Turning It around When You're Spiraling Out of Control


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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By Beth Donovan, ~INDYGIRL

Embarrassed... I admit to you all that for a few days last month I was out of control. I binged one or two times and chose really junky food that left me feeling toxic and demoralized and strangely enough like eating more of it. Sometimes I get to feeling so badly, that I eat badly, and feel worse, so I eat worse... It's really hard to dig out or even have the desire to dig out. I used to just resign myself to failing.

Since joining SparkPeople, I have done things differently when I've had these bouts. Now I know how to turn it around.

I want to share my turn-around with you so it might help you turn it around during a bad spell.

Notice first that all of it starts with feeling… feeling badly, so you eat.... Even if you started with eating something you were ashamed of, it was the feeling of shame that kept you going. In other words, an event happened, triggered you to eat, shame followed, which turned into an event itself, so you eat more, have more shame… That’s the spiral.

The BEST thing you can do for yourself is to treat yourself well. That's right, have a manicure, wear your favorite outfit, do whatever makes you feel your most beautiful or handsome. Your actions will follow how you feel. Have you ever noticed when you’re in these moods how you want to lay around in sweats or not put on cosmetics? It’s like you’re punishing body even further by making sure it isn’t allowed to look good if you can’t be “perfect” with your eating. So then you feel lousy and keep eating junk.

I also notice that when I’m in a spiral I won’t exercise, eat my vegetables, fruits, or drink my milk. It's like I have a total disregard for my body because I think “Why bother, I'm such a failure.” Then I look over at some piece of tempting food and think “I ate that extra helping of ____. I may as well…” Here is where I tell myself "If I can say 'I may as well,' I can say 'I may as well not.' "

One slice of pizza is always going to have fewer calories than two. I get a grip and feel a bit of strength coming on, as I remind myself “If I got a traffic ticket I wouldn’t break every traffic law the rest of the day. So why toss the whole day over a slice of pizza or some cookies?" These are my mantras, my powerful sayings I bring to mind when I need strength to pull through.

Then to get cravings and attitude under control, this is what works for me:

  1. Go to the Spark Start Page and reset my weight goal and date to something realistic. It gives me a fresh start and a new beginning, rather than a place from which to unbury myself.

  2. Drink extra water, tea and eat extra fruits and vegetables to get in fluids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and natural sugars to stop my cravings. Eating extra lean protein helps me, too.

  3. Eat filling snacks that combine protein and fruit like an apple and peanut butter or cheese and pineapple. The fiber and protein keep me full, while the sweetness of the fruit helps calm my residual sugar cravings. Vegetables provide crunch and fiber to combat the nervousness that comes with coming down from a binge.

  4. This is the time to spend that money that I would spend on junk food on a fruit or veggie tray instead. They are a beautiful and delicious treat. We don't think twice about shelling out $10 for fast food or junk, but we deprive ourselves a pretty precut deli tray of fruit or veggies pretty often.

  5. When I can, I get a massage or a pedicure or anything that makes me feel special and beautiful. You can even do a spa treatment at home with one of the luxury masks or nail kits available at the store. The important thing is to get myself feeling like the beautiful person I am again and out of that “I’ll just wear sweats, stay in the house and eat” mentality. When you feel good about how you look, don’t you notice that you tend to eat less? I do anyway.

Pretty soon I feel like moving around again and be refreshed. Hope this helps you like it does me.

How do you recover after a binge? What do you do to pick yourself back up?

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  • 450
    Dear Beth, I just needed to read this on this very day. Thank you so much for sharing. I always find some kind of uplift or encouragement from your posts.

    Paula - 2/21/2013   5:27:36 AM
    I see that you wrote this so long ago and I feel that I've read it before, like when I first joined SP, back in 8/11 and when I saw it listed again, I thought, Oh my, I can read that and instill it all over again. Thank you so much for such an awesome blog to help me and so many others! - 2/17/2013   2:22:51 PM
  • 448
    Here's where that Journal SparkPeople advised me to keep comes in handy. I look back at some pages from months ago and the feelings from back then flood me. I don't want to dishonor the woman who worked so hard by pouring more junk into her. - 6/6/2012   10:21:27 PM
  • 447
    Here's where that Journal SparkPeople advised me to keep comes in handy. I look back at some pages from months ago and the feelings from back then flood me. I don't want to dishonor the woman who worked so hard by pouring more junk into her. - 6/6/2012   10:21:26 PM
  • 446
    For the most part I drink plain ice water, but on a shakey night (why is it always at night?) I'll have a decaf iced tea or a diet hot chocolate. - 6/6/2012   10:21:18 PM
  • 445
    Thank you so much for sharing your feelings, inspirations and ideas. I really need them on these last few pounds to lose to my goal weight. When I get to weighing 150 lbs, I will have finally lost 200 lbs. and reached the goal that my doctor's have set for me. It somehow seems though, that the journey of a few pounds is harder mentally and emotionally than I thought it would be. Could it be that I'm scared?

    Paula - 5/13/2012   1:20:06 PM
  • 444
    My last spiral was when I found out I had a blood clot in my leg, had to go on coumadin and completely revamp my diet (no leafy greens, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, and very limited choices of legumes). It lasted for a year and a half. Fortunately, in that time, I was able to get my blood work stabilized (THAT took a year to do!), and what I do to at least try to prevent another spiral (I'll never say never!) is to make sure that I exercise first thing in the morning. It's such a positive and powerful time that is exclusively for ME. It's when I take the best care of myself, because the exercise I do are things that I love to do. That keeps me on track for the rest of the day. - 4/11/2012   5:16:18 PM
    I have been fighting this and this week I work a seven day plan to restore my sanity. I had a back spasm, that would not leave, getting depressed because I am off my program and I want to lose weight overnight. I have to make myself a once a week treat plan, that does not include fat snacks or binge foods. - 4/6/2012   7:42:51 AM
    I love the comparison to getting a traffic ticket, I'll remember than when I stress-eat. I've started finishing the phrase "At the end of the day..." and realized I don't want to finish that with ".... I ate two candy bars." I want to say "...I made good choices and feel great about it!" - 3/31/2012   3:51:31 PM
    Thanks for sharing your story and your tips. One of my goals is to not make excuses about the day and throw it away because of a few bad choices. Will definitely use your tips. - 3/17/2012   10:00:31 AM
    Thanks so much for sharing. There is no shame, we've all or atleast most of us have been there.

    - 3/16/2012   2:35:08 PM
  • 439
    Inspiring! Dressing up really works. When I look good, I feel better, thus I do better. Also, when I mess up, I find if I go exercise, it helps me not sink into the spiral. It lifts my mood and that helps stop the feeling bad cycle. - 3/16/2012   1:54:15 PM
  • 438
    Kind of strange...I had an out-of-control evening last night and stumbled on to this perfect blog today! My opinion - We have to stop beating ourselves up when we slip, take a deep breath and 'fogettaboutit'! Otherwise it is a very easy to get discouraged and give up. We are sooo worth it! Thanks for the wise words! - 1/23/2012   2:11:20 PM
  • USHARANI_333
    "I also notice that when I’m in a spiral I won’t exercise, eat my vegetables, fruits, or drink my milk. It's like I have a total disregard for my body because I think “Why bother, I'm such a failure.” Then I look over at some piece of tempting food and think “I ate that extra helping of ____. I may as well…” This is exactly how I feel right now. I've been spiralling out of control for a few months now. I did manage to lose almost 20 pounds. Then, I just let go of myself and gained all of it back. I feel distressed, uncomfortable and totally tired/lethargic. Yet, I can't get myself to snap out of it. Your blog is just what I needed. No, I wouldn't break every traffic rule just because I got one ticket. I'm going to get back on track today! Thanks! - 11/22/2011   1:44:56 AM
  • 436
    A great blog. I have a problem getting my protein and eating foods that fill me up and take care of that "sweet tooth." These are some really good ideas. Thank you so much for sharing. - 11/13/2011   10:12:36 PM
  • 435
    Thank you! Been there, done that, along with all the other people who commented!
    Great ideas for damage control! Why is it we always pay more attention to that bad little voice inside our head, than the good one? - 11/11/2011   8:41:17 AM
  • 434
    I absolutely love the veggie tray idea. I don't even want to know how much money I've spent on cookies and donuts. - 11/4/2011   10:05:28 AM
  • 433
    Thank you I will start to use these tactics, makes so much sense. Thanks! - 10/25/2011   10:23:15 PM
    Great blog! I just did number 1, before I read this blog...it took me a while to figure out why even if I was doing better I was still in a rut. I figured it was the immenseness of my goal! So I know have to time bound goals. I wrote them down and posted them on my bathroom mirror! - 10/19/2011   4:17:17 PM
    This is right on target for me. I am an emotional eater. It helps to get on Sparkpeople and read what others are doing, or just read past blogs I have written when things were good. - 10/12/2011   1:25:38 PM
  • 430
    This came at a perfect time. I just emotionally ate 2 servings of lays potato chips after hearing from my upset, crying daughter whose 1000 miles away in college, racking up a 300 calories in 5 minutes. Stopped myself, got on sparkpeople, counted the calories to my daily intake, and then read your blog. It came at a wonderful time! Thank you. - 10/11/2011   2:29:38 PM
  • 429
    Thanks for the honesty & tips! I relate to the bad actions that follow the bad feelings but I love the snack tips! Thanks! - 9/28/2011   9:09:18 PM
  • 428
    Everything you said describes my past actions perfectly. Luckily, I've become aware of it, and am trying really hard to not fall back. The main thing is, i need to stop sabotaging myself, and that became perfectly clear to me while reading your blog! I thank you! Recognizing the problem is truly half the battle! Beautifully written! Thanks, again! - 9/26/2011   11:17:51 AM
  • 427
    Obviously you've hit a nerve with many of us. Thank you for sharing this, it couldn't have been easy. I appreciate the useful ideas to turn it around, one my hardest things to do. Thanks again! - 9/23/2011   3:36:45 PM
  • CHELE1972
    This was a great! Thank You!! I saw a quote on SP once...."Being fit is hard...Being fat is hard...Choose your hard"..I LOVE it....When I have a bad day or make a bad choice...I think back to that quote...Choose your hard! - 9/23/2011   2:28:31 PM
    This was a great blog. What helps me is knowing that others who have successfully reached goal go through this, and that we just get on track the very next meal. It is demoralizing to fall off of the wagon, but we must get back up and push through. - 9/23/2011   1:32:41 PM
    This is helpful in so many ways. First, it is good to learn that I am not alone in my struggle with binge eating. The solutions offered are simple, practical and I believe they would work. I have to remember to use them instead of caving in to cravings when they feel so overwhelming. Thank you for sharing this. - 9/20/2011   8:41:30 AM
  • 423
    Thanks. What I needed to get back on track - 9/17/2011   9:16:41 PM
  • JOCELYN110
    Great blog. This really hit home. - 9/11/2011   9:49:02 AM
  • 421
    Thank you. Yes, I will spend money on the junk food and hestitate to pay for the fruit tray or deny myself that pedicure. This weekend I am getting a pedicure as my reward for staying on task this weekend. I've lost several pounds this past week. - 9/6/2011   5:01:09 PM
  • 420
    someone, my jaw is hanging down. this is so real. please slap it back into position! - 9/6/2011   4:40:09 PM
  • HS1056
    Thanks for sharing this, Beth. I really needed to read this today. You are such an inspiration! - 9/3/2011   9:19:01 AM
    This is a great post! It is EXACTLY what I go through every now and then, especially after i lost an initial 58lbs and have been on a "plateau" for 5 months now. It's so easy just to give up and eat. I feel like I purposefully eat more and more to almost punish myself and call myself a failure. Luckily, I've snapped out of my binge this past weekend and have tracked again on Sparks. I will give myself a mani/pedi tonight and take a lovely walk to clear my mind. Thank you for the article. It's like I wrote it! - 8/29/2011   3:14:24 PM
    I have been feeling bery much like this and have had a really hard time the past week pulling myself out of a rut. I have hit a fantastic milestone. 50lb. loss and made it all the way to 51.2lbs. then have had some bad days spiraling to gaining almost 5lbs. I have it back under control somewhat and the gain is now to 2.8. But it is really easy to tell yourself that you have already done 'x' so why not go ahead and do 'y'. Just reading sometimes helps me come back to reality and you know what. I have still lost almost 50lbs. and it is an accomplishment that only I can sabatoge. - 8/27/2011   2:18:00 PM
  • 416
    Great blog! We all go through these times and it's easy to end up losing controla nd undoing all of your hard work quickly. My times are usually work related after a super bad day/week. When everything goes wrong and I get to feeling like a failure, no matter the issues are, my fault or not. Sometimes its just one negative afer another, or feeling belittled, and I go away feeling so depressed about work. Or if I had a binge and start feeling real guilty. The binges don't last for long because that food makes me feel bad, but also, when I get in these moods, and most time before it gets this far, I pray. I also read encouraging scripture/devotions, etc. Sometimes just being in the quiet listening to my Christian music, certain songs, help me feel at peace. At times I get to feeling guilty about abusing my body, God's temple, after I've begun a binge and that also helps me move out of it. - 8/11/2011   12:25:28 PM
  • 415
    Great blog. Sounds a lot like me over the past couple of weeks. Thanks for the motivation. - 8/8/2011   4:43:42 PM
  • 414
    Great Blog - Thanks for sharing. I often find myself in the same situation! - 8/8/2011   1:29:20 PM
    Thank you so much. The feelings are so similar with me. Recently I don't feel the binge like I felt before. I have changed my life style totally to get weight lose. I have banished rice, pasta and bread from my life, but for how long? If I could overcome these three I would also lose 150 pounds like you. I lose 2 or 3 pounds and again gain it and this way I have lost 37 pounds already. I have to cut another 30 pounds to get the ideal weight. Its really hard to lose at this stage and I slip sometime for pasta. I get the result in gaining immediately. This is going on and on. I have also a mantra - I can do without rice, bread and pasta. I can do it. I won't allow these foods to spoil my life any more - 8/7/2011   7:52:23 AM
    I do the bin ge thing alot and try to recover.I like you thought process and will try it.Take care James - 8/6/2011   11:18:59 AM
  • 411
    Thank you. I'm trying to pull myself out of a yea + funk and this is so similar to my head space it's uncanny! - 8/5/2011   4:16:05 PM
  • 410
    What great ideas! I'll be using them to keep me out of trouble!! lol
    sandi - 7/31/2011   5:29:17 PM
    Thanks for writing this!! It was wonderful, and I could relate to so many things! I will try hard to remember your advice next time I feel the urge to overindulge!! And from your picture it looks like we have the same pink couch! Cool!! :) - 7/24/2011   8:24:51 PM
  • 408
    Loved the comparison to the traffic ticket. So true! - 7/17/2011   1:25:15 PM
    Thank you for sharing -- it has been so true for me at times and I really think some of your thoughts will help me next time I start down that road. I am saving this blog for just such a time!!!! - 7/15/2011   11:47:32 PM
  • 406
    This is what I needed! I have been on the binging and in the out of control spiral for a few weeks minimum. I just realized it last week.

    It is great to see I am not the only one who feels out of control. THANKS!!!! - 7/12/2011   11:15:06 AM
  • 405
    This blog sounds so much like my life. I never gain after ( I was going to say after putting all these bad foodsin my body) but I will call it what it is bingeing on every thing insight I never gain back the pounds but I am also not losing them either. This article was and is very inspiring. - 7/9/2011   6:48:40 PM
  • 404
    So glad I found your article. It's just what I needed to read. Thanks! - 7/9/2011   11:08:24 AM
    Thanks for your ideas. I already have many of your "quotes" copied into my inspiration-journal.

    It's so crazy to think we would reward ourselves with the very foods that got us into this predicament in the first place. When I had lost quite a bit of weight and was so proud of myself, I thought, "If someone FORCED you to eat enough calorie-laden things until you got blubbery again, you would be so angry, humiliated, and hurt. Yet you do it to yourself."

    I need to keep that thought in mind! Thanks again! - 7/7/2011   10:23:02 AM
  • 402
    This blog entry was such a kind, wise reality-check for me (10 pounds heavier than I was 3 months ago...yikes). Spot-on. Thank you. - 7/1/2011   5:55:00 PM
  • 401
    Thank you for your insightful words of wisdom. - 6/24/2011   2:04:01 PM

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