Tag Archives: binge drinking

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