This weekend, through extenuating circumstances (Restless Legs Syndrome), I did not practice my usual morning meditation. And I noticed how the urges to binge eat came back stronger than they had for a long time. I am not promoting meditation as some kind of magical cure, a treatment for every illness, or a solution to any problem. However, from having this realisation, I thought that it was important to highlight my own experience of the role of mindfulness in my binge eating.
I don’t binge eat or I binge less on the days that I meditate, compared to the days when I do not engage in formal meditation practice. This is somewhat consistent with the scientific literature on mindfulness and eating that I covered in a previous post. However, what I find most fascinating is not the fact that my binge eating urges are easier to overcome, but that they are less likely to present themselves at all!
It’s important to remember that I have been meditating daily for a couple of months now, but only noticed a significant reduction in my binge eating this week. It’s also important to know that I have skipped some days of meditation. I have cut some meditation sessions short. I have found some sessions easier than others. I have tried mindfulness meditation techniques, Vipassana meditation, and Zen meditation. I have tried guided and unguided meditation. The journey to binge eating disorder recovery through mindful eating is not straightforward or clearcut. This journey will never be smooth, simple, or same for everyone.
There does, however, appear to be gaps in the current knowledge on the effects of mindfulness and other meditation techniques on various aspects of disordered eating. Why does it work for some people and not for others? To what extent is meditation or the mindfulness component of meditation responsible for the beneficial effects on eating disorder symptoms? And finally, at what stage in one’s meditation practice do these benefits occur, and are they represented by experience? Changes in brain structure? Ability? Frequency? Type of meditation? So much of this knowledge is still left to be uncovered.
Overcoming binge eating has required and continues to require mental and physical effort for me. I believe that what has helped me reduce my binge eating is a combination of different factors, including support, personal trial and error, and a variety of other individual, social, and psychological experiences. And maybe, mindfulness has been the key to my continued recovery.
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