Addiction, BED, and my very (very) humble advice


So, if you’re reading this, you probably just watched my YouTube video on BED. Or maybe you didn’t. I’ll save you the trouble…I cried, I rambled a little, and I gave this very humble advice. I admit that (as you already know) I am not an expert, I’m not a professional, I’m not fixed or perfect or cured. If you watched the video, that goes without saying!

But that’s the majority of real people on earth, and so I have to be ok with it, and I really want to be honest, too.

I am a work in progress.

And basically that just means some days are better than others. So, all I have to give is my honest feedback about what (in my life) makes those “better” days happen more often than not…

So, first. I mentioned in the video that there are what I call the “band-aid” tips. The tips that cover the wound up, but don’t really cure it yet. These are what people love to read about in magazines (“Lose 20 lbs in 20 minutes by eating this new super-food!”). These are the “eat-this-not-that” tips that can feel so exciting and easy and like they will fix all our problems. These are what sell supplements, e-books, diet plans, etc. They are essentially little rules that we hope will trick our body into looking like Adriana Lima if we can only remember follow them. They are the bullet-points and lists and how-tos that are easy to read, fun to feel inspired by, but hard to consistently buckle down and follow through with. I know this better than anyone!!

But, for what they are worth, here are mine:

  1. Stay away from (run away from!) processed foods. Nobody needs that stuff. If it doesn’t exist on earth until its made in a factory, your body doesn’t know what to do with it. Fake food doesn’t have the right proportions of nutrients, water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and trace minerals to absorb naturally in the body at the right rate. Your blood sugar will go crazy, you will be chemically addicted to it, and find yourself physically starved for lack of natural nutrition. Don’t go there. Its like cocaine for the brain, and toxic to the body.
  2. Don’t eat Sugar. Bread, crackers, candy. Look at ingredients. This is basically the same as above, I just really wanna lay it out. Sugar is not good for us. For so many reasons. Watch some sugar documentaries (what up, Netflix!) and see what I mean! This doesn’t mean fruit. God made fruit, its natural and great, has pectin to slow digestion, etc!
  3. Don’t eat standing up. I forgot to say this in the video, but it really makes a huge difference for me. When we are in binge-mode, it’s very easy to just graze and pull from fridge, cupboard, microwave, etc in this frenzied dance of craving that has you all over the kitchen, consuming and combining and searching for the next stimulation. A great way to ensure this doesn’t sneakily start happening is to (wait for it…) put your food on a plate and sit down! Seriously, before you take a bite. Put it all on a plate and sit down. This makes us think before we eat 25 different kinds of food, and it gives our body and brain an extra second to breathe and enjoy the meal in front of us, without the distraction of looking around for the next thing. Just sit down, and eat one purposeful meal. Chances are, you will put a very different amount on a plate (even a big plate) than you will end up eating out of the cupboard grazing for a half hour. There is also a set start point and end point to meal on a plate, a handy little thing I have noticed :)
  4. Exercise! So good for your body and brain and self-esteem and chemical balance and muscles and metabolism and energy and on and on and on….
  5. Cut it off at night. We just are not as likely to make good choices after dinner. After 9pm, I’m done. I literally have an alarm on my phone. You can create your own stopping point. I’ve just had too many late night blow-outs to even fool myself that I should try and have self control of late night snacking. It’s hard to stick to at first, but you get used to it after about 2 weeks. It’s also really peaceful to go to bed without stomach full of groceries and a head full of “I’ll start tomorrow’s”.

So there’s 5, and YES, these DO help a lot (when I stick to them)!! There is definitely merit to having boundaries like the ones above, don’t get me wrong. Having healthy guide-lines are absolutely essential to treating our bodies well. These tips can TOTALLY save us from inciting a sugar-laden binge when we didn’t need to even go there in the first place. It can stop us from putting garbage in that creates addictive cycles on a chemical level, for sure. Buuuuutttt….

Trouble is, they really don’t create strength, or will power or follow-through or truly address why we want to ravenously binge in the first place, which is why they aren’t a great stand-alone solution. If I don’t stick to them, they don’t help much.

And, yeah, when I am in full binge-mode, I am gonna break all of my rules!!! I can’t help it at that point. No list will save me. Like I did earlier today, I throw that list right out the window, and eat sugar and nitrates and processed food…even food out of the trash if I have to.

Basically, under stress,  the “tips” can become moot. I am sure you have experienced this. If it were just about knowing the right rules, no one would have BED at all.

Which is why I don’t think for a second that just memorizing this list or even trying my best to do what I wrote down is going to help me if I don’t go a little deeper. So, as I said in the video, here’s some ‘second tier’ advice that I like to give myself. It’s actually the hardest for me of all. This is about stopping the next binge from beginning altogether. It’s not a fun one, though.

When I mess up, I don’t punish myself to ‘fix’ it.

It is so so so hard, but I just don’t. I don’t try to control, or undo, or reverse the damage of binge. It feels counter-intuitive and it is. Sometimes it’s so hard, I literally cry. But I stick to my guns on this one, even if I am only hanging by a thread.

It means that when the dust settles and I realize that I have eaten everything in my house and then some, I do not run to the gym to do the elliptical for 7 hours. It means I don’t calculate how many days I will only eat salad or eat nothing or skip breakfast to make up for what I have eaten. It means I decided I will never, ever, ever throw up again.

So, that means I just sit with it. I just let it be. I just accept that it happened and that its not how I want to live, but that it isn’t going to kill me either.

Now, I have ONLY learned to do this through trial and error. I am 30 years old, so that means for at least the last decade and a half, I have been heavily dealing with every single way to control and manipulate my body into looking the way I want it to, despite my BED. That means exercise bulimia, real bulimia, restriction, starvation, energy pills, fasting, weight training, you name it. And, despite what I would have ever believed, I found (every time!), that the more I controlled or ‘undid’ a binge, the more likely I was to binge again sooner.

The shame-filled, chaotic cycle of running from the kitchen frenzy straight to a gym frenzy or a strict punishment of restriction only further pushed down whatever I was feeling. It only aggravated the deep shame and feelings of being messed up. The temporary discomfort of being full and feeling afraid of gaining weight was certainly quelled for a moment, but I also taught myself that I am stuck in a never ending cycle of being out of control and subject to the next binge-fix-binge cycle of hopelessness. Which I was.

The more I tried to manage the pain by simply ‘fixing’ it on the outside with these temporary measures, the more I trained my brain that I could just fix it again next time. There was no relief there, only another quick fix (like the binge was in the first place). I trained myself to be impulsive and eat whenever I wanted and to be impulsive in my panicked calorie-controlling behavior afterward. I taught myself to live like an addict, and I actually always gained more weight during these times, as well as feeling highly manic and completely controlled by the cycle itself.

This is really not sustainable either because beyond the mental torture of the rollercoaster itself, you can really not run or restrict off a bad binge entirely. You can never truly win at the managing game. And even if you somehow succeed with your weight, your life becomes a hollow shell–chasing food and running from calories, while hiding your secrets from everyone around you. I learned that I kept repeating the cycle, became sadder and sadder and was also ultimately MUCH heavier (physically AND emotionally) than when I just bit the bullet the first time and let my body simply gain the weight of one binge without starting the whole cycle over and over.

I’ve definitely had to run out of my house, crying. I’ve called Jeremy in a panic because I wanted to throw up so badly because of my fear of becoming unlovable if I gained all the weight from what I had done. I’ve had full on melt-downs, ugly tears and all, but I have not allowed myself to go back to the managing cycle. And that is a saving grace because it means every binge is just a solitary event. And I get back to center and work through my feelings instead of pushing them down with controlling behavior, and move on. I feel proud of myself and it keeps me present. It really is hard in the moment, but it really has saved my life.

It just works, I promise.

It’s actually why people look at me and think its strange I have BED. I have just learned (by failing every other conceivable way) to just suck it up and live with the consequences in the moment. And as excruciating as it is…those consequences teach me not to begin the cycle again, because I know theres no easy way to ‘fix it’.I simply don’t have the fallback lie in my head that tells me to begin a binge again, justifying it in the moment of temptation because I’ve got my trusty escape plans.

I also usually have to end up telling someone so that I have some help getting through these moments, and so I don’t even have the temptation to isolate and manage…Which kinda leads me to my next, and final ‘tier’ of advice. This one is also not easy or sexy, but I actually find it much more peaceful than the previous (which really involves letting go of real-time consequences and the fear of being fat, which is very hard for me). This round of tips actually all start before the binge. Even before the first bite, and thats why they’re the most helpful. It’s also why they’re the hardest to connect to BED, which is why I don’t always do them as often as I wish I did.

I just have to remember to do these well BEFORE I’m elbow deep in a bag of chips.

So, you heard it in the video, but here goes:

  1. Journal. Yep! Like “dear diary” style. For real. Every day, this is how I start my morning. Well, every GOOD day, I should say. Obviously today I didn’t, which is why I ended up eating hot-dogs, peanut butter, chocolate chips, the entire cereal aisle, and more all before the break of 10:30 am…but I digress. What I mean is, on GOOD days, I wake up and I take my rambling, racing, churning thoughts and I pen them down. “God, I am worried about the wedding. I don’t know if I will have enough money for …, I feel anxious about my interview today, I feel scared about my mom’s health, etc…Do you have anything to say to me?” Just really simple, like that. I let the jumble out of my head, onto the paper, and I ask God for peace. I don’t usually get answers in black and white, but I get to let the fears out of my head so I don’t have to carry them in my body as anxiety. I surrender them to God, knowing that He will figure it out for me, and give me whatever steps to take. So I ask Him for any action steps, take them if necessary, and move on with my morning…at rest and surrendered and at peace.
  2. Apologize! Make amends. Don’t let resentment or bitterness or division sit around in your system. This is one of the biggest causes of underlying, chronic stress, which is one of the biggest causes of BED and other impulsive, addictive, numbing behaviors in my life. If I am angry at, let’s say Jeremy, and we don’t sit down and talk about it, I will eat the whole house. If we don’t process our feelings, seek reconciliation, listen to each other, and get on the same page, I cannot expect to feel stress-free. And when I am full of stress, it creates a vacuum inside! So, call your mom, talk to your roommate and tell her what hurts you or ask her if she is doing ok, ask your friends to process your STUFF with you. Everyone’s got stuff. Don’t let it tell you what to do! Get rid of it!
  3. Be honest and be accountable. Let someone in your life (a safe someone!) know what’s going on. Let them know why you’re hurting, what it feels like when you binge, and that you dont want to anymore. You are only as sick as your secrets. So, the more you isolate, the more you will binge. The more you hide, the more you will binge. The more you act like its not happening and keep it a secret, the more it will control you. Break the silence, it will shatter the power of the secret. It will remind you that you’re not alone, you’re not unlovable, and you’re definitely not messed up. This is SO common! Even if no one else is there for you, I am. I’ll stand in the gap. I’m praying for you and I love you and I GET IT! It’s not fun, but it gets better.
  4. If you need to, get into a support group. If this is ruling you, inhibiting your ability to love yourself and to feel free…then get help! I go to Celebrate Recovery, which is a 12-step group that exists in all 50 states I believe. It has changed my life forever. I love it and I can’t tell you how powerful it is. Any hurt, hang-up, or habit you want freedom from gets dealt with there. I cannot say enough good things about it.
  5. Listen to your body. What do you feel like when you’re anxious? For me, it’s a tense feeling in my stomach accompanied by shallow breathing and racing heart rate. If I feel this in my chest or stomach, I don’t start eating until it’s gone. Even healthy food. I’m sure you’ve all experienced what started as a healthy meal avalanching into a binge. It’s usually because you were stress eating. Feel your body from inside and if there is panic, stress, anxiety, or sadness–deal with that first, head on. Food never helps, it only masks for a moment and leads to more anxiety later. Just listen to YOU and give YOU what you need. Slow down and meditate or scream or whatever!
  6. On that note… ya! Meditate / scream / cry / listen to music / call a friend / go on a walk / get to church / do something that makes you feel alive! Every day. Whatever it is! Get your fill of you-ness! Find a weird community, write a daily gratitude list (this is honestly a life-changer–such a great one!), practice creativity, soak in inspiration, and seek after TRUTH about who you are. A lot of why we turn to food as stimulation is to  numb us out, because we feel pent up energy or anxiety that hasn’t been channeled in healthy ways. So dance around your house to Destinys Child if you have to. Read Tolstoy in your underwear with the AC on. Let your blood pump and your brain work. This seems like a stupid, pandering, elementary-school tip, I know. But it’s super important!! Do something you love and that makes you feel worthy — because YOU ARE! Write, read, connect with friends. Don’t isolate. Don’t go on social media and compare. Don’t watch TV. Those things only make you feel like crap, which makes you eat like crap. You’re better than crap!

 

And since you’re better than crap — I am going to be real with you. This list of lists is not magical. It’s not even fully fleshed out. It’s maybe not even in a good, logical progression, the more I think about it. And yet, it’s what is coming to me right now, as I write at my computer in the wake of filming my video this morning. It’s what I have to give. These are things that have truly helped me. But even they are not enough.

Which leads me to the LAST and most IMPORTANT bit of advice.

Surrender.

If I ever want to have a healthy day, I have to give it up to God, one moment at a time. That means actually asking for help! A lot.

I’ve struggled with this long enough to see that I can’t do it alone. I need strength that doesn’t come from me. When I fall into worry, planning, controlling, or rebelliousness, I fail. Stress happens when we try to be our own God. When we try to fix in ourselves what only God can fix in us. When I try to white-knuckle it through my days in my own power, my fists are clenched so tight in pride that they aren’t open to receive any help from a stronger source. Only with humble and open hands do I ever get the help I need to succeed.

I just have to let go and realize that He wants more health for me than I know how to give myself. I used to be afraid to do this, thinking God wanted me to be fat or something, thinking I had to control and restrict and act out to get what I wanted and look how I wanted… but all “my way” ever got me was upset, spiraling, and making promises every night to be better tomorrow. I had to admit I just kept coming up with the same regret and failure on my own. Maybe you’ve experienced the same and maybe that’s why you’re reading this.

Gods way is softer and gentler. His way is to compassionately remind me I am worthy of health. His way is to comfort me, to restore me, to build me up inside so I don’t need to fill myself with food. His way is to speak to my spirit and remind me that I’m taken care of. That it’s all gonna be ok. That I don’t have to keep running and hiding and medicating.

His way is to kindly help me to let go of control and surrender what I think will make me feel better in the moment,  and instead receive comfort and healing from within. Then, I realize an hour later that I did it! The craving didn’t beat me! His way actually leads to what He wants for me (and what I want for myself) — my perfectly healthy body, in alignment and at peace! Without all the extra stuff I pack in to try to run from His safety net.

So, above every other bit of advice, I have to say the only one that actually gives me any power to even BEGIN to attempt the others is to get humble. To get humble and surrender my will over to the care and control of something bigger than myself. Someone that loves me more than I love me all the time, who made me and loves my body and wants it to be healthy and strong and alive, and who has power to give me strength. Without that, I can’t go even a day sometimes! My will-power is simply not enough. And that’s ok–because unless I choose to go it alone and keep failing, I never have to!

Now, as you know, (duh) I still don’t surrender all the time. I still have days where I want to try and do it on my own. I’m kinda stubborn. Therefore, I am not cured and I still struggle and have prideful days where I think I can do it alone. But at least, more and more,  I have help to turn to when I let go of my arrogance and get humble enough to ask for strength in temptation and a way out!

Like today, if I had taken an honest look at myself and just asked God to help me accept and process  that I had anxiety about filming a vulnerable topic, fear of looking foolish, insecurity, whatever and just surrendered it, I wouldn’t have even taken the first bite from that “needy” place and I could have stopped my binge before it began! But the tips only work when I use them. And I can only use them when I am infused with power greater than my little BED brain :)

So I am pledging, alongside you, to follow my own advice. ALL OF IT. Even the hard parts that require supplication, surrender and humility.

I really want to get back to a place of power, where I am letting Him help me stay on track & follow this advice because it makes me feel so much better anyway! I love when I’m eating healthy, processing emotions healthily, and connecting to myself, my God and my body regularly.

I used to think of BED as a curse, but increasingly, because of what it trains me to do for myself,  I choose to think of it as a blessing. Ya!!! Seriously, We, as sufferers, get to be intentional about the way we live our lives. We get to choose every day, not to run from food or to run to it, but to be people who fill ourselves up with better things. Writing every day has made me a better person, and I guarantee I would not have done it as consistently as I do if I didn’t desperately need it to keep this BED in check. So it’s turning out to be really great for me. Maybe it will be for you too!

It’s brought me closer to God and to myself. I also wouldn’t be in Celebrate Recovery, which has made me a better person inside and out in more ways than any other single thing I think I have ever done. I also wouldn’t have had so many vulnerable, raw, and connecting conversations with women and men all over the world. I also wouldn’t have had to dig deep and begin to tackle my underlying issues of lack, low self-esteem, anxiety, fear, and insecurity if there was not a physical manifestation like BED.

So I can tell you that am grateful.

I can also tell you that, even though I am not perfect, I do promise it gets so much better when you actually reach outward and inward to go deep with the underlying stuff that causes BED. It isn’t always fun to do the work, but I can say I truly don’t live like I used to.

Yes, today I messed up. Today, I woke up and acted rebelliously. I purposefully neglected to take my own advice. I broke almost every single rule on here, starting with asking God to help me process my self-doubt and anxious emotions. From ignoring my journaling, to eating standing up, and on and on until I am eating everything and breaking every single boundary I have in a tornado of shame and fear and manic consumption and self-sabotage. But, I am not foolish enough to think I don’t know I did it to myself. I am not a victim. None of us have to be victims.

Despite my mistakes, I am a strong, capable person, and so are you. We make mistakes sometimes, but the sometimes aren’t what define us. It’s something deeper, from the inside. Its a hope and a willingness to keep trying. Im gonna keep trying, and I’m inviting you to keep trying with me.

I am inviting you to surrender the LIE that you’re not good enough, that you have to do it on your own, that it’s never going to get better, or even that you have to be perfect at this to be worthy or lovable.

YOU ARE DOING JUST FINE.

WE ARE DOING JUST FINE!

You’re worthy. You’re not alone. You are understood and championed and validated by millions of other men and women who have BED and a God who made you and loves you.

It’s not easy. But its also not the end.

I am proud of you, even for reading this and wanting to try! That’s all we have to give some days. And guess what?

It’s ok!

Im right there with you :) :) :)

I pray that God gives each and every one of you (and me!) a little bit more faith today, a little bit more strength today, a little bit more grace today if we mess up, a little more hope today to keep going, a little bit more love today to extend to others instead of dwelling on ourselves, and a little bit of FUN so we remember that life is a blessing. Even the hard days!!

 

I LOVE YOU GUYS TO THE MOON!!!! Be encouraged. Wherever you are at on your journey today — I promise that you’re right where you’re supposed to be and you’re doing just great!!! Even mistakes pave the way to victory…

 

Love,

Britt

Recent Posts
Showing 7 comments
  • Kayla
    Reply

    Wow good on you for admitting your truth and not hiding in the shame. So powerful and inspiring to share the embarrassing truth in hopes it will help others , I’ll tell you it impacted me!! Thanks for making me think more about my own relationship with food and not just ignore / hide it , makes me feel stronger knowing others deal with the same issues! Your an amazing person!

  • SC
    Reply

    This is so moving! Thank you so much for your humility, vulnerability, and sharing. I LOVE your openness. It is so inspiring and encouraging…your words are impacting others and your life matters.

  • Cheryl
    Reply

    Britt, I think its truly a blessing that I came across your blog today after binge eating myself. Thank you so much for your honesty, advice and encouragement! I’m a college student and often binge eat when I’m stressed, angry or upset and it does brinb alot of guilt and shame and its difficult to tell someone or stop it. We may have slipped today but let’s keep going! Thanks so much for voicing this issue and helping people all over the world. Keep us updated! XO

  • Emily
    Reply

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your experience with addiction and BED. Your willingness to share your struggles in such a public way is inspiring and will most certainly help others conquer their shame and reach out to someone for help and support. I struggled with anorexia and bulimia for multiple years in high school. In college, I faced BED and would binge drink until I blacked out most of the nights of the week and felt so much shame. However, around my junior year in college, something turned around. I had always gone to church, but never really read the Bible. I decided to give it a try, and fell in love with journaling. Four years later, I have a normal relationship with food and alcohol. That’s not to say that I don’t ever overeat or feel negatively toward my body, but instead of beating myself up about it and spiraling out of control I’ve learned to give myself the grace that Jesus gave us and just let it be. Thank you for speaking so honestly about such important “taboo” topics. It’s only once we can open up to God and our loved ones that we can truly be free.

  • Aimee
    Reply

    Amazing article! Thank you for being so candid and open. You are helping so many people even if they are in a place where they are to ashamed to admit it. I can 100% relate to your struggle!! I especially love the very end of the article about turning to God for help and guidance. We cant do this alone. Bless you Britt…will keep you in my prayers. You are a strong person.

  • Dana
    Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing being honest vulnerable and putting it all out there. It shows you are real. I love the fact that you know God is the source you run to. He loves us so much. I saw this video at the perfect time. I’ve had a rough week binge eating. Allowing my emotions to rule. It was meant for me to see your video. A God ordained moment. Amen. I’ve struggled with the trying to fix it myself mentality and you are so right. It sucks. It just causes a yoyo effect. I’m also one that has been hard on myself. I’ve struggled so long with this but I am learning to surrender it to God. And when I take it back I’m learning to not let guilt shame take over. He is a gracious God. Thank you so much Britt for your encouragement prayers and support. Congratulations on your engagement!!❤️

    Dana

  • ORH
    Reply

    Hi Britt! Thank you so much for sharing this. I know it’s not easy to be vulnerable like this as a public figure, but you’re helping so many people feel a little less alone. I have also struggled with multiple eating disorders for as long as I can remember, and BED is what led me to rock bottom. I was a successful college athlete working a part time job at ABC television network. Ironically enough I saw the women standing outside of the ABC building casting for the Bachelor. Anyways- I was also working myself into the ground to distract myself from thinking of how much I hated myself. I won’t get into how rock bottom happened, but it did and I forced myself to go to an in-patient eating disorder facility. It was the hardest three months of my life. I wish I could say everything got better after that and it was an easy fix. But no I struggled for my life for about two more years. Still the same old bingeing, restricting, bingeing, purging, on and on cycle. And I still hated myself. I also again, worked myself into the ground with the job I had at the time with an attempt to distract myself. I ended up meeting a girl who sort of convinced me that the job I was working at was terrible for me because I had no time for myself. I ended up applying for a new job at a company that I knew valued work life balance. I decided when I started this job, I was going to focus my extra time in my life on getting help. I found an eating disorder therapist who I absolutely love. I had seen SO many eating disorder specialists before, however I just wasn’t ready to commit. I never stuck with any therapist or any program. But this time I was serious, and my therapist happened to be the perfect match. She helped me build a team of people to help me fight this eating disorder. I am now 25 years old- and have a therapist, a psychiatrist, a nutritionist, and primary care doctor. I see at least one of these people once a week. I now have a team fighting for me and fighting for me to keep my life. I am now a healthy weight, have an amazing boyfriend who I’m going to marry and loves everything about me, have an amazing job (just got a promotion actually!), an amazing family and friends, and I can tell you honestly that I love my life. There were points in my life where I did not want to live anymore. But now I’m even thinking about bringing new life into this world with a child. My advice for you would be to 1. Make sure you make time for yourself no matter what 2. Gather a TEAM of people (therapist, primary care doctor, nutritionist, psychiatrist that all talk each other to develop plans to help me) 3. Make sure you STICK to seeing all of your eating disorder specialists on a regular basis no matter what 4. Rid yourself of toxic people 5. Know in your heart that you’re meant to be here. You have a purpose whether it’s helping people with binge eating disorder or eventually raising a child one day who can say my mom is a warrior. You are here for a reason, and everything will be ok. I wish when all of this started, I had someone to tell me everything will be ok. I still have my days here and there where I act out on my eating disorder. But it’s gone from everyday to once every few months. Thank you for opening this dialogue to allow me to share my own story. I know you’re already on this road to recovery, but I’m hoping my story will help you in some way as you’re story has helped me. You are worth it, I love you, and am part of your team to fight this!

Leave a Comment