When you have an urge to use a behavior, physical and emotional sensations are happening in your brain and body. These sensations are strong and uncomfortable. It seems the only way to feel normal again is to engage in that behavior. Unfortunately, the more you think about and practice a behavior, the more it gets wired into your brain.
The great news is that there is something you can do right now to change your brain and what you believe about yourself and your behaviors. Each of the steps in this process is designed to increase your awareness, stabilize your behaviors, rewire the neuropathways in your brain and give you hope for recovery.
I am so pleased to bring to you this post. Post Ramadan the numbers of emails on binge eating have increased. It’s been a very hard time for many sufferers. Post Ramadan is a time when many people need help with their urges to use ED behaviours. Join Travis Stewart, MA, LPC in a Facebook Live Discussion as he walks through the steps of our Urge911 Card. Travis Stewart is incredible. His Urge911 Card are fabulous. I swear once you put these steps into practice you’ll see the results.
Urge911: What to do When Eating Disorder Urges are Strong”
We understand when you have an urge to use a behavior, it feels like there is a war inside and like you want to do something that another part of you may not want to do.
The following steps will help you make different choices, rewire the brain and move forward in recovery.
Urges to use eating disorder behaviors are a combination of cognitive, physical and emotional sensations which can feel strong, confusing and overwhelming. The following steps will help you make different choices, rewire the brain and move forward in recovery.
STEP ONE: NAME IT
State precisely what it is you are experiencing.
Say out loud: “I’m aware that I’m having the thought…”
That I need to lose weight
That I must exercise
That I shouldn’t eat
That it would feel good to binge
Say out loud: “I’m aware that I’m having the sensation of …”
A pit in my stomach
Tightness in my jaw, neck…
An adrenaline rush
Say out loud: “I’m aware that I’m having the sensation of…”
STEP THREE: EXPLORE IT
These urges represent an attempt to meet a real, legitimate need in your life.
It can help to name the need behind the urges. Begin by identifying the need you are trying to meet through the eating disorder behavior.
I need to feel safe or in control
I need to feel accomplished or valuable
I want to escape/numb out
I need to feel comfort or pleasure
STEP FOUR: SEE RECOVERY
Visualize how you can act as you find healthy ways to meet your needs.
See yourself acting in accord with recovery and your long-term goals. Rather than imagining yourself using eating disorder behaviors, picture yourself living a life of recovery.
I see myself choosing to reach out to people rather than bingeing
I see myself working on a project that I enjoy
I see myself being present with people rather than thinking about calories
I see myself using my voice to state my needs
I see myself learning to accept that I can’t be perfect
If negative thoughts come to mind (such as “I don’t deserve recovery” or “I can’t do this”) do your best to let those thoughts go and write them down to discuss later with your treatment team and support system.
STEP FIVE: REFOCUS
If the urges are still strong, focus your attention on something that requires concentration. This is more than distraction. Immerse your mind as fully as possible into something other than the behavior. This focus, along with abstaining from the behavior, actually rewires the brain in healthy ways.
Deep breathing or yoga exercises
Finally, don’t do these steps alone! Reach out to friends, family, support groups or professionals for help. There is a lot of power in community.