Binge Eating Disorder and Letting Go of Control

June 29, 2022 Emma Parten

When I drive through the familiar streets of my hometown, I experience a sharp realization that time is passing. My family is older, and my hair is thinning and greying. My friends have moved to different cities or states. I notice I feel completely different about my life and my future compared to when I was growing up with an eating disorder. My experience with eating disorders, and specifically binge eating disorder (BED), used to suck the vitality out of my life and leave behind a rigid pattern of living that made me dread my future.

Letting Go of Control in Eating Disorder Recovery

An essential part of my recovery from BED and restrictive eating has been learning to let go of trying to control everything. This is a continual practice because my default setting is: I can control the weight and shape of my body, and I can control what happens to me in my life. I can prevent the unpredictable. 

Of course, these beliefs I have about control aren't the truth. Everything in our lives is changing all the time. Unforeseen changes and stressors will find us and disrupt the regular pattern of our days. We might get sick, lose someone we shape our lives around or lose a job. Our bodies, especially, will change with us as we age. 

These conditions of our finite lives can feel overwhelming to accept. How do we cope with so much change every day? How do we adapt to change gracefully instead of with resistance and dread? I've found that letting go of controlling behavior is what allows me to learn to invite and accept change as it comes.

Letting go of trying to control everything in my life has also shifted my relationship with my body and my trajectory in life. I am more playful, kind, confident, empathetic, and creative. When I let go of rigidity, I am optimistic about the future. The phrase, "anything can happen" becomes an exciting invitation instead of a cruel reality.

How to Let Go of Control During Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

What does it even mean to "let go of control" in eating disorder recovery?

Practically, letting go of control can mean identifying and letting go of degrading beliefs about yourself, your life, and your body. Every belief we have about ourselves is in question during recovery. 

If you have been struggling with an eating disorder, you know the feeling of being trapped by your long-held beliefs about yourself. It's difficult to stop eating disorder behaviors when that is what we think we must do to control our bodies and our lives. 

In recovery, it's helpful to be flexible with your expectations for yourself. I predict that most of us who struggle with an eating disorder are familiar with having extremely high expectations for ourselves and also a vast pit of shame to accompany that. I constantly remind myself of the truth: I am complete as I am. I don't need to prove myself to anyone. Whatever I strive to do or accomplish while I am still alive, I try to remember that I am already whole as is. So are you.

In the day-to-day of recovering from BED, you'll experience stressors that lead to binges and overeating, which feels disappointing and uncomfortable. Afterward, the familiar shame might encourage starvation or punishment. I hope that in these delicate moments, you can acknowledge you're accomplishing something difficult by changing a behavior that has comforted you before. Start again and leave this moment in your recovery behind. Let go of what you think your recovery should look like. 

Reflecting on Letting Go of Control in BED Recovery 

As I've been reflecting on the changes in my life since I lived in my hometown, I notice that my behavior is not guided by my eating disorder anymore. I try to live immersed in my values instead of how I want to be seen by other people. I still struggle to let go of my fear of change, but I have made progress. I can face uncertainty now with a little confidence that I can endure difficult things. I hope as you begin or continue your recovery journey, you notice the subtle shifts in your perspective. This is the reward for the difficult work we do. 

Please feel free to leave a comment below about this topic or maybe something you are trying to let go of. I'd love to hear what we're all leaving behind going into the month of July.

APA Reference
Parten, E. (2022, June 29). Binge Eating Disorder and Letting Go of Control, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: Emma Parten

Connect with Emma on her personal blog.

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