Help for Binge Eaters

6 Tips To Stop Compulsive Eating

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 1.15.15 PM Are you prone to food cravings, binges and eating your way through emotional stresses? I have always felt as if there was no hope for me when my body went into “binge mode”. I tried everything and anything that I could find to offset these binges. I tried willpower; I used foods that wouldn’t hurt my goals, such as vegetables and fruits; I drank water, tea and coffee; I would walk away from the kitchen; I would research the reasons why this was happening and never really found the solution that worked.

It’s important to first understand the difference between compulsive overeating and other eating disorders. Compulsive overeaters don’t attempt to make up or “punish” themselves for their bingeing with actions such as purging, fasting, diet pills or laxatives. Compulsive overeating typically leads to weight gain and obesity. Keep in mind that not everyone who is obese is also a compulsive overeater. People who appear to be of normal or average weight can also be affected by these behaviors. 

This included ME! I found it quite upsetting when others would downplay the fact that I was working on finding a solution to this issue; since being just 30 lbs or so above my “ideal weight” wasn’t proof enough to anyone that I was actually dealing with this.  Let’s begin with a few tips on how to prevent a binge; or emotional attack before it hits.

 

  • Avoid temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts and unhealthy snacks in the house. (pretty shocking, right? lol) But many of us tend to use excuses as to why we “need” these foods in the home. I used to use my family as an excuse; “they NEED these items. I don’t want them to suffer because of my issues”, etc. But why on earth should they even be eating unhealthy items either? Just because they didn’t go into full-force binge mode at any given moment, didn’t mean that they required junk foods on a regular basis. No, this was my sad attempt to keep these comfort foods close at hand because I felt uneasy to put an end to the episodes. To keep temptation at bay, don’t keep the food within easy access. The best way to do that is not to purchase unhealthy food in the first place. duh dot com.
  • Stop “dieting”.  Having a “diet” mentality or severely restricting your food intake can increase hunger and feelings of deprivation. I know that the fact that I would cut out food groups, or meals in general, kept my body in the “all or nothing” phase and thus, would lead to another binge-fest because my body simply needed and craved more calories. Instead of being ultra strict with your food, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy . Try to eat more small meals throughout the day as well to keep hunger at bay. And the more dense nutrition you put into your body on a daily basis, the LESS it craves anything that isn’t on your meal plan. Check out Shakeology for this fact alone.
  • Start Exercising. Exercise is a natural way to boost your mood and can help put a stop to emotional eating. Not only does exercise help you lose weight and improve your health… it can also help reduce depression and reduce stress. It’s our HAPPY pill, in simpler terms, with no dangerous side effects!
  • Decrease stress. Learn how to cope with stress in other ways that don’t involve food. This one is a doozy but such an important tip to take seriously. I know, easier said than done… but keep in mind, compulsive overeating has little to do with hunger. People often eat when they are not hungry or use food to fill an emotional need that they cannot cope with in other ways. So the next time you find yourself standing in front of the open refrigerator or pantry and staring into the abyss of foods thinking, I’m hungry for something; shut the door and go sit down to figure out what you are really hungry for. Love? Attention? Friendship? Relaxation? A hug? Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with food. If you don’t know what you want to eat, it usually leads to an emotional need or some help in releasing a stressful time.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t try to change your relationship with food overnight. Try setting small goals and give yourself some positive feedback. If you tell yourself, “I need to add more fish and veggies to my diet,” it will be much better than saying, “I need to stop eating so much crap.” Think positive! =)
  • No one is perfect, be kind to yourself. We all make mistakes, we all struggle sometimes… it’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you are suffering from compulsive overeating and you feel like it is getting out of control, you should really seek professional help to stop the unhealthy, weight-gaining, self destructive behavior. You’re not alone. There are plenty of wonderful resources for those with eating disorders… don’t be afraid to reach out ❤

When all is said and done, do your best and forget the rest. (Tony Horton of P90X) Simply put, if you make a mistake or fall into a binge along the way, chalk it up to figuring out how you could have handled it differently and make that attempt the next time around. Stop blaming yourself and just start enjoying your life…and your foods! 🙂

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Curbing Emotional Eating Attacks

Have you ever been attacked by a craving?

Like, you are not sure what just happened but one minute you are sitting there minding your own business and the next part is fuzzy and unclear…

but once you “come to”, you have crumbs on your shirt and chocolate dripping from your chin and your fingertips.

What just happened here? 

This is something that I had suffered through for so many years and instead of looking into the reasons why it was happening, I was under the impression that working on my sheer “willpower” would help me to conquer this beast.

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not so much…

Let’s take a look at what happens when we are in the midst of a craving attack;  the cravings are driven by the chemical in our brain, dopamine. The brain seeks that rush again and again…and again! It works like a drug addiction…and “willpower” has no power over this at all.

But what do we do if we are trying to lose weight? What if we are focusing on replacing these attacks with healthier habits?  How do we stop these attacks and start to control their power over our brains?

Knowing our trigger points can help us understand the signs so we can work on creating a successful plan to offset the problem.

Here are some common areas that bring on the sudden attacks:

*Being under a lot of stress (ummmm…excuse me, LIFE???)

*Skipping meals and/or undereating (a big no-no but so many women practice it in hopes of losing weight)

*Not drinking enough water (seriously, who even drinks enough these days??)

*Boredom

*Lack of sleep

*Stuck in a rut

Start by learning to identify the feelings in a given moment and understand to separate those feelings from food. I will never forget one of my Weight Watcher leaders when I was just 15 years old, when I was obsessed with finding the cause of my struggles. She told us repeatedly, almost like our mantra, “if you find yourself standing in front of an open refrigerator or pantry and you don’t know what you are ‘hungry’ for; shut the door, go sit down and figure out what it is you are hungry for. Because it has nothing to do with food.’

This saying brought me so much relief through many painful times as I worked on conquering this massive and powerful beast.

So, how do we finally get control of these times? It’s all about understanding the emotions first and then having a game plan set up so we are set up for success. Here are some tips.

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1. Plan a workout schedule and stick to it. You wouldn’t cancel on a meeting or appointment that was important to you, why would you not stick to a workout program that would benefit your body and your mind? I like to plan out my workout time on my calendar in pen and I don’t let myself get off track with anything or anyone else at that time. If you have difficulty during your day or evening, get up an hour earlier and just get it done. If you are thinking that isn’t fair because you want to sleep that extra hour; then go to sleep earlier if you must. But the bottom line is you that we all have 2 decisions on our goals. Either we don’t stick to it and we move further from our goals; or we just do it and the magic happens. You are just as important as anyone else that you value in your life.

2. Let’s talk about your water intake, your stress levels and the amount of sleep you’re getting. Now, don’t get me started on the fact that most of us are lacking in all 3 of these areas…let’s find out why we need to pay attention here. Our will power is lowered dramatically when we are sleep deprived, stressed out and dehydrated. Do you think that’s BS? Think about a time of known weight gain for most…’the college years’.  Crappy food is everywhere, sleep is a second thought and stress levels are through the roof…and water? Who drinks water? There are much less hydrating beverages to be had instead. Those or us who are more active, need at least 1 gallon of water every day. We also need at least 7 hours of sleep per night…and I don’t care if you can tell me that you are “good” to go after just 4 hours. That lack of sleep will catch up with you. These will create major food cravings all on their own.

3. I know I mentioned stress above but I believe it’s important enough to hold it’s own title.  I know we all deal with stresses. It is ‘life’ for goodness sake. But think about the times when you are stressed more than normal, these times make us so much more vulnerable to food cravings. Stress may not be something you can always control, but you can help your body handle it as best as possible. Exercise is a proven method to eliminate the negativity caused by stress; in fact, you feel immediately better after you are done. Ever hear of those “happy endorphins”?  Some basic activities that bring upon a feeling of euphoria are yoga, meditation and simple stretching. Plan to attend yoga classes twice a week when you are under extra stress, or just in general. Even if you only have a few minutes to relax; just breathing in a quiet place with your eyes closed for 10 minutes will lower stress levels dramatically.  Hence my Weight Watcher leader’s quote about “go sit down and figure out what you’re hungry for”, just sit and breathe…

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4. Stop the cravings! When you think of the food culprit, day or night, just firmly think “STOP!” Then picture a healthy and fit “you” instead. Do this repeatedly, even if you feel silly. It’s really sillier to NOT work on these areas so suit yourself…lol  If you make this a habit, your brain will soon begin to dismiss the foods and the cravings will begin to lessen.

5. Sometimes you just gotta have one. Diets don’t work because they focus on depriving ourselves of what we enjoy most. Every so often, go ahead and indulge in your favorite sweet treat. But instead of gorging on it in the privacy of your home, go out and eat it with a fork and a spoon in front of other people…with dignity. Enjoy the flavors and the richness of the dessert. I bet you are satisfied before you even finish it.