong. Yet you cannot see the problem and you wouldn’t think that you need help. Even if your loved ones reach out to you, you rather get angry with them for talking about it.
What you can do: At this stage, it is helpful to become aware of that something is wrong. Everything starts with awareness.
- Are your friends’ and family’s concerns justified?
- Are they really overreacting?
- Why does it make you feel so emotional when they talk about your eating behavior or changes in your weight or overall behavior?
Stage 2: Contemplation Stage
In the 2nd stage, the Contemplation Stage, you realize you have an eating disorder. You are not sure what to do about it and you are not sure if you want to get help. It is the stage where you feel stuck in your cycle of bingeing. On the one hand you want to recover but on the other hand you feel the need to keep bingeing.
What you can do: At this stage, when you realize you have challenges with eating, seek out for help. The earlier you seek out for help the better it is. Get a coach, an online program, a self-help book or talk to someone else you trust. Important is that you do something.
Stage 3: Preparation Stage
Stage 3 is the stage where you are ready for a change. The only thing you are lacking of is the right plan to do it. In this case you can follow these steps:
- Stop dieting and overexercising
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Reduce your stress sources to a minimum
- Discover where your negative emotions are coming from
- Take a break for self-care
- Get support from a counselor
What you can do: Find a person in your environment that you trust and open up to this person about your struggles. It is important that you have at least someone who you can share your deepest struggles with.
Stage 4: Action Stage
This is the stage of you taking action. You are taking the right steps to recover from your binge eating disorder. This is often the moment where you realize that you cannot move on as you did before – you need to change something. You get support, you face your deepest inner struggles, your most painful memories and look into your soul what’s going on there.
You learn about nutrition and how to nourish your body in a healthy but unrestricted way. You learn about how to move your body in a pleasant way without overdoing it in the gym. You work on transforming your relationship with food, your body and exercise.
What you can do: In this stage, the risk for relapsing is very high because every change is difficult for us. And even if you take a few steps back again, it doesn’t mean you are not making any progress. Relapsing in fact is very normal in most cases. Relapsing is not something bad or something you should feel guilty for. You need to see your recovery journey as a learning journey – you are not perfect and you don’t need to be. The most important thing is that you move on even though it happens that you binge again.
Stage 5: Maintenance Stage
This stage starts after 6 months in recovery. It is the stage where your eating behavior stabilizes, you have implemented new strategies and techniques with food. You started to collaborate with your body again and learn how to eat intuitively. You understand how your body works and you don’t feel guilty any more for eating food.
What you can do: Now it is time to focus on your new life where food is a source of pleasure instead of pain. Become aware of your triggers that feed your old eating behaviors and try to implement coping skills on how to deal with them.
If you have any questions or you want to share your personal experience, you’re more than welcome to leave a comment down below. Also feel free to contact me if you need any support: email@example.com
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