Long term weight loss relies on sustainable choices and balance.
The one side of balance is pretty obvious; eat clean foods, use relaxation techniques and breathing exercises regularly, exercise, lose weight, etc. These are things that make us feel healthy, energetic and accomplished. But what about the other side of the balance teeter-totter?
Who Actually Binge Eats?
Um, who doesn’t? Sure, nobody talks about it a lot, it makes us feel awful about ourselves, naturally. But if you’re honest, you’ve lost control here and there and you’ve been there.
The left side of an Oreo package? Heck yes. Ben & Jerry’s One Buffalo WITH peanut butter sauce and hot fudge. Darn straight. Open the bag of candy with the intention of eating one serving and then realizing it was foolish to underestimate your own snack-bition? Of course you have.
Have a fantastic day, full of clean eating, lots of water, ample exercise and then you blow a hole in your progress on the couch from 8:30-10pm with a bag full of Twizzlers? Whoopsie. Well there goes THAT progress.
Even the most accomplished weigh loss success stories have struggles from time to time with episodes of binge-eating. Sometimes we’re well aware of our “gateway foods” that head us down the junk food alley of devastation and morning after guilt. Even the most immense amount of progress with weight loss doesn’t guarantee that we’ll be free from cravings forever.
We’re constantly bombarded with enormous portion sizes, enriched with preservatives and fillers that end up making over-consumption taste good in the moment, but feel awful shortly after. Not only that, but we’re surrounded by convenience foods that are only going to keep us feeling sluggish, guilty and sick. *Bonus tip-fruits and vegetables are super convenient as long as you keep them with you! 😉
WHAT CAUSES A BINGE?
Chemistry is to blame here. Fatty, sugary foods release chemicals called opioids into our bloodstream. Those opioids cling to receptors in our brain making us feel slightly euphoric after our favorite indulgence.
Which is why eating clean for a decent amount of time is required in order to reprogram our brain chemistry in a healthy way.
HOW DO I AVOID FUTURE BINGES?
- Control Your Environment
Deciding to give yourself some healthy boundaries when it comes to environments is a great start.
IF there is a restaurant for which you can’t seem to resist the dessert menu, its probably best to avoid this restaurant while you’re trying to give yourself a leg up.
Next time you’re in the grocery store, make sure your list is tailored to include clean food that will keep you healthy and avoid items that are in the same aisle as the indulgent foods you’re historically a sucker for. Then stick to that list and remind yourself that the food you’re avoiding for now isn’t going anywhere. The store isn’t going anywhere and even if your favorite treat is seasonal, it’ll be back again soon. After all, if it doesn’t make it to your house, it’s not going to take you prisoner at night while you watch 2 seasons of your favorite Netflix series.
2. Restrict your portions
When it’s time to enjoy one of your favored treats, restrict the size of the treat by buying the smaller size (even though it’s typically more expensive-a natural discourager for repeat offenders!) and eat it slowly. Take small bites or small spoonfuls so you can appreciate the experience and taste of your delicacy.
3. Make A Game Plan
If you’re going to a party, wedding, get together, or event where you expect to see foods that won’t serve your goals, prepare yourself for how you’ll avoid them.
“I’ll politely decline the desserts and quietly celebrate my new found control”, or “One serving is plenty, even though it’s free, I really don’t need to go overboard and get a 2nd or 3rd helping. I’ll feel awful afterwards and I’m sick of that feeling.”
4. Distract yourself
If you know you get binges at a certain time, think about what you can replace that chocolate-y brainstorm with. Go for a walk, do a Sudoku puzzle or a word game on your phone. Download Duolingo and start passively learning another language. When your brain is stimulated for something, you don’t have a lot of room for anything else to get in, specifically cravings.
*BONUS TIP – Caution! Empathy and Compassion Ahead*
Imagine the majority of the world, who doesn’t have the luxury of a choice for their meals each day, and they feel grateful to eat what they can find or what they’re lucky enough to receive. When you compare the ease and convenience of eating based on emotion, that we so commonly practice in the U.S., it gives you a healthy dose of perspective on the real purpose of food and how society has allowed us to distort it. This new perspective often empowers people to take back control and enjoy the healthy food they’re blessed enough to have access to.
Most importantly, if you’re a victim of your own binge session, don’t get busy guilting yourself about it. Use it as an opportunity to data collect on a few things to help hedge against the next attack.
- What emotional state was I in when I decided to go off the rails?
- Did I have a better alternative that could have given me the same satisfaction?
- What could I have done better to distract myself from the craving downfall?
Learn from your experience and be proud of yourself for trying to do better. Expect mistakes, expect imperfect, but always expect progress. Demand it for yourself because you’re worth that and you’re capable of that. Reach out for support and advice from others and don’t be afraid to share your story-binge episodes are most likely shared by every person you know.
Stay awesome friends!