Nighttime used to be my most dreaded time of day. I was disciplined, focused and a master at my to-do list throughout the day. You name it, I could get it done in the day. I thrived off the exhilaration of exhaustive to-do lists and had confidence that I could do anything.
Well, almost anything.
I didn’t really trust myself with decisions I would make at night. All day long I would promise myself that I would stay disciplined with my nutrition. I wouldn’t overeat at night. I wouldn’t snack, and I certainly wouldn’t overpour myself too-large of a glass of wine.
Some nights went well, some didn’t. I was always anxious about my willpower and it corrupted my sense of self-trust and self-respect, often carrying shame over into the next day. I would shake off the night negativity and any poor choices I made with a tough-love pep talk, a commitment to burning off any unnecessarily consumed calories by running a couple extra miles, skipping a meal or two or doubling up on my caffeine intake.
I found myself in a pendulum of extreme restriction and indulgence, never knowing when I would “be good” and when I would struggle. I feared that I was alone in my struggle. I felt deep shame about this cycle of self-sabotage I found myself caged in, and wasn’t sure I would ever be free from it.
There is a way out of the self-sabotage of the binge eating cycle, and I want you to know that if you struggle with this you are not alone and you are not stuck. Not everyone’s story with this looks the same, but after years of coaching women to break free from these chains, in the same way I was finally able to, there are 10 universal strategies that can help.
Here are 10 ways that will help break the self-sabotaging cycle of binge eating:
1. Stop trying to do it all on your own.
We need God's help. You probably already know this but it’s time to believe it and live it. As believers we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Read that again. That same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the power you have been given; it is already within you. Take a minute to let the depth of that set in. You don’t need to discipline yourself into willpower, instead, you can tap into spiritual willpower that is beyond anything human you could do on your own.Also, it’s important to remember that God's love for you is not contingent on the choices you do or do not make. He is not disappointed in you. He hurts when you hurt. He sees your tears. And He invites you into grace, healing and peace. The best part is it’s never too late. You’re never “too far gone”. God is always there ready to walk alongside you so that you never have to do this alone. When God’s supernatural powers break the chains of self sabotage and the shame that comes along with that, it also frees you so others can come alongside you and help. In no way are you meant to do this alone. Let God help you and let Him lead you to the community that will walk alongside you.
2. Break your agreement with it in your life
It’s time to acknowledge that you've been in agreement with this habit. Part of the process to heal requires that we take ownership of our actions. And, often, the action of turning to food for comfort is an intentional “easy button,” or escape button that we choose to push. It’s time to declare that this strategy (pushing the “easy button”) doesn’t work for you anymore
Yes, your “old you” did this, but your “new you” does not. It’s time to create a before and after. A line in the sand. The habit of binging and numbing your feelings is simply something you used to do. Now it’s not a strategy you choose in your life because you know it doesn’t give you life, it takes life from you. Declare this difference of decision over your life. Your old self used to do this, and now you are transformed because God is giving you the strength to think differently. And remember, it’s our thoughts that drive our actions, so to change the actions in your life you need to first change the way you think.Your behavior in the past does not have to be your future. Sometimes we stay in agreement with the struggle because we’re still getting something from it. But it’s time to be brave enough to release yourself from that. For more info on how to truly change the way you think and get into this next version of yourself, listen to podcast episode #420 of The Confidence Podcast How to Change the Way You Think here. No longer will you feel stuck in old thought patterns once you know how to intentionally change the way you think and train your thoughts.
3. Develop a Powerful Self-Concept
Pitiful or powerful, which will you be? You can’t be both so choose power. You are powerful.
Sure, the old you, or You 1.0 gave control over to self-sabotaging behavior, often because you were throwing yourself a pity party of exhaustion, over-extension or sadness. You 2.0, your future you, used to have self-sabotaging behavior but now has powerful grounding habits that prevent old patterns from creeping in. You 2.0 is strong and knows what to do when that feeling comes on. You 2.0 is a new creation.
I never realized that my nighttime patterns were rooted in self-pity, but once I did, I was able to speak back to the pitiful voice and substitute it with a powerful, more positive one. You will be able to do the same.Your commitment to consistency is what makes the difference between You 1.0 and You 2.0. You are strong and powerful and you do the consistent steps it takes to be your best self. Powerful. That’s who you are. If you’re ready to break the cycle you have to change the way you think, and in doing so, disrupt the way you act then definitely check out the workshop on self-concept in the College of Confidence. Join here and get instant access to the workshop where you’ll learn how to figure out who your You 1.0 is, who your You 2.0 is and how to build a bridge between them with confidence.
4. Harness the power of affirmations
Affirmations are an amazing way to really grow into this powerful strong best version of you. They are declarations of truth. Reminders of truth that give life. You can play around with these to find ones that really work for you. Remember these should remind you of truths and of how powerful and capable you are. Here are some affirmations that have worked for me and for many of my clients and students.
- I find my peace in God, not in food.
- I have the courage to feel my feelings and I do not numb myself anymore because numbing doesn't work.
- I am free from a toxic relationship with food and I only like to eat what honors my body.
- I am proud of how I can now stand firm in any situation. I walk in victory.
- Food will not fix this problem, but feeling my feelings will and I can handle them.
Additional affirmations can be found here.
5. Dial in your nighttime routine
A beautiful, life-giving nighttime routine starts by identifying what I call your “last 90 minutes” of the day. Night doesn’t have to be a time of day when you stop caring and you stop having the energy to pay attention. It can be a life-giving, restorative part of your day if you design it to be.
One of the nighttime routine techniques we teach in the College of Confidence is this nighttime routine. Routine at night needs to be structured, but remember, structure doesn’t mean restrictive. Structure is life-giving, and you deserve to have a planned routine at night that becomes so naturally automated that you don’t even have the opportunity to fall back into old patterns of binge eating, distraction or procrastination.
The way you end your day sets your tomorrow up for success. The peace you feel upon laying your head down carries over into your new and peace filled day tomorrow. Incorporating affirmations or meditations into your nighttime routine can be tremendously helpful in creating success. You can check out some examples of effective nighttime meditations by clicking here.
To hear more about how to identify what aspects of your nighttime routine need adjusting and get some ideas on what life-giving habits to incorporate into your new nighttime routine check out the live I did on Facebook here . Remember this: your decisions at night determine the destiny of your tomorrow. It’s time to give you back ownership over your time, it's time to dial in your nighttime routine.
6. Journal daily
Journaling can change everything. I mean it. And I know you might have just rolled your eyes. Don’t worry, I’m used to people cringing when I mention journaling. So, go ahead and cringe if you want, but it won’t change the fact that there is life-changing power in journaling. Journaling is equivalent to breathing for your brain. It is one of the most foundational and essential strategies to living a confident and happy life. Journaling helps you process your thoughts, manage your emotions and connect more deeply with God’s voice in your life.
Effective journaling is the foundation of thought management. The journaling methodology that I teach has proven results to work. I’ve had clients and students free themselves from depression, anxiety, overwhelm, binge eating, procrastination and more. It really works if you commit to the process. Click here to learn the actual process that I use and teach, the Toxic Thought Freedom Journal. You’ll get a free journal and a week of video instructions on how to make the journaling process work for you.
Additionally I have a handful of YouTube videos on journaling that can help, so click here to hop on over to my YouTube channel and check them out.
7. Learn to feel your feelings
Food will not fix whatever feelings you have. When you push the “easy button” on your feelings, your feelings go into the other room and do push ups; or, said differently, they don’t go away, they just get stronger. You can try to avoid negative feelings or hard emotions, but no matter how you try to bury them, you will still have to address them.
Any time you eat (or drink or scroll or procrastinate) to avoid your feelings, you are only taking the pain that you feel at the moment and magnifying it into larger pain, or suffering for later. So it’s important to ask yourself, “Do I want to have pain now or suffer later?” Putting off pain will always lead to a deeper and more long term suffering.
It’s your responsibility to take ownership of this pain you feel. You can do this by deciding to become someone who is emotionally courageous. You can remind yourself that you can handle any emotions, and that whatever they are, if you are brave enough to sit with them, they will eventually pass. If you want to learn more about how to feel your feelings and work through them with courage, you’ll enjoy our “How to Feel Your Feelings” course in the College of Confidence.
8. Build life-giving habits
If you struggle with binge eating, it’s helpful to look at it neutrally as a habit. Often we have so much shame, guilt and weight gain associated with it, that our thoughts about our habit and our behavior are super emotionally charged.
A habit is just a habit, and instead of trying to break this habit, focus on substituting it with a more positive, life-giving one. To do this, you must first ask yourself what the habit of binging or over-eating is giving you. Many people say that it gives them a release, an escape, or a distraction, and yeah, a little hit of dopamine because let’s be honest, whether it’s sugar or sweet, it tastes good, at least for a minute or two.
Once you figure out what you are getting from the habit you currently have, think about a self-care habit that you can substitute in. Choose a habit that brings you joy or a dopamine release, like walking your dog, making a cup of tea, calling a friend, taking a bath, or creating art. You can create little pockets of positivity through these new habits that you incorporate into your evening routine. You have the power to make sure that the things you do at night make you feel better as you do them, and after you do them. It’s important to find habits that you look forward to and that bring you comfort in order to be a viable substitute to the comfort you have falsely trained yourself to get from food.
9. Change your atmosphere
When the going gets tough at night, and all you can think about is how a few bites of ice cream, a handful of chips or a big glass of wine will make you feel better, strategic distraction is a game-changing technique to help you avoid a binge. Often at night we make poor choices because of emotional whims, hormonal shifts or what I like to call, false urges. Usually, these drivers become less pressing and urgent within us if we can let them wait for 15-minutes. After 15-minutes you will find that you can think more neutrally about what you’re craving and can more easily resist the desire to hit the “easy button” because you know that the “easy button” is actually a “hard button” and doesn’t get you the long-term results you want in your life.
One key way to distract yourself is to change your atmosphere. You can do this in a variety of ways, and there’s no right or wrong way. All that is important is that you take the time to cleanse your mind and give that false urge enough time to pass before we act on it. Some suggestions that could work for you are: to take a shower, change your clothes, paint your nails, chew some gum, get outside, call a friend, clean your bathroom, prep for the next day or put on music and have a spontaneous dance party.
10. Talk to God.
Prayer is our most powerful tool for healing and freedom from binge eating, but sometimes it can feel hard to pray when you feel so defeated in this area. I tried praying to God for help by closing my eyes and trying to concentrate on my conversation with Him, but I often found myself too anxious to stay focused. For me to fight distraction, I found that writing my prayers out was game-changing. My written prayers opened my heart up to finding my strength in Him, rather than relying on my own willpower that was always failing me.
Having prayers written out keeps me focused and continues that refocusing of my mind even as it can tend to wander. Writing these out gives you the opportunity to preemptively praise Him and thank Him for the work He is doing to deliver you from the desire you have. In my own personal experience (and that of most of my clients and students in the College of Confidence) this isn't an issue of willpower, it's often a spiritual battle taking place. You have victory. Declare it. Believe it. We’re not fighting for victory, we already have victory. God carries us from victory to victory from glory to glory. Here are some verses that have been deep sources of encouragement for me:
- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)
- No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:37 NLT)
- For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)
- For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17 NLT)
- For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)
Whatever it might be that’s happening at night in your life if it’s stealing more life from you than it’s giving, then I want you to be encouraged that you are not stuck. You may have been stuck in this pattern for years, but God can break ANY chain in your life. He is and always has been in the business of miracles, of turnarounds, of transformations and of taking our weaknesses and working His strength through them. Be deeply encouraged that you are not alone. You are never alone. You are emotionally courageous because you have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You can do the things that are needed to make the deep changes to break any chains and feel true freedom that God intends for you dear one!
If you’re ready to go even deeper into transforming this area of your life and want me sitting with you side-by-side, then I invite you to check out my revolutionary mastermind, the Done with Numb Mastermind. In the period of 6-months it will take you from being stuck in sabotage and burdened with shame to being free from binging and confident in your future. Click here to check it out and submit an application.
Cheering you on!
PS: For even more tips on how to stop binge eating, check out my YouTube video How to Stop Binge Eating at Night by clicking here. You might also enjoy episode #380 of The Confidence Podcast, Why High Achievers Binge Eat and How to Stop Binge Eating.