So over the last few weeks, I have discussed fad diets and why they aren’t sustainable. When you follow a fad diet, usually you go well for a while and then you find yourself craving foods you have restricted for so long. As a result you binge. Even if it isn’t a fad diet you are following and just focusing on healthy eating, you have cheat meals or day which end up becoming a food bingeing session instead.
What is binge eating?
Binge eating is consuming a large amount of food in one period of time. At this point of time you feel out of control and unable to stop yourself from eating. Binge eating does vary from overeating, mainly because it is in one short period of time, rather than long term overeating or continual snacking. Both of these will lead to weight gain.
Physical, psychological and behavioural issues are all reasons that may lead to binge eating.
Feeling tired or lack of sleep, feeling bloated or constipated or rapid weight gain. I find most people think to themselves – oh I already feel like crap, so I might as well just eat whatever and however I much I want. The care factor decreases and bam you binge.
Preoccupation or obsession with food or eating – here food is the only priority, all you can think about is eating or when the next meal is. Feeling shamed, guilty or self-loathing, especially post a binge. You are never satisfied with yourself and as a result constantly feel stressed or anxious about body weight and how people look at you. Your self-esteem declines and it is harder to go out and socialise with friends.
Food starts to disappear, and you become secretive with what you consume. You begin to become more withdrawn because it’s harder to eat out, or want to evade questions about eating and body weight because it is distressing for you.
Ok so we know what the signs of binge eating are - what can you do to stop it?
Now is the time to look at food differently. Become aware of what you are eating and not be afraid of food. How many people have become afraid to eat because they are not sure if what they are doing is good or bad. You are trying to make a conscious effort, but still you fail to lose weight, or you hit a plateau to then only give up because you cannot handle not seeing results anymore!
First and most important thing – ASK FOR HELP
Don’t be afraid of being judged, as a health professional, we are here to help. If you are worried, talk to friends or research a dietitian/psychologist/psychiatrist/therapist that can help you out. The long term health implications of binge eating will lead to many chronic health conditions later in life, such as Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure and cholesterol, arthritis, social isolation and in reality loneliness.
Manage your stress: One of the easiest ways to curb your stress is to find options that are not food related to distract or calm yourself. For example, go for a walk/bike ride/run, have a bath, read a book. Find something you love to distract yourself.
Stop Dieting!!! I have said many times over the last few weeks, restriction leads to binging! Focus on eating a healthy diet with things in moderation to prevent letting yourself go.
Keeping a food diary is a good way to monitor what you are eating. It makes you realise what you are putting into your mouth and in what quantity. The amount of clients I have had say to me after they have written down what they would typically eat in a day, how bad it looks in terms of types of food or portion sizes in frequent! Food diary’s will help you keep accountable to yourself.
Eat 3-5 meals a day and keep your metabolism working well. The more regular you eat, the less likely you will be starving by the time your next meal comes around. This means you are less likely to gauge on anything or everything in sight until those hunger pains are gone or until you cannot physical fit anything else in.
Exercise – the hormones released during exercise will help curb the emotional eating, and it will help promote weight loss!
Eat the food you love regularly – yes I did just say that!! If you love chocolate – have a couple pieces every day. If you don’t restrict yourself in crazy amounts, you will find you will not crave it. When I tell my clients this – they say, “No Amie, it just won’t work, I know I won’t be able to control myself!” This is when I say though, only buy the portion size you will consume in one go. E.g. one freddo frog, 1 snack pack of chips, not a whole family sized packet, box of biccies, or chocolate block. If you find you have not restricted yourself from it, you will not crave it, and you may even find that one day you can say, actually I don’t want that chocolate today.
I hope these tips help. But in all reality guys, binge eating is something that will take time to remove from your life, I struggle with it at times, but it’s you recover from it that makes you stronger! Knock the binging on the head and decide the next meal will be good. Don’t say the next day, or on Monday. Make it the next meal! Keep yourself accountable to someone and get some help. I promise it will make a difference to your quality of life!