Dealing with Binge Drinking and Binge Eating problems

In my JBW Leeds and Manchester clinics I regularly see clients who have issue with binge drinking and binge eating. On the surface these can be seen as very different issues, but in my experience there are lots of similar patterns and often the approaches that work best with all binge type problems are identical.
When clients make contact at that exact point in time they have realised that they really need to change this problem behaviour. It may be that they reached a low point or in many cases their relationships in either personal or professional life have been so affected that they have to now find a solution. Often clients with binge issues have developed an “all or nothing” way of thinking and feeling. It’s a bit like a car that only has first or sixth gear as choices and nothing in between. I had one client who had binge eating problems who if she had what she called “a good day” would eat healthily and at a sensible pace. If she had what she called “a bad day” she would go to the local supermarket, fill up her basket with donuts and similar foods and then proceed to binge until she felt better. She had had all kinds of different therapy, kept food diaries and analyzed her situation at some length. None of these approaches had worked to date as many involved her thinking increasingly about food! Part of my role was to assist her in finding out how to create some better choices in what she ate and when she ate. To date all my clients who have had binge eating and binge drinking issues have been types that are highly mentally active and who in most cases use these skills with great success in some areas of life. The difficulty they have is that in relation to food or drink they can’t find any sort of braking system, so everything in terms of how they eat or drink is going far too fast. They literally have adopted this “all or nothing” behaviour and no amount of thinking has any useful affect. It’s like the whole world is now seen through this particular lens.
One of the keys in resolving this is to learn how to start to think and feel differently so the feeling of having to eat or drink in this way simply doesn’t occur in the same way. It’s also important to identify externally typical factors that collude to encourage the problem. One binge eating client found that he constantly bought chocolate bars when he filled up his car with petrol. He only ever added ten pounds worth of fuel each day and each time he also purchased a number of chocolate bars which he then ate once he drove off the forecourt. He was actually not even aware that he did this each day as it had become a pattern of behaviour he just did. Similarly binge drinkers tend to have specific times and places where they adopt this behaviour. Nobody when they first open their eyes on being born into this world thinks to themselves or blurts out loud “Mine’s a pint of Tetley’s” or “I’ll have five of those jam donuts” These behaviours are “learned behaviours” Just as any of us can learn unhelpful habits we too can learn with the right tools to think and feel differently. The key is to change the thinking process which then changing the feeling process and the overall behaviour. Even longstanding issues can usually be greatly helped in a relatively short period of time.

Nick Kemp

7 thoughts on “Dealing with Binge Drinking and Binge Eating problems

  1. Kathy Welter Nichols

    I have found with binge eating people tend to forget they don’t have to do everything the inner voice is commanding. Especially in the moment of a suggestion or two about food types that will spike sugar and create more desire for the same.

    Recently we were at a dinner with a chap here in Vancouver, he’s a doctor and he was sharing that in the late 40’s early 50’s scientists figured out how to change the sugar molecule. Sugar, he said, is a complex glucose that is important for brain development and it’s in fruit and even some veggies. It used to be the sugar we ate in everything as well and it has 12 carbons and is the food the brain likes the best.

    In the late 40’s they figured out how split off the carbons from the sugar molecule and in doing so it left a ‘waste’ product called Fructose and Dextrose. Check out your labels next time you are in the store and purchasing anything that is packaged.

    They soon discovered this waste sugar, was very cheap, no one wanted it, it was a great preservative, and “Bob’s your Uncle” it was in everything!

    Today however, more research and tests have proven this substance, Junk Sugar, actually leaves a Neuro Toxicity in the brain cells themselves prohibiting cellular, synaptic regeneration. In other words the brain doesn’t grow. And the neuro toxicity feels like a fuzzy hangover. Do you get that very often?

    When I think of the elderly and how much sugar they are eating…I wonder about this….

    Check out your labels, and for heaven’s sake don’t give it to your kids. It’s in ketchup, definitely in relish, found it in some mustard’s, the hot dogs you put this stuff on, and you will find it in all fast foods.

    Fructose, Junk Sugar. Who knew?

    Oh and it’s also addictive, as powerful as heroin…

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  2. Kathy Welter Nichols

    This is exactly what we find with Binge Drinking and Binge Eating. We had a client that worked on the cruise ships and he just could not stop himself around the free booze at the end of the night, the bar was opened to the crew! In those moments he binged, the “anchor” was set, so to speak!

    It was really important to define exactly what he really wanted, because he felt the problem was alcohol and the binging was alcoholism, however, when we really looked a this deeper, he just wanted to be able to control what he drank when he drank, and still enjoy alcohol.

    Part of what kept him from seeking help was he thought he was an alcoholic and therefore had to give up drinking altogether. Not at all the case….I’m happy to say!

    When we know what you really want, and can sort that out with you, you really do get what you want! The good people at Just Be Well, have been assisting folks for years in getting what they really want, and I believe we’re just getting better and better at doing that very thing.

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  3. Nick Post author

    Many clients I see for binge type issues have often tried all manner of analytic approaches which in my experiences have failed to produce any useful changes in behavior. By changing the process of thinking and feeling clients can be surprised at how quickly they can discover new more useful behaviors. Every client needs to be treated on a case by case basis, but in many cases whether in the UK, USA, Europe or Asia, I find the approaches that I use work equally well. I suspect that one of the reasons that JBW is so popular is that time is spent of exploring what works, so clients discover for themselves some real benefits

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  4. Steve Tromans

    Yes I find that people inevitably have the resources to bring their binge eating or binge drinking under control. It is a question of how quickly and how easily we can ‘join the dots’ so that they find themselves automatically ‘aiming’ at drinking or eating more healthily.

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  5. Paul Wright

    I agree totally with Nick. Years ago I used to smoke (60 a day at its worst!) and most of the time it was pure habit and without an real thought about what I was doing. It would a black coffee and cigarette when I got to work because thats what I had got used to. The same at the pub it was a pint and a cigarette purely because the two went together. I had to start paying more attention to what I was doing and also start making better decisions. I stopped smoking years ago and it’s easy once you know how.

    Reply
    1. Gina

      Hi Paul,

      I agree that it’s easy once you know how. I would also add once you know ‘what’. I gave up smoking numerous times, including a 7 year stint, and started again. I could have kicked myself, as once that first cigarette gets into the system that’s the person back on the hook. So just knowing that one thing was enough for me to watch out for in the future and have given up for 20 years or more now. These attempts all happened before I had even heard of NLP. Good thing that NLP can help prevent such a course of protracted action and get results very quickly.

      Reply

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