Binge eating is defined by consuming excessive amounts of food in a single sitting followed by feelings of extreme guilt or shame. Recently, many women have come to us in the clinic who struggle with binge eating on a weekly or even daily basis.
Most important to consider in the recovery of binge eating is that binge eating is a natural adaptive survival response to restriction. Your body does not know the difference between a famine and a diet and therefore it is simply your body trying to keep you alive.
With that in mind, binge eating can suggest that you are being too restrictive in one way or another, whether it be physically restricting food or just even having restrictive thoughts about food. Are you eating ‘perfectly’ during the week only to blow out during the weekend? This could be less about the weekend and more about how you are restricting during the week.
So what can you do about it?
Know that a lot of it is out of your control
Despite what many health experts tell us, in the large scheme of things we don’t have full control of our health outcomes. Sure, behavioural change can have both a positive or negative impact on our health but there is such an enormous role to play by genetics, environment, attitudes and beliefs that our actions can only get us so far. This is the same with weight. Diet culture tells us that we have 100% control over the way we look, but really that percentage is far less. There may be times where we restrict our intake for a period of time or eat in a surplus which both can affect our size, but the reality is, that our size is largely predetermined by factors outside of our control, and trying to drastically change that, can cause unnecessary stress that can be a further detrimental to our health.
This isn’t to say that you may as well smoke all the cigarettes you want or forget about your vegetables because your story has already been written, but perhaps just take some of the stress off yourself, because at the end of the day, you don’t get to decide the day that you die, you only get to decide how you live.
Tune into your habits and thought processes around the binge
Often when we embark on a diet only to ‘fall off the wagon’ we blame our lack of willpower as the reason for the ‘failure’. If only we just ‘tried harder’ or found a ‘different diet’ we would be able to stick it out. When in actual fact, perhaps it is the diet that has failed you, as dieting and restriction appears to be the common denominator when it comes bingeing. If bingeing is a real problem for you, it is not until you be honest with your thoughts and habits of restriction that you can begin to recover. Learning to give up the need to have this illusion of control is the first step.
Ask yourself, why is it that you REALLY want to lose weight?
Often people will say the reason they want to lose weight is because they want to be ‘healthier’ or be ‘fitter’ or ‘improve cardiovascular risk. Which is interesting because when you think about it they are all things that you can work towards, right now, without needing to focus on your weight at all.
Want to be fitter? How about upping your exercise, or taking the stairs instead of the lift? Want to be healthier? How about try increasing your vegetable intake and work on managing your stress? Improve cardiovascular risk? How about upping your intake of vegetables and Omega 3s?
All of these things can be worked on no matter what size you are. Health is more about your habits and less about your size. Setting weight-neutral health goals are going to be a lot more sustainable in the long- run.
Binge eating can be a great wake up call to how your restriction isn’t serving you. If binge eating is something that you need help with, I offer one-on-one consultation to help you assess and improve your relationship with food and your body.
Thanks, from Emily.
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