The ice cream used to scream my name from downstairs. I’d fight it and fight it and fight it until I finally gave in to the horrible binge eating cycle.
Once I ate the ice cream, it was like a cloud of relief flooded over me. Eating the ice cream did something to me, and I couldn’t stop. It was almost like a magical, out of body experience. I knew what I was doing was wrong – but for some reason, it felt so right…. until the guilt hit.
BINGE EATING CONTROLLED ME
Binge eating feels like you’re out of control. Even if it’s healthy food and not something sweet or indulgent, it comes to a point where too much of anything isn’t good for you.
The thing is, I don’t always overeat.
Sometimes I can go weeks at a time before it happens, but then boom, I dive into a whole chocolate bar when I meant to have just a piece.
I noticed it happens when I am out of balance in some way. When I’m anxious, stressed, sad, or out of routine. I find myself in a mindless eating mode where I’m super impatient between meals. It took some soul searching to figure it out, but I have finally come to terms that I have a problem with food when I’m stressed.
Binge Eating, Over Eating, Emotional Eating
No matter what binge eating is called, it takes a huge toll on how we feel about ourselves. It often leads to a “food high” during the moments of shoveling food into our mouths, followed by a huge crash of depression and frustration afterwards.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!
You don’t have to beat yourself up about overeating, and you don’t have to make empty promises to yourself that you’ll never do it again. I can happily say, after finding some balance, my overeating has gone from a regular experience, to far and few between.
4 STEPS TO END THE BINGE EATING CYCLE
I finally feel like I have control over my food now. It doesn’t mean I’m perfect and that it will never happen again, but it does mean I feel A LOT better about myself. Plus, I know not to beat myself up when it happens! Instead, I empower myself to FIX the thing that caused me to overeat in the first place.
1. Eat with Others
Having people around changes the food experience. It changes the pace at which we eat our food, the amount we put on our plate, the type of foods we choose to eat, and the number of helpings we go back for. Eating with other people also changes the emotional connection we have to our food. I know that if I eat by myself, I am going to eat a ton more… it’s just true. But, if I eat dinner with my family, I take my time and I eat the amount that makes me feel good!
2. Hydrate! One of my favorite tips to avoid overeating is to have something to drink. Staying hydrated is key because thirst can easily be mistaken for hunger. Therefore, when I’m feeling like I might mindlessly eat, I have a glass of water, a cup of tea or coffee (no sugar!), or a seltzer to distract me. The reason staying hydrated works so well is because it allows you to fill your belly. By having something you can consume that takes the place of food, it allows you to “eat” without actually eating. Trust me, this really helps!
This second tip is not something I recommend anymore. When I wrote this post in August 2016, this was something that worked in the short-term. But now that it’s March 2019, I understand that hydration is only a band-aid fix and doesn’t work! If you’re going to binge you’re going to binge whether you are hydrated or not. Drinking is a distraction from the real problem, which is fixed through learning from past binges, which you can do right here.
3. Manage Stress
This tip is SO crucial for long term success. You need to treat the root cause of overeating if you are ever going to stop. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but that’s just the way it works! Personally, I know that when I’m in a good, happy place, I don’t overeat. Over time I’ve realized that it’s when I’m overwhelmed and feeling pressure from things around me, that I turn to food as a way out. The more I eat… the less I have to think about the stress in my life. So how’d I fix it? I took up yoga, I started journaling, I drew in my art book. It felt amazing to find other ways of occupying my time that made me feel BETTER when I was stressed, not worse.
4. Talk it Out
Perhaps the most important step is telling someone what’s really going on. Speaking the words to someone that you can trust takes the guilt and shame out of overeating. Speaking out is a way for you to own the situation… and until you own the problem, you can’t change it. I know that once I told Mick (the other voice behind Simple Healthy Eats), it made the situation real. Telling him made sure I couldn’t hide from the truth.. and it felt like a huge weight off my shoulders.
TAKEAWAY: YOU CAN END THE BINGE EATING CYCLE
I learned from my binge eating experience that people don’t have to beat themselves up forever. We CAN feel better, and we definitely don’t have to do it alone. If you need someone to tell, reach out to me here. Tell me your story, tell me your struggles. Let’s do this together.