Eat Your Troubles Away

Cute diet book cover, but misleading at best.

The truth is, you cannot eat your troubles away.

You can eat. And eat. And eat.

But if you have troubles, and they extend beyond the trouble of physically starving, eating will only cause you to feel physically satisfied, full, or very full, with the latter adding a set of new troubles to your pre-existing list of woes–poor digestion, stomach aches, bloating, night sweats, weight gain, and maybe more.

The hope is that a better diet will solve your problems, that improving the foods you consume will improve your body, and your mind, and then its positive rewards will spill over onto the rest of your life.

Make your job easier to handle, make your relationships better, just make things better.

While it is true that eating good foods will improve your health, maybe improve your body composition, and help you think more clearly, it will not solve all of your problems.

You will still have troubles.

Dieting can serve to distract you from your troubles, whether it is loneliness, insecurity, feeling without purpose, or feeling a loss of control in general, but if these issues are not dealt with, improving your eating only means that you eat better while maintaining troubles.

You will still experience loneliness, and insecurity, still feel confused about what your purpose is, and still feel anxious about not being able to control situations if you only address your diet, and not the actual troubles that are an inevitable part of being a human being.

Some people like to link overeating to their daily troubles. They say they eat because of their troubles. Because they are lonely (or sad, or happy, or bored, or overwhelmed).

I think people overeat because they like overeating. I think they may use it as an escape from their troubles, but only because it is their escape of choice. If they didn’t like overeating, the way they didn’t like drinking too much (assuming they do not abuse alcohol), they wouldn’t keep choosing to overeat.

The idea of eating your troubles away is fantastical. It’s clever, and alot of people keep trying to do it in order to improve the rest of their lives, but it should be kept in perspective.

Improving what you eat only improves what you eat.

If you want to start here, on your quest to tackle your troubles, with a better diet, absolutely go for it. But remember, you will still need to address the other areas of your life that may be going neglected now that you are so focused on food.

Your purpose, your career, your lover, family, friends, spiritual beliefs–they are all waiting for you.

If you work to improve your diet, good, good, good!

Just don’t forget about the rest of your life.

Image from Flickr.

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When You Don’t Have Motivation, Try Commitment

There exists a period between inspiration and execution referred to and felt as motivation.

Motivation seems to be what gets us to tackle our goals, to resist resistance, and to succeed at something.

It is often stimulated by reading powerful stories, passionate quotes, or seeing beautiful images. It is propelling, and encouraging, and it is felt.

So, what do you do if you do not feel it?

I think many of us go through seasons of feeling motivated to eat healthy and to be active, and then through seasons where we don’t.  I certainly do.

Often, seasons of motivation are coupled by optimism, and hope, while seasons without motivation may be anxious, negative, or filled with resent.

Or, perhaps most frightening, coupled by feelings of nothing at all.

What motivates you to take care of your body?

Is it feeling well?  Having energy?  Looking pretty?  Maintaining your weight?  Do you ever go through seasons where you don’t care about these things?  If so, what keeps you committed to the cause?

Last year I made a decision to take a brisk walk outside everyday.  It wasn’t an idea that took much meditation.  In fact, it was a very simple decision that has not seemed to have much impact on my schedule or general sense of well-being.

I take a brisk walk, outside, everyday.  That’s it.

Rain or shine, convenient or not, I just do it.

I enjoy being outside, and I like going for walks, but I guesstimate that I have not felt like going for about 75% of my walks.  It has been 10.5 months since I started walking everyday, which means I haven’t felt like taking 220 out of 294 total walks.   Some of the remaining 74 walks have been anticipated, but mostly, they have just been taken because of the commitment I made to just take a daily walk.

What has been interesting to note during this period is that motivation has seemed to have very little to do with my decision to walk, and commitment has had everything to do with it.

It’s the whole, “just do it”, idea, which sometimes feels empty and uninspired, but in the end, it actually facilitates just doing it.

Walking everyday has been a relatively easy experiment  to prove that the feelings of motivation are not required to succeed at a goal.  Had I waited to feel motivated to walk, I would have probably skipped 220 walks so far.  Maybe more.

But, of course, I want to feel motivated to do the things I do, and I want to experience the reward to succeeding at my goals.  Using the experience of walking everyday, no matter what, is opening my mind up, and enlightening me to committing to other decisions, even when I do not feel like it.

Because this seems to be the gap in between motivation and motivation.

What might you achieve by deciding to commit to the desires you keep thinking about?

Image from Pulptastic.

If You Think Being Fat is Bad

You would not say it out loud, but you might think that being fat makes you bad.  Worthy of mockery.  Deserving of shame.  The worst thing in the world.

It’s not.

Being fat is a situation you might find yourself in if you have been in the habit of overeating or bingeing.  It might be a physical revelation of inflammation or hormonal imbalance or lingering weight from past pregnancies.

But being fat, having excess body mass, weighing more than other people, does not make you bad.

If you have ever thought that you are a bad person for being overweight, it is because you believe that fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think the way to to get fat is to overeat, and overeating is wrong, so fat is wrong.

You might believe this because you think fat is ugly, or requires laziness, or dirtiness, and all of those things are disgusting which makes fat disgusting which makes you disgusting.

While some people do become fatter for eating too much or never moving their bodies, they do not become worse people, and they do not deserve public shaming.

Being fat may complicate your life (as may being thin) for a variety of reasons, but remember that fat is only extra weight your body is holding onto.

It is not your soul, your spirit, your mind.  It isn’t your sense of humor, or your generosity, your intelligence, kindness, love, or wonder for the world.

It is a physical condition, and that is all.

You can lose weight.  You can gain weight.  And in the end, you choose what you believe about it.  You choose what you do about it.

I am not suggesting that it does not matter if you are fat.  Being fat may make you suspect to disease, early death, or a difficult life (physically, at the very least, emotionally, because other people, including yourself, may view your fatness as a problem needing to be shamed).

What I am suggesting is that it matters how you view fat.

If you are fat, how do you view yourself?

Lazy?  Glutton?  Unfortunate?  Ugly?  Victim?  Bad?

You have not become a worse person for weighing more than you did at another point in your life, or more than people around you.

You can believe that or not, but try to keep perspective in the matter.

Hatred is bad.  Injustice is bad.  Bitterness is bad.

But extra weight is just extra weight.  Decide if you want to do anything about it, accept the situation you are in, and move forward how you like.

Reserve disdain for those tragedies that deserves such negative feelings.

Your body isn’t one of them.

Image from Pinterest.

Mechanical into Meaningful

Over the last two weeks I wrote two series on binge eating:  Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting and Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

I felt they were a good introduction for understanding how binge eating starts, and an overall practical guide to limiting and lessoning the urges that accompany habitual bingeing.

But I felt mechanical writing them and it’s been bothering me.

I thought about why I would feel rather empty writing on a topic that I have so much passion for, and in a way (as lengthy series) that can possibly offer explanations to anyone who is caught up in, or knows someone caught up in, such a complex eating behavior.

I felt a little guilty for feeling this way.  I want to inspire people to maintain hope that it is possible to stop binge eating, not feel bored of the topic.

It dawned on me that even though both series began as a method to break down the complicated stages of binge eating, they seemed to have ended mechanically, a little drawn out, and out of obedience to finish an idea to create a series, rather than intuitive passion.

It felt redundant.  felt redundant.

While writing both series, the topic of binge eating was all I was thinking about, despite other activities that took alot of my time, and by the end of last week I was tired and felt the need to escape from all of my repetitive thoughts that fueled so many posts on one topic.

So, I took photos of my dog, and watched Blue Velvetand got lost in my latest Book Club story.

Anything to change the pace, and to challenge and encourage me with new content.

This got me thinking.

How much of what I do is out of routine and habit?  How much of what I think is a tract on repeat?  How much is out of obedience to a cause that I am passionate about, but not benefiting from?

How much is out of intuition and passion?

Don’t get me wrong.  Routine and habit are good things.  Obedience is a good characteristic to cultivate.  Rationality is good.  But when they are to things that leave you feeling tired, or more likely bored and empty, it is worth exploring why, and deciding on ways to break their chains of lifelessness–deciding to turn mechanical into meaningful.

I realized when I was writing so intensely on binge eating that I had alot to say about it. Binge eating is simple, but it’s also very complex, and I want to start a new conversation on it.  But as I wrote more and more, my interest became less and less, and by the end of each week, I was over the topic.  I just wanted to think and write and talk about other things.

This doesn’t take away the empathy that I feel for anyone struggling with binge eating.  It doesn’t mean it is not a worthwhile habit to explore or that it is not admirable to put the effort in to stop it so I don’t regret spending so much time and energy writing about it.  I don’t think it was wrong to, and I don’t think it was a waste of time.  Even though I felt very tired from it, maybe it helped someone, and that is fantastic.  Even though I felt tired, I still aim to spread hope that anyone can stop binge eating at any time, no matter what.

Similarly, I don’t think it’s wrong to give your life’s work to a single topic, or a single lifestyle, or a single anything.  I think you are lucky if you have a main passion, belief, or person in your life to expand with.

But that’s just it–expand with.

It’s really easy to get caught up in habits and routines that don’t do very much for us.  Maybe they started as good intentions, healthy changes, creative challenges, enlightening endeavors, but now they aren’t.  Now they are thoughtless, passionless, lifeless.  Now they leave us craving more, or caring less, or not caring at all.

This can happen with anything.  Your job.  Your lover.  Your clubs.  Your breakfast.  Your life.

It’s a good idea to confront your feelings of boredom and resent, when you have them, and find out what you believe about them.  Beliefs create our thoughts, which create our feelings, which evolve into actions.

Actions can be energetic, they can fill us with passion.  They can also be automated, mechanical, simply obedient, far from fueling.

Take time to explore your habits and routines and what you dedicate yourself to.  Does it empower you?  Does it challenge you to grow and expand in grace, creativity, love, compassion, empathy, acceptance for others, acceptance for yourself?

Do you think the world is more beautiful today because of how you intertwine with it?  That people are more endearing?  That possibilities are more possible?

It’s grueling and lonely not to.

This post seems an extreme response from two weeks of what I believe was mechanical writing. Maybe it is.

But it’s caused me to think, and explore, and remember why I write at all, and it propels me to grow and expand.

It’s not worth it to me to simply write information.  There is enough information out there with enough people passing it along.  There is enough reason and enough solutions and enough methods to keep you on a safe path.  To keep you from exploring.

It’s worth it to me to ask questions.  It’s worth it to dive deep into our approach to life, and to own it, and take responsibility for it, and to find that it’s what we make it.

It’s worth it to be convinced that it is beautiful, and that people are endearing, and that possibilities are possible.

As it relates to binge eating, to diets, to fitness, to health, it’s worth it to approach it rationally and positively, but also in its proper context.

Binge eating is a bad habit, but it’s not the worst thing that you have ever done.  Remember that.  Keep perspective.

Healthy eating and fitness will help you body thrive, but it’s not the end all of happiness and growth.  Keep it serving you.  Don’t become it’s slave.  Don’t forsake intuition and passion for the illusion of perfection.  Don’t play it safe following everyone else’s advice because you are afraid of making your own rules.  Don’t finish someone else’s race.

Decide for yourself why you care about these topics.  Decide to study and explore them and then make your own rules about how you will live them out.  Implement what works for you. Get rid of everything that doesn’t.

If you’re happy to obey diets and workouts, then go for it.  There isn’t any harm.  But if you have second thoughts about what is trendy or learn that what is popular doesn’t work best for you, don’t be afraid to jump ship and start over with what does.

This is different from simply reacting to feelings or waiting for inspiration to make a move with your health or with your life.  This is about modifying your approach to what you are engaging with so that you actually enjoy it.  About seeing things differently and celebrating how it helps you grow.  It’s about accepting information to help you expand, not kept put down.  It’s about changing habits and routines and beliefs so that you are more in tune and connected with them.

What do you think about routine and habit for obedience’s sake?  Do you find yourself enlightened by what you believe and do?  How do you mix things up when you don’t?

How do you turn mechanical into meaningful?

Leave a comment if you have anything to share!

 

Image from Devodotcom.

Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge, Part 5

This is Part 5 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

You can read the previous posts to this series by clicking on the link above.

Part 1 presented the idea that binge urges follow periods of dieting (under-eating).  Part 2 listed physical and mental signs of under-eating.  Part 3 gave samples of what under-eating might look like and Part 4 offered suggestions for eating more (eating enough) to reduce urges to binge.

In this final post for this series, Part 5, I will write about urges to binge after you are eating enough.  I wrote about this in the previous Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 4.

Take a moment to read that post as it supports what is being written now.

For those people who have stopped dieting, are eating enough, and are still experiencing urges to binge, it is worth exploring something that will be very annoying for only a little while:

Urges to binge may have become a normal signal your brain sends to you in multiple situations that have nothing to do with needing to eat more.

It may be a habitual urge your body experiences.

Here is why:

Your first binge is truly an act of physical survival.  Your body is starved from under-eating, so your brains sends you overwhelming urges to eat.

You respond by eating as if it has been weeks since you have had a bite of anything.  It can feel frantic, rushed, right, and wrong all at once.  You can feel relieved and regretful at the same time, proving binge eating to be a very complex behavior.

After your first binge, you return to your usual senses, and likely to a period of under-eating to compensate for eating so much.

This perpetuates the cycle of binge eating, and it is all it takes to turn one act of binge eating into a habit.

Binge eating is a habit.

The next time you binge, it might be for the very same reason as the first time–under-eating. And the next time might be the same as well.

But now the brain is establishing connections between you and your environment when you binge eat.  Now it is not only about actually needing food, but also about whatever is happening in your life when you binge.

This could be, but is not limited to:

  • A time of the day.
  • A day of the week.
  • When you are alone and able to binge.
  • When you have eaten a particular food and then binged.
  • Before an activity.
  • After an activity.
  • Near a holiday.
  • When you visit specific people.
  • At a specific restaurant or cafe.
  • At a social event.
  • After a period of stress.
  • During a celebration.

It also connects binge eating with how you feel emotionally when you binge, and this could be:

  • Sad
  • Scared
  • Lonely
  • Frustrated
  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Happy
  • Relaxed
  • Nervous
  • Tired
  • Wired
  • Stressed
  • Confused
  • Indecisive
  • Rebellious
  • Hungry
  • Full
  • HIlarious

Do you see that signals to binge eat can be sent in any context once its habit is established?

You could be stressed for an exam or happy about an upcoming party and feel an urge to binge simply because your brain tied the two situations together from a past experience.

At this point it might seem like a lost cause to try to stop your habit, because it interferes with so much of your life, but don’t lose hope. You can change any habit at any time, no matter how long it has been taking place!

I hesitated to list all of the times and feelings you will encounter that may have a memory of bingeing tied to it because it is basically all of them, if you have been bingeing for a long time (or even a short time).  I wanted to list them to show how varied they are and how they really have nothing to do with the urge to binge.

Because urges have become a habitual signal you feel, your brain will continue to send signals to do something you no longer need (and haven’t since you resumed eating enough) when you encounter a time or feeling you had when you were dieting and bingeing until you stop obeying them.

This is why it will be very frustrating when you decide to stop binge eating.

Eating more throughout the day will certainly help to reduce urges to binge, but if you have a history of binge eating, like I did for 10 years, you are going to have to do more than just change your diet to include more nutrient dense food.

You are going to have to decide to not give any credit or additional thought to the urge to binge.

This is so important for stopping binge eating.

When you experience the urge to binge and you are not physically hungry, do nothing about it.

Don’t try to figure out why you have the urge.  Don’t feel badly about it.  Don’t try to manipulate the urge to mean something more than what it does.  It is just a habitual urge you feel.  Don’t assume it means anything.

The minute you start to engage with the urge is when it starts to influence you to act on it.

It does this by using your own language to convince you that you really need to binge.

You might say to yourself, “Just one bite won’t hurt“, or “I have been so good all week, so I deserve to have this“, or “I need a little fun in my life“, knowing that you don’t really want one bite (you want them all), and you’re not a dog who deserves treats, and if you wanted to have fun, you could go fly a kite.

Have you ever said these things to yourself before a binge?  I have.  They are pretty silly, but very common to think (or even say aloud) in response to an urge to binge.

If you start to engage in this thinking, you will likely binge–unless you put a stop to engaging with the urge right away.

When you hear yourself thinking about giving into an urge to binge, decide to recognize what is happening, accept it as something you will not do, then move on with your life.

This is not white-knuckling it or using willpower to not notice your urge to binge.

This is just not giving the urge your attention or respect.

It’s a meaningless feeling and it doesn’t deserve any more of your time.

Try it once.

Prove to yourself that you can do it.

Celebrate each time you do.

Then do it again.  And again.  And again.

It gets easier, and urges start to lose their intensity.  The come, they go, they are forgotten.

Will you try this?

It will be very difficult at first.

But only at first.  Just like any new habit, it becomes second nature soon, and it becomes simply what you do.

If you have been eating enough food for your body and you are experiencing urges to binge without being physically hungry, it may just be a habitual signal your brain is sending you, but it doesn’t mean anything, and it doesn’t have to be obeyed.

Begin to replace the memories you have bingeing with healthy and positive memories.

They add up quickly.

Will you try this?

It might change your life forever.

Leave a comment if you try this, there are so many people who can benefit from your courage!

This wraps up the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.  I hope it has been a practical source of information, and I hope you feel ready and inspired to stop dieting and stop binge eating.

You can do this!

Image from Etsy.

Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge, Part 4

This is Part 4 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

You can read what has been posted so far by clicking on the link above.

In Part 1, I wrote about how under-eating can lead to urges to binge.  Part 2 went over the physical and mental signs of under-eating, and Part 3 gave examples of what under-eating might look like for the average person who wants to eat healthy, but very well might be under-eating and experiencing urges to binge.

Part 4 will offer suggestions on increasing your eating to reduce the urge to binge.

It seems crazy to suggest increasing how much you eat when we are bombarded with the message to eat less.  Eating less has its place, and is an effective way to lose unwanted weight, but eating less is not usually the most effective approach for those who are caught up in the habit of binge eating.  Eating less is usually what triggers the actual urges to binge, increasing the likelihood of binge eating.

It is worth considering removing the period of dieting (under-eating) that leads up to urges to binge as a means to experience less binge urges.

This is a practical approach, but may be very intimidating or even scary to the person who is used to under-eating and bingeing.

I suggest exploring this approach as quickly or slowly as it appeals to you.  The reason for this is that our actions tend to follow our thoughts (beliefs) and if you do not believe that eating more will reduce your urges to binge, you likely will not enjoy the process of eating enough and you might not stick with it.

This does not mean that eating more is not an effective approach to reducing binge urges because it certainly is!

It only means that eating enough will be frustrating and uncomfortable for you if you do not believe that it is a plausible practice.

Bingeing is a physical act that requires physical action to end, but all physical actions begin as a thought, often subconsciously and emotionally.  Putting the effort into ending binge eating requires both a physical and emotional change in approach, so go easy on yourself as you explore the two, and get comfortable with your own growth, no matter what its speed.

Some benefits of eating more throughout the day besides experiencing less urges to binge are:

  • Feeling more satisfied after meals.
  • Feeling more satisfied after snacks (if you need them at all).
  • Experiencing less anxiety around food.
  • Experiencing freedom to think about more than just food and eating.
  • Reduced discomfort from dieting.
  • Increased concentration.
  • Increased focus.
  • Increased sexual desires.
  • Improved moods.
  • Improved digestion (assuming you are bingeing less or not at all).
  • Increased ability to eat along the usual meal schedules of those around you (this is more of a convenience).
  • Bingeing less (and not at all).
  • Less regret, guilt, and shame attributed to bingeing.
  • Weight loss (if it was needed).
  • More stable hormones.
  • Freedom to enjoy your life without the burden of binge eating.

So, on that positive note, here are some ways that you can increase your eating which will reduce your urges to binge:

  • Increase the portion sizes of your meals.  If you have two eggs for breakfast, try adding an extra egg (or two).
  • Add new foods to your meals.  If you have eggs for breakfast, try adding some avocado or some spinach, or some olives, or fresh fruit.  If you have yogurt, try adding some macadamia nuts.
  • Add healthy fats to your meals.  Fats will keep you fuller longer and definitely add to your satiety levels.  You can experiment with olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, olives, butter, ghee or even lard (best from organic sources).  No need to worry about the extra calories from a serving of fat–extra calories are the whole idea in this experiment!
  • Increase the amount of protein you eat at each meal.
  • Add some satisfying carbohydrates to your meals.  Carb have gotten a bad wrap over the last twenty or so years, but provided you do not base your entire diet on them, they can be a very beneficial addition to your diet (especially if you exercise or are a female with hormonal imbalances).  Try sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yucca, carrots, beets, white rice, bananas, or plantains.  I generally advise sticking with vegetables and fruits as your carb choices simply because gram for gram, they are more nutritious than grains and legumes (but do not feel that you cannot have grains or legumes!).

These are only a few ideas for increasing your food intake so that you are eating enough and experiencing less urges to binge.

You do not have to follow this advice, as it is always your choice how to go about this, but you will probably find it relatively easy to increase your food intake with healthy, whole foods, and you will probably find them delicious.  Your meals will become more palatable, and you will feel satisfied, calm, and able to go on with the rest of your life as they are digesting and providing you energy.

I caution against adding processed foods and foods high in sugar to your diet as you increase your food intake.  The reason for this is that these foods are known to not satisfy, not leave you feeling calm or clear, and do not offer benefits to your digestion, skin, joints, and mental well-being.  For someone who has dieted and binged, healing what has been damaged will do wonders not only for the obvious physical reasons, but for your mental health.

Know that you may choose less than healthy foods to increase your intake and it will have no impact on your morality–only your physical and mental health.  You can still stop urges to binge with less than healthy foods, but it might be more difficult.  This is for you to determine.

Mathematically, implementing a few of the ideas above each day can increase your calories by as little as 100 or several hundred.  If this frightens you, remember that if you are dieting and bingeing, you are eating very little followed by periods of eating amounts that are far too much for anyone.  Eating increased portions throughout the day, and not bingeing, always ends up being less food over the long-term, than dieting and bingeing.

Remember that trying to maintain a diet of 1,600 calories or less is likely what got you into the cycle of dieting and bingeing.  Do not feel guilty about increasing your daily calories.  Most people do best on at least 2,000 calories a day.  If this sounds crazy, think about how crazy dieting and bingeing has felt.

It is worth trying something new.

Experiment with this if you are currently dieting and bingeing.  You might come to enjoy this way of eating and you will certainly enjoy less urges to binge.

In Part 5, I will write about bingeing even after you are eating enough.  Bingeing begins as a way for your body to receive enough nutrients after a period of starvation, but often becomes habitual.  The good news is that habits can be changed so read on as we continue the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

For now, leave a comment if you have tried any of these ideas and let us know how they have helped to reduce your urges to binge.

Image from Tumblr.

Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge, Part 2

This is Part 2 of the Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

You can read Part 1 by clicking on this link.

Eating enough.  Eating enough.  Eating enough.

If you say it enough times, does it make any more (or less) sense?

In the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, I wrote about eating more throughout the day to reduce urges to binge.  Bingeing is often the result of dieting (under-eating). When you under-eat, your brain sends signals to you to eat, and not just eat, but overeat in a panicked, rushed, and uncontrolled manner–known as binge eating.

Often, bingeing involves eating foods that you have restricted while dieting and in very large quantities (but not always).  It is often done alone, in a short amount of time (but it can be with others and it can be drawn out over a day or a week or longer), and it is often followed by feelings of regret, shame, and guilt.

It is usually followed up with a period of compensation which may be self-induced vomiting, over-exercise, laxative use, or fasting.

After a period of compensation, a vow to never binge again may me made, and then a submissive and obedient return to dieting–extreme under-eating, may take place.

All to repeat itself again, and again, and again.

This is the nature of dieting and binge eating.

If you are in the habit of binge eating, it is worth taking a look at its issue holistically. Binge eating is generally not an isolated event.  It is usually preceded by a period of dieting, proceeded with a period of compensation, and then preceded again with repeated dieting.

So, what if you did not diet?  What if you removed the period of under-eating that led to your binge eating?

Take a moment and think about what your life might be like if you were not caught up in the cycle of diet, binge, diet, binge.

Does it sound too good to be true?  Does it seem impossible?

Take another moment to think about life not on a diet.

Does it seem scary?

This post is about eating enough, not about quitting your diet, but please know that the two go hand in hand.

If you are dieting, you are probably not eating enough (Dieting, on this blog, always refers to under-eating.  Your diet refers to the types of foods you eat.  There is a difference, at least for the purposes of this blog).

Reducing urges to binge is very hard if you are under-eating.

So, how do you know if you are under-eating?

Often under-eating occurs when adhering to a diet that extremely restricts calories. This is most diets and the signs that I share below show up for most people.  Not all, but most.

Below are signs that you are under-eating.  Please note that some of the physical and mental signs are the same, since our mentalities often reflect our bodily health.

Keep in mind the below lists are only some of the signs of under-eating and that they are rooted in sustained dieting (under-eating).  This means that they might not show up immediately.  They might take a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.  They might show up in a few days.  It will be different for everyone as each dieter starts their under-eating from a different set point.

Here are some of the physical signs:

  • You do not feel physically full or satisfied after meals.
  • Snacks, which serve to sustain you in between meals, don’t alleviate hunger.
  • You think about food more than when you were not dieting.
  • You feel hungry more than any other physical sensation.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night hungry.
  • You have lost weight very quickly.
  • Your sexual desires have lessoned (or seemed to have disappeared).
  • If you are female, your menstrual cycle has become irregular or has stopped.

Here are some of the mental signs that you are under-eating:

  • You think about food more than when you were not dieting.
  • Activities that used to interest you don’t seem very special anymore.
  • You talk about food more now than when you were not dieting.
  • You have stopped relating to others unless it is about your diet.
  • Your sexual desires have lessoned (or seemed to have disappeared).
  • You worry about upcoming events not aligning with your diet.
  • You suffer from depression, anxiety, panic, or fear when making decisions about food.

Like I mentioned, these are only some of the signs of under-eating.  They may present themselves rather early on or they may take awhile, but they are almost always inevitable the deeper someone gets into dieting.

Also, note that the signs for under-eating are often (but not always) the same as the signs for binge-eating.  Remember, the two commonly go hand in hand.

Do any of the signs look familiar to you?

If so, can you remember a time in your life that these signs did not characterize you physically or mentally?

Were you dieting then?

Please take a moment to really give these questions a good thought.

This post is only exploring how dieting effects us physically and mentally.  It is safe to do so, and may help you understand your approach to food better, so try not to brush it off thinking that it doesn’t apply to you.

I did that for years and it prevented me from breaking free from dieting and bingeing.

If you suspect that you are not eating enough and you have regular urges to binge eat, it is highly likely that you are not eating enough.  Your body is excellent at informing you of what it needs so pay attention to how it is directing you to eat, even if it is saying to binge eat because even this signal is meaningful to explore.

In the next post, we will talk about the actual act of under-eating.  What might it look like?  How it is different from simply eating less?

In the meantime, what did you think of this post?  Do you agree with the physical and mental signs of under-eating?  Have you experienced any of them?

Leave a comment to start a conversation!

Image from She Walks Softly.

Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge, Part 1

It’s a new week!

Hopefully you had a nice weekend and are already off to a good start.

Last week I posted the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.  You can read it by clicking on the above link.

What did you think about it?  Does it seem too simplistic to say that urges to binge eat are caused by dieting (extreme under-eating)?

Is it enlightening to think that you can reduce binge eating by ensuring you eat enough throughout the day or is it confusing?  Perhaps years of dieting and bingeing have you left you unsure about how much is enough?  Maybe poor digestion due to disordered eating has caused your intuition with food to be a little (or alot) off?

I had a difficult time knowing what was enough food after years of restricting and bingeing.  It was confusing to read so many different takes on how much I should be eating and it was intimidating to increase my portion sizes without it leading to a binge.

I’ve been there!  I know!

Maybe you would like to eat enough food to lesson your urges to binge, but you aren’t sure how or where to start.

Or maybe the whole idea sounds crazy!

This week I want to explore this idea more.  What is enough?  What is too much?  How do you know?

These are all legitimate questions for someone who has not eaten enough in a long time, who has dieted, restricted, and binged.

It might seem scary to change the way you have eat, but remember that this is a positive change and is very effective in reducing urges to binge.

It also might feel exciting, which is great because you will be much more inclined to stick with eating enough if you believe it is a helpful approach to lessoning urges to binge.

So, let’s get started with this Series: Eating Enough to Reduce Urges to Binge.

Please feel free to leave comments about your experiences with eating enough or to ask questions.  We can all learn from each other!

 

 

 

Image from WSJ.

Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, BONUS

This is a bonus post to the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

You can read Parts 1-5 by clicking on the link above.

In this post, I wanted to give some additional tips and reinforcement that can help you stop binge eating:

  • Remember that you are not alone.  Many people struggle with binge eating.  It’s nature is isolating and you might think you are out of your mind for doing it, or the only one doing it, but you aren’t.
  • Binge eating is a natural response to extreme dieting (under-eating).  It is the body’s way to make sure you do not starve.
  • Binge eating is a habit that can be changed.
  • One way to reduce urges to binge is by eating enough throughout the day.
  • Your “enough” will be different from the next person and will vary according to how active you are, how quick your metabolism is, and on your basic genetic needs for food.
  • Experiment with finding your “enough”.
  • You won’t be perfect at this.  Some days you will eat too much, other days too little, other days it will seem just right.
  • Perfection is not the goal.
  • Rather, nourishing your body with foods that make you feel great and keep you satisfied is.
  • You can eat any foods you want to stop bingeing.
  • Many people say that eating foods found in nature, such as vegetables, fruits, animal proteins, nuts, seeds, eggs, and whole fats are good choices when reducing urges to binge.
  • But you do not need to eat what anyone else says, nor do you need to follow a specific diet.
  • Eat the foods that leave you feeling your best.
  • Experiment with this.
  • Pay attention to how food effects your body, your mind, and your mood.
  • Pay attention to how food minimizes or maximizes your urges to binge.
  • Use food as your ally, whenever you can, but know that no matter what you eat, you get to decide if you will binge or not.
  • When you return to eating enough, and eating foods that make you feel great, you still might have urges to binge.
  • This is only your brain sending signals that it has been conditioned to send.
  • These urges do not mean anything.  They do not define who you are, they don’t have any significance, and they do not need to be obeyed.
  • Notice when you have an urge to binge, accept it as a part of ending binge eating, remind yourself that they are not that big of a deal, and celebrate that you are not binge eating anymore.
  • You can include others on this journey if you want.
  • You can attend therapy or groups that help you change your approach to food, or have an accountability partner.
  • But these are all optional.
  • Enjoy the friendships you make in these settings, but remember you still have to be responsible for your life, and for your eating.
  • Events may have occurred in the past or may be occurring right now that you do not prefer, and this is unfortunate, but they are not reasons to sabotage yourself with food.
  • Fix the situations that you can, and try to let go of the ones that are outside of your influence.
  • This is really hard.
  • But you can do it.
  • If you do binge eat, don’t beat yourself up.
  • It’s just a part of stopping for many people.  It doesn’t mean you are hopeless, it doesn’t mean you are dumb.
  • Learn from your experiences.
  • The past is over.  Look ahead.
  • Be kind to yourself, grow in compassion and empathy, and get right back on target with choosing to eat enough, choosing to resist binge urges, and choosing to keep at it.
  • Over time, urges to binge fade and lose their frustrating and distracting presence.
  • Over time, your efforts to replace the negative and untrue thoughts that led to binge eating with positive and true thoughts will pay off.
  • It gets easier.  It gets simpler.
  • Stopping binge eating is not the end all in life, and will not be your greatest joy.
  • It won’t solve all of your problems, or remove the stress in life that we all have from time to time.
  • But it will make eating easier.
  • It will relieve anxiety, and stress around food, and improve your health, your mind, and your mood.
  • And it’s worth it.
  • You are worth it.

This concluded the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

I hope it has helped shed light on how binge eating starts, how it is maintained, and how it is stopped.

Implementing these tactics has helped me tremendously, and I share them because I think they can help you, too.

I used to think I was the craziest person for binge eating.  I would diet, and binge, and diet, and binge.

It was a time in my life that I cannot undo, so I have chosen to take everything I have learned from it and turn it into something positive to share.

If you ever feel like you are stuck in the cycle of binge eating, you aren’t.

You can stop today.  You can take care of your body, and you can be glad you didn’t give up.

Never give up.

 

 

Image from Comically Vintage.

Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting, Part 5

This is Part 5 of the Series: Binge Eating is Caused by Dieting.

You can catch up by reading Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 by clicking on their links.

In Part 5, we will explore approaches and practices that will help make resisting urges to binge easier.

We have already discussed that dieting (extreme under-eating) causes your brain to send signals to binge eat, that binge eating, due to its many emotional and physical consequences, is usually followed by a period of compensation (as if to undo the damage of eating so recklessly), and that resuming the original extreme diet serves to repeat the cycle of restriction, binge, and compensation.

We’ve gone over how eating more throughout the day will help lesson urges to binge, thus, reducing binge eating, and reducing periods of compensation.

And we have gone over how noticing and accepting urges to binge after you return to healthier eating habits will help to alleviate the frustration you may feel for still experiencing urges to binge.

Today I wanted to talk more about a very helpful part of accepting urges to binge:

This is to remind yourself that the feeling to binge is just a feeling.  It is only a signal that your brain is used to sending.  It doesn’t mean anything more than that.  It feels uncomfortable, and it is distracting, but it will pass, and it doesn’t deserve any more attention or effort or public announcement than it takes to notice and accept it.

Choose to not act on a meaningless thought.

Then, be glad that you did not binge!

This part of stopping binge eating is often neglected, but it is a critical part of accepting urges to binge after you are eating enough and have decided to form new habits.

It may sound strange to remind yourself of these things, but if you have been binge eating for any length of time, it’s likely you have forgotten that not all thoughts must be acted upon.

We have many thoughts throughout the day.  Most of them are habitual and serve to keep us on schedule.  We think, “I will brush my teeth” after waking up, or “I’m leaving to go to work now“, or “I will do a load of laundry today“.  These thoughts are quick and keep us on schedule, and we tend to not second guess them.  If we did, we might not get very much done in any given day.

Other thoughts require much more research and attention, and we are lucky if we have the information and freedom to make our own choices regarding them (Where to go to college?  Who to marry?  What to do with my life?).

And then there are thoughts that seem to trip us up.  They feel more like desires or urges and they can be confusing to experience.

These are the thoughts that we have, but don’t want to have, and they become greater in intensity every time they are entertained and acted upon.

For the sake of this blog post, we won’t get into all of those thoughts.

The urge to binge, however, after you have ended extreme dieting, and returned to eating enough food, is indeed, one of those thoughts so let’s keep it as our example.

You think bingeing is what you want to do, but you also know it is what you don’t want to do.

It can feel very confusing, and be a stumbling block if you don’t know how to make sense of it.

When you have the urge to binge, notice it and accept it as an old way to think that didn’t serve you well.  That’s all it is (provided it is not a sign of true physical hunger).

You do not have to give this thought any more attention than this.  It is simply an old signal the brain is still sending, but it gets weaker and weaker every time you do not respond to it.  It fades.  It goes away.  It appears less.  But it takes a bit of effort to stop giving it so much attention.

Try this just once, the next time you have the urge to binge:

Notice it, accept it as an old way to think, remind yourself you don’t binge eat anymore, and let it pass.  You do this already, with lots of thoughts.  Try it with binge eating.

And then be glad that you did not binge!

Positive reinforcement helps most people (and animals) continue on their path to better behavior.  If it feels silly to give yourself positive reinforcement, you don’t have to, but there is nothing wrong with it and you might enjoy it.

I hope this is helpful.  If you are struggling with binge eating, there is always a way out.  There is always a way to stop.  And it is always within you to stop.  You don’t have to rely on external accountability or make a big deal out of stopping.  You do not need expensive therapy, or years of self-exploration.  You don’t need to right all of the wrongs from your past, or change anyone’s behavior, or do anything that is not only about stopping the action of obeying urges to binge.  Some of these things may help to lesson the urge to binge, or may be beneficial to your intellectual and emotional growth, but they are not mandatory actions to stop binge eating.

You only have to choose to stop, accept that is will be a bit weird for awhile, remind yourself that you have stopped, and then be happy about it.

It’s a simple process and it gets easier and easier the more you do it.

And if you do choose to binge, the next time you have the urge, accept your fallibility, dust yourself off, and get right back to living your life with kindness and patience.  Fail fast, don’t look back.  Eat enough, replace old thinking with new, and try, try, again.

You are still lovable and there is still so much life to live.

Never give up.  Always press on.

Does this seem like a doable approach to end binge eating?  Is it something you think you will try the next time you have the urge to binge?

Leave a comment if you like!

 

 

Image from Rebloggy.