I am dying to get this information down into a blog, to share with you what I’ve learned by reading the book, Brain Over Binge. The book was written by Kathryn Hansen, and chronicles her struggles, and eventually successes over bulimia.
At first glance, I didn’t think the book would have much relevance. Thankfully, I’ve never struggled with bulimia – eating huge amounts and countering my actions with extreme measures (purging, laxatives, compulsive exercising) – however, a lot of the information in the book is relevant to my eating habits and choices. Kathryn also discusses BED (Binge Eating Disorder) and nearly all of the information is applicable to me, my “dieting” and the choices I’ve made surrounding food.
To open the book, Kathryn discusses her history with binge eating, and more important, therapy. She spent many, many years in therapy – seeing many different doctors – and every doctors’ approach was to address the “emotional reasons” why she binged. She thought about reasons why she ate – unhappiness, loneliness, anxiety, stress, depression, happiness.
BAM! Light bulb moment. I have those same reasons for eating! I have the same “I’m broken!” feeling and have been trying to address my “reasons for over-eating” for YEARS.
Kathryn then talks about a specific day she stopped into a bookstore on her way to a 7-hour workout to counteract a 8,000 calorie binge she had the day before. She picked up the book Rational Recovery (RR), which laid out the specifics for alcohol recovery. During her time at the gym, Kathryn read the book - inserting ”binge eating” for “alcoholism” – and had a life-changing discovery about her eating disorder.
She wasn’t broken. (Again – cue light bulbs over my head.)
Instead, she read about the “animal brain” and the “human brain”. Since the beginning of time (throughout evolution – or even creation), we have been hard-wired to be successful: to find food, shelter, water, comfort and to survive. These instincts are part of our “animal brain” – driving specific activities vital to our survival.
As part of our development from adolescence into adult-hood, we develop keener decision making skills, and the rational choices and problem-solving are part of our “human brain” – basically, what makes us, US. And that the human brain controls our choices, our actions, our physical movements, and who we are.
Kathryn talks about the strong pull or desire from her “animal brain” to eat – to binge-eat, to eat whatever she wants – and that, despite her dieting and restricting – it only makes her animal brain even MORE powerful in the desire to overeat. And the more she overeats, the more her animal brain demands that she continues to overeat.
WHAT? Is this my life? I FEEL THE SAME WAY.
Kathryn read in RR (Rational Recovery) about using your “human brain” to control the “animal brain” – to listen to what the animal brain is requesting – and then decide, with your “human brain” to NOT binge eat. You can control if you get up and go to the fridge; you can control if you drive to McDonalds (or Caribou) to pick up something. YOU ARE IN CONTROL. And once you acknowledge that the desire comes from your animal brain, you can counteract them with your own choices.
Pffffft – MIND BLOWN.
It gets better – Kathryn hasn’t binged in YEARS, and it’s her experience that the less you give into the “animal brain”s requests, the less and less it tries to convince you to binge-eat. That eventually, your animal brain stops making requests to overeat.
She talks about using imagery – standing outside of your “animal brain” – and looking inward, letting it make requests, and simply saying: NO. I’M NOT DOING THAT. No reasoning, no arguing, no rationalizing. No fighting back and forth, or looking inward to say, “what am I craving and WHYYYY”. Just simply, “no.”
No. No, Animal Brain, I’m not doing that.
I’m still working through Parts 2 and 3 of the book – which talk a lot more about the science of the way the brain works. But for now, I have entirely changed my perspective on what I eat – and why.
I AM NOT BROKEN!!!!
I will also talk about how the ideas of Brain over Binge have affected previous weight-loss efforts (including Whole30) and what I’d like to do – going forward.
I don’t think that Brain Over Binge is the be-all, end-all weight-loss book. In fact, it’s a complete 180 from all of the other dieting/weight loss/overeating books I’ve read. I am, however, hopeful that learning new information will help me learn, grow, and continue creating the person I want to be.
Thanks for sticking by me – continuing to read this blog, as I work through some really important issues. I am so thankful for the feedback, support and comments. <3
More to come!