Shut Up Ed: Silencing My Monkey Mind

You probably want to know who Ed is, and you might already even do. Ed is short for eating disorder, and he is the driving force behind my binge eating and anxiety. He is the voice that tells me to eat more and the voice that tells me to eat less. 

Ed is the one who tells me that it’s a great idea to order food online because I’m home alone and nobody will be able to judge me if they cannot see me eating enough food for three very hungry people, but then goes into a state of panic and tells me to work out for five hours the next day to burn the excess calories I ate. Ed is my monkey mind.

How I Met Ed 

We met when I was born. During my months and months of introspection to try and figure out why I overeat, I tried to trace back to when it started. I’ve watched a lot of weight loss shows in my life and learned that it helps when people talk about the events leading up to the start of their overeating. Emotional trauma can trigger binge eating. 

So, I tried to uncover the origin of my inability to resist food, and managed to trace it all the way back to birth. Apparently, I was a very hungry baby, and always wanted more food. I would have twice the amount of milk and ate more than some of the grownups. I was born six weeks prematurely, which I suspect has a lot to do with it. 

I was also put on antibiotics immediately, which kills all of the good bacteria in your gut, and makes it more likely that you will gain weight. I don’t think I was able to digest my food properly, and wonder if this might have had an impact. 

Is it possible that poor digestion could make you want to overeat, not because your body needs more calories, but more nutrients? I do know that fixing some people’s gut health has taken away their anxiety, and a lot of people I’ve met with eating disorders also have anxiety. 

So yeah, I guess I met Ed at the hospital. We’ve been frenemies ever since, the kind you get in movies like Mean Girls. When I do binge eat, it really feels like someone else has taken over control, and as if I only wake up once the binge is over. It made sense, so I started calling the part of me that’s driven to binge Ed (short for eating disorder). I also blame him for my anxiety. 

Ed is Anxious and Trying to Protect Me

You know that little voice inside you that is trying to protect you? That’s Ed. He means well, but his methods are screwed up. It helps when you see Ed as an anxious friend. You need to be compassionate towards that part of you. Think of the triggers for your disordered eating behaviours.

For example. I noticed that I mostly overeat when I feel anxious. And then I started wondering why. We as humans love comfort, and when you feel anxious, your body thinks you are in danger, and this triggers the fight, flight, or freeze response. And when I feel anxious, I take flight and retreat to my kitchen. 

You Can Tell Ed to Shut Up

It’s been much easier to manage my anxiety and binge eating since I gave it a name. It makes it easier to distinguish between what I want and what Ed wants. It makes it much easier to tell Ed to shut up when he is screaming in my ear to eat a cookie. 

Sometimes, Ed doesn’t listen, but most of the time, he shuts up or switches to whispering instead of yelling. 

You might call him Ed, your lesser self, lizard brain, or whatever you want. But take a tip from me and give it a name. It will make it much easier to identify what you truly want and it will also make it easier to tell that part of your brain to shut up. 

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