Break the Binge
No matter what diet you're currently following, no matter what type of shape you're in, no matter what your current relationship with food is, we can all agree that at one time or another we have overindulged and ate past the point of fulfillment. In this blog I will discuss different mechanisms to utilize if you do find yourself over indulging, as well as ways to re-wire your mind when you feel unnecessary over eating coming on.
First off I'd like to note that because you indulged one day, or a few days, or had a cheat meal or two, it does not mean you are a binge eater, or an unhealthy individual. Binge eating is defined as: consumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time, typically as part of an eating disorder. So this of course is not referring to eating excess calories because you're trying to put on weight, or build muscle. Nor does it refer to you enjoying the bread bowl a little too much one night at dinner. It is referring to those instances of uncontrolled eating which usually leaves us in a state of guilt, disappointment, and embarrassment.
The first point I'd like to get across is that a few days of overeating or "binging" IS NOT going to derail all of your progress or make you gain an insane amount of weight. In fact, it takes 3500 excess calories to create one pound of fat, the chances that that will happen over night are next to none. So, if you happen to overeat one day my main advice would be to acknowledge the fact, and then to get back on track the next day and not fixate on the day prior. In most cases your calories throughout the week will even out if you went a little overboard with your eating one day anyways. Let's say you're tracking your food, and you want your weekly average number of calories to come out to 1600 calories. In these graphs below, I'll show that there's a number of ways you could go about doing that!
We can see in this graph to the left that we had an amazing week and ate our goal of 1600 calories each day of the week, which at the end of the week comes out to an average of 1600 calories.
In this next graph we see that on Monday we ate more than our goal of 1600 calories by 400 calories, totaling 2200 calories on Monday, however we didn't let that bother us and got right back on track eating 1500 calories Tuesday - Sunday, bringing us to a weekly average of 1600 calories.
In this last graph we overate again on Monday by 400 calories, and as a result decided to restrict our eating dropping our cals to 1150 the following two days. Due to the extreme restriction the past few days we overate again on Thursday, and felt so guilty afterwards that we went back into extreme restriction and so the vicious cycle begins. Interestingly enough, at the end of this scenario, we still came out to a weekly average of 1600 cals.
So we can see there's a variety of different eating patterns we can engage in, however in the long run, physique and calorie wise, they may have similar results, but mentally they will have a world of a difference.
So! Here is my advice if you find yourself consistently over eating or caught in a binge/restrict cycle:
1. Don't Restrict your Eating!!
Almost every study ever done shows that restricted eaters are WAY more likely to have binge episodes than those who are eating regularly. Not only does restricted eating increase cravings, but it also affects various hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin which will affect your hunger, weight, and emotional state throughout the day.
2. Don't label foods as good or bad
Food is an inanimate object, therefore it has no power over you and no opportunity to be good or bad. Food is just food. And food is meant to be enjoyed as well as meant to nurture you. If you eat a donut, know you didn't do something bad, but also know that because you care about yourself and your health, that's not something you want to eat every day.
3. Learn about foods, portion sizes, and what a day of eating should look like for you
Knowledge is power. The more you know about what you're putting in your body, the more you'll know about how it will affect you, and the better decisions you'll make when it comes to meal time.
4. Listen to your Body
Take your time while you eat. Breathe, chew, feel gratitude for the meal that you're receiving. And when your stomach starts telling you that it's full, respect that feeling and mindfully try to stop eating.
5. Don't keep guilt provoking foods in your house
This one in my opinion is MAJOR! I started this practice 5 or 6 years ago and its truly been a game changer. In my case as with many people if the food isn't around I won't go out of my way to get it and soon the cravings pass. However if something delicious and unhealthy is in my cabinet...it's going down! So instead removing that entire temptation makes sticking to healthy eating so much easier. I used to avoid the junk food sections of the grocery stores altogether, but eventually as my will power grew, my body also grew accustom to not eating unhealthy foods, and as a result the cravings begin to go away as well.
6. Don't have an all or nothing Mindset
This is another one I've struggled with. Previously if I had something unhealthy around me or in my house I would convince myself that "since I shouldn't be eating it, I need to eat all of it right then, so that way it's gone and tomorrow I can get back on track." I feel like this is also a common thought process. In this case I feel it's best to remind yourself that, IT WILL ALWAYS BE THERE! You don't need to make sure you finish the entire donut, because guess what, you can go to the donut store in two days, 2 weeks, 2 months or whenever you want, because they are always going to be accessible!
7. Find out what your overeating triggers are
If you can pinpoint certain situations that cause you to overeat or binge it will make it a lot easier to avoid them. For example; maybe you eat when you're sad, bored, lonely, or intoxicated. If you find this out you can use cognitive behavior techniques to change the patterns. If you eat when you're lonely, spend meal time with your friends or loved ones. If you eat when you're sad, get out of your routine and go do something that makes you happy. If you eat when you're bored, take up a new hobby, leave your house to go on a walk, join a new gym or studio. If you eat when you're intoxicated....stop drinking so much (haha).
8. Talk to Someone or Seek Help
Remember you're not alone, and there's so many people out there experiencing the same thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as you. As well as so many people out there who live to help people like you. <3