I often joke about my obsession food and my ability to eat a ridiculous amount in one sitting. However, from time to time it really isn’t a laughing matter. I’d like to share my experience and for anyone who may be able to relate to this, I’d like to offer a few tips that can help break the binge eating cycle – although I don’t have all the answers and I’m still learning to adopt these new habits myself.
Warning: This post isn’t the most uplifting but I’ll try to end of a high and write something a little more fun next time! No offence taken if you skip this one. In fact, I kind of want you to! There’s no filter here, this is a full on confession…
I’d like to cover this topic as a way for me to try and understand why I binge eat and I’m curious if anyone else has experienced this; and when I talk about binge eating, I mean to the point of feeling sick and in tears. (Wow that was really hard to admit and to see written).
Various circumstances can kick start a binge eating episode. Boredom sometimes, but I think the biggest catalyst for me is feeling upset, anxious or annoyed with myself. I like a plan too, and if a plan doesn’t go the way I hoped I tend to hit the kitchen and eat for hours (literally).
Over the years I’ve learnt to not have anything too unhealthy in the house in case I do eat to excess, but I can generally find some kind of sweet food to over indulged on. If that isn’t enough, I can make random meals out of anything I can find and I’ll usually have multiples of any item or dish. I’ve disgusted myself when I’ve noticed the time and realised I’ve not stopped eating for over 2-3 hours, probably longer on a few occasions. Once I stop eating I never feel better for it, so I’m not sure why I do it. I’ll often cry or get angry afterwards, and I’ll always feel sick. When I was younger my overeating would lead to being sick on a few occasions but thankfully that is in the very distant past.
Reading this makes me feel terribly guilty for people around the world who struggle to even get enough food to eat, and here I am woofing it down because I feel down. Plus, I’m a mum now and I would hate for my daughter to think of me in this way or to ever have this kind of relationship with food. (This is all so horrible to admit. Should I really post this?)
4 tips to break the binge eat cycle
There are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years to break that cycle of overeating and to try and combat why I’m eating in this way. Some of these tips can help during the moment and others need to be looked at once you’re out of that binge eating spell – I think that will make sense to anyone who has experienced something similar.
1. Stock your kitchen with healthy food
This is a practical one but it can help. If you surround yourself with healthy food, you’d hopefully feel full quicker than you would overeating on junk food (and therefore stop quicker); and you’ll be limiting the amount of weight you could put on from overeating. Even if you have some small treats lying around, hopefully what you may consume won’t be too bad in the grand scheme of things.
2. Ask yourself why you’re binge eating
Eating to the point of feeling sick isn’t going to make you feel happy. Instead, challenge yourself to confront whatever it is you’re really feeling. Write it down, confide in a friend – whatever your method try and ask yourself this in the moment. Move to a different room (away from the kitchen!) and work on what would change how you feel or how you could solve a problem in front of you. Talking to someone is great; going for a walk can clear your head; pamper yourself in some way to cheer yourself up can be fun; arrange something to do if you’re bored; or find a show you like on TV… just give yourself a few minutes to really think everything through.
3. Don’t restrict your diet – eat if you’re actually hungry and focus on being healthy
If you’re trying to lose weight, this one can be a bit tricky to master. My advice here is to not restrict your diet – even treats. Enjoy everything in moderation, focus on eating healthy foods and eat your favourite foods. The times I’ve said I’m only eating X amount of calories, or I’m going to skip a meal to try and lose weight, are the times that have often led to eating far too much because I’ve basically gorged on foods I told myself I can’t have. This leads to my next tip…
4. No one is perfect, don’t try to be
In the past when I’ve followed a diet, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be absolutely perfect at it. I’ll usually succeed for a good few days and then I break; I break bad – very bad! Recently I’ve realised that if I’m ‘good’ 80% of the time (eating healthily and exercising) and a little off track the other 20% of the time is not a big deal; and chances are when I look at the complete picture, I’ve still made a lot of healthy choices.
There you have it, the hardest post I’ve written to date. If you did make it to the end, thank you for reading. If you can identify with anything I mentioned I would love to hear from you. Plus, any tips or insight on the matter are very welcome.