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An Inside Out Approach to Binge Eating

By Michelle May, M.D.

Although my “kids” are in their twenties, I can’t wait to see the new Disney Pixar “emotion picture,” Inside Out because learning to notice the “voices” inside of our heads is one of the essential steps in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

I haven’t seen Inside Out yet, but I already love the concept. Giving our emotions voices, personalities, and characteristics can help us detach from them enough to be able to look at 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), we 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.

My Binge Voice

During the 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:

Developing a Self-Care Voice

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.

My Binge Voice














My Restrictive Voice










My 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 your to trust and choose your true nature.

In my next post, I’ll talk about one of the tools in chapter 5 of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating to help you make the connection between what you feel and what you need.


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.


  1. Ed Schackman says:

    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.

  2. Gretchen Glaser says:

    This is great! And the video is hilarious. Thanks for sharing!

    • 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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