So you promised to clean up your diet in 2015. You've done great (minus a few red-wine related hiccups) but a month down the track you want to eat everything in sight. Finding a balance of the right foods in the right amount is undoubtedly the key to a great diet, but introducing restriction and 'forbidden' foods is unlikely to get you there. It just makes you crave them more, right?
I catch up with Lyndi Polivnick, The Nude Nutritionist, to give some pointers on how to deal with binge eating. Lyndi contributes regularly to top healthy and wellness magazines, such as Women's Health, and runs her own business offering private consultations.
Not only is this amazing gal at the top of her field (proudly sporting the title of Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador), but also a fountain of self-love, knowledge and healing for those with troubled food relationships. She's on hand to help us with that rubbish cycle of gorge --> guilt --> berate --> repeat. You know the drill.
The holidays have come and gone and it’s time to get serious about your health. Your motivation is high and you’re set to shed some serious kg’s. You have started a killer weight loss diet and a workout plan to match that is sure to get you the dream body. Just one week in and you've become used to feeling hungry, sugar cravings have subsided and you are even feeling leaner and great.
That is until... you binge.
Without warning, you find yourself in a sea of chocolate wrappers, chip packets and an empty container of cookies and cream ice-cream. “WTF just happened?" you think. "How did things got out of control, so quickly?"
Binge eating is very different from simply ’treating yourself’ to dessert or a spoonful of Nutella. A typical binge may be characterised by:
- Feeling 'out of control’ whilst eating
- Consuming large amounts of food irrespective of hunger
- Sneaking food or eating in private
Many people experience binge-eating. Binge-eating is particularly close to my heart as it is the reason I became a dietitian and nutritionist. After dieting for 10 years, I developed binge-eating disorder and went through years recovering. Now, having lost 20kg and in control of my health and eating, my mission is to help others who (like me) want to feel comfortable around food and love their body.
So, if you feel stuck in binge-eating patterns, then fear not. Here are my top 3 tips for overcoming binge-eating:
1. Avoid extreme measures
The best way to overcome binge-eating is to adopt moderation. Ultimately, if you go to extreme lengths too quickly, you will begin to feel deprived.You see, our brain is hardwired to keep our weight stable. When we diet, we trick our brain into thinking there is a famine. To survive this perceived threat, the unconscious part of your brain seizes control from the rationale-thinking part, resulting in an uncontrollable eating spree (otherwise known as a binge). This partly explains why we crave high-energy, junk food when binge.
To avoid binge eating and set yourself up for success, choose a plan that values moderation and will deliver results without deprivation.
2. Know your triggers
Binge eating is either triggered by an activity or an emotion such as stress, anxiety, anger or happiness (just to name a few). To beat binge-eating, start by identifying what triggers your binges. Keep a record of every time you have a binge eat and note down the similarities between each episode. For example, do you often lose control of your eating whilst watching TV? If so, make a plan to do something else when you get home from work or school. Do you often binge when bored? Call a friend and make a plan to get busy. Find the patterns in your eating habits and implement a plan to interrupt or prevent the trigger.
3. Work on underlying issues
If you’re like most humans, you eat when you are emotional. This makes perfect sense biologically as food is very soothing. When we eat, our brain releases chemicals that make us feel better explaining why you might turn to food in times of emotional need. If you identify yourself as an emotional eater, then going on a diet (especially an extreme diet) may aggravate binge eating, and at best - may provide a band-aid solution.
Ideally, if you feel controlled by emotional eating, investigate the issue further by having a chat to a counsellor, psychologist or telling your doctor. There is no shame in talking about how you are feeling to a professional. I proudly see a counsellor fortnightly. I consider seeing a counselling as important as exercising my body - It is like seeing a personal trainer like for my brain! Do not forget that your brain is the most important weight loss organ.
For more help on binge-eating, visit The Nude Nutritionist at www.thenudenutritionist.com.au or check out The Nude Nutritionist on Facebook or Instagram (@nude_nutritionist) where she shares other awesome tips and inspiration to keep you happy and healthy. I'm very proud to call this inspiring woman both a colleague and friend.
Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also writes for national health magazines, has launched a range of Protein Ball Mixes: Fit Mixes, and is the author of Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017).