Binge Eating – it has many forms…
by Adele Johnston
When we speak we tend to use language familiar and known to us. The same applies when we describe situations or moments in our lives. Let’s take the weekend as an example, it’s been a long hard ass week, you’re tired, fed up, anxious – even more so thanks to restrictions around us, bloody Covid.
You’re finished work – TFIF right.
You shut the laptop or leave your workplace feeling free and excited for your 2 day weekend, heck you might have even swung by the supermarket or the corner shop on your way home to pick up a bottle of your favourite wine and some sharing bags of peanut M&Ms, skittles and Doritos.
You feel excited, relaxed, happy it’s the weekend and you can’t wait to get in and get your comfies on and pour your first wine of the evening – happy weekend.
Here’s where things normally start to spiral
You’ve felt stressed all week, you’re tired and you’re seeking comfort in the way that you think you know works for you. You’re eating for comfort, you’re drinking alcohol for comfort and you’re vegetating on the sofa marathon watching Netflix (for the record let’s be clear that none of the above is wrong, bad, unhealthy, frowned upon – it’s what you feel you need).
You get to your 2nd movie or half way through your boxset and you’ve eaten the sharing bags of peanut M&Ms, most of the Skittles and the full bag of Doritos along with your bottle of wine; all after the takeaway you ordered.
You start feeling guilty.
You rub your tummy and thoughts of shame cross your mind “ugh I’m so bloody annoyed with myself for binging like that”.
Let’s Pause a sec…
…Binge eating is such a broad term that’s used to describe periods and episodes resulting in “uncontrollable overeating”.
Binge eating isn’t just gorging on foods, it’s instances where you consume large amounts of calories in one go (around 2,000+) and then feel you’ve not got control on the situation.
It can be hardly eating any calories, yet still feeling like you’ve no control over what’s happening.
It’s even feeling a binge urge and you’re able to prevent it from happening for a few hours or so, but knowing it will eventually come and you binge because you needed to get rid of the anxiety.
Some foods may trigger us to binge – normally not your fruits and veggies but rather those highly palatable and/or processed foods like those described above.
The point made above is although this person consumed a high calorie food intake, felt guilty and ashamed for it, it does not define them and it certainly does not make them a bad person. We’re all known to overeat from time to time – heck feeling emotional and overwhelmed can trigger the want to comfort through food for many people. It’s normal and you shouldn’t find yourself beating yourself up with negative thoughts and language over it.
Some tips that might support you during times like these are:
- Be present in the moment. I know I talk about this a lot but being present when you eat will help you enjoy what you’re eating far more than being mindless when eating.
- Acknowledge hunger levels. This might be a trigger for many ‘quick snack’ solutions that end in a full packet of chocolates being eaten when in fact you didn’t really want to do that. If you’re someone who tends to go from 3-10 on the hunger scale quite quickly, learn that about yourself, understand that’s who you are and alter it if you’re starting to feel hungry.
Not sure of the hunger scale, here’s a copy you can save down into your phone for later.
3. If you’re an emotional eater, having dinner and eating what you perceive to be healthy and filing won’t remove your want for comfort foods. Ultimately it won’t satisfy ‘emotional hunger’. Connect with this.
4. Acknowledge that emotional hunger – or eating your feelings – will not fix the emotional pain. Try working on that emotional trigger through proven strategies such as journaling your thoughts and feelings (this is a safe environment where you can remove those thoughts and feelings from your head, write them down and for some, you may even want to burn them afterwards to keep those deep thoughts/secrets from being known)
5. Finally feel your feelings – we have them for a reason and numbing them will only ever mask a situation, not resolve it. If you’re holding things back and not acknowledging them for fear of crying uncontrollably, allow yourself a moment when you’re able to do just that, in a safe environment that’s judgement free with lots of tissues at the ready. This energy that’s building up, once released, will instantly show benefit.
So remember, we all have moments where we overconsume foods – those highly palatable and sugary ones normally – but being present in that moment and acknowledging why you’re eating will help you deeply and widely in the future.
If you do suspect you are struggling with binge eating disorder then I urge you to visit https://beateatingdisorders.org.uk the UK’s eating disorder charity for support.
You can also benefit greatly from following https://instagram.com/break.binge.eating where Dr Jake Linardon provides such valuable content, I even used some of his work to guide this post.
Finally if any of the eating mindfully part resonates with you, reach out by replying to this email and let’s chat.