If only we could have the results for our public eating and skip the calories consumed via sneaky eating in private… it’s almost like at the time you believe the old ‘if no one saw it didn’t happen’ line.
I wonder is that what sends me foraging through the roasted cashews or tidying up that left over cauliflower cheese and roast spuds when no one else is around? Perhaps it’s the same force that may see you shaving a side off the cake and then just that little bit more again to even it up or cracking open a packet of Tim-tams (they are much loved biscuits down under if you’re listening in the land of anywhere non-Aus).
Or is it that we know the food is NOT necessary and don’t want someone else witnessing our private binge? Is there shame? Or fear of judgement?
In todays tucker show I’m covering: Binging In Private. Why we do it and how to escape it.
The simple logical fact is whether you choose to binge in public or in private the results for what you put in your mouth are going to be very publicly visible for all to see.
When it comes to food our choices seem to be guided by emotion rather than logic though.
As a young trainer I believed my clients who told me they ate well. Even when I pressed them to define their version of ‘well’ to see how it squared off with mine… breakfast, lunch and dinner often sounded like the type of fuel that should very definitely lead to noticeable results.
If anything the food was a little light on.
As years of experience revealed to me this generally meant one of two things:
One: my client was sharing only the high-light reel of their food with me… and censoring out the rubbish.
Two: those close to perfect yet light on meals did not provide the nutritional value or emotional enjoyment that makes bingeing in private easier to resist.
Whether you binge in private or in public the strategy to stop is the same:
1. Track your eating for a week and look for the patterns that set you off.
=> Perhaps a skipped meal or overly light meal earlier in the day leads to an after dinner binge.
=> Maybe an argument or a disappointment is your trigger.
=> Possible you eat when you’re avoiding dealing with something that you perceive will be hard, boring or frustrating to deal with.
2. Acknowledge that environment will trump will-power. Every single time. That means you need to STOP before you buy the Tim-tams and evict any other unsupportive food items from you house for good. Also freeze, throw-out or get better at judging quantities so you don’t fall victim to lethal leftovers.
I have not become a person who is no longer susceptible to binge eating – I’ve simply set up my environment to make binge eating less likely. And when I visit an environment beyond my control I’ve got to be even more mindful of the following steps so I don’t relapse at the first hint of a binge trigger…
3. Set your body up for a day of great eating with a substantial and satisfying breakfast.
At either a physical ‘I’m starving because I haven’t eaten for hours’ or an emotional ‘I deserve because I skipped breakfast’ or a rationalising based ‘I can get away with because lunch was light’ level the great meal you don’t bother to make time for WILL catch up with you.
4. Ask yourself, would you eat this in front of your partner, your mentor or anyone who’s opinion matters to you? If the answer is No then my response becomes: surely YOU are very much a person whose opinion matters to you?
5. Decide on an alternate behaviour to deal with the emotion you’re trying to avoid when you binge eat.
At a logical level you know food is not your solution to any problem except the problem of being hungry.
And I’m never hungry when I binge eat.
It’s merely an escape, a distraction… perhaps a reliable, predictable comfort in times of uncertainty or a small cost effective treat in tough times.
In my early 20’s I’d binge eat an entire box of crunchy nut cornflakes whenever a relationship ended. It was my break-up food. It was a hugely ineffective action at helping me feel better… as you’ll know if you’ve ever succumbed to the all out binge to block a painful emotion not only do you still get to feel sad, rejected, alone or whatever it may be that started the binge you then also get to feel guilty and weak and likely fat.
It sounds extreme but its true right? My new approach when I’m tempted to binge or bludge or take that action that I know isn’t going to get me a good result is to ask myself:
6. What action is going to leave me feeling better AFTER I take it?
It’s a cut to the chase question. Sitting down and writing is going to make me feel better when it’s done. Raiding the fridge out of procrastination is not.
If you fall back into your old habits and find yourself on auto-pilot arm deep in a box of cornflakes (or whatever your binge food is) key #7 is for you…
7. Stop while you’re ahead.
The whole ‘todays a right off anyway’ excuse is rubbish. If you make a bad decision and lose $100.00 would you throw another $100.00 straight after it, because ‘todays a losing money day anyway’?
A final consideration:
Do you ever binge eat when you’re feeling happy?
I’m not talking about a conscious, deliberate celebration with food and drink… I mean out-of-control demolishing for no good reason.
I’m yet to meet anyone that turns to food they’ll later regret in response feeling overwhelmingly joyful, grateful, and happy.
Which means focusing on whatever makes you happy has got to be a high value approach to escaping binge eating.
Ok, let’s get actionable:
I’m going to pick the low hanging fruit for this one. If you’re currently in the habit of binging in private I’d like you to set up your environment to support your success. Yep, that means a little ditching discipline right now or the second you walk through your door if you’re not at home.
As much as working on the emotions that trigger your binging, planning nutritious meals and finding resourceful alternatives to your old binging habit is vital, a first high value action to take today is to rid yourself of the foods that constantly tempt and test you.
So that’s off to the fridge, freezer or pantry with you ok?
In tomorrows wednesday weigh-in show I’m covering: Should I Exercise When I’m Sick?
I hope you can join me.
If you liked this you’ll also like: Work Smarter NOT Harder… to make weight loss easier on yourself.
If you’re yet to share the Healthification love – just click here to zip over to iTunes and leave an honest rating and review. It’d help me out big time. With gratitude, Kate.