Need help with binge eating? Restrictive dieting and depriving yourself of food? File this under “What Not To Do” for healthy, sustainable weight loss. Contrary to popular diet culture belief, you actually do need to eat consistently to see long lasting results. Food is full of nutrients that help fuel you, and consistent food intake not only ensures intake of necessary vitamins and minerals that keep you going, but also ensures steady blood sugar and hormone levels which prevent overeating.
CONSEQUENCES ON BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS AND HORMONES
Going too long without eating will cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can cause you to overeat or binge during your next meal, resulting in a blood sugar spike. This pattern of drops and spikes in blood sugar over time throw the whole system out of whack. It can affect s many things – your metabolic rate, your hormone levels, your response to hormones and your food intake. These consequences of restriction likely end in weight gain. Hmmm, if weight loss or weight maintenance is your goal, why torment yourself with the restrict/binge cycle? It won’t help you achieve your goals, and it definitely isn’t fun.
THE CYCLE: RESTRICT, BINGE EAT, REPEAT- SPRINKLED WITH FEELINGS OF GUILT AND REGRET
It’s important to listen to your body and recognize when it’s telling you that it’s hungry or full. When you ignore your hunger feelings and deprive yourself of food, your body sends out even more signals that increase hunger and cravings—that’s when your brain and your stomach go into a battle where both sides lose. This battle of restriction and hunger can cause a total loss of control ending in binging and mindless eating. Binge episodes result in an excess of food and calorie intake, which can trigger feelings of regret and shame. Post binge feelings unfortunately start the cycle over, as many will start restricting again to “make up” for the binge episode. Now we’re back at square one.
HELP TO END THE CYCLE
Let’s end this cycle by practicing mindful eating, honoring our bodies’ hunger/fullness cues, fueling it with food and nutrients when needed, and preventing overconsumption, negative thoughts and feelings. Nutrition and eating shouldn’t be a battle. Restricting now will only lead to overeating later. So next time your body says, “Hey! I’m hungry!” do it a solid by fueling it with food. It’ll thank you in the moment and in the long run.
HELPFUL TIPS: THE ABC’s OF ENDING THE CYCLE
1. AVOID stressful or triggering situations: Understanding your own triggers and stressors that may cause you to fall into old, bad habits is important. Have a plan when you eat out with friends, when you grocery shop, or when you come home from a stressful day at work.
2. BE MINDFUL- Slow down and take some moments in your day to check in with yourself: Ask yourself, “Am I hungry? Am I full? When was the last time I ate? What am I in the mood for? Am I making choices that align with my goals? Am I fueling my body with necessary nutrients? Oh sh*t, did I turn the stove off before I left the house?!”
3. CUT YOURSELF A BREAK and end negative thoughts: Falling off track is normal. What’s not normal is beating yourself up over it and telling yourself things like, “I clearly have no self control. I don’t deserve to eat dinner,” or, “I’ll make up for it tomorrow by restricting even more.” Negative thoughts lead to negative actions and negative results. Be nice to you! You deserve it.
4. DON’T RESTRICT: Hey, you. Yeah, YOU! Cut that out! Don’t go more than a few hours without eating. This helps keep your metabolism going, your blood sugar levels steady and prevents overeating later.
5. ESTABLISH A PLAN- PLAN AHEAD: Do you have a busy day tomorrow? Will you be on the go? Will you have time to cook or to stop and eat? Decide ahead of time where and when you’re going to stop for lunch. Plan ahead by meal prepping and having meals ready to go. Portion out snacks that you can easily take on the go and always keep some with you to avoid going too long without eating.
6. F*CK DIET CULTURE: End of story. Just kidding, let me elaborate– Don’t label any foods as “good” or “bad.” If you stumble upon an Instagram model telling you how to eat, run for the hills. Any diet that cuts out all of your favorite foods, tells you to skip meals or has you restricting too much is not sustainable nor effective. Focus on healthy eating patterns, balanced meals and living a healthy lifestyle.