You can stop binge eating
10th September 2021


How to stop binge eating: make it important and urgent
 
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 think we should be a superhero of some kind, but we are not, and we can’t do everything. Sadly, it is often the important things that we leave until it is too late.
 
So, what is important to you? It depends. Everyone is different. Everyone values different things and therefore different things will be important to different people.
 
To find out what is important, you can ask yourself what you value? If this feels like a difficult question, then have a think about when you are 95y and what you are likely to look back and wish you had spent more time and energy doing. These are likely to be the things that you value and that are important to you. Are you spending enough time doing these things?
 
What feels urgent for you? Something that is urgent tends to take priority and take up your time and energy. Of course, urgent things can be important, but not always. Take for example a child that you are looking after breaks their arm, it is likely to be both important and urgent that you take them to get medical attention. If your dream handbag is on an online auction website and the sale is about to end, and you are watching the bids come in, this is urgent but probably not important, yet it is taking your time and energy.
 
It is very easy going through the day ‘fire-fighting’ things that seem urgent, that are not necessarily important, like endless work meetings, cleaning, and admin so that there is little energy left for even thinking about what is important to you, let alone spending any time addressing it. For example, many people are not happy in their jobs, but the strain of keeping up with the time-sensitive (apparently urgent) daily tasks don’t leave enough energy for thinking about whether we are in the right job? What else could I do that would be a better fit for me?
 
The same goes for health. Logically most people know that their health is important. However, it isn’t often urgent. When our health becomes urgent, such as with a major health problem, it is only then that we often find enough motivation to address it. Health is always important, but it often only becomes urgent when a crisis appears. Why do we need to wait for a crisis before addressing our health?
 
This applies to why it can be so difficult to tackle binge eating. We know that we don’t want to binge eat but the quick ‘reward’ of the brief escape or numbing of a binge or emotional eating episode seems far more appealing than focusing time and energy on long term strategies for managing binge eating for good. That can feel like hard work. We are too busy with day to day ‘urgent’ that we don’t have the ‘space’ to tackle the important things. Are you feeling too overwhelmed with daily ‘urgent’ life that you don’t have enough capacity to focus on the important things and address them?
 
When on holiday, many people think of loads of great ideas for how to make their life better when they get home. The space on holiday allows us to notice what we could change to make our lives more manageable and enjoyable. The problem is, when we get home and the daily ‘grind’ starts, it is too easy to fall back into old patterns and forget the insight that space gave us.

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.

How do we make tackling our health issues important and urgent?
 
Well, most people logically realise health is important. 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.
 
Here is a little exercise to help you make some space for tackling important things such as binge eating:
 
Make some space by reducing your list
  • Think of something that you find frustrating that you spend time and energy on.
    • Could this be something urgent but not particularly important?
    • What would life be like if you did less of it?
    • What would happen if you didn’t do it?
    • Whose expectations are you trying to live up to?
    • Will you think this was important when you are 95y?
    • If not, is it important enough to do instead of focusing on your health?
 
How can stopping binge eating feel urgent enough?
  • Why is stopping binge eating important to you?
  • What will you tell yourself about your binge eating when you are 95y?
  • What would make it urgent enough to tackle?
    • Do you really want to wait until then?
  • If something is important and urgent enough, you will find time, energy and motivation to do it?
    • How can you find the time to prioritise it (what else can you take off your list)?
    • How can you find energy to prioritise it (what can you take off your list that drains energy)?
    • How can you find motivation to do it (if you sort time and energy, and it is important, motivation should appear automatically)?

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Disclaimer

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 and your child’s doctor and/or dietician before beginning a new diet or exercise programme.