Hmmm… what? Feeling – anxiety – overeating loop is a concept my therapist introduced some time ago. She explained that my bingeing is caused by this loop. It starts with a negative feeling that I try to resist or avoid. Resisting and/or avoiding the feeling causes me to start feeling anxious. The more I resist, the more anxious I get. And, previously, I did not even realize this was happening. I just thought the anxiety was part of the bad feeling and thus tried to avoid the feeling even more. This only led me to get even more anxious. So, I had managed to create a vicious circle for myself.
But the circle did not obviously end at extreme anxiousness. The anxiousness was often unbearable, so I had to find a way to release it somehow. As this loop started appearing in early childhood, I ended up soothing myself with food, for lack of alternatives. Had it started in later years, I might have had more, and worse, options available, such as alcohol, smoking, drugs, porn, excessive exercise (probably the least wicked alternative), or gambling.
But I started overeating and later developed it into bingeing. Overeating has obviously made me overweight. Despite quite a few successful diets (I’ve lost like 150 pounds during my life), I have never managed to get rid of the extra weight for good. Now that I understand the reason causing my overeating and bingeing, it’s easy to see why I’m still obese. And it’s also easy to understand that all dieting will eventually be in vain as long as I am not able to break my vicious circle of anxiety and bingeing.
The cure for this would be to learn to accept and feel my feelings. Even though sorrow, hurt, and sadness are unpleasant, allowing myself to feel them is easier and less painful than resisting. However, it’s not easy. It’s a frightening and unpleasant process that I wouldn’t be able to go through without my therapist. It can also be really frustrating, as progress happens so gradually that it is difficult to even notice it.
It hasn’t been in vain though. Over the year, my bingeing has reduced, especially during the past few months. Yet I’m bigger than ever, as the first six months in therapy were so difficult that my bingeing increased. But, little by little, I’m getting familiar with my feelings and can accept and feel them on my own. And when I am able to do that, I don’t become anxious. As the severe anxiety has decreased, so has binged. I don’t have the need for it anymore, at least not as often as before.