Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Mindful Eating Programs and Training

An Inside Out Approach to Binge Eating

Michelle May

Inside-Out characters from Disney Pixar

I love the Disney Pixar “emotion picture,” Inside Out because it “gave voice” to the emotions we often experience but sometimes have difficulty identifying. Learning to notice the “voices” in our heads is one of the essential steps for healing emotional eating and recovering from Binge Eating Disorder (BED). It is an inside-out approach to binge eating!

Disney Pixar Inside-Out characters

As we saw in the movie Inside Out, giving our emotions voices, personalities, and characteristics can help us detach from them enough to observe them more objectively with curiosity. In fact, we use this technique in the therapy group portion of the Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Program and Retreat.

Let me set this up for you. In this excerpt from Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating (page 70), Dr. Kari Anderson and I write:

Watching thoughts and choosing which ones to pay attention to is a powerful way to interrupt an automatic sequence of events. However, it can be challenging at first because people who struggle with binge eating may be in the habit of judging their thoughts, leading to an emotionally charged internal dialogue. It may seem like there’s an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil sitting on the other. They whisper in your ears like an old cartoon: good versus evil.

The Insistent Binge Voice

During one of our Mindful Eating for Binge Eating therapy group, participants are asked to give their Binge Voice, Restrictive Voice, and Self-Care Voice names, personalities, and a voice. We all had a good laugh when one retreat participant said her Binge Voice sounds like this very insistent character from Family Guy:

Recognizing your “voices”

A participant in our research study on the Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Program shared the pictures she had drawn of her Binge Voice, Restrictive Voice, and Self-Care Voice. (She gave us permission to share her drawings.)

My Binge Voice


My Restrictive Voice


My Self-Care Voice


Developing Your Self-Care Voice

The point of all of this is to become more objectively aware of the thoughts, beliefs, memories, and feelings that sit at the control panel of your mind, pushing your buttons and controlling your behaviors. With this awareness, you can choose which voice to pay attention to and nurture.

Taking an inside-out approach to binge eating to heal your relationship with food and your body ultimately means nurturing your Self-Care Voice who is unconditionally compassionate, validating, and has your highest good at heart. The Self-Care voice mediates the dialogue between the Binge Voice and the Restrictive Voice, encouraging you to trust and choose your true nature.

This article is updated from a previous version.

If you enjoyed this article, here are three more to help you:

What is the difference between emotional eating and binge eating?

Binge eating disorder and dieting: Often two sides of the same coin

Nicole’s Story: Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder – “I deserve it!”

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8 thoughts on “An Inside Out Approach to Binge Eating”

  1. I already receive your emails. If your seminars were not on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, I would consider attending, possibly on a regular basis. My zip code is 91302.

    1. Thanks Gretchen. I really do think it is helpful to be able to listen to these compelling, sometimes insistent “voices” as if they are outside of ourselves so it is easier to realize that they are NOT us, so we can choose to listen to them or not.

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