Using mental rehearsal to prevent binge eating

Well it’s that time of year again.

The holiday season is almost upon us and I know from my own experiences how completely terrifying and exhausting this time of year can be.

I used to stress constantly about holiday dinner parties, I avoided all extra treats and threw away any food gifts I received. I drank too much wine at parties because I felt insecure and nervous. I also turned down invitations to certain gatherings where I knew I would be especially triggered.

It was certainly a challenge.

So I decided today was the perfect time to share one of my favourite tips for surviving the holiday season when you’re in recovery.

Mental Rehearsal

Mental rehearsal works on the simple principle that your nervous system cannot tell the difference between a real or vividly imagined thought. So when you imagine performing a situation, you are in a way training your brain to perform this way in real life. This process isn’t intended to build unrealistic expectations; it is simply designed to improve your readiness for the real situation.

How to use mental rehearsal

This doesn’t have to take long at all, just close your eyes and take a few minutes to visualize the upcoming meal.

Imagine yourself acting confidently, feeling happy and making food choices that are recovery-friendly.

Imagine the food on your plate, delicious, not too little and not too much.

Imagine yourself feeling content throughout your meal and peaceful at the end with no urges to continue eating no matter how delicious it all was.

Imagine yourself dealing with any bulimic urges in a calm and recovery-focused manner. You are accepting them without allowing them to knock you off balance.

Imagine yourself dealing with others in a peaceful and calm way too. See yourself no longer feeling triggered in this environment.

Ask yourself what will you eat? how much will you eat? what will you have for desert? Then visualise your plan going successfully.

On the flip side also visualize any potential challenges and come up with a strategy for dealing with these things.

Do you have a family member who always comments on your weight? Visualise your response to their comments.

Is a certain dish triggering for you? Visualise an alternative available that you are comfortable eating.

Don’t forget to visualise including some of those wonderful festive foods as part of your meals and snacks so you don’t feel mentally deprived. How and when will you eat them?

Give it a go and see if it makes those specific meal scenarios a little more manageable. You may be surprised by just how powerful this exercise can be.

In health and love!

Ali Kerr

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