Do you suffer from binge eating disorder or know someone who does? Whether due to anxiety, depression, addiction, there are several triggers of hunger, and there is even a list that we use a lot with patients, called “ASPAS Triggers” (Action / Feelings / Thoughts / Events and Body Sensations).
A person with anxiety will not necessarily have binge eating disorder, but either way the two conditions go hand in hand.
The impulsiveness present in both causes the individual to experience irrational sensations and behaviors disconnected from perception, such as not noticing that he is eating pure margarine, not realizing that he ate a whole bag of bread, or even not knowing how to explain even the flavor that that dish of food had.
Because it is irrational, the moment has no explanation, no control, and the patient only realizes what happened immediately after, when feeling physical pain, stomach pain, and sentimental pain such as impotence, sadness, frustration.
To bring the patient into the immediate now moment, during the binge attack, or as a way of premeditating the moment, there are many strategies, and each patient will find himself better in each until he learns what his triggers are.
Our mind always wanders between the past (thoughts about what has already happened) or the future (what we are going to do or would like to do in the future, in fantasy), and it is rarely in the here, in the now, in the present. Precisely for this reason, patients with compulsion tend to never realize what they are doing at that moment, because the act of impulsiveness is not being perceived, but is done in a disconnected and automatic way.
What are the QUOTE triggers:
A – actions: going to the market, going to the mall, going to grandparents’ house, going out with friends who drink too much, going out with people who eat too much, going out with a partner, going to parties, seeing thin people on social media, seeing people lose weight , seeing that some clothes no longer fit, smelling some food, eating to pass time, watching cooking shows, etc.
S – feelings: anxiety, anguish, apathy, aggression, distress, anticipation, jealousy, self-pity, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment, pity, disappointment, doubt, euphoria, enthusiasm, frustration, humiliation, nagging, envy, wrath, hatred, rage, hurt, bad mood, fear, nostalgia, melancholy, isolation, panic, pleasure, laziness, longing, boredom.
P – thoughts: I have to eat everything; I won’t leave anything on the plate because it’s waste; I don’t know if I’m going to eat this again anytime soon; I’ve already paid, I won’t do anything about it; everyone is eating; I’ll be hungry later; just for today I’m released; I weighed myself and gained weight, so I’m going to eat because nothing I’m doing is working; I weighed myself and lost weight, so I can eat.
A – events: grief, fatigue, excess of tasks, vacations, holidays, birthdays, fights with a partner, traffic, fights with children, news, lack of money.
S – bodily sensations: body pain, PMS, flu, sleep, illness, physical or emotional fatigue.
If you have recognized a trigger and suffer from anxiety or compulsion, it is easier to see when exactly you may have an attack, since you have learned about your trigger (these are some examples, the list is much longer and can also be individual).
The second step to acting more rationally at the moment of compulsion is to bring the mind to the here, to the present, and there are some strategies, some more complicated, some simpler. This one that I’m going to teach you is a strategy of mine, which when practiced correctly, is able to bring the individual to the current moment quickly, increasing their perceptions and action time, and avoiding the automatic response of compulsive eating.
Whenever you are close to the moment, or else you have sensed the trigger, apply the activity of the five senses:
- What am I seeing now?
- What am I listening to?
- How does my body feel now?
- What flavors do I feel in my mouth?
- What smells am I smelling?
In a very practical way, it is the act of perceiving yourself at the exact moment of impulsiveness and irrational response, causing you to find the anchor for the exact moment when you need to breathe, think, feel the reason, increase the response time and also realize other options that go beyond eating.
Slowing down is the best answer, because at this moment you, even if you decide to eat a piece of chocolate, will be attentive to that particular moment, reducing the risk of you eating a whole bar, but rather, in an attentive, present and rational way, eating only the enough to satisfy what you need.
You arrived home in the late afternoon, the house is a mess, you are tired, hungry and the only thing you think about is eating what you have that is easiest and most affordable.
Right now, you can apply the activity as you walk around the kitchen or living room trying to reconnect your physical sensations and what you would actually like to eat. Maybe a butter and cheese sandwich? Maybe a yogurt with chopped fruit? And, of course, if you didn’t stop to understand what you would like to eat, the risk of you opening packages of cookies, taking the cheese bread that was in the basket, or even some ice cream that was in the freezer is very smaller.
– What am I seeing now? I see my son playing with his favorite toy and his beautiful smile.
– What am I hearing? I hear birds that have landed on the window of the building.
– What are the sensations of my body now? I feel tired, with pain in my lower back, and a little heat.
– What flavors do I feel in my mouth? A sweet taste, or the bitter taste of the last coffee I had before coming home.
– What smells am I smelling? I smell fabric softener from clothes on the clothesline, or I smell rain…
Turn to yourself, realize your real need, and then choose what you really want to eat, in the adequate and sufficient amount to satisfy you.
Be connected with the here, with the now, with the present moment.
I posted a very short video on my Instagram explaining more about this activity, in addition to posting several other tips on behavior, strategies and food, come see: @taisespolti