It’s 3:00 pm. You’re feeling sluggish and suddenly get an overwhelming urge to eat. You start by telling yourself you’ll make a healthy choice as you quickly assess the options available to you. Before you know it, one bite of something sweet and/or crunchy sets you off on a frenzied binge and the rest is all a blur. After a few minutes, you realize this was another attempt to snack… “gone bad.” You feel guilty, frustrated and angry.
You’re not alone. With the best of intentions, many of us binge and the first step is discovering the reason why this is happening. It means looking at your current food choices, your habits, behaviors, emotions, triggers, lifestyle and more.
So, ready to dig a little deeper?
Let’s start with your food choices. If you’re currently eating a high sugar diet filled with carbs and empty calories, it’s no wonder you’re struggling with your food. Sugar, in all of it’s various forms trigger us to overeat for so many reasons.
* These choices trigger receptors in our brain that tell us this is pleasurable so we want more of it.
* Sugar triggers a surge of insulin to be released. Insulin helps take sugar to the cells so if extra is released, we’ll want more sugar to give that insulin something to do.
* These are empty calories which fill us, but don’t nourish or satisfy us so we keep eating to give ourselves a sense of satiety and satisfaction.
* These types of foods give us a temporary sense of calm – a feeling we may be searching for in the first place and use food to temporarily get us there.
* Sometimes we binge because we’ve let too much time go by in-between meals. We’re over-hungry and we overeat as a result.
* Sometimes the food choices we make simply aren’t satisfying. We think we’re doing ourselves a favor by skimping on the flavor or texture but it comes back to get us… with a vengeance.
Here are a few reasons why many of us binge due to habit.
* We may be in-between tasks or obligations. We have a few extra minutes and want a diversion. This may seem like the perfect time to grab a snack.
* We may have been conditioned to eat according to the time, the size of our plate, what was served, or in response to what everyone else was doing around us. This conditioning may have become a habit.
Now let’s talk about behaviors like emotional eating, mindless and social eating.
* With emotional eating, we use food to soothe, calm, numb and relax. Food is a self-soothing technique we were taught or learned ourselves as a way to deal with our problems or our pain. Food is accessible, available and is simply… the drug of choice
*With emotional eating, we’re stuffing ourselves in an attempt to “stuff” an unmet need. Can this be changed? Of course! And it’s one of the most freeing and liberating feelings you can imagine when you become in control of your eating and it loses the powerful hold it has over you.
* With mindless eating, we’re unaware of how much food we’re taking in when we’re distracted from eating. We can eat as we’re passing food to others, while we walk by someone’s desk, while we’re watching TV and any other activity that distracts us from paying attention to our hunger and fullness cues.
* With social eating, we want to feel part of the group, team or experience so we may choose to eat and drink what the others are eating and drinking even if goes against our healthy eating intention. This is often about fitting in, getting caught up in the moment, and entering the event without a strategy or plan in advance.
Now let’s talk about emotions and binge eating.
* If you tend to eat emotionally, it’s your emotions that are the causes of your binge eating. Maybe you eat when you’re sad, anxious, lonely, angry, frustrated or any other emotion that you tend to temporarily soothe through food. The key here is identifying the mood, then “feed” that real need by getting to the root of the emotion vs. feeding the symptom.
* People, places, thoughts and feelings can all trigger a binge. It could be that annoying coworker, smelling those delicious goodies as you pass a bakery, thinking about an unresolved issue and the feelings associated with it, etc. It’s these triggers that can easily trigger a binge.
Why else would you binge?
* Often, binges are triggered in response to a search for more energy. When we’re tired, we may look for energy in two ways; sugar and caffeine. Instead of getting the sleep we need, we reach for “temporary energy” that a sugar induced binge provides. Where does these leave us? With a sense of being “tired and wired,” with stress hormones and chemicals overly secreted, which encourage more eating and fat storage along with being groggy and unable to focus.
I hope this helps create awareness around some of the choices you may currently be making, and why. Now let’s do something about it so you can feel like the sleek, emotionally strong, vibrant and healthy person you truly are.
What are your next steps? I’d love to know, comment and share!