If any of this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from a binge eating disorder or have dealt with it in the past. Well you're not alone. Binge eating disorder is prevalent in the fitness industry, particularly with competitors and fitness models, but also anyone who diets is at risk. We deprive ourselves so much from the foods we love and enjoy, that once our 'event' is over or we've reached our goal, we just can't stop eating all the stuff we weren't allowed. It can end careers, cause serious mental health issues, and damage our physical being.
You're probably wondering if I've ever suffered from it and I'm here to tell you that yes, I did. For my first competition last year I was so determined to win that I didn't have a cheat meal or anything off the plan for 10 weeks straight. When my first coach said I should pull out of the show I was aiming for because I wasn't dropping enough body fat (I probably would have if he had paid more attention to my concerns and not given me a cookie cutter plan and had me over-training doing 6 days of HIIT, but that's a whole different story), that caused so much anger and despair in me that I had a cheat meal because I thought 'screw it', and then it was all down hill from there. I was so disappointed that I had to pull out. I felt like I had failed. I was ashamed.
I would eat massive bowls of cereal and then go back to the pantry and eat chocolate and candy, then put the oven on and cook a pizza and eat the whole thing, then finish it all off with a tub of Ben and Jerry's. This happened every weekend. I never threw up afterwards, but I felt so uncomfortably full that it hurt. All I wanted to do was throw it all up but puking grosses me out so I just lay there in pain and guilt ridden.
I didn't come in lean enough for my first show because I couldn't stop binging on the weekends. No matter how much cardio you do, it can not undo the mountains of food you consume over the weekend. The body doesn't work like that.
After my show, the binging got really bad for two months. The episodes didn't just occur over the weekends. They started to happen throughout the week too.
But I am now binge-free and have been since October 2014. How did I overcome it? Well, read on as I share my tips on how to rid yourself of this extremely unhealthy disorder.
Overcoming Binge Eating Disorder
2. Don't call it a 'cheat meal'. Call it 'date night' or something else with no negative connotation if you must give it a name.
3. Relax about meal timing. It's not going to make or break your physique by skipping a meal. Eat when you're hungry, not when the clock says so.
4. Don't let there be 'off limit' foods. That just makes you want them even more. If you want a burger, tell yourself you can have one for dinner later or lunch tomorrow. Chances are that you won't even want it when the time comes. If you do end up eating it, enjoy it and move on. You did nothing wrong. Tell yourself 'that was yum, I'm satisfied now' and remember that it is not your last burger. If you want one again tomorrow, you absolutely can if you want. It's not 'off limits'. But ask yourself whether it's going to help you achieve your goals and whether you want more of that processed food so soon after your last processed food meal.
5. Increase your fat and fiber intake. They naturally keep you feeling full and satiated. Have a Quest bar or Musclepharm bar as they make you feel full and less likely to want to stuff more food in your belly. And they are delicious so it's like a treat. Quest Nutrition have all natural bars you can choose from.
6. Switch to larger, less frequent meals that actually leave you satisfied. Lots of small meals left me hungry and dissatisfied all day and I couldn't stop thinking about my next meal.
7. One square of chocolate or a spoonful of icecream is not going to make you fat. Eat it and enjoy it. Then move on. It's OK, you haven't done anything wrong. Just remember not to be gluttonous and over indulgent. There's no need to be. You will eat chocolate again, don't worry, it's not your last bite.
8. Eat your favorite, most satisfying meal more than once a day. If you love pancakes and they satisfy you, eat them three times one day if you're having thoughts of binging. Return to normal eating habits the next day. The problem with doing this day in day out is you have the potential to miss out on vitamins and nutrients that come from wholesome foods such as fruit and vegetables if your favorite meal doesn't incorporate those.
9. Don't just look at food as a means to build muscle or lose fat. Food is glorious! When you plan a healthy meal, think about all the nutrients you are providing your beautiful body. Think about how you are nourishing your hard working body. Without your body, you don't have much. So before you stuff yourself with processed, refined, artificial foods, take a minute to think about what good this is going to do for your body. Not your weight. Stop thinking about your weight. Let's just think about your physical body and what it needs to run optimally. Don't you want to treat it right and have it last many years in optimal condition rather than 5 minutes of taste bud satisfaction and potential harm to your body?
10. Stay off the scales and don't look at yourself naked in the mirror for a while. When the scale doesn't drop or you're looking and feeling a little bloated one day, the perceived lack of progress can trigger feelings of disappointment which can lead to you trying to make yourself feel better by eating a bunch of crap and then we're back at square one. For me, the opposite was true too. When I lost a pound or two, I wanted to reward myself and gave myself that reason to binge because my 'diet' was working. Again, back to square one.
11. Try Intermittent Fasting. This was the biggest factor for me in overcoming binge eating. I have written a blog about my experience with IF so please have a read of it. It might be for you.
12. Download a hypnosis audio book on your phone. I know it may sound crazy but I tried it and I am recovered so I can't say it didn't help right? On amazon they have several different binge eating hypnosis tapes.
You can do this!
Join online group support forums or if you really want to, be open about it on facebook. Your friends and family will want to help. If going public is too scary for you, like I said above, email me and I will do what I can to help you.
Even stars need darkness to shine bright.