You know the routine.
You overslept (again!) meaning you ran out of the house without having breakfast. You snack on a café-bought muffin in the morning, but a full workday means you don’t stop for lunch. By 3pm you’re craving chocolate and so you give into your craving, telling yourself that it will give you the energy boost you need to get through the day. Besides, you’ll make sure you eat a healthy dinner when you get home. You then battle the traffic home, only to arrive stressed and hungry. And so you grab the first thing you can find. What starts out as a quick snack to allay your hunger turns into an all-night binge, and you go to bed, kicking yourself because once again, your eating was out of control.
If you can relate to the scenario above, then you’ll probably want to know how you can stop your binge eating. After all, you know that it’s not helping you achieve your weight loss goals.
However, before you can stop this self-sabotaging behaviour, you need to understand why you do it.
In the example above — which is a common scenario for many Australians — binge eating is usually caused by two main things. The first is hunger and the second is stress.
You’re not eating enough in the day
Many people fail to eat enough food during the day. Instead, they rely on fast-food or food high in calories, or caffeine to give them an instant ‘boost of energy’, when they start to feel lethargic. By the time they get home from work, these people will be so hungry that they’ll usually eat the first thing they see. Then, they continue to eat, because their body is crying out for proper nourishment. The problem is though, that lack of food leads to slumps in energy levels, and we all know that when we’re tired, we’ll reach for the first thing that we can get our hands on, despite how unhealthy it may be. Taking the time to cook a healthy meal just seems like too much work.
You’re restricting food
Binge eating is also caused by restricting food. It’s a bit like a clock pendulum. Restriction feels like you’re in control because you’re starving and depriving yourself of food. But the more you swing to this side, the harder you’ll swing back to the other side which is chaos — bingeing, emotional eating and feeling out of control. This bingeing then causes you to swing back to the other side of control, which sees you swing even harder towards bingeing.
There are two types of restriction:
- Intentional restriction – i.e. not eating carbs, fasting after a certain time in the day, limiting certain foods
- Unintentional restriction – i.e. not being aware that what you eat isn’t enough.
The truth is that bingeing is always a sign of food restriction. The more you restrict your food, the more you will binge. And the more you binge, the more you’ll restrict. And the longer you keep up this pattern of behaviour, the longer you’ll be stuck in this vicious cycle.
All eating is emotional. The choices we make are always linked to our emotions and it’s very common to use food to deal with emotions. We eat to relieve stress, because we’re angry, because we need to feel comfort, or we use it as a reward.
If you’re not managing your emotions, then you may be using food as a way to deal with them. Be sure to read our blog How to stop emotional eating for more information about this topic.
Habits: the common denominator
What most people don’t realise is that their habits are what really drives them to binge eat. Let’s take the example above.
You don’t have time to eat breakfast in the morning because you slept in. But your inability to get up in the morning is caused by a habit of some kind (e.g. watching TV, partying, etc.), that causes you to go to bed late.
You snack on a muffin because you don’t have other healthy options with you. Why? Because you haven’t made time for food prep, or made eating healthy a priority. Why? Maybe you’re spending your time doing things for other people? Maybe you procrastinate about doing food prep. Once again, this is a habit.
You don’t take a lunch break because you’re busy. Once again, this is a habit. Are you busy because you’re not productive? Or because you don’t value yourself enough to take a break? Or maybe you find value in what you achieve, rather than who you are. Working through your lunch break and not eating, is a habit that leads you to your binge at night.
You have chocolate at 3pm because you’re feeling tired and you need a boost. But you’re really tired because you haven’t made time to eat properly.
You arrive home stressed and hungry. You’re stressed because you let little things get to you, or because you’re doing too many things. You’re also probably stressed because you didn’t take a break during the day. You might feel that you need to control everything and when you’re not in control you’re stressed. You might be so busy because you’re spending your time pleasing others and doing things for them, instead of doing things that help you.
And all these little habits, lead to the habit of binge eating.
Can you see how habits control your life?
How to overcome binge eating
One of the key things you can do to prevent binge eating is to ensure that you eat enough nutritious food. You should eat regularly throughout the day, and ensure that each meal contains protein, plant food, and healthy fats such as Omega-3. This will keep your body nourished, you’ll feel fuller for longer and it will also help keep your blood sugar levels steady. Eating lots of nourishing food during the day will give your body and mind the energy it needs to get through the day and help you cope with stress
Prepping food in advance and having it ready to eat is a key strategy that will help ensure you’re feeding your body the correct nutrition, which will reduce binge eating.
But you probably know this already, right?
Yet, you’re still bingeing on a regular basis.
You need to work on your habits
As we examined above, your habits play a huge role in how you go about your day. In fact, you could say that your habits control everything you do. If these habits don’t support a healthy relationship with food, or enable you to deal with busy workdays and the stress involved, you’ll always struggle with your eating.
In order to kick your binge eating habits for good, you need to work on all the habits that lead you to binge eat in the first place. When you replace these habits with healthier habits, you’ll find that you’ll no longer struggle with binge eating.
We work on habits
At Imani Tribe we focus on dealing with underlying habits that cause you to sabotage your weight loss efforts. For example, if you don’t have time for yourself because you’re too busy doing things for everyone else, we’ll help you address this by giving you specific action steps for you to implement so you can overcome this habit of people-pleasing.
One of the key differences between our program and other programs out there is that we focus on one habit at a time, instead of getting you to change lots of things at once. Trying to change everything at once is overwhelming and leads you to give up before you really begin.
Replacing habits does take work which is why we focus on one at a time. Once you’ve overcome one habit, we then move onto the next, and give you strategies and accountability in order for you to deal with that one.
Does that sound a little more do-able than trying to overhaul your entire life in one go?
If you’d like help to overcome your binge eating, so you can get you the results you’re after, we’re ready to help.