A particular thought often occurs before I descend into madness: that's it. I'm binging later.
It's a private thought I have when I'm in the company of others and I'm stressed or angry or irritated at the people/situation around me. And telling myself I'm "so going to do it" helps me get through whatever I need to get through. It's my default way of promising myself that comfort and oblivion are on the way, and that I need to simply need to muddle through until I can be alone and stuff my face.
I wish it stopped with that silly thought--that when I finally get a quiet moment to calm down, I wish I recognized it for ingrained coping mechanism it is, then rationally decided on another course of de-stressing. But that's not what happens. The thought seems like an ironclad decision. Once I think it, it's like the binge is a foregone conclusion. I MUST do it. In a way, it feels like I already did do it, just by thinking about doing it, and that the actual binge episode is merely the continuation of binging that started earlier in the day (even though it's not). Does that sound crazy to you?
I was helping a friend with some stressful stuff yesterday when the thought occurred to me. When I got home that night, I carried out my "promise." I went to the store (at night, which we all know almost guarantees a binge for me) and got ice cream. I was standing in line to check out when I saw limited edition Oreos on the aisle end display. They were a kind I normally get each Christmas, but skipped this Christmas. I was primed in every way to grab them, and I did. And as I scurried back to the register line, I had a flash of awareness in which I saw myself as a lab rat who was exhibiting the exact behaviors wanted and expected of me by the good folks (ha!) at Nabisco. I waved that nanosecond of discomfort and awareness away, made my purchase, went home, and ate a pint of ice cream and nine cookies along with a too-large plate of spaghetti.
That "I'm going to do it" thought is going to occur to me again and again in stressful situations. It does no good for me to "wish" my brain did something else. I need to practice doing something else, not make wishes. This is what I plan to do: the next time I think "I am SO going to binge later", I am going to tack on a few more sentences to my inner dialogue. "Well, binging is just one option. I might do that. But there's some other options too. Maybe I will do this instead..." and then I'm going to think of a few alternatives to eating and try to build anticipation for those alternatives.
That way, when I finally get alone later, I will be primed to try one of the non-binging alternatives. Maybe it won't feel like I've already binged and may as well "continue." Up until now, I've expected myself to make a better decision on the spot--at the crucial moment in the grocery store, or at home when the food is in front of me. But at that point, it's already too late. I need to work on the thoughts that precede my actions--thoughts that happen hours before when I'm still in the company of other people.
A similar kind of screwy thought process happens when I eat some small amount of junk--a few cookies or a few m&m's--and think "the day's already blown, so I'm going to make the most of it and start over tomorrow." That's the kind of thinking I'm engaging in right now, since I ate 3 leftover Oreos this morning for breakfast. I don't have an answer to this one, though. I know it's similarly irrational, and I know my flawed thinking is opening the floodgates on a later binge...but I haven't figured out how to talk to myself on this one.