Are you a comfort eater? Do you sometimes binge on carbs and feel guilty or ashamed afterwards? Do you feel out of control around food? Are you a bit heavier than you would like, but not majorly overweight? Does your weight fluctuate and do you judge yourself for it?
Not only did I go through these struggles chronically when I was in my 20s, it is also relevant for quite a few clients currently.
Here are some ideas to help with your mindset, the practical elements of breaking your habit/addiction and with your weight and nutrition.
1.Eat whatever your body requires, whenever it requires it
This is a radical shift to make and it may seem scary, but damn it is liberating. If you are like I was and letting your head/emotions run the show isn’t working for you, then perhaps this might be some of the answer.
This worked so well for me, because I had put all sorts of rules around what I could and couldn’t eat and should and shouldn’t eat and when. I had divorced myself from my body’s natural wisdom about what it desired to consume.
Also, I probably had nutritional imbalances from years of binging or starving, so when my body craved something, it was really craving it.
The satisfaction I garnered from eating exactly what my body required and when meant that I was so satiated, energized and happy, I didn’t go into my psychological need for food as much, or in the same way.
2. Determine the difference between hunger and uncomfortable emotions
I found when I was younger and comfort eating, I was making a lot of rules around dieting, what I could eat and couldn’t eat and I would ‘punish’ myself if I got it ‘wrong’.
In hindsight, much of the whole scenario was about self-rejection not about the state of my body, although I was dwelling on my weight. I focused on my appearance in a negative way, however I was quite broken inside from things I had been through. My pre-occupation with food and my size was a manifestation of my inner turmoil.
I was projecting my inner pain and dis-satisfaction, fears and needing to have a sense of control, onto my body.
I lacked good wisdom, guidance, support, structure in my life. As well as good company, kind and caring people and I didn’t know how to be that way with myself.
Back then stuffing food down was a way to numb feelings, but also a way to connect with them that felt safe, following the shame and secrecy of a binge.
It was also a carefully constructed way of checking out of life, putting a barrier between me and others and a way of not showing up in the world and avoiding things. In time, I got a bit better at averting a binge.
Some questions I used to prevent comfort eating were:
“Am I hungry or upset about something, am I bored or lonely”?
“How will I feel afterwards if I go ahead and eat this now”?
“Will this food contribute to my energy levels and sense of self-worth, or will it diminish them”?
“How can I distract myself so I’m out of the house and doing other things”?
“How can I not isolate myself right now and what would shift my physiology so I have endorphins instead of stress”?
3. Make sure your nutritional needs are met
It’s less likely your body will have massive cravings – particularly for large amounts of sugary, high fat or carbohydrates, if it is properly nourished.
Therefore, it is easier to distinguish between comfort/psychological and genuine eating.
I also remember that if I’d gone to a lot of trouble to eat a healthy meal, I would be less likely to waste that effort by having a massive binge afterwards.
Sometimes I still did though. It’s important with an article like this to take strategies that work for you and ignore the rest. Any small changes you can adopt, will radiate outwards and quite radically empower you, allowing cumulative progress and more ease.
4. Adopt a zone based diet
This was my go to, that made me feel satiated (from the serve of fat), energized (with protein) and properly nourished with phytonutrients (from fruit and vegetables). You are also able to have small amounts of complex cabs which can be good for brain function and overall energy as well.
I found that my inflammation levels dropped and energy levels increased on the zone diet. I also lost weight easily, so if this is your thing, you will need to adjust it eventually. To maintain my current weight, I needed more complex carbs eventually, but by then I was feeling much better and the adjustment wasn’t too bad.
Of course this diet won’t be for everyone, but it does tend to be generally effective, less extreme than many vegan options and more adaptable and nourishing than the Atkins diet. There is a vegetarian or soy version of the zone diet if that interests you.
5. If you are feeling upset, don’t go near food – take a pause and be kind to yourself instead
Go take a bath, go for a walk or run, hit the gym, take a yoga class, hang out with a friend, buy coffee or a juice, go to a movie, journal…Whatever it takes.
You can always binge later if the need is still there, but in the meantime, give yourself a fighting chance of not submitting to old habits.
6. Find ways to connect with and release your feelings that feel safe – particularly if you are empathetic
I used to find journaling best. I also tried counselling and therapy, but I was so sensitive when younger, that mostly pushed my buttons too, although I learned a lot from those sessions which would give context to my later progress.
It wasn’t until I found Access Consciousness and the Law of Attraction that I found frames of reference for life that made sense to me and allowed to put my sensitivity into a perspective that finally made sense and didn’t cripple me.
If you are extremely empathetic you are probably a healer and taking on a lot energetically that you aren’t aware of.
Learning one or more modalities for working with energy, having energetic boundaries and gifting and receiving healing deliberately (instead of accidentally) can be the start of connecting with your power and feeling less disadvantaged and maybe like you can flourish eventually.
I highly, highly recommend Access Bars, because if you are carrying around physical settings of trauma and cellular memories of binging, a Bars session will clear these out.
It will give you a clearer slate from which to implement new, more effective choices.
Access Bars is also about receiving and if we are doing a tonne of binging, we are behind pretty high walls, isolating ourselves a lot and suffering in private.
7. Read, read, read
Educate yourself. Read about different diets, understand what your body requires nutritionally and from a nurturing point of view.
Learn about what you are doing to your physiology when you binge. Read about super salads, phyto nutrients, organics, food combining, detox foods, high energy foods and ways of eating which other cultures have that we can adapt.
There is a lot of wisdom and guidance contained within them. Things like ayurvedic principles, the way the Chinese view food (like medicine) and other information such as being very relaxed when eating.
This might spoil your fun in binging, it’s hard to pretend we don’t know what we know. This however is one of the best ways I know of to ruin an addiction for ourselves and to get ready to commit to changing.
My progress with these things was one of trial and error. I only really stopped fully when I was ready. Binging served me until then, allowing me to navigate life until I had better skills to take over with. Remember it isn’t a wrongness, it is just a set of strategies for coping and anything that facilitates that is effective on some level.
Just realize in time you can go beyond where you are at now, you can have ease around food, you can begin to trust yourself and you can find pleasure in nourishing your body without such extremes. It is just about the right timing and right tools and information for you.
If you would like to chat to me about any of these things please click here. I get amazing results with bulimics in particular and with overeaters if they are ready. Bulimia isn’t an easy thing to unravel, but my 2-3 hour intensives get powerful results.
I don’t see anorexic girls, unless the mother also works with me and the whole family is in therapy. Anorexia is a disease about control and unless the family heals, the odds of recovery are much less.