Confession: I may have gone just a little bit overboard when I unleashed my inner fat kid this past weekend. Okay, more than a little. I was like the Very Hungry Catarpillar. In one evening I ate: half a sub, a bag of chips, half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby and 20 oz. of Coke. I finished off the sub, other half pint of Ben & Jerry’s the following day, along with a Grande Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks (in addition to everyday eating). I could pretend that I felt like crap after, but I didn’t. It was euphoric. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my gluttonous behavior. Sure, I acknowledge that what I was eating wasn’t good for me. I recognized how my energy shifted. I am aware that before losing weight, binge eating played a major role in me getting fat. But at the end of the day, I regret nothing. Sorry not sorry.
Binge eating is something that a lot of people struggle with. It can often be the cause of excess weight or be the downfall of attempts at losing weight. In addition, binge eating is often in response to various forms of stress.
Habitual binge eating is labeled as Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Symptoms for BED are:
- Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
- A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
- Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
- Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.
- Physical – Binge eating can often be triggered by not eating properly throughout the day. This is something to be especially mindful of when trying to lose weight. If you don’t eat enough, you may overcompensate later by binge eating. Another physical trigger for binge eating is hormone fluctuations.
- Stimulation – Both overstimulation (overwhelmed) and under stimulation (boredom) can trigger binge eating. There are mental forms of stimulation (puzzles, reading, deeper conversation and anything else that makes you think) and physical forms (sensory information).
- Emotional – I further divide emotions into true deeper emotions and irrational drama queen emotions. Oftentimes people hide from negative emotions by eating their feelings (or other unhealthy behaviors) rather than facing them. This is unsurprising because it can give us a rapid pleasure response.
Things You Can Do About It
- Eat nutritious balanced meals throughout the day. Make sure you are eating enough carbohydrates, protein and fat. Make sure you get enough vitamins and micronutrients as well.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise increases the amount dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is linked to reward and motivation. This is the same chemical that is released in many addictive substances and behaviors, including food.
- Eat mindfully. Take smaller bites and eat slowly. Each bite will be more satisfying when you really take it in.
- Drink tea. This will distract you from non-nutritional eating and you can get pleasurable flavors without eating unnecessary calories.
- Portion your food before you eat it. Make it so you have to get up if you want to eat more. Eating food straight from the bag or box makes it a lot easier to mindlessly eat more than you intended.
- Add some flavor to your food. Add hot sauce, wasabi or cayenne pepper powder to snack foods like popcorn.
- Eat something rich that is satisfying in smaller portions (e.g. dark chocolate).
- Snack on vegetables or other healthy low calorie options.
- Face your issues. Acknowledge, identify and change the thought/behavior patterns that result in negative emotions
- Do something interesting. Find and do more activities that you are passionate about.
- If you do binge eat, don’t feel guilty about it. Mistakes happen; hanging onto it will make you unhappy with yourself and will only perpetuate the behavior.