Over this past weekend I had the pleasure of speaking to a fellow trainer who is in recovery from Binge Eating Disorder. She first began having issues with binge eating and emotional eating after following an Intermittent Fasting eating plan. (Note: This typically involves many hours of fasting coupled with a small “eating window” in which you consume all of your daily calories.)
She expressed to me that while Intermittent fasting was a great way for her to control her overall calorie intake by eating only once or twice a day that she began feeling out of control during her meal times.
She began eating larger and larger quantities of food in one sitting and on days when she couldn’t fast due to work, travel, etc. she found herself unable to find satisfaction with smaller meals. Instead she was reaching for thousands of calories worth of food in one sitting.
This started her downward spiral into binge eating.
I believe that intermittent fasting can be excellent for some and potentially dangerous for others. Especially those who have experienced restrictive dieting in the past. At this time I still recommend that we each find our own individual preference for eating styles which best fit our lifestyle.
However, if you find yourself binge eating, eating when you’re not hungry, or trying to self-soothe depression/anxiety/negativity with food I’ve compiled a list of some helpful advice. Breaking the cycle of binge eating IS possible!
First and foremost, finding a diet that is both nourishing to the body and mind is incredibly important. At POP-Fitness I believe that finding a diet which you enjoy, can sustain, and fulfills your nutrient needs is imperative to long term success.
I believe that the first step towards an unhealthy diet, body, and mind is negativity.
We must as humans accept our current physiological state before we begin to make changes.
I believe that self-love means treating our bodies with respect. To respect my body I aim to:
- Provide it with the right amount of energy to maintain a healthy weight
- Provide it with the full spectrum of micronutrients, essential amino acids, and fats
- Perform cardiorespiratory exercise for a healthy heart
- Perform resistance training for optimal metabolic rate and bone health
- Find time to meditate, relax, or de-stress
- Make a conscious effort to re-inforce positive behaviors with feedback and rewards
- Find rewards or acts of self-love which make us happy (without food)
- And lastly, let go of negativity which may lead to punishing behaviors, guilt, and shame
Of course this is easier said than done. But I believe this effort is worth it if you want to have a healthy and happy life.
This wonderful trainer and myself discussed ways in which we can reward and reinforce our health and happiness without using food as a crutch. Surprisingly, we had a lot in common when it came to self-soothing and positive reinforcement!
Below are just a few of the things we’ve discovered bring us joy and contentment. As each of us has different preferences our examples may not apply to all of you, but we believe that sharing these acts may inspire some to try them out instead of reach for a chocolate bar in your time of need.
How to self Soothe and Pay Respect to your body, without emotional eating
- Eat a sustainable calorie goal. Whether it be for weight loss, muscle gain, or maintenance of body weight we believe that eating a calorie goal which you can sustain is incredibly important. If you wish to lose weight we recommend cutting calories minimally over a long period of time as opposed to short-term “crash” dieting.
- Never deprive yourself of your favorite foods. You can easily fit your favorite foods into your calorie goal and if the item is too high-calorie you can easily emulate it to fit your dietary needs.
- Do not restrict certain food groups, (low fat, low carb, low sugar, etc.). This leads to food phobias and is unsustainable long-term.
- Do not look at foods are wholly “good” or “bad”. This is particularly common in the “clean eating” mentality. Unfortunately, as calories are the only determining factor when it comes to overall body weight often these mentalities do far more harm than good. The truth is we should be looking at the big picture of our overall diet instead of judging individual food items. Very often you can incorporate foods such as icecream, cookies, chocolate, etc. into an otherwise nutritionally complete diet. And you can still easily over-consume your calorie needs on foods which are generally perceived as “healthy”.
- Use your choice of beauty products to soothe sore muscles, cleanse/moisturize/care for your skin.
- Take warm soaking baths or showers. Bonus if you take the time to light candles, dim the lights, listen to some relaxing music, and really connect with your body!
- Take care of your general hygiene at all times. This can be as simple as developing routines for your teeth, hair, skin, and nails. I personally enjoy taking care of my feet (via pedicures) and getting my nails and eyebrows done professionally. Some may enjoy getting their hair cut/colored, getting faux tans, etc.
- Keep your environment at work and home organized, decluttered, warm, inviting, and clean at all times. Your external environment reflects your internal environment. By keeping your external environment clean and clear you can focus on more important matters instead of wading through mental and physical junk.
- Light candles, lay out comfy blankets, keep fresh flowers, and have an area outside of the bedroom in which you can relax and unwind.
- Take the time out of your day to focus just on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. A great way to do this would be journaling when you first wake up and before you go to sleep.
- Listen to audiobooks, read your favorite books, watch netflix, etc. Sometimes it can be great to focus your attention on something external especially when you’re receiving rapid/worrying thoughts.
- Practice good nighttime habits including: No electronics in the bedroom, no artificial (blue) light from phones/tablets/computers within an hour before bed. No laying around in bed when you’re not actively trying to sleep. And lastly, avoiding caffeine a few hours before sleep.
- Performing SMR with foam rollers, a stick roller, massage balls, and hands. This along with stretching can help you connect with your body and help in recovery from exercise.
- Finding and performing regular exercise which distresses you. This can be going for a walk in nature, swimming, yoga, weight lifting, dancing, and more.
- Creating a vision board or clear plan for your future along with the actions needed to reach your goals. By having a clear idea of where you’re headed and being mindful of the motivations behind your daily actions you can be assured you’re on the right path. We recommend each and every day finding at least one action that brings you closer to your goal.
- Finding hobbies which bring you joy or interaction with others. By keeping yourself busy and involved in hobbies you are receiving more intellectual stimulation and bonding with others. Oftentimes we can become content in the monotonous ins and outs of our lives which can lead to depression, isolation, and worst of all… boredom.
- Taking the time of the day to practice mindfulness and gratitude for all of the positive aspects of our life.
We encourage you to find ways to self-soothe and practice self-love without using food as a crutch as well. An easy first step is to write a list like ours above. What would make you happier right here, right now? What brings you joy in your life? What brings you the greatest stress and what changes can you make to reduce that stress?
Feel free to use our list above as a guide.
And remember, choose passion over prestige.
(P.S. If you are suffering from an eating disorder we encourage you to seek help from your local eating disorder foundation -or- http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/, http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/, -or- by calling 1-800-931-2237 toll free)