This is Part 3 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.
You can read the previous posts by clicking on the link above.
In Part 3, I will write more specifically about what under-eating might look like on a plate.
This is difficult to write because everyone needs a different amount of food and sometimes eating very little is the natural way for someone to eat and it does not lead to urges to binge.
This post is only exploring under-eating with urges to binge.
If you experience urges to binge eat and you have been dieting for any length of time, it is worth considering that you do not eat enough.
So, what is not enough food?
An egg for breakfast, a salad with half a cup of tuna for lunch, a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter as a snack, and broccoli with a chicken leg for dinner.
This is about 600 calories. This is not enough.
How about two eggs for breakfast, a bigger salad with a cup of tuna for lunch, a banana with two tablespoons of almond butter as a snack, and broccoli, a sweet potato and two chicken legs for dinner.
This is about 1,030 calories. This is not enough.
Ok, how about three eggs for breakfast, a bigger salad with a cup of tuna and half of an avocado for lunch, a banana with two tablespoons of almond butter and a soft boiled egg for a snack, and broccoli, a sweet potato with a tablespoon of coconut oil, and two chicken legs for dinner.
This is about 1,460 calories. This is still not enough.
Are you surprised that so much food is so low in calories?
Or do you think sample meals number two and three are not low in calories?
Over the last few decades, we have been told to limit our calories and increase our fitness to lose weight. We’ve been doing this, but overall our weight has not decreased or even stabilized. Rather, it has gone up.
Many attribute this to the vast supply of processed foods available today (processed foods lack nutrition so despite being higher in calories, people tend to eat more food in general on a processed food diet because the body is never satiated–this leads to weight gain).
While there certainly is a direct correlation with increased processed foods and increased weight, most of the people who are not eating enough are not eating a diet made up of low nutrition, processed foods.
They are generally health conscious eaters, aware of nutrition ,and attempting to put quality ingredients into their body.
These people want to eat the right things, and not too much of them, and are likely to diet as an attempt to maintain or decrease their weight.
They might follow a meal plan from one of the samples listed above.
For most, none of the samples listed is enough food. For most, all of the samples listed above will lead to urges to binge eat because they are two low in calories and nutrients.
They are starvation diets.
Starvation diets are diets extremely low in calories. In today’s magazines and diet books, 1,460 calories diets are commonly preached for weight loss, but remember the Minnesota Starvation Experiment of 1944-1945? In this study, over thirty men were put on diets of 1,570 calories per day and most of them suffered extreme consequences.
Here is an excerpt about this experiment (taken from the link found above):
“Subjects had to be male, single and demonstrate good physical and mental health (largely based on the newly developed Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory). They also had to show an ability to get along well with others under trying circumstances and an interest in relief work. The final 36 men were selected from more than 200 volunteers and in November 1944 made their way to the University of Minnesota to begin their service.
The research protocol called for the men to lose 25 percent of their normal body weight. They spent the first three months of the study eating a normal diet of 3,200 calories a day, followed by six months of semi-starvation at 1,570 calories a day (divided between breakfast and lunch), then a restricted rehabilitation period of three months eating 2,000 to 3,200 calories a day, and finally an eight-week unrestricted rehabilitation period during which there were no limits on caloric intake. Their diet consisted of foods widely available in Europe during the war, mostly potatoes, root vegetables, bread and macaroni. The men were required to work 15 hours per week in the lab, walk 22 miles per week and participate in a variety of educational activities for 25 hours a week. Throughout the experiment, the researchers measured the physiological and psychological changes brought on by near starvation.
During the semi-starvation phase the changes were dramatic. Beyond the gaunt appearance of the men, there were significant decreases in their strength and stamina, body temperature, heart rate and sex drive. The psychological effects were significant as well. Hunger made the men obsessed with food. They would dream and fantasize about food, read and talk about food and savor the two meals a day they were given. They reported fatigue, irritability, depression and apathy. Interestingly, the men also reported decreases in mental ability, although mental testing of the men did not support this belief.
For some men, the study proved too difficult. Data from three subjects were excluded as a result of their breaking the diet and a fourth was excluded for not meeting expected weight loss goals.”
What do you think of this? Knowing how this effected over thirty healthy men over sixty years ago, why are we advised to eat 1,600 calories a day (or fewer) by popular voices? It seems like the very opposite of what would be good for us, especially when you factor in fitness (which is becoming more and more intense and chronic every year!).
Extreme dieting–not eating enough–has consequences. If kept up for too long by anyone (which is going to be a different set time for everyone), it can have serious implications on your body and your mind.
I realize there are people who seem to do just fine on very low calorie diets. They appear healthy both physically and mentally. They do not have obsessive thoughts about food, about their body, and they do not have urges to binge.
This post is not about them.
This post is for anyone who is trying to maintain a very low calorie diet with urges to binge.
Consider the effects of not eating enough. Consider eating more. Perhaps it will change your life for the better by reducing urges to binge eat.
In the next post, we will go over how you can begin eating enough.
What do you think about very low calorie diets? Have you tried to maintain one? Did you notice increased urges to binge? Do you think the sample meals listed above are too low in calories?
Your comments are appreciated, it helps us all make sense of the issue.
And, if you were wondering, almost every single “healthy” lunch you find in your grocer’s freezer aisle is not enough food.
This is why the vending machine down the hall is so appealing every day at about two or three o’ clock.
Image from Flickr.