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Want to stop binge eating? Try this.

Phone in one hand, chocolate in the other. Perhaps quite a familiar situation to find yourself in. Wanting more and not saying no to the little urge your body gets to break off another square.


Well I’m here to help you better understand why that craving is so hard to overcome.


First of all we need to identify the root cause of the issue. Often there is a deeper issue other than ‘Nah I just really love chocolate’.


Remember the chocolate isn’t the issue, it’s the binging that comes with a very moreish food.


We often find comfort in these foods meaning it releases dopamine in our system (the happy chemical) making us feel eased or at peace for a moment.


The chase of this chemical via our usual ways ends up being our go to because it’s released this chemical giving us our little break from reality. Often you will find that 5 minutes of pleasure (or less depending on how good the chocolate was 😉) is our only escape from our current reality.


Things that I find that are usually the root cause of these issues are as follows;


Past trauma ie depression

Anxieties about your future

Emotional trauma

Lack of nutritional understanding

Menstrual cycle

Body image

Bad habits

Parental teachings

Boredom


There are so many reasons why food can be your go to, to ease your mind. Identifying the cause of why you reach for the biscuit tin in the first place is essential to resolving the issue.


Obviously some suffer with this more than others but I’m going to try my best to help you identify and give you some tips and tricks to help the situation.


Water:

The body doesn’t send the message “I’m thirsty” until it’s on the verge of dehydration. Instead, it occurs as the feeling of hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a strange craving is to drink a full glass of water.

I’ll go into the endless amount of benefits of drinking more water some other time.


Hormonal:

When the body experiences menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, it is the fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels that will often cause strange cravings. Further, people may not be producing chemicals in the body that give them the messages that they are full so we need to be extra mindful in these times. A good way to combat this is to aim to do more LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. Meaning if you find yourself snacking more try and even the energy balance with a little more movement.


Real world:

When things aren’t going all too well, sometimes we sabotage ourselves by craving foods that throw us off and give us a break from reality, but this then over time creates bad eating habits leaving us wanting more of these cravings and using them as a go to instead of addressing the actual issue. Our body seeks the dopamine hit from the craving as an escape. This can leave us with low blood sugar levels and strong mood swings. I like to try to get my release by socialising in a positive group setting. Ideally one which uses up some energy in the form of exercise. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I would urge you to write a list of things that make you feel great and try to head to do one of those rather than the snack cupboard.


Emotional Eating:

An exceptionally common reason for binge eating is to comfort oneself in moments of high emotions. Examples include eating when stressed, angry, or sad. However, emotional eating is not reserved for negative emotions. Alternatively, people often have a tendency to overeat when they are experiencing positive emotions as well such as happiness and excitement. For example, when going out to eat with friends, people are more inclined to eat high calorie foods because they are in good company and want to enjoy themselves.


One thing I often recommend is also looking at what foods you binge eat. These can be trigger foods, either because there are certain foods you binge eat, or because they trigger certain emotions and that is the reason you seek them. Are the foods you are binging on healthy in “normal” serving sizes? Are you having this in excess because of your social situation? This needs to be considered to help make progress toward a healthier lifestyle.


The biggest recommendation is to set yourself up for success. Set small, attainable goals like slowly replacing the high calorie snacks with lower calorie options, then build on those successes rather than trying to make complete lifestyle changes like cutting everything out. Because you’re more likely to not uphold your commitment and then feeling defeated or bad about yourself! Baby steps are important at all ages and levels.


Family habits:

The exact causes of binge eating are hard to pinpoint but you definitely are more likely to do so if you or a member of your family has a history of eating disorders, depression, or alcohol or drug misuse. You have been criticised for your eating habits, body shape or weight. Please remember that these are trainable habits. Although I know it is hard to undo many years, often decades of bad habits to better ones, especially if you still find yourself in that environment and have less control of the foods you’re consuming. You definitely are capable of doing so.


Aim for more control of portion sizes, remember it’s all about energy balance, how many calories come in vs how many go out. This allows you the freedom of feeling less guilty for the contents of what you’re consuming and more focus goes on how much and the density of those calories. You could lose body fat eating McDonald’s all day if you know your calorie targets and maintain your intake over the course of the week.


Your goals and health are more important than someone else’s perception of you. So put your food down if needs be and take control. Remember to remind people and yourself that it is not one size fits all and each person has a completely different amount of calories they need per day.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please send me an email back :)


Alex




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