The article I posted earlier felt particularly relevant today as I had been thinking this week about that urge, break or snap that happens when we have vowed to be ‘good’ and not touch the food, alcohol, cigarettes, whatever that we have placed a ban on ourselves whether it’s for a diet, a health kick or because have binged the night before. I realise that not everyone will have the same mentality as I have had in the past which was ‘Sod it. If I’ve eaten 2 biscuits I might as well eat the whole packet’ or ‘There’s no such thing as one drink. It’s either none or getting drunk.’ But I expect there’s probably a lot of people out there who will identify with these feeling.
This led me to think about the people I have encountered who are vegetarian or vegan and the difference in their attitude. On occasion they have accidentally consumed something that contained animal products, but instead of thinking ‘Oh well this gummy bear had gelatine in it, pass the bacon sandwich’, they were able to shrug it off. Sure they were disappointed, but they didn’t throw away their lifestyle after the odd indiscretion.
Now I’m well aware that dietary requirements and binging are two very different situations. People are vegetarian and so on for their own personal ethical or religious reasons and it’s not as if they’re likely to gorge on something when they have their own morals guiding them on that particular subject. However, what I do feel is that there is something to be learnt from their behaviour.
The feelings involved after binging are horrendous. I know that’s a strong word to use but from my experience it is appropriate. I was full of self-loathing, self-hatred and my thoughts constantly berating me for what I had done. I couldn’t accept my behaviour. It was disgusting. I was disgusting, therefore how could I wake up the next day and expect to go about my day and eat as a normal, regular person? I couldn’t. I had to compensate my behaviour with the only way I knew how: restricting my food intake. Starve myself.
Now I know that if I was able to forgive and be kind to myself then potentially I could’ve stopped my cycle of compulsive eating and self hatred spiralling out of control for so long. If I could have woken up the next morning and have been able to say ‘It’s alright. It’s not the end of the world. You still deserve to eat today’ then I wouldn’t have felt the constant need to punish myself by going hungry – which only resulted in me binging again anyway.
Challenging my negative, and often illogical, thoughts is something I still work on and it can be very difficult when you are used to a much more anxiety riddled way of thinking. It’s hard to accept and not criticise yourself when you feel ashamed of your behaviour – after all this is what we learn from infancy: If you are bad you are punished, only good behaviour is rewarded. However a child is not punished for days on end, hopefully it’s only for 5 minutes on the naughty step and it’s forgotten about and they can carry on being an astronaut in the back garden. The behaviour is acknowledged then they move on. Maybe that’s one of the most important lessons here, don’t obsess and demonise. They say one of the most powerful things you can do for someone is to forgive. Why not try doing this for yourself first? Please. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. It might just help set you free.