I have been on a refeeding schedule for several months now. I talked about the idea here:
Back then, I wrote:
After months of not being able to follow my plan for more than an hour each morning, I finally have a tiny modicum of success. It appears that refeeding works for anorexics and binge eaters alike.
My FitBit goes off at 7:30 am for breakfast, 10 am for snack, 12:30 pm for lunch, 3 pm for a snack, 5:30 pm for dinner and finally 8 pm for a snack. It’s a good schedule for me and I can always tell myself if I’m hungry that I can eat again when my alarm goes off. It’s never more than two and a half hours away.
My riskiest behavior is when I skip meals. My FitBit will go off and I’ll think, “I’m not hungry right now. I’ll just skip this one.” I’m usually okay if I just skip one alarm, but if I skip two, I’m too hungry and find that I’m tempted to eat way too much.
And then the intrusive food thought came…
Mike and I were going to Las Vegas last week for our anniversary. I wanted to eat in Vegas those foods that are just not available at home. That’s just fine and can be fit into my eating plan, but the bad thought came to me, “I’ll just skip breakfast and morning snack and then I’ll have more calories for lunch and dinner in Vegas.”
This, my friends, is THE definition of my binge-eating disorder. That single thought is what has undermined me time and time again. It’s the thought that triggers months of bingeing. It’s the thought that brought me to the weight of 231.8 pounds at my highest. I have gotten down to 185 pounds eating when the alarms go off, so I’m not about to sacrifice that success.
There is a dual benefit to my silent refeeding alarms on my FitBit. Not only do they keep me from eating between meals, preventing me from bingeing all day long. They also keep me from starving myself. They tell me to eat, even when I think that I can go without food. As long as I treat those alarms like a command instead of a recommendation, I am able to keep my food intake within my caloric restrictions. Paradoxically, by forcing myself to eat every two and a half hours, I eat LESS.
The Vegas trip, by the way, was a complete success. I realized that I was having an unhealthy food thought and ate when the alarm told me to. It went off at 7:30 am and I ate a small and healthy breakfast. It went off again at 10 am and I had a snack. It went off a third time at 12:30 pm and we still weren’t in Vegas, so I had another snack. Even though I wanted to “save” those calories for Vegas, I ate something. When we rolled into town, my 3 pm alarm was going off, so we had lunch then at the place we wanted. Because I wasn’t starving, I was able to share a dish with Mike, even though there was some weird ordering mistake and they gave us TWO entrees instead of one.
If I hadn’t had my breakfast and those two snacks, I would have eaten that second entree all by myself instead of sharing one with Mike. When you look at the calories, I would have eaten MORE if I skipped breakfast and snacks. Instead, we got a to-go box and put that extra entree in the hotel fridge and I ate it for breakfast over the next two days.
If you are having a hard time keeping to your plan of eating or if you feel like you are hungry ALL the time, try setting alarms for yourself every two and a half hours. EAT when they go off, without question. It doesn’t have to be a lot of food. It can be a snack as small as five almonds or a few carrot sticks, but EAT. And then, DON’T eat between the alarms. If you still feel hungry, tell yourself, “I can eat when the next alarm goes off.” It’s only two and a half hours away. You can do anything for two hours. You will be SHOCKED at how easily you are able to stay within your caloric restrictions.