Is binge eating the primary cause of your weight gain?
By definition, binge eating is the “consumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time”.
Mr. Google also mentions that binge eating is typically part of an eating disorder, but I am not quite sure that I totally agree. I have seen my fair share of bingeing and although some individuals may have been teetering on less than healthy… a disorder??? Ermmmm I think it is not always the case.
Coaching has given me a huge insight, and the truth is that many of us do in fact binge eat, and not always because of any categorised eating disorder. In my view, binge eating can be seen as a way of us gaining some kind of comfort when things get a bit… uncomfortable.
To keep things clear, this article is not a discussion on binge eating and related eating disorders, I will leave that to the professionals. Rather, I am recognising it as a crutch or a vice to shoulder some of the stress or concern regarding the ups and downs of life.
So, let's chat about binge eating.
This is definitely something I have struggled with in the past, particularly when I was stressed in my uni days, as a new mum, emigrating to Australia… the list goes on. Fortunately, I have got it under control, well more than ever before. Nonetheless, I still very much remember the urges and cravings binge eating conjures up, and I empathise with binge eaters.
As a new Mum, occasional binge eating, particularly at night, offered a cushion to absorb the early struggles of my new baby, and offered me some comfort that I couldn’t quite seem to find elsewhere. Sad, yes, but becoming a new mum can be a bit of a shock, well it was to me, and I know I am not alone. The good news is that with a bit of clever coaching and mindfulness, you can kick the binge eating to the curb, if you want to, that is!
Here are a couple of tips to help you beat the bingeing:
The first step is to start recognising your triggers for binge eating. Examples include
- Work Stress
Whilst you will not always be able to avoid these stressors, just begin by working out when they come into play and notice them. As with all my Project Mamma advice, I would suggest writing down when you are tempted to overeat or eat junk that you wouldn’t normally eat. A small pocket journal is all you need.
Your entry might sound like…
I like to eat noodles or creamy pasta when I have had a stressful day at work.
WHY: It gives me a warm hug inside that makes me feel at ease and less stressed than I was in the day
This might sound simple, but just making that written declaration to yourself and recognising why you overeat can be super powerful.
Each time you overeat, repeat the same process of noting it down and literally just being more mindful of it.
Once you have a couple of entries in your diary on your overeating patterns, you are in the awesome position of being able to start strategically replacing them with activities that might not involve food. Again, simple stuff, but boy can it be a big shift in your mindset.
There are lots of activities that you can use to replace binge eating. Take an A4 sheet of paper and just blurt out as many as you can in say 10 minutes. If you are struggling, some of the common activities I give to coaching clients are:
Drinking a large glass of warm water. (I use this all the time for clients and myself if we are ever tempted) Our body’s response to the warmth of liquid has been linked to the wellbeing feelings of when we were babies. Whether you believe it or not, you can't deny there is something comforting about a warm drink!
- Reading an inspirational book
- Listening to a podcast on healthy eating tips
- Going for a walk (not always possible with the kids but…).
- Meditating, sounds a bit woo-woo, but you don't know till you’ve tried it.
- Drinking a cup of herbal tea
Don't allow binge-worthy food in your kitchen.
Have you noticed that when we do binge it is not on celery and carrot sticks, or lettuce leaves? Odd that, isn’t it? No seriously, when we binge we have a lot of strategy to what we binge on, subconsciously that is. Call this activation of our self-sabotage button or trying to hurt ourselves, as we never binge on foods that actually help us to meet our wellness goals.
So, my next tip is just that, get rid of all the binge-worthy cram in your pantry. You don't need it and your kids don't either, before you tell yourself that. When you feel a binge coming on, have access to some fresh vegetable sticks and a large glass of water and literally squash any excuses in the process. You can do this.
I know it is oh so trendy right now, but mindfulness is much more than an Instagram hashtag.
Mindful eating may sound a bit hoopla, but it simply means actually “eating” when you are eating. It really is that simple.
When you are eating, actually chew your food properly and dare I say it taste it. A big no, no also would be not to eat in front of the telly or whilst you are reading or working. I know we are all guilty of this, but seriously taking an extra couple of minutes out of your viewing or work day is not going to make that much of a difference to your productivity.
What’s more, eating mindfully is great for the kids and for nourishing the family bond. If you can teach them to eat mindfully now, you will be preparing them for the stressors and workload of adulthood. You don't have to label it as mindful; just eat without the TV or iPad or whilst playing with lego.
Ask yourself a question
“Will this help me in the long term?”
“Is this what I actually want?”
Asking questions is power. Again, in your wellness journal, brainstorm some questions that you know will make you think twice. I recommend you do this in a non-binge period when you are thinking straight. That way, you have no bias and are crystal clear.
And there are 4 tips I suggest to help you stop binge eating. Hardly exhaustive, but perhaps they will inspire you to create your own. Only you know how you work. Dare to dig into that beautiful head of yours and start strategising about how to get what you want. Everything starts with your head. That said, you don't have to undergo expensive counselling and therapy to help you work out why you feel that way. Deal with it for now, and when you are ready to deal with the real, underlying issues, cross that bridge when you come to it.
Invest the time in you, because you are bloody amazing, and only getting better!
Sending lots of loving health vibes