Binge Eating

My first blog post is touching on the topic of binging and I’m not talking about sitting in front of Netflix all night kind of binging.
If you currently have or have had disordered eating, habits that are healthy and associated with food, you are not alone.

This may be very real for you.

I have had over 20 girls (and guys) message me screaming for help with binge eating. I’ve had clients who have had binge eating behaviours their whole life, I myself have suffered in the past.

I competed in a bikini competition 3 weeks ago and usually post comp for me is a mental battle in itself to combat the urge to ‘let go’ when indulging in foods again after dieting for 20 years (was actually 20 weeks but still). The key to to overpowering this mentally frustrating habit is to distinguish WHY you are binging… am I binging because I’m bored, deprived or is this an issue of mental health? If you’ve experienced either of these situations please keep reading and hopefully I can help you in some way.

Binging for me is more than a minor slip up of my diet, I have suffered Binge Eating Disorder (BED) for over two years previously, but there of course are different degrees of binging. For me personally it was all mental, I get stuck in a rut of anxiety and stress. That feeling of being ‘out of control’ of a situation leads me to lose complete control around food and no inhibition in when to stop. It’s nothing to be ashamed about but those who experience the same situation know how taxing binge eating is on the mind. Safe to say I’m bouncing back quicker from binging slip ups when i have moments of stress or anxiety. And thats because I look for a long term approach as a solution, not a quick fix or ‘ill start Monday’ approach. Start now and start slow.

The key to tackling any kind of disordered eating is HOW and WHEN you bounce back. At the time of a binge I could guess every single thought process you may be experiencing. “I’ve ruined my diet whats the point in stopping now… I’ll try again tomorrow…”. You try and sum up every self hatred excuse to compromise with yourself for why you are binging but you know damn well you’ll wake up in the morning hating yourself. Long story short, binging is thought driven. You feel out of control, but you’re always in control of every move you make your mind just tells you otherwise.

It’s learning to acknowledge what to do when you FEEL out of control. How can i improve from yesterday? What can I do moving forward to manage my emotions differently?

Here are my biggest short term tips (during or post binge):

  1. Drink water, BCAA’s, sugar free soft drink or any other fluids mid binge. Filling your tummy with fluid will register that you’re full sooner or later.
  2. Tell someone, get it off your chest what you’re doing in that exact moment. All it may take is one person to set your head straight and stop you from doing more damage.
  3. Get up and brush your teeth. Obviously the action of brushing your teeth is done after breakfast or before bed so same time its a mental note to stop eating! And plus minty breath doesn’t mix with food anyway.
  4. Get your body moving. Go for a walk, nap, watch a movie, do whatever it takes to distract yourself for enough time to reset. Being in the moment with emotions and stress running high will only encourage you to make irrational decisions.
  5. Do not. I repeat. Do not force yourself to throw up. For some, binge eating disorder’s can eventuate into bulimia nervosa. Purging out of guilt for food you have eaten is not an association you want to encourage when it comes to a relationship with food. In these heated moments, accept the actions you made and move on.
  6. The flight fight response is usually activated during a BED episode, the autonomic nervous system will increase your heart rate, cause heart palpitations, tightness in your chest… all symptoms similar to those experienced during moments of anxiety. The key is to trigger the parasympathetic response, the ‘its all okay’ feeling. Sit down. Stop stuffing your face with food. Breathe for a slow 10 seconds.

You can give someone the formula for success but you cannot force them to be successful. Getting educated in how to accomplish your mind whilst binging will give you insight into your own actions. Know why you are binging, understand what the stressor is that may have caused you to feel a loss of control.

Some long term strategies managing post binge:

DON’T starve yourself post binge. Starving forms as self punishment. Yes you stuffed up. But punishing yourself is another form of restriction and may lead the ball rolling to become lost in a binge and restrict cycle. Be kind to yourself post binge. I usually track my food better the following day post binge, I stick to wholesome healthy meals and I track treats into my plan.
Change your diet. Hate your restrictive broccoli and chicken diet some personal trainer has given you? Restricting yourself from eating the foods you want to eat? Implement a strategy that is long term for you. I implemented an ‘IIFYM’ approach, where working to macronutrient targets to achieve a body fat loss was achieved. I was still able to eat ice cream and bread regularly! Taking control of your diet will give you a sense of empowerment and control. (I recommend seeking a professionally qualified nutritionist or coach to develop macro targets or meal plans).
One of the best things I did was eradicate stressors. Boyfriend, friend, job stressing you out and causing you to be constantly anxious? Eliminate them. The best thing i did for myself was to break down each and every stress in my life and look at how best to manage or change the situation.

Disclaimer: If you have any issues or questions please seek medical assistance from a qualified psychiatrist who specialises in the field of disordered eating.