“I can stick to a diet. But the problem comes when I go out with friends or family or other social events. That’s when I start to eat, and eat a lot. And when I feel guilty, I can’t help but to eat even more. It seems like these binge eating episodes never stop.”
It happens. And it happens to the best of us. And I’m here to help you break free from the emotional eating and binge episodes.
WHY WE BINGE EAT?
I promise I’ll make this as simple as possible.
Every time we binge, we typically consume foods loaded with fat and sugar. Think ice cream, waffles and fries. And every time we eat foods loaded with fat and sugar, our body releases a hormone called dopamine. As a feel good hormone, it makes us, feel good. Only for the time being before the guilt sets in anyway.
Here’s the crazy thing about dopamine? According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, the more our brain releases dopamine, the more it can become something like a physical addiction, due to the rush of chemicals. This results in more episodes of bingeing.
Which also ultimately leads to weight gain, guilt, and other undesirable effects.
Science aside, another big cause of binge eating through my own experience is right after a period of restrictive eating, for example after losing weight follow a low-calorie diet. My episodes of binge eating never existed until I lost 20 kilos. It took me a year before I dealt with it and till this very day, I still have to remain conscious of what I’m eating although I can confidently say I have positively dealt with it.
Dealing with it, however, took a huge part of my life, both mentally and time-wise. That is why, it is with my sincere goal to help you deal with it too. Do know that the ten points below are some of the things that has helped me and it worked, for me. It might not work for you, or perhaps not as well so be smart. I know you’re awesome like that.
1. CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES
Do you know why some people just tend to score awesome marks in exams?
Or why some people just seem to get more out of life?
Because they celebrate small victories.
When I was dealing with my binge eating episodes, I celebrated each day I didn’t binge eat. Yes, I probably will go back to eating all those foods the next day but each day I didn’t binge, I celebrate it. Over time, a day becomes two and two becomes three and so on. For every day I did not binge eat, I allowed myself to put a gold coin ($2) into my little ‘shopping jar’. As soon as I’ve collected enough, I let myself buy anything I like and I want.
Sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves that we simply forget that we’re humans. It happens and that is why it is super important for you to remind yourself not to strive for perfection, but instead embrace what you are and what you do, every single day. In turn, this gives a good boost of positive reinforcement into your life especially if there is something rewarding behind it.
Which leaves us to the second point…
2. STOP AIMING FOR PERFECTION
For some of us, this is easy. But there are a small population of us that will find it hard not to be perfect in everything. While it can take a while for you to tell your beautiful mind to stop trying to be perfect all the time, tell yourself that you’re human and mistakes are inevitable.
When I was binge eating, I was trying so hard to get my calories perfect and each day I crossed over the allowable amount, I bash myself up by eating more since I’ve already eaten more than I should anyway. This leads to the binge eating episodes.
Here’s what usually happens:
It’s Monday and a brand new week. Armed with so much hope and zest, I promised myself to stick to my 1500 calories a day. The day goes by and work and stress started to pile up, and while finalising my calories for the night, I realised I had eaten 134 calories more than I should. Feeling utterly disappointed (and don’t forget the crazy amount of work I had to deal with earlier), my brain started urging me to feed since I’ve already went over my allowable calories. Monday ended pretty bad and Tuesday came. Since it’s not the start of the week, I figured I might as well just eat whatever since I’m a failure anyway. What happens then is a massive binge eating carnival for the rest of the week.
Sounds familiar? That was me some time ago.
As soon as I let go of perfection, then I actually started to relax.
As quoted by Voltaire, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Learn to let go of perfection and celebrate small victories. You’ll soon see the light behind all those binge eating episodes.
3. YOU DON’T NEED ANOTHER DIET
The most important thing you don’t need is a new diet.
I know, it’s so much easier to just follow a new nutrition plan to try and deal with your binge eating episodes but doing that can make matters worse. Going on a new diet, especially if it’s something very hard to keep up is not the solution, which leaves us to…
4. REMOVE RESTRICTIONS
I’ve always thought I needed to eat a maximum of 1500 calories a day to maintain the weight I’ve lost. It wasn’t until I started studying Nutrition and discovering more about the world of foods do I realise that this is not true.
If there was one thing I did that really helped me move on from binge eating is that I try to limit as many restrictions in my life as possible.
Diets typically goes like this:
– No processed carbs. No starchy carbs after 4pm.
– No more than 1200 calories a day.
– No dairy. No carbs. No fats.
– No eating after 6pm.
The list goes on and I’ve probably seen or heard so many crazy ones myself. But here’s the thing. The more ‘No’ you impose into your life, the harder it is for your body to keep up. Over time, and dependent on how many different diets you’ve followed, you’re probably end up confusing yourself more than trying to make things work.
Don’t worry about what to eat and when to eat. Instead learn to listen to your body. It might take some time, but try and relearn the natural cues of your body.
While you don’t need a book to know what foods are good for you, I encourage you to choose natural whole foods most of the times. Only eat when you’re feeling physically hungry and make an effort to do something else if you’re not.
5. THE POWER OF ADDITION
When it comes to losing weight, every one just seems to tell us to let go of this and that. Stop eating sugar. Stop eating too much food. Let’s try something different shall we?
Instead of focusing on the foods you can’t eat, find the foods you can actually eat and add that to your diet. If you like eating bread, add wholemeal varieties into it. If you love fruits but realise you don’t really have much of it, try adding them into your diet.
Once you’ve gathered enough foods you can actually eat that is good for you, you’ll naturally have less of the food you shouldn’t have without even realising it. That’s the power of addition.
6. IF YOU REALLY WANT BINGE FOODS…
If there was one thing that is really paramount to my success is getting rid of my go-to binge foods away from me.
And that means literally not buying any of those foods AND not keeping them in the house.
If you really want those Cadbury fingers, go and get them when you truly crave for them. Chances are, you’ll probably be too lazy to go and get them.
Over time I managed to not feel tempted by those foods and only really make an effort to go out and get them if I feel like it.
7. DO SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY
It could be as little as driving a different route.
It could be something as little as taking a different bus home.
It could even be picking up a new hobby. Learning how to do a handstand. Or even try rock-climbing.
My wake-up call in making a change was walking up to that bookstore and buying a business book. I learned new things about business every single day from that day on and that event has helped me a lot in my eating disorders.
Trying your hand on something new can distract yourself. While it might not combat your binge eating for good, it can open your doors to new opportunities that ultimately bring out a brand new you. The result of me learning about business has gotten me to this very day, sitting here on Easter Monday, writing this for you. I think it’s pretty epic.
Now go and do something epic and new every day.
8. FIND POSITIVE SUPPORT
When I told my friends I had a binge eating problem, most of them didn’t believe it.
There were some who gave me answers like — “You can’t be binge eating. You’re a trainer!”. Or there’s some — “Just try and stop eating too much then!”.
Did he just tell me to stop eating too much? Really? Yeah, okay, that’s a solution. Roar.
Finding support is not easy. Some people just don’t get it and it’s not their fault. But if you make an effort to really confide with someone who doesn’t judge, listens and takes you by the hand to find the right path to a solution for you, it will make quite a difference.
It’s nice to be surrounded with people who supports. They might not understand but as long as they listen with zero judgement, it can be an answer to a long term solution.
9. BE KIND AND PATIENT
You’re going to fail. Chances are you’re going to binge eat again tomorrow after reading this.
And when that happens, I want you to be kind to yourself.
Being completely outraged and beating yourself up does not help in any way. It will in fact make things worse when it is already so bad. Realise that it’s just a small mistake and don’t try to call yourself a failure or anything similar. Give yourself a break because you’ve worked hard and you are trying your best.
You need to know that you’re wonderful. You need to know that you’re amazing. And whatever that is causing you to binge eat, stress from work or something else, will pass. Do not let the stressors of the present ruin your whole life because you deserve more than that.
Most importantly, be patient. Not just with the process but more importantly with yourself. You’re going through a whole heap of changes right now and while it’s easier said than done, there is someone patient underneath you who cares about your progress. That’s the person you want to become.
10. KNOW THAT YOU’RE AMAZING
We don’t get reminded of this every day but I want you to know that you’re one hell of an amazing person to be going through this.
No one in this world is you-er than you and that is super special.
You don’t have to wait until you’re completely free of the binge eating cycle before knowing that you’re amazing because each day you’re trying to break out of the habits, you’re already a superhero.
Know that. Embrace that. Love yourself for that.
And if there’s one take home message I want you to get out of this is this — YOU ARE NOT ALONE. That’s right. You’re not. While this does not serve as a medical advice, I want you to know that if you need someone to just talk to, do not hesitate to apply for my free call or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’re a Pretty Awesome and for what it’s worth, I’ll try my best to help you as much as I can because I’ve been there.
The perfect time is now to make a change. You’re awesome, remember that.
What do you do to stop yourself from binge eating? Do you have any other tips to share with the Pretty Awesomes? Leave a comment below!
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