The Truth about Binge Eating
I used to think I would forever be a binge eater. I was an obsessive dieter growing up and integrating new dietary restrictions became a fun game for me. I loved a good challenge and I liked being able to label myself as being Paleo or Vegan or whatever diet sounded the most promising for weight loss. I found myself binging every single day and the more restrictive my diets became, the more frequently I would go into a feeding frenzy.
Why do we binge?
When you tell yourself “NO”, the animal brain gets activated. This part of the brain has one goal; survival. When we restrict ourselves or simply start thinking about restriction, our brain will send our bodies into survival mode for fear that we might starve. Our brain sends the message to our body to start storing all fuel (calories) into fat. It will shut down our rational brain, which helps us to make logical decisions, and send us into an unwanted binge.
Our body is so intelligent. It goes through this whole process to literally save us. I’ve spent so many years being angry at myself and feeling guilty because I had no willpower but this has nothing to do with willpower! You CANNOT override your mind’s impulses by restricting yourself. If I knew this 4 years ago I probably wouldn’t have struggled with my weight so much.
Progress doesn’t happen overnight, it happens when you make the choice to be a better, more self-aware version of yourself. There are 3 steps that have drastically helped me to put an end to my bingeeating and I want to share them with you.
1. Make the decision to stop restricting
Shift your mindset and self-talk into a positive tone. Speaking in negatives by saying “no” to certain foods or thinking to yourself “I’m not allowed” will throw you right back into the cycle. Focus instead on how you want your body to feel and which foods will help you feel that way. This step can be the hardest if you have been dieting for a while, but once you get the hang of giving yourself full food freedom , everything else is a piece of cake.
2. Let go of all food- guilt
One of the worst things you can do after a binge is to sit in a pool of guilt and shame. I used to feel guilty for every single food I ate; it didn’t matter if I ate a whole bag of chips or a banana with almond butter. I would even make myself purge for my “mistakes”. Making yourself feel bad for a decision you made doesn’t help you progress in any way. When I find myself over-indulging I don’t put meaning to it, I don’t feel bad about myself, I simply just acknowledge that it happened and move on with my life.
3. Slow down and listen to your body
This is the most important step of all! Your body is so intelligent; it will tell you what it wants and needs. It will even tell you if it doesn’t like something you ate. We’ve all been in some sort of “OMG I’m going to shit my pants” situation before. Slow down and take time to eat your food. Eat slow enough to enjoy every bite and give your body enough time to tell you how it feels. If you’re using your mouth as a vacuum and eating as quickly as possible, chances are your body won’t even have time to tell you it’s full. Your body will give you all the signs you need so that eating intuitively will be second nature for you.
We all over-indulge but in order to break the binge eating cycle we must prioritize the health of our body by putting an end to our restrictive mindset and negative self-talk. When you decide to indulge, you don’t need to attach any meaning to it; notice that it happened and move on. And finally, if you are genuinely enjoying your food and eating slowly with purpose it’s pretty damn hard to binge. Getting back on track is a lot easier when there are no rules but rather a commitment to looking and feeling your best.
~ Megan Mieta CNP