Done with Dieting Episode #138: Understanding Binge Eating with Jane Pilger

Understanding Binge Eating with Jane Pilger

Can we truly redefine our relationship with food? That’s the provocative question we’re exploring with Jane Pilger, host of the ‘Binge Breakthrough’ podcast and a dedicated binge eating coach. 

Drawing from deeply personal experiences, Jane shares her journey, her struggles, and ultimately her triumph, giving us all hope that we can do the same. She speaks candidly about the guilt and secrecy that shrouded her early encounters with binge eating and how understanding her nervous system played a pivotal role in her victory.

We explore the undercurrents of binge eating, seeing it not merely as a disorder, but as a symptom of disconnection from our experiences. Jane exposes how diet culture conditions us to ignore our body’s signals, leading to a profound disconnection from our own selves. 

We venture into the realm of perfectionism, discussing how our relentless chase for an ‘ideal body’ can trigger unhealthy eating habits and constant nervous system activation. Listen as Jane enlightens us on the power of internal dialogue, transforming it from a relentless critic to an ally in our journey towards healthier eating.

Join us as we navigate the intricate network of our nervous system, understanding its three states – fight/flight, freeze, and home base, and their role in binge eating. Jane shares her realization that her binges were essentially her body’s desperate plea for pause, forcing her to slow down and break free from the onslaught of stress and perfectionism. 

We dive into the potential of shifting our mindset, understanding that shame and judgment can exacerbate unhealthy eating habits. Jane leaves us with resources for those seeking help, emphasizing the importance of understanding our internal dialogue and how our nervous system influences our behavior. Together, let’s redefine our relationship with food and reclaim the joy of eating!

About Jane Pilger:

Jane Pilger is a Master Certified Coach who specializes in empowering women struggling with food and body image issues to break through their barriers and cultivate food freedom and body trust. With a focus on helping clients who have battled with these challenges for years, Jane guides them in finding the missing link to shift from fighting against their bodies to working in harmony with them. 

Whether it’s addressing binge eating, building trust around certain foods, or understanding the root causes of their behaviors, Jane offers support and guidance to bring about lasting change. Alongside her coaching work, Jane finds joy in spending time with loved ones, engaging in triathlon training and racing, and embarking on new adventures. 

She is driven by her desire to make a positive impact on those around her and to live a life rooted in love, trust, adventure, and personal growth.

Chapter Summaries:

Understanding Binge Eating (0:00:11) 

Jane shares the story of her first binge, the hallmarks of a binge, understanding her nervous system, and creating safety to break the cycle.

Understanding the Reasons Behind Binge Eating (0:11:23) 

Jane shares her experience of binges, discussing numbing behavior, a pattern of binges, and what set off her first binge.

Understanding Binge Eating and Perfectionism (0:24:51) 

Diet culture disconnects us from our bodies, perfectionism and appearance focus perpetuate this, and listening to our bodies is a skill available to all.

Navigating Perfectionism and Internal Dialogue (0:33:42) 

Jane Pilger explores our internal dialogue, nervous system, and safety to understand unhealthy eating habits.

Nervous System and Binge Eating (0:39:39) 

Nature’s fight/flight, freeze, and home base states are discussed, along with perfectionism, internal dialogue, and regulating stress responses.

Shifting Mindsets and Finding Solutions (0:50:27) 

Jane Pilger discusses shifting mindset, understanding shame and judgment, and the three states of the nervous system to improve eating habits.

“Reclaiming our joy of eating requires understanding, addressing emotions, and changing our internal dialogue to break free from binge eating.” – Elizabeth Sherman

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • What does a clinical binge involve, including consuming large quantities of food in a short time, often with secrecy, shame, and unusual food combinations?
  • Buying binge foods with a new mindset can change the experience, reducing concerns about judgment and altering internal dialogue.
  • Binge eating involves disconnecting from oneself, with a lack of awareness and memory of food consumption, and a dissociation from the body.
  • Shame and judgment regarding food create a cycle of feeling broken and disconnected, and understanding the reasons behind these patterns is crucial for breaking free.
  • Emotions drive food behaviors, with bingeing and restriction largely unrelated to the food itself, highlighting the impact of mood and disconnection.
  • Our internal dialogue, like a radio station, can be changed by intentionally replacing it with more desirable thoughts and beliefs influenced by our experiences and upbringing.
  • Understanding and addressing underlying needs diminishes the appeal of binge eating, as the binges tend to dissipate when those needs are met.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

I really think this is actually something that literally, this is like a new insight for me. But I have come to realize that literally all binging, and I believe overeating comes down to one very, very, very simple thing. And it’s disconnection. Yeah. Plain and simple.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women who are experiencing perimenopause and menopause symptoms and want to feel better – like they did before their body started changing.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman, Master Certified health, and life coach for women in menopause and peri menopause. I’ve helped thousands of women manage their symptoms, get off the diet roller coaster, and change their relationship with food, exercise, and stop fighting with their bodies. And I do it through a feminist lens – which means exploring how we are socialized as young women has a huge impact on our current relationship with food & exercise, our bodies, health, and ourselves.

What’s different about this podcast is that we’re exploring your health from all sides, not just food and exercise. We also address the mindset shifts that will make you happier and lead to better health.

My goal in this podcast is to illustrate that the reason diets don’t work long term is because your health doesn’t exist in a silo. Your health and your weight are a symptom of the OTHER parts of your life and how you show up. I want to help you to feel good and live the life you desire from a 360 degree approach: body, mind, and soul.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to the Done With Dieting podcast, episode number 138. I am Elizabeth Sherman, and I am your host.

Now, today’s podcast is truly a game changer. Let me ask you. Have you ever found yourself reaching for that extra slice of cake even though you know that you’re already full? Or maybe you’ve experienced that overwhelming guilt and shame after a late night snack binge? If you’ve noted along to any of this, then this episode is made just for you.

Today, I have an incredibly special guest, Jane Pilger. Now, Jane isn’t just any expert, she’s someone who has been in the trenches, battled with food and emerged victorious. Jane is a beacon of hope for women who feel out of control around food. She’s dedicated her life to helping women develop food freedom and body trust.

Jane’s mission to help you understand your behavior, develop trust with yourself, and cultivate the safety you need to navigate life. Her approach rooted in the science of brain and body trauma-informed and filled with compassion is designed for women who’ve been struggling often for decades, to find the missing link between fighting with their bodies and working with them.

Whether you’re a binge eater, someone who doesn’t trust themselves with certain foods, or someone who just doesn’t understand why they behave the way they do, Jane’s Got you.

In this episode, we are diving deep into the root causes of binge eating, the damaging effects of diet, culture, and how we can rewire our minds to halt on healthy eating habits. Jane will be sharing her personal journey, her breakthroughs, and her practical advice on redefining your relationship with food.

By the end of this episode, you will walk away with a fresh perspective and actionable steps towards your journey of food freedom and body trust. So, grab your notepad and let’s dive into this transformative conversation with Jane Pilger. Trust me, you are not going to want to miss this one.

Elizabeth: All right, everyone, welcome Jane Pilger to the Done With Dieting Podcast. Jane, I am so excited that you’re here and I could not be more happy that you are here and that you are going to share all of this great information. Because I know that for so many women, we throw around the term, oh, I binge last night.

But now I really want to get into the nitty gritty about that. And I don’t want to say, normalize it, but just find out like what’s that all about. So, first, tell us who you are, who you help, how you got here, all the things.

Jane: Excellent. Well, I am also very excited to be here. I just know we’re going to have a great conversation today. So, I am Jane Pilger. I am the host of the Binge Breakthrough Podcast and have a coaching business where I specifically help women who binge eat or feel out of control with food sometimes.

And I got here, and I became a coach for helping people with binge eating because it’s my story, it’s my history. So, my very first binge was my first semester in college. And I don’t really even remember the binge itself, but what I do have a very clear memory of is sitting on the floor in my dorm room surrounded by an empty box. It was sent to me as a care package and just tons, I don’t know about tons. But multiple, upon multiple, upon multiple of empty candy bar wrappers all around me.

And I did not know what had happened. I did not know what I had done. But that was my first binge. And I felt so ashamed, and I felt so broken, and I thought there was something terribly wrong with me. But I didn’t want to tell anybody about it. It was very important to me. My appearance was very important to me, and not only my physical appearance, but just how I came across was very important to me.

And so, this part of my life and this piece of my life that I really kept hidden from everybody. And so, I was trying to figure out how to stop this terrible thing I was doing and unknowingly really keeping myself in the pattern to keep it continuing. And I went for years, decades of really trying to figure it out.

Been through all kinds of therapists, eating disorder specialists, read all the books, been through all kinds of programs. Went through two rounds of intensive outpatient therapy at an eating disorders treatment center here locally. And I would have like these small periods of what I would call ‘success’ where I was not binging.

But inevitably, something else would happen and I would end up binging again. And the thing that I will give myself so much credit for is my resilience. And that I knew there was an answer, and I knew I was not going to give up looking for the answer. And so, I kept searching.

And I really found for me what I think were the missing pieces if I can just look back and retrace my whole journey. The missing pieces for me were the nervous system, really learning about my nervous system. And also creating safety. Safety and the nervous system, which they really are kind of related.

Those two pieces along with trust really helped I think round out all of the knowledge and the tools and everything else that I had learned through my years of going through this process and really just changed everything for me in terms of my overall relationship with food.

And so, now, it is my goal, it is my desire to talk about binging in a way that people who do binge will know that they aren’t broken. So, there is a very common feeling of people who binge eat in that they really feel like something’s wrong with them and that they’re broken.

And I just want everyone who does feel out of control with food sometimes and feels like they just can’t stop eating to know there’s a very good reason why you do what you do with food, and that you’re not broken. And so, that’s really what I do and why I am so passionate about it.

Elizabeth: Wow. Okay. I wrote notes while you were talking, because I want to come back to some of it. But let’s start out with the basic question which is, what is a binge?

Jane: Yes.

Elizabeth: Right. Because we talk about binging in everyday language, but I think that there’s actually a clinical answer to what a binge actually is.

Jane: There is. There’s a clinical answer to what a binge is. And honestly, I don’t even know exactly what the DSM five manual would tell us that clinically qualifies as a binge. I will tell you what I think about when I hear the term binge and how I kind of distinguish it from let’s say, overeating.

So, there are typical hallmarks of a binge. So, a binge to me is eating large quantities of food in a short period of time. Typically, eating more than one would eat in general at a sitting. It is often done in secret. It is often done with a large amount of shame. And sometimes the foods, or the quantities, or the combinations of foods can be different. Like not what would normally be consumed together.

Those are kind of the hallmarks of a binge. So, for example, when I used to binge. I’ll just give you an example of a typical binge. Let me think back. When I was working in an office, I would drive to different places. I never wanted anybody to know that I was eating everything, that I was going to be eating all of this by myself.

So, I would basically drive around, and I would buy just enough to get me to the next stop. So, I might drive from convenience store to convenience store. I would buy maybe two kings size candies at one place. And I would eat them driving to the next convenience store. And then, I would buy maybe two more king size candy bars, whether it’s peanut M&Ms or whatever.

Then, I would drive to the bakery and I would buy one or two maybe a big muffin or a cinnamon roll or something like that. These are all things I can eat while I’m driving, right? So, then I might go to the store, and I might buy a box of ice cream sandwiches and I would eat the entire box. I might get a couple of donuts. Again, I wouldn’t buy like a whole dozen donuts because I wouldn’t want people to think I was actually going to eat them all.

So, for me, again, I was always concerned about what other people were thinking and would they know. Or maybe I would buy a thing of cookies, like from the cookie aisle, and I would eat the entire container. When I would eat at home, I would eat different things. I might eat ice cream out of the container. I might eat an entire bag of granola, things like that. So, more food than is typically eaten at a time or at a meal.

So, some people will say, oh, I binged, like I binged last night. I had three pieces of pizza. Like I wanted to have two, but I ate three. And that was a binge. So, to me, that’s not a binge, like the hallmark with a binge is, I don’t think I mentioned this when I was first defining it. The hallmark of a binge is this feeling of being out of control. Like I cannot stop eating.

So, with an overeat, it’s kind of like, oh, that was really good. Like, I know, maybe I should stop, or I’m kind of feeling full, but I just want to keep eating because it’s so good, or it’s there, or I’m not going to get any tomorrow. Those types of things that we’ve all thought before. But with a binge, there literally is the sense of like, I might come out of my skin, if I don’t eat right now. And once I start, I literally can’t stop.

So, I used to think that when I started eating, I could not stop until it was gone and I would eat until I literally could not eat any more food. So, either I was so physically full, like I physically could not even eat any more food, or it was I had to stop because there was a meeting, or there was somebody was coming home, or that type of thing. But lots of shame would drive around, hide the evidence, the wrappers, all of that.

Elizabeth: Yeah. As you were talking about like, I don’t want anyone to know that I’m eating all this. There’s no way, first of all that anyone who’s checking you out would, and I mean checking you out as far as like buying the stuff.

Jane: Right. At the grocery store. Yes. Yeah.

Elizabeth: The checker would not have any thoughts about you eating all of it. Like it could be for a party, it could be for a varied number of reasons. But it’s just so interesting that you’re like, I don’t want anyone to even fathom that this could all be for me.

It’s so fascinating to really think about. I was just sure that if I bought all of the things that I really wanted to eat, if I bought them all at the same time, I was sure that somebody would know that it was all going to be for me, like literally to be consumed within that hour. Like I was sure of it. Much later, I ended up going back to the very same bakery where I used to binge and I was buying my binge foods for, it was a talk I was giving.

And so, I went in to buy the exact same foods, but I was in a completely different headspace because I was not going to be binging on these foods. And it was fascinating to me to walk in. And I did the same thing at the gas station. I actually, went to the bakery and then, I went to the gas station, and I bought exactly what I used to buy during a binge.

In this different mindset, there was no like worry about what the person thought that I might eat or not eat, or thinking I needed to say something. It was such a different experience buying, walking into the same stores, buying the exact same food. But there was just a different dialogue going on in my head and that was so fascinating to see.

Elizabeth: I bet. I bet.

Jane: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Now, one thing that you didn’t mention as far as the binge goes, and you mentioned it initially, when you talked about your first binge was being completely out of body and unconscious, I think was the word that you used. Is that typical also?

Jane: Yes, it is. It’s very typical. So, I often look at binges and I kind of think about binges is an attempt to disconnect from ourselves. It’s kind of like the way we teach ourselves to disconnect from ourselves. So, I used to say that it’s like it was the way that I turned the lights off, right? It was like, we can’t physically get away from ourselves, but it was the way that I kind of taught myself and many people teach themselves how to kind of like disconnect from their experience.

So, yes, for a lot of people there literally, there’s no recollection really of what they were thinking, what they were doing, they may not even realize. I can remember once I finally actually started talking about it, I might be telling my husband I was married before I even told him what I did.

Once I did start talking to him about it, I would tell him and I would tell him like, what all I had eaten. And it was always fascinating to me where I just wouldn’t remember. And then, a little bit later I would be like, oh yeah, and I ate that. Oh yeah, I also ate that. It really is kind of like this very much a disconnecting experience.

And I would also be fascinated as to when I would finally, the way I termed it is like, come back to myself. Because like I would be literally so disconnected from myself. I believe it’s the only way I literally could eat so much food.

So, when I’m connected, there’s no way I could eat as much food as I ate during a binge because I’m connected. Like my body, I don’t think would actually let me do that. But because I had this ability to disconnect, it was fascinating to me when I would come back to myself and be connected. There was so much physical pain because of the sheer volume of food that I ate.

And it was just amazing to me. It really is amazing how what we are able to do with our minds and with our bodies in that way where we truly can, being in inside our bodies, we truly can dissociate and disconnect from ourselves in that way.

Elizabeth: And was it like the physical pain that woke you up from the binge, typically?

Jane: No, I don’t think it was because now that I know more about kind of like the brain and how the brain works, right? The brain really is motivated by seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, and using as little energy as possible. And I think that the seeking pleasure and avoiding pain where like this kind of like this combination, right? So, it’s like the pleasure from the dopamine, from the foods.

But then, it’s also avoiding pain because there would be the pain came not only physically, but there was also the negative, the dialogue. The way that I would speak to myself about myself was so mean and so judgmental. So, I think that’s another way where I was really kind of getting away from myself. And then, I think also my brain knew just how mean it would be once I came back to myself, that would sound awful and feel awful.

So, I don’t think there was really like a win scenario here because it’s like, okay, I can keep eating to stay disconnected, which is going to mean more physical pain later. But while I’m disconnected, I’m not hearing all of the negative, the judgment, and all of that.

So, as far as like, what would kind of like bring me back to myself, I literally would try pretty much whatever I could to stay disconnected. So, even after I stopped eating, I tell people there’s always a pattern in people’s binges.

Generally, people will have a pattern and the pattern doesn’t just end when you stop eating. So, for me, my pattern after a binge, I generally would just end up on my phone. And I would just scroll social media until, I am here to tell you there is no bottom of Facebook. I have tried, it doesn’t exist.

Elizabeth: It just keeps going and going.

Jane: You start seeing some really weird things, but it was the way for me to just keep my mind like occupied or distracted in some way to try to kind of be away from the physical pain. And only when I would actually like start to process or talk to my husband would I really then get in touch with what actually was happening physically in my body to that physical pain. And then, there was so many emotions that I had stuffed down. There was all of that to process too.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah, well, and what’s so interesting about that is what we know about numbing behavior is like the eating is one part. But then once you couldn’t do that anymore, you still needed to numb. And so, you were doing that through social media. That’s fascinating.

Jane: Yeah. Yep.

Elizabeth: Okay. So, let’s go back. You mentioned there’s a pattern, and while you were giving your introduction, I was so curious, like looking back at that very first binge. Are you aware of what set you off?

Jane: Yes. Yes. And it’s such a good question too. And this is like when I look and I work with people who binge. One of the things that I love to do is help them understand. Help them understand, why you started and why you haven’t stopped yet. Because I find, if you can understand and when you do understand, you’re able to then look at yourself in a different way.

So, it’s almost like you have a different set of glasses. So, you have one set of glasses on that’s like, I’m terrible, I’m broken, something’s wrong with me, I can’t believe I do this. And then, when you start to understand why, and you see how it makes sense, it’s like you put on this other pair of glasses that’s like, oh, I get it.

And now, once you get it, then you can start to work with yourself from this place of understanding versus this place of shame and judgment. And it’s just a game changer in terms of how you’re looking at yourself.

So, to answer your question. What I understand about my own journey and what happened is I can look back and I can see two very clear things. Number one is that I was on a very restrictive diet towards the end of my high school, like the last year and a half of high school.

So, I went to south America on like this little mini Peace Corps type of thing. And I gained a good amount of weight in a short period of time before my junior year, and I got stretch marks. And so, I had these stretch marks, and I was playing volleyball with these little bun huggers where you could see my stretch marks.

And then, I was like, this has to change. So, I went on a very restrictive diet, counting the calories, going to the gym, doing all of the things. So, that restrictive diet leading up to going to college was kind of factor number one.

Factor number two is that I did not learn how to deal with my emotions, how to process emotions growing up, we didn’t do emotions in my house. We would get upset, we would all, I would go to my room and slam my door, and we would come out the next day and just kind of pretend like nothing ever happened, like we never talked about anything.

So, I went to college and of course, any person who goes to college for the first time and is living in another city is going to have a range of emotions. I did not know what to do with them, how to deal with them, what was happening. So, I think it was the combination of the extended period of restriction, and then my emotional capacity, which is I define as your capacity to be with any emotion, your ability to be with any emotion was very small.

So, I think for me, that’s kind of how it started.

Elizabeth: Okay. Now, I know that you talk about, is it the seven reasons why you binge? Eight. Okay. Do you want to go over those?

Jane: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So, I find that there are eight reasons why people binge. And even if you’re listening to this and you’re like, well, I don’t really know if I binge. But anybody, anytime you show up with food in a way that may not be what you would prefer, it is very likely that one of these eight reasons is at play. So, each reason has its own corresponding solution. So, I’ll mention the reason, and then the solution.

So, reason number one is shame and judgment. It’s the feeling like you’re broken, something wrong with you, all of those things. When we have shame and judgment for ourselves, it’s like those glasses I was talking about. It keeps us in the pattern.

If you think about like, when somebody else judges you, what do you want to do? You want to get away from them, right? Like, we don’t like to be judged, but we judge ourselves. So, when we are judging ourselves, we want to get away from ourselves. And how do we do that? We do that with food. We kind of learned how to do that with food.

So, shame and judgment will kind of like keep us stuck. So, the answer to that is understanding why. Understanding why you started and why you haven’t stopped yet.

Reason number two is restriction. So, there are two types of restriction. There’s physical restriction, which is literally not eating enough food or just removing entire food groups. So, that’s physical restriction.

And then, there’s mental restriction. Mental restriction shows up in a lot of different ways. And mental restriction is a sneaky one. It’s kind of one that’s like, don’t eat too much. This is one I used to tell myself all the time. Don’t eat too much, or even little things like, well, we’re not going to eat this tomorrow, so we might as well eat it all today. We’ve already blown it. Let’s go ahead and eat it all. Those types of little things that we say to ourselves, they’re actually forms of mental restriction. So, the solution to restriction is to remove restrictions.

Reason number three is nervous system dysregulation. And we could get into a whole topic about the nervous system. But the solution to that is learning how to work with and regulate your nervous system.

Reason number four is disconnection from the body. So, the solution is learning to connect with your body, with your signals. Those of us who have dieted for so long, we’ve really kind of learned how to override our body signals.

Reason number five is it’s a coping mechanism. We don’t know how to deal with our emotions, and so we eat to cover them up. So, the solution is to expand your emotional capacity, your ability to be with any emotion.

Reason number six, it’s an attempt to control. Many people who struggle with binge eating. This was certainly my case. We like to control things. We like things to be exactly, so we like to control. Then, we can control our food, control our bodies, we can control our weight, we control all the other things. And sometimes we’re trying to control things that can’t really be controlled. And so that’s a reason.

The solution is to develop two-way trust. And I consider two-way trust is it’s me, trusting that my body will tell me, will give me the signs, it will tell me what it needs. But my body also has to trust that I am going to respond to it. So, this two-way trust is really important.

And then, number seven is a habit. Anytime we do anything repeatedly for an extended period of time, it becomes a habit. What fires together, wires together. So, a lot of solutions and a lot of people when they’re looking at binging, they will just look at, oh, it’s a habit. I have to stop my habit of eating all of the kid’s, whatever when they go to bed.

And it’s like, if we only address the habit without looking at the other seven reasons, it’s never going to stick. And so, this is why it’s like really important that habit is absolutely one component, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

And then, reason number eight is the internal dialogue. It’s the way that you talk to yourself in your head. The way you talk to yourself about yourself, how you respond to yourself. So, the solution obviously is to improve your internal dialogue. So, those are the eight reasons.

Elizabeth: Okay. Yeah. Oh my gosh, so good. Okay. So, first of all, I just love the way that you talked about controlling situations and establishing two-way trust. Because that’s something that I think so many of us, don’t have. We don’t have that trust with our bodies. So many of the women who are listening right now, they’ve been serial dieters.

And when they try to diet at 50, 45, however old you are. The body’s like, oh, I know what’s happening right now. We’ve been down this road before. And I don’t trust you, so I’m not going to give up the fat. Right? Even though, we’re on a restricted calorie allotment.

So, I love that you brought up the fact that you have to trust that your body is telling you what it needs and that your body can trust you as well. Because that’s one of the first things that I do with my clients. And that is so good that you said that. Thank you.

Jane: Yes. Yes. So important.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Okay. And then, when you were starting, I was thinking about like how much of this is actually food related and how much of it is really outside of food related. Right?

Jane: Yes. I love that you asked this question. I was actually just recording a podcast really about this very thing. If you think about like those eight reasons, the only one that specifically has to do with food is restriction. And only half of the restriction has to do with the food itself. Right? It because the other half is mental. It’s what we’re actually saying to ourselves that creates that restrictive type of thinking, but the rest of it is all doesn’t have to do with the food at all.

So, my husband coined this term, years ago. It’s because I would binge and then I would immediately start planning, okay, here’s what I’m going to do, here’s what I’m going to eat tomorrow. Okay, we need to like, get this out to the house and I’m just focused on the food itself.

And my husband, my dear sweet husband who knew nothing about binging aside from whatever I shared with him, he said, It’s not the food, it’s the mood. And he could so clearly see a connection between my mood or my emotions and what was happening with the food itself.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Jane: I really think this is actually something that literally, this is like a new insight for me. But I have come to realize that literally all binging, and I believe overeating comes down to one very, very, very simple thing. And it’s disconnection. Yeah. Plain and simple.

Elizabeth: Well, yeah. And I want to talk about perfectionism and diet culture and all of that great stuff because as younger women, we are taught to not pay attention to our bodies. So, we walk around as these like headless body list, like heads and we’re thinking about what happened yesterday, what we have to do next. And when our body tells us, hey, I have to go to the bathroom, we’re like irritated with it, right?

Jane: Yes. Yes.

Elizabeth: And diet culture and the way that women are socialized, that our appearance is most important is what perpetuates that. Because how many diets have, we been on that say, oh, you’re not hungry, you’re just thirsty. Right?

Jane: Right. Yep. Yes, absolutely. We have been conditioned from the very first time we went on a diet, which for some people is literally as young as five. We’ve been conditioned to override our body signals. And so, from the diet, right? From whatever plan we’ve been on, it does not tell you to like pay attention and do what your body says. It says, no, eat exactly this. Don’t eat that. Stop eating when you’ve hit this many calories, or it’s this time of day.

There’s no like actually check in with your body. What is your body telling you? Like, we just didn’t learn that. And you’re right. We are all just living from the neck up in our heads, thinking about either what we have to do, what we did yesterday, the regret that we have, the worry that we have about the future. That’s all that you know is kind of happening for most people.

Elizabeth: I remember I was at a party years ago, and I was talking to my friend about like, ah, I just can’t stop eating like these brownies and stuff. And another friend of ours was in the room, in the kitchen listening to us and she said, oh, I just listened to my body. And she walked out of the room and we both kind of looked at each other and we were like, Bitch.

Who knows how to listen to their body. Like when I heard her say that I was just so incredibly confused. I was like, what does it mean to listen to your body? Because we’re not taught that.

Jane: No. No. And it can sound trite. It’s literally a skill. It is a skill that everybody possesses, but we have all completely taught ourselves how to override.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Jane: It’s available. It’s an available skill to everybody.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Because as children, we can listen to our bodies. Right? And then, we’re just taught how not to. Okay. So good.

I think that one of potentially, a fallacy, now you tell me. How much is pleasure involved in binging?

Jane: Ooh, that’s a good question. I would say for myself, and I would say anybody who I’ve ever really had like this specific conversation with, in terms of a binge. If there is any pleasure, there’s in the very first 30 seconds of a binge, there may be a very like kind of an immediate pleasure. And it generally is because you’re eating things that you aren’t allowing yourself to eat otherwise.

Elizabeth: Got it.

Jane: So, there’s kind of like this, ugh, that’s so good. But then, the rest of the binge is not pleasurable at all.

Elizabeth: Sure. So, how much of getting rid of the food rules, the good foods and the bad foods is going to play into the resolution of getting rid of binges?

Jane: I think it’s very important that there are not forbidden foods that there aren’t like foods that are good and foods that are bad. Because if there are still good foods, bad foods, these foods that you think you can’t control yourself over when you have them, or if you are in a situation where you’re at a party, or you are somewhere where these things exist, and you do have one or whatever.

Then, comes the thinking, oh, I had that. I already messed up; I might as well keep eating. Oh, well I’m not going to get it again starting tomorrow. So, then I might as well like get as much as I can in now. There’s a lot of that, all or nothing, kind of black and white thinking that’s involved in binge eating.

So, the more we can take out the black and the white and the ‘all or nothing.’ Because we’re just on this pendulum, right? The restrict binge pendulum, many people who do struggle with binging have a history where they’re on one side or the other of the pendulum.

Elizabeth: Okay, good. And so, how does this all tie in with perfectionism?

Jane: I think perfectionism is so interesting and perfectionism absolutely perpetuates binge eating. I actually have a podcast episode called, ‘How Perfectionism Perpetuates Binge Eating.’ If you want to find out more about that, you can definitely go check out that podcast episode.

But with perfectionism, what happens is that we create these unrealistic standards for ourselves and that we absolutely can’t meet. And then, when we don’t meet them, then there is the sense of all or nothing. The okay, I’m either perfect or I’m a failure. And so, we set up like these ideals of this quote unquote perfect way to eat.

And then, when we don’t meet that because nobody eats perfectly, then there’s this idea of like, oh, well I didn’t eat perfectly. I screwed up. I’m a failure. Now, I might as well just go ahead and binge because I’m going to be perfect tomorrow. It’s like this fallacy and this idea that I will be perfect. Like there is going to be this time and this day where I am perfect.

And so, until I’m either perfect or I’m a failure. So, it doesn’t give much room for the B minus type of effort or pretty darn good. Like, okay, I ate that. Now, moving on, it’s like, no. Now, everything’s ruined. It’s a failure. We have to kind of just go down that train.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That is so interesting. And it’s funny because I have a podcast called, ‘B Minus Habits.’ About how we want to strive for B minus, because as time goes on, your B minus is actually going to get better.

Jane: Yes.

Elizabeth: And when I think about the version of myself who started this whole journey years ago, She would probably look at my diet today and think that I was a perfect eater. I was an A plus eater. I do not think that I am an A plus eater today. I still think that I’m B minus, maybe.

And so, it’s so interesting how our brains kind of like Lucy and Charlie Brown, like will take the football away, right? When we think we’re going to hit it, we’re going to be perfect. The brain’s always going to discount that, right? Always.

Jane: Yes. Yes. And the brain’s always going to look for what’s not working and what’s wrong.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Jane: Always. Yeah.

Elizabeth: Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit about that internal dialogue. And I think this probably actually goes back to the first reason, which is the shame in the judgment. Right? Those are really tightly connected.

Jane: Yes.

Elizabeth: What are some of the ways that you normalize that internal dialogue that people have?

Jane: Yeah. So, one of the things that I love to do is always ask the question like, how does this make sense? How does it make sense that I’m talking to myself the way that I am? How does this make sense that I just ate the amount of food that I ate? How does this make sense like really kind of comprehending it, like understanding it?

And so, a lot of times with the internal dialogue, the question that you can ask yourself with internal dialogue is whose voice am I hearing? Like if I really start to pay attention to the things that I hear in my head about myself, whose voice is that? Is that my voice or is that the voice of somebody else that was an influential person in my life?

And so, just identifying that can be really powerful. And then recognizing, okay, I like to think of the internal dialogue as like, it’s like a radio station. So, this is the radio station. It’s what’s in the background? It’s just the radio station like, you know when you get in a rental car and like there’s a station on and it’s just happens to be whatever radio station the previous renters we’re listening to, like you didn’t really choose it.

That’s kind of what happens with our internal dialogue to some point. We did not choose the radio station that is happening, the internal dialogue. So, for many of us, that internal dialogue is based upon our experiences, how we grew up. For sure, there are some genetic factors in it.

But when we start to pay attention, it’s like, oh, what radio station is this? Do I even like this radio station? What station would I like to? We can learn how to change the radio station and turn it to something else by replacing what we’ve been hearing for so long.

But we have to first just start by like, knowing what station is this, anyway? And who chose it? Do I want to re-choose it? And then, kind of figure out how we can then replace what we’re hearing over time. Certainly, doesn’t happen overnight.

Elizabeth: Okay. Fascinating. And so, how does that play in with your nervous system? Because it sounds to me like the nervous system is actually very tightly connected to these binges.

Jane: So, the nervous system is such an important component. For me was literally, I think like the missing piece. Everybody’s always looking for that missing piece of the puzzle. And for me, the nervous system was just absolutely it. So, the nervous system is basically, it’s your body’s command center. It’s the connection between your body and your brain.

We talked about how so many of us are just kind of living from the neck up, we’re all in our heads, we’re not really in our bodies. The nervous system is what connects the two. What connects the brain to the body. What’s important about the nervous system is that the nervous system is going to be in different states based upon its perceived level of safety.

Now, this is perceived level of safety, which may or may not be different from its actual level of safety. But that actual safety doesn’t really matter to the nervous system. What matters is it’s perceived level of safety. So, we’ve probably, by this point, all heard about fight or flight. There’s the freeze response. These are the responses that happen in the nervous system when the nervous system feels threatened in some way.

So, the fight or flight response is like when we have a lot of like excess energy in our bodies, kind of like we may feel overwhelmed. We may feel anxious, we may feel worried, fearful. There’s kind of like, it’s a lot of energy in our bodies, so we might fight, maybe we get angry, we lose our temper. We might flight. So, a lot of people will flight. Their flight is to food.

So, what happens? We have this excess energy in our nervous system. And the body knows, we need to drain this energy. This is too much energy. So, we learn, we kind of figure out very wisely. So, at a pretty young age, we learn that the food will drain that energy.

But what happens is for the most part, it will drain us so low that then we’re below that kind of like in the middle of our nervous system is where we are regulated. Where we are kind of in this like nice, I call it home base. It’s just like we’re at home. You and I right now, we’re both in home base. We’re having this lovely conversation, we’re able to dialogue, answer, and ask questions. We are in home base.

But we also all know what it feels like to be above home base when you’re in that like fight or flight, like blah, where you’re kind of like running around, or you’re really angry, or you’re frustrated, or whatever. But below home base is more of the freeze response where there’s low energy there. So, maybe you’re feeling depressed, hopeless. Those types of like, powerless, like just the very low energy.

So, when we turn to food, when we’re in that kind of activated energy state to drain the energy and it brings us down. It often will, especially after a binge, it will take us all the way down below. And this is where I would just be sitting on the couch, just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling because there was zero energy there.

But here’s what’s fascinating. I came to realize that I never slowed down in general in life. I didn’t really slow down. I just went pushed, push, push, go, go, go. The only time that I actually slowed down was binging. It was almost like my body was like, fine, you’re not going to stop. You’re not going to slow down. We will force you to stop.

So, it’s like the binges were a literally after a binge was the only time that I actually would stop. So, I was kind of just in this constant state of excess energy. There was a lot of overwhelm and anxiety, and those types of things. So, within our nervous system, there’s different states of your nervous system. There is no right state, wrong state, good or bad.

But we learn over time. We kind of get used to certain states. So, some people, particularly, people who binge, they get more used to living in more of kind of that elevated kind of agitated state, except for then when they binge and then they’re kind of below.

So, what’s fascinating about the nervous system is really getting to understand it, getting to connect with your own nervous system, and then learning the tools so that you can expand your own home base. The amount of ability you have to be in a regulated state in your nervous system.

And that as you expand your nervous system, you’re also expanding your ability to be with your emotions. So, your nervous system, the state of your nervous system and your emotional capacity are very much interrelated. They’re very much interrelated, both very important components.

Elizabeth: Yeah. As you were talking, there were a couple things that I was thinking about. One was I can totally see the connection between perfectionism and that agitated state, right? Because I have to be doing, doing, doing, and performing, and I can’t take rest. And so, potentially, putting actual rest into your schedule, maybe not for everybody but for some, it could prevent binges moving forward.

Jane: Yeah. Yeah. Yes. It’s not just the rest. So, some people, they kind of like, okay, I’m going to put rest in to prevent binges. But then they go to like, okay, it’s time to rest. And then, they’re just sitting there like, I can’t rest. The brain is still going, they’re just like sitting there like, I’m not supposed to be doing anything right now. Right?

Elizabeth: Right.

Jane: So much of it is it goes back to that understanding. It’s like when we can understand the nervous system, we can understand the benefits, we can understand even what this like agitated state is, how it makes sense that we’re there all the time. How we can shift and make these other changes. Then, we can be more willing to see the benefit of, okay, I actually recognize, I can’t keep pushing all of the time.

So, you see so many people, especially people, when people get to our age and older, they come to realize, I can’t keep pushing in the ways that I have. A lot of people will end up, maybe they end up sick. They end up with some sort of burnout. They end up in some sort of chronic condition that is a result of a continuously chronically activated nervous system.

So, when we can start to see that actually, there are not benefits to pushing, and going, and going, and trying to be perfect all the time. When that starts to not be as appealing and attractive, then we can start looking at some other solutions. It’s the same with a binge. When we start making all of these connections and realizing all of these other things. It’s like all of a sudden, the binge does not look like such a great solution anymore.

So, here’s what’s amazing about it. The binges often, they let go of themselves. We kind of get to this place where it’s like this thing that I’ve held onto so tightly for so long. Once the other needs and the other areas are addressed, it just it goes away. It’s like we just are able and ready to let it go, once we can kind of understand it and take care of the other things that we’re kind of causing the need for that in the first place.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I totally, get that 100%. Because the binge is really just the subconscious brain, the part of ourselves that’s saying, Hey, I need attention getting whatever it is that it needs. So, when we’re able to give whatever, that piece is to ourselves, then there’s no need for us to act out anymore.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, the analogy and the image that I love to use with a binge is I see the binge as like a light on the dashboard. It’s like your check engine light. So, the light comes on and it’s like, ah, something’s going on under the hood. We have to open the hood and see what’s going on. It is likely one of these other things. Let’s get under the hood and see what’s going on.

We don’t just like, put some duct tape over the dashboard and pretend like it’s nothing’s going on, right? If we do that, something’s going to happen to the car. But the other thing that’s so important with the image is that shame and judgment is like putting a 50 pound weight on the hood of your car. So, we can’t even get underneath to look under the hood if shame and judgment are there.

So, if you’re a person that’s like, oh man, shame and judgment, like that’s me, number one. Reason, number one. First, I would say, you are not alone. Most people are in shame and judgment about their behavior. So, there is like, this is very normal. But the biggest thing that you can do is shift into curiosity.

So, curiosity is such a powerful tool. This is where we start asking questions. We need to ask powerful questions like we don’t ask questions like, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I figure this out? Why do I keep doing this? Those are terrible questions. And they’re probably questions you’ve asked yourself as I have a zillion times. And we don’t get any good answers from them.

So, those aren’t good questions. But we can say, how does this make sense? What do I really need right now? What am I trying to disconnect or separate from? These are amazing questions. I actually also have a podcast episode on powerful questions that you can ask yourself. It’s talking all about why asking powerful questions is so powerful and how the brain works in answering questions.

But within that podcast, there’s also a download that you can get of the questions you can ask yourself. Either before, during, or after a binge to really get that curiosity going. Because if you’ve been on the shame and judgment train for a long time, chances are it’s not easy to get off the shame and judgment train by yourself, unfortunately.

Because having somebody else who can help be a compassionate, curious, witness to help you see yourself and see your behavior and see what you’re doing in a different way, like that literally is the key to change. Because otherwise we keep asking ourselves the same questions. We keep thinking the same thought patterns over again, and we keep like repeating the same thing over and over again.

And that’s why it’s so powerful to bring somebody else in on your journey who’s just able to help you ask great questions, see things in a new way, come up with a new understanding. So, then you can kind of just start to approach it all from a different place.

So, Einstein said that ‘you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.’ And this is like part of it, right? Like if we’re in that same mindset, the same thinking over and over again, we’re going to keep creating the same problem. So, we have to somehow have a shift in the way we’re thinking, the way we’re looking at something, the way that we’re understanding something. That’s what allows us then to find that solution that we’re looking for.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I love that because when we’re in shame and judgment, that blocks any curiosity. And when we block curiosity, then there’s no learning that happens. Right?

Jane: Right. Yes, exactly.

Elizabeth: Oh, my goodness. Jane, this is just amazing. Thank you for being here today. Now, I know that you have a couple different things where people can find you and how they can get help from you. Yeah. How can people find you? You’re on Instagram, you’re on Facebook, you have a website, you have a podcast, tell us all the things.

Jane: All of the things. My podcast is a great resource all kinds of episodes. We’ve talked about a few of them today that is called, ‘Binge Breakthrough.’ My website is, so you can find out more information there. And then, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram in both places at Jane Pilger Coaching.

Elizabeth: Awesome. Well, thank you for being here today.

Jane: Thank you for having me. I’ve loved our conversation.

Elizabeth: All right, that was so amazing. Thank you so much for joining us on this deep dive into overcoming binge eating with the incredible Jane Pilger. Now, we’ve unpacked a lot in this episode. The root causes of binge eating, the role of the nervous system, and the importance of understanding our internal dialogue.

We’ve also discussed the damaging effects of diet, culture, and the importance of reconnecting with our bodies. I’m sure that many of you have found Jane’s insights as enlightening as I did. Remember, you are not broken and there are solutions out there. It’s about understanding, compassion and reshaping our relationship with food and ourselves.

If you know someone who’s struggling with binge eating, I encourage you to share this episode with them. Sometimes hearing that you’re not alone and that there are ways to overcome this challenge can be a game changer. And if you yourself are grappling with out of control eating, and are ready to rewrite your narrative, know that help is available.

Both Jane and I offer coaching that can provide the tools, support, and understanding needed to cultivate a healthier relationship with food. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. You’re not alone in this journey, and there’s a whole community ready to support you.

Thanks again for tuning in to today’s episode. Until next time. Remember, you have the power to change your life one step at a time. Have a great day, everyone. And I’ll talk to you next time. Bye-bye.

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