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Learn how to stop bingeing, be kind to yourself and enjoy being healthy, with our tips and tricks below.
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” - Henry Ford. The mind is powerful and although our mind controls us, we can also control our mind. If you keep telling yourself you can't stop bingeing, then that is what your mind thinks, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. To stop bingeing, you need to realise that you can do it. It sounds simple but often it is not.
“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude” - Oprah Winfrey. I think the most important thing that helps people to stop bingeing is realizing that they have the power to do it. Only you can do it, and only you can not do it. It may not feel like it, but you are capable of choosing what food you put in your mouth. Why is it so hard to realise you have control? Partly, with choice comes responsibility. Responsibility can be stressful. Without realising we are in control of our eating; we do not need to take responsibility for it. When we acknowledge that we have responsibility for our eating, it is a lot easier to successfully change.

You can read more here.
Many of us spend a lot of time doing things that are urgent but not necessarily important. When we spend our time ‘fire-fighting’ we often don’t have enough time or energy to do the things that are important to us but might not have such an imminent deadline. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who can do everything that they ideally would like to do. Despite many of us thinking that we should be a superhero of some kind, we are not, and we can’t do everything. Sadly, it is often the important things that we leave until it is too late.

Although we logically know that tackling binge eating is important, it often does not seem urgent enough. If something is important and urgent enough then we will find time, energy, and motivation to deal with it.

Most people know health is important but how do we make health feel urgent enough without a crisis? It can be helpful to free up some energy and motivation by giving yourself some space to think and by reducing your ‘fire-fighting’ list.
In this blog post we share some strategies to identify and tackle what is important to you.

Read more here.

Find out the dramatic effect of restriction on physical and psychological health. Get tips on how to heal from the effects of restrictive diets.
If you suffer from obsessive thoughts about food, there is NOT something ‘wrong’ with you. These thoughts are likely to be a symptom of past, or present, restrictive diets. The solution to easing thoughts about food is usually at least partly easing restriction.
Discover how 36 men went from physically and psychologically healthy to food-obsessed binge eaters by being put on a 1600kcal diet for 24 weeks in the wartime Minnesota starvation study. After being restricted, the men in this study became depressed and anxious. They developed body image issues and only thoughts of food could interest them. After they were unrestricted, they ate double the calories that they ate before the diet, and still felt constantly hungry despite binge eating.
Get tips to help heal your body and mind from the effects of dietary restriction.

Read more here.

When talking about bingeing, it can be helpful to think of our emotional brain and logical brain. In emotionally charged times, the emotional ‘binge’ brain can easily win over our logical brain. Usually when our logical brain is fully in charge, we can withstand any impulses or compulsions to binge.
Distracting ourselves can take us away from the emotional discomfort by calming our nervous system and helping us feel safe enough to switch on our logical brain. When our logical brain is in charge we are much less likely to binge.
We talk through a simple 3-step process for distracting ourselves from bingeing and include lots of suggestions for switching on our logical brains.

Read more here.
Memories of past events or traumas can keep us stuck in cycles of bingeing.
We can easily get stuck in vicious cycles where memories lead to bingeing. Bingeing then makes us feel worse about ourselves. This keeps us stuck and unable to move ourselves away from the memories.
Bingeing has many roles for different people. Commonly, bingeing can numb distress. Although this numbing doesn’t usually last long, it provides a brief period of freedom from the turmoil in our minds.
Take home message: Bingeing is not a weakness; it is a symptom of previous emotional discomfort.

We often feel shame or blame when we feel stuck in a behaviour like bingeing. Although we ‘logically’ know it is not benefiting us, we can’t seem to stop. This ‘stuckness’ is not your fault or anything do so with a ‘weakness’, it is a symptom of the powerless, humiliation and shame we may have felt in the original event.
We can only move on from bingeing when we feel safe. If we have constant rumination or memories of events that distress us, we keep frozen. We can only change from a place of safety and not fear.
Read more about how memories keep us stuck bingeing and get some tips to get unstuck, to feel safe and to find the motivation and solutions to escape from binge eating.

Read more here.

On average, women are harder on themselves than men are. Women more often define themselves based on their responsibility to others than men do, such as a daughter, a mother, or a friend. Comparison to others is therefore at the forefront of women’s minds. Boys are encouraged to take risks, to fail and bounce back, whereas girls are trained to please others and to be good and ‘perfect’ (perfection is impossible). Western society usually favours individuality, certainly in many careers. The tendency of women to think of others first and to prioritise social relationships, is often viewed negatively. Even more so, this focus on others is often thought of less important than stereotypically masculine traits, of individual career achievements and status.

“I was not ladylike, nor was I manly. I was something else altogether. There were so many different ways to be beautiful.” ― Michael Cunningham, A Home at the End of the World. I say ‘stereotypically masculine or feminine traits’ when talking about traditional Western norms. I do not mean to generalise or to exclude anyone identifying with any gender. It is not the gender itself, or the social role (like being a Mum for example), which impacts our wellbeing. Our view of how we match up with our own values, our own expectations, and what others think we should do that affects us. It is how society views these things, not gender itself, that necessarily causes the pain.

Read more here.
Body image is how you think and feel about your body, and how you feel ‘in’ your body. These beliefs are often formed when we are young and are difficult, but not impossible, to change. Our body image beliefs feel very real but are not necessarily ‘true’. Body image is strongly linked to self-esteem and can have a big impact on our mental health.
Many of us sometimes ‘feel fat’. This feeling might not really be to do with our body. Often it is because we are channelling other negative emotions onto our bodies as they can feel more manageable that way.
We have over 60,000 thoughts every day and with a negative body image, many of these thoughts can be negative and end up fuelling this negative self-talk. We can learn to notice these thoughts and then question whether they are true.
We discuss why many of us have a negative body image and where it comes from and discover simple strategies to improve your body image.

Read more here.
Self-esteem can be split into two types:
Secure self-esteem is where you feel ok about yourself. You value yourself for just being you. You are secure in yourself so other people’s comments can just roll off your shoulders. This type of self-esteem is relatively stable, and these people generally feel content about themselves.
Insecure self-esteem is where how you feel about yourself depends on other people. A negative comment from someone can send you into a tailspin and you may spend a lot of time worrying about what people think about you. If you have this type of self-esteem, it can feel like you are being flung around from high to low mood depending on other people. This can feel insecure as you are not in control of how you feel about yourself.
We can improve self-esteem by tweaking our mindset to gradually make it more secure.
Learn where self-esteem comes from and why it becomes a vicious cycle. We explain how it influences eating and provide exercises and activities so you can improve your self-esteem.

Read more here.
If you want healthy changes to last you need to find a way to like the new and dislike the old. In this post, we share some strategies to help with that.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing” - Dale Carnegie, Motivational writer. We can always learn to like something. Few people like their first alcoholic drink, but many quickly learn to like it. You can also learn to like healthy food and a healthy lifestyle.

Humans evolved to automatically prefer the easiest and quickest option. This saved precious energy when there was not so much food around. It is therefore not surprising that we find taking the ‘easy’ options comes naturally. Unfortunately, nowadays we live in a society of next day delivery and ubiquitous easy but unhealthy food options. It can make it very difficult to choose the healthy option, especially when we are busy.

Read more here.
Have a think about self-trust when:
- We promise to start the diet on Monday...and then don’t.
- When we say that we will go out for a walk...and then don’t.
- When we think that this is the last binge...and then it isn’t.

Often, we think of these things as having consequences for our physical health, but we don’t consider the impact in terms of trust.

When we trust someone, we feel safe. Often, we do things when other people rely on us or we have made a commitment to them. How about when we have made a commitment to ourselves, like with the examples above? Are we as likely to keep that trust?

With lots of broken promises to ourselves, we can easily get in a situation where we don’t trust ourselves and we don’t feel safe in our own mind. This can lead to feeling constantly on edge, which is often a bingeing trigger.

Take home message: Building self-trust can stop bingeing.
Read more here.

Overwhelm can be like being stuck in an emotional tunnel where we don’t see the exit. Ideally a strong emotion would be experienced as a short tunnel when we are able to move through with ease and then come out of the other side relatively unscathed. However, with emotional exhaustion or overwhelm, we feel stuck in a never-ending tunnel without and end in sight. This applies to bingeing when there is a feeling of ‘stuck’, inevitability and no hope of it ending.

Bingeing is a way to get a brief break from overwhelm and emotional exhaustion. This is one reason why it is so difficult to change, there is really a need to manage the overwhelm and we have the wrong tool kit.

Read more here.

Strong emotions make us feel uncomfortable. When we feel uncomfortable, we usually don’t like it. We will often want to do anything to feel better, this is when our coping mechanisms kick in to try to manage these emotions.

Coping mechanisms often briefly block the discomfort to give us a short break from them. Some coping mechanisms can be healthy like going for a walk, playing with a pet, or speaking to friends. Other coping mechanisms such as bingeing, alcohol or excessive exercise are less helpful.

It rarely works to just avoid a coping mechanism, without dealing with the emotions underneath as often another one will pop up in its place. The underlying emotions remain unless they are experienced or released in some way.  

Read more here.
There are only three things you need to successfully make a change. First, you need to really want it. The second thing is to realise that you can do it. Lastly, you need to learn to like the new healthy changes. If those three things are in place, you will succeed. It is easier said than done, but I believe that it is possible for anyone. Wanting to stop bingeing is one thing, but it is important to make sure that those reasons are deep enough to withstand the brief immediate gratification of bingeing. To be successful, it helps if that ‘want’ is deep and visceral and tapped into the right values. It is unlikely that just wanting to 'be healthier' is enough. The real power lies in finding your deeper reason. That deeper reason is different for everyone. It could be finding peace within yourself, healing self-loathing, forgiving yourself for past trauma, finding your soul mate or pursuing long held but unrequited ambitions.
So tell me what you want, what you really really want” – The Spice Girls. Many of us have gone through life doing what we think we should do. We have ended up doing things that were expected of us, without necessarily choosing to do them. Because we get used to travelling the expected path, it is difficult to step back and realise what we really want, or where we want to go.

Read more here.

Fears are educated into us, and can if we wish, be educated out.” – Karl Augustus Menninger. We are often trained from childhood to stifle our feelings when we are told not to cry. Being told not to get angry or sad, being told not to cry and even hearing ‘don’t be scared’ all adds up. By the time we get to adulthood, we have been taught that feelings are ‘bad’ and should be avoided. You could say that the emotional part of the brain giving us these feelings, our inner toddler, is regularly ignored. This means that you are not hearing the messages you are trying to give yourself. Your feelings are your mind and body’s way of trying to tell you something.

How does food fit in? As children we might be given food to cheer us up and this teaches us that food can be used to block out painful feelings. Blocking out feelings with food can easily become so normal that we do not know we are doing it. When we keep blocking out feelings with food, the feelings will keep getting stronger and stronger, and we need more and more food to block them out.

Read more here.
Your brain has two parts, often called the emotional and logical brain or the chimp and human brain, or the unconscious and conscious. I like to call one the toddler brain (ruled by emotions) and the other the parent brain (the logical brain).

Different parts of our brains are in charge at different times and they have different roles. The logical brain allows for long term planning. The emotional brain takes over when you face an intense situation – this is the part of the brain which would help you run away quickly if you were being chased by a dangerous animal.

Take an example of a toddler wanting ice cream and the parent saying no. Emotionally, the toddler wants ice cream. The parent is acting as the logical brain as they know that too much ice cream is not healthy. Sometimes the parent will say no immediately without really thinking about it. Traditional diets are a bit like this. Your parent brain is constantly telling your inner toddler that they can’t eat what they want, without explaining why. When you say no to a toddler, without any explanation, what is that toddler likely to do? They are quite likely to scream and have a meltdown. This leads to inner distress, which could be viewed as that toddler screaming inside your head. That is why restrictive diets can be so hard, they add to inner conflict in your mind.

Read more here.

Eating behaviour is not really about food because eating issues are often part of a bigger issue, and that issue is in your mind. 

By addressing eating issues directly, we are often trying to fix the symptom and not the cause. Eating issues are the symptom, your mind is the cause, and the solution. For many, eating issues are a symptom of an inner dissatisfaction, a marker of not living in alignment with your values in some way, whatever that may be. It isn’t anyone’s fault; it is a by-product of the society we live in and is relevant for most people in some way. The visible symptom is not always disordered eating. Inner discomfort can show itself through compulsive shopping, alcohol use or lots of other ‘numbing’ behaviours.

For most of us, the solution involves viewing our whole selves with kindness, understanding what we truly want and deciding to take charge of our lives. 

Once you have done that work on your mind, healthy dietary behaviours can fall into place on their own. Does it sound too good to be true? Well, it is, in a way. Retraining your mind is hard work, and it takes practice, but the results are worth it.

Read more here.
What is shame?
Shame is what makes us feel bad when we worry about how we are with people. Shame drives us away from people, it makes us hide. Shame is something that we all have in common. Shame happens because we care about other people.
We would not want to be without shame. To be shameless would mean to lack the ability or intention for any connection with, or care for, another person.
Shame is inevitable.
Humans need connection with others to survive. Whenever we have connection, there is the possibility of shame. Shame is inevitable. We cannot get rid of shame, instead, we can develop shame resilience. We can learn how to better manage our inner shame monsters.
Read more to discover strategies to tackle shame so you can regain your logical mind and avoid bingeing and overeating.

Read more here.
We adjust to our World the best way we can, given our past. The adaptations that we make when we are young, such as binge eating, often last, even when they no longer serve us.
Unfinished business or the Zeigarnik effect suggests that humans have an innate need to complete the uncompleted. If we leave things unfinished, they will haunt us in our minds and bodies, until they are resolved. We don’t necessarily have to finish it at the time, it can be later. This also applies to food. If we do not fully finish an eating cycle, this can contribute to constant thoughts about food and binge eating.
Read more about how unfinished business keeps us stuck binge eating and stops us moving on. Discover strategies to get closure so you can finally have a healthy relationship with food.

Read more here.
Children unknowingly modify their behaviour to have the best chance to get acceptance and love, and to avoid punishment and pain.
Repeated messages from caregivers can easily become part of our life script. For example, messages such as ‘you must work hard’ or ‘you must be nice’ become strict rules that we may not even notice that we have. These messages easily get internalised as rules such as ‘be perfect’ or ‘be slim’. Whether we feel ok about ourselves can depend on whether we feel that we align with these rules.
Our scripts give us recognisable repeated feelings, such as restriction and bingeing, which can cover up the original pain. The script assumes that this repeated feeling is ‘better’ than the one it is covering up, but in the end becomes much more debilitating than the underlying one.
Learn how your experiences form life scripts that trap you in unhelpful cycles of behaviour. We discuss ways to rewrite your life scripts to escape cycles of bingeing and yo-yo dieting.

Read more here.
We push ourselves at the gym, pull ourselves out of bed, suck in our stomachs, press our feet into high heels, we juice, detox, juice cleanse, fast, and restrict in endless efforts and a never-ending quest to ‘improve’ our bodies. We are much harsher on ourselves than we are on others. Most of us wouldn’t talk to other people like we talk to ourselves.
Take home message: Diets are the anti-self-care.

Each diet is like a war on your body, we are so used to trying to control how we look that we forget how we feel and what our bodies need. It is so common to dissociate ourselves from our body, with our body easily viewed as a vessel to carry our mind, where most of our living takes place.
The good news is that it is possible to get a better relationship with our bodies, if self-love seems too much then self-acceptance might seem more manageable.
We discuss why our bodies need self-care and how diets and cultural stereotypes harm our relationships with ourselves. We provide simple self-care tips to improve our relationship with our bodies.

Read more here.
Fear can be useful as it protects us from potentially dangerous things. Fear can give us a boost to make us more effective if we are in physical danger. This was very useful in an evolutionary sense, to keep us alive. Fear can also cause problems if it gets triggered when it is not useful for our survival, such as when fear gets triggered surrounding food and weight.
Food is emotive and plays such a large role in our lives. Many of us have been on diets for much of our lives, with our self-worth largely linked to our weight or our ability to manage our food intake. Therefore, how we feel about our eating and our body can have a large impact on how we value ourselves, our mood and how much we enjoy life. With self-value often precariously linked with food-related issues, it is no wonder that we fear being a certain way about food.
We discuss how to identify food- and weight-related fears, which is the first step to tackling them. We talk about why these fears get stuck in our minds and provide exercises about how to tackle these by building courage and gradually facing them step-by-step.

Read more here.
Perfectionism is broadly when anything short of perfection seems unacceptable. This is different from having high standards as perfectionism tends to make it more difficult for you to reach your goals.
  • Often people have beliefs such as ‘if I weight xkg, I am fat’, this type of thought is perfectionistic.
  • Being very rigid about eating or exercise because of a worry about weight is also a type of perfectionism.
  • Perfectionism is strongly linked to disordered eating, and to having rigid and inflexible rules about food.
  • Some people may be so preoccupied with their weight or eating that they struggle to think about anything else.
Perfectionism and “all or nothing” thinking about food and weight
  • All or nothing thinking is common in people with perfectionistic tendencies and is linked to having excessively high standards, which are incredibly difficult or even impossible to sustain, for example: “If I don’t stick to my diet, I’m a failure, if I eat one biscuit, I may as well eat them all.”
Learn more how perfectionism is linked to weight concerns, restrictive dieting and overeating. Discover simple tips to tackle perfectionism and how to reduce perfectionistic thoughts.
Read more here.
Learn why there is so much conflicting dietary advice and which advice is worth following. We reveal the problem with all restrictive diets and tell you how to find the right diet for you.
Read more here.
Many people who experience binge eating and emotional eating want to get control. The problem is, paradoxically, we need to relinquish control to get it.
There are two different types of control:
Strict control: When we control ourselves without flexibility with strict diets, endless rules and by avoiding forbidden foods. It can feel like food controls us. This leaves us vulnerable to giving up completely and spiralling into a binge.
Conscious control (agency): The type of control that we really need is agency. Agency is a conscious choice; it is control that we choose. This is when we can choose what we eat with conscious thoughtful control.
Although the voices trying to control our food intake may fluctuate between controlling us like a dictator and giving up and letting us eat everything we want, they are probably trying to do the same thing, that is to protect us. They are doing this in the only way that they know how, even though it may seem like sabotage.
Read more here.
We all have inner conflict whether we realise it or not. This inner conflict can be like a constant fight going on in our minds. Eating can be used to quiet this and get a moment of peace, to reset.
It can be difficult to find these parts of ourselves as we have often ignored them for a long time. They lurk out of our awareness, in our unconscious mind. There, these repressed selves can make us do things without us knowing why, like eating too much. By bringing them into our conscious mind, we become aware and only then can we choose to stop them.
There are different ideas about how these conflicts start. Many people suggest that we believe that we were only loved in our childhoods when we behaved a certain way. This means we only show the ‘approved’ parts of ourselves to others. We ‘repress’ or bury the parts of ourselves which our childhood carers disapproved of. These parts never go away but keep trying to escape. It is paradoxical that hiding this part of yourself is meant to stop you from feeling pain but causes a lot of discomfort.

Read more here.
Christmas can be an emotional time when our issues with food can be amplified. It is a time when stress, proximity to family, or distance from family, can lead us to eat more than usual. We also might feel that we have an excuse to eat more ‘as it is Christmas’.

We all deserve treats throughout the year, including at Christmas and it is possible to enjoy Christmas food without eating too much of it. One way to do this is to consciously choose what treats we have. Remembering this can be especially helpful when we start feeling swept away by the ‘Christmas spirit’, or should I say ‘Christmas stress’?

Here are a few simple tips to help keep Christmas eating under control and a food inspired adaptation of “’Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore. I hope it makes you smile.

Read more here.
How to stop ruminating

(overthinking or dwelling on negative thoughts)
“Thoughts could leave deeper scars than almost anything else” – J.K. Rowling, Author: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Rumination fuels weight gain and emotional eating by stoking the fires of negativity within us. This causes many of us to automatically reach for food to distract us from the negative thoughts. More than that, rumination, or over-thinking, stops us from being able to think clearly – we can be our own worst enemy.
Rumination does not just cause emotional eating, it can influence many areas of your life as these thoughts often end up popping back up at annoying times, like when you are trying to sleep. Dwelling on thoughts takes so much energy that you are unlikely to have the energy to get the perspective needed to solve your current problems in many areas of your life. We can reduce rumination by becoming more aware of the underlying issues below our thoughts, by making space to look at these thoughts objectively and choosing a more positive viewpoint.

Read more here.
Binge Eating Therapy

I specialise in eating disorders and have 17 years’ experience as a behaviour change and obesity prevention scientist at Cambridge University. I’ve been there and I get it, and now support people with binge eating, emotional eating, weight loss struggles, and bulimia.
I help clients discover and take charge of their hidden eating triggers and transform their relationship with food. Sessions often focus on getting freedom from constant thoughts about food and weight and escaping the cycle of yo-yo dieting and weight gain. Gain understanding about what has prevented you from recovery in the past so you can overcome that, and live life without restriction or bingeing.
I combine counselling, to understand and overcome emotional barriers, with the strategies and tools of health coaching. The combination of counselling and coaching is powerful for making lasting change.

Hear from people who have worked with me...

"Kirsten supported me through a really difficult time when I was using binge-eating to avoid feelings around a relatively new diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. My binge-eating had a seriously negative impact on my mental health, self-esteem and relationships. With Kirsten’s help and expertise, I finally have my life back and it changed my life. I cannot thank her enough and fully recommend her services. Thank you Kirsten."

 - From England
"Thank you very very much for your support and I really enjoyed working with you. THANK YOU VERY MUCH"

- From Cambridge, UK

"Brilliant. It is doable and sustainable and I feel a lot better."

- From South Wales, UK
"Thank you so much for all your support! I have really loved it because of your great guidance and thoughtful advice."

- From Texas, USA

"You are amazing. I have absolutely cherished my time working with you."

- From Norwich, UK


Discover your hidden eating triggers

Start transforming your mindset with our step-by-step guide and weekly tips-and-tricks.

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Dr Kirsten Keighley

Copyright 2020 Dr Kirsten Keighley Ltd. All rights reserved.

Dr Kirsten Keighley Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales (Company number 12673809).


The information in this website is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr Kirsten Keighley on behalf of Dr Kirsten Keighley Ltd. We recommend you make your own health decisions based on your own research and consultation with a qualified health professional. We recommend that you consult your doctor and/or dietician before beginning a new diet or exercise programme.