First it started with a homemade brownie, while watching your Ti-Vo rerun of “The Bachelor.” Just a snack to accompany your fave Monday night routine after a long day. Then a one more brownie. Then…the whole pan
Or, you were on the go all day and the only way to get in a decent meal was in the car, driving from point A to B. Whataburger sounded good, and was quick and easy, but before you knew it, a burger, two large French fries order and milkshake were gone.
After your morning run, you finally “earned” your breakfast, and reward your 7-mile efforts with a box of cereal.
That new diet Halo ice cream says it’s paleo—so it can’t be that bad. You eat a light dinner to save room for dessert, but two pints later, you wonder, “What just happened?”
Lunch is served—and you skipped breakfast (after hearing how good Intermittent Fasting is), but now, you’re hungry and you want food…yesterday! You eat the container of yogurt, and hummus and bag of pita chips, and bag of trail mix in your pantry until you are stuffed, and vow to not eat anything else for the rest of the day.
Or, you’ve been thinking about it all day long. In the back of your mind. For whatever reason, you really like the plantain chips from Trader Joe’s. Not Kroger. Not Publix. Not Whole Foods. You meditate on it throughout the day, and when the opportunity arises, you swing by to purchase not one, but three bags. And by the end of the night, you’re left feeling sick to your stomach. Promising yourself you won’t do it again.
“Why can’t I stop binging?!” you cry.
After all, you ARE trying to fight the urges, but every day is just so gosh darn tough.
10 Reasons You Can’t Stop Binging
Here are 10 Reasons You Can’t Stop Binging (and what to do about it).
1. Restriction Robot.
Binging is really not about eating, but instead about restricting—Denying yourself food; Trying to be good” or stick to a diet, only to feel deprived—or completely obsessing over particular foods you “can’t” have.Often times those who struggle with binge eating don’t eat enough during the day—the diet mentality. “Less is more”—and the age old “eat low fat,” “low calorie,” “chicken and broccoli” mantras ring loud and clear in your head. At the end of the day, you’re tired. Hungry. And just want a break from the war in your head. Hello ice cream!
2. Clean Eating Conundrum.
Similar to restricting, often times when we purse a “healthy diet” like clean eating (i.e. “not a diet”), we can actually fall into the trap of not eating enough (fats, carbs, proteins, calories, etc.). We are so concerned with following certain rules or avoiding fat, or more than X-amount of calories, that our clean eating efforts shoot us in the foot when, our body cries out: “Balance PUHLEASE!” Your body was designed and wired to eat a balance of ALL foods—proteins, fats and carbs. Restrict or “keep it clean” by denying one…and imbalance happens. And when imbalance happens, your body let’s you know. In order to meet your physiological and psychological needs, that box of gluten-free crackers or bowl of buttery popcorn hits the spot for a second.
You put food on a pedestal. You meditate and salivate about particular foods you’ve told yourself are “off limits” or “not healthy.” Like reverse psychology, humans always want what they can’t have. Your food rewards or binge foods are no exception. The more you dangle the carrot of certain “off limits” foods you’ve created for yourself, the MORE you are going to want them.
4. Unhappy Gut.
The gut is the gateway to our health. And when it is awry…our whole system (mindset, digestion, blood sugar balance) is off….like way off. Approximately 3 in 4 Americans struggle with some sort of GI dysfunction. 80% of your “feel good” brain chemicals—serotonin—are created and housed in the gut. So when gut health is off…and serotonin is down…your brain needs SOMETHING quick and easy to boost the mood. Enter: Binge food. The cycle continues—because the more erratic eating habits become your norm, the less your gut is able to heal. How to heal your gut? A few basics to start with include:
- Take a daily probiotic and eat fermented foods (kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.)
- Drink Lemon water first thing in the morning before anything else
- Chew you food really well (first step of digestion)
- Consider digestive enzymes for helping you break down your food during meals
5. Additive Addiction.
Additives are the new sugar. Approximately 80% of all foods in our grocery store contain man made and synthetic chemicals, not intended for human consumption. And, when consumed, a funny little opioid-like response occurs in the brain: Reward receptors go off saying, “Jackpot!!” and setting you up for a perpetual binge-craving cycle. In addition, many common binge foods are those with quick sugar punches that feed a blood sugar roller coaster going on inside of you. Up and down, up and down. When we fill up on Pringles, Gold Fish Kind Bars and Ben & Jerry’s, the “fill” only lasts so long before our blood sugar dips or the opioid-like effects wear off and we need another “hit” to feel good again.
6. Calm & Control.
Siggggh….all is calm and bright when the euphoria of a binge happens. The world around us turns into white noise, and for a moment…just for a moment, it’s us, the food and no problems…Consider what else in your life could bring you peace, fun and freedom.
7. Running on Empty.
Lastly, when a binge happens, have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What am I trying to fill?” (What void)? Emotional emptiness can present in a number of ways: Not feeling “good enough,” beating down on yourself, feeling lonely, stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, unsure, fearful, insecure, sad, unfulfilled—all these feelings and states of being can easily lend way to trying to fill our void in other ways (like food: a tangible pacifier for many feelings). Many people have vices they seek to fill voids in their lives and “tough” emotions with—from shopping, to drinking, restricting, exercising, working (too much), co-dependency and beyond. As you begin to develop more awareness around the why behind your food struggle, the less and less it eats away at you.
8. False Identity.
In your mind, you are the girl who always struggles with food. Or, the girl who binges every night. It will probably always be this way, you think. Well guess what? If you continue to believe that…it will remain true. The language and beliefs we have about our own abilities and who are can leave us stuck in our same ol’ ruts— clinging to this false identity we’ve created (for ourselves) and the struggle itself. In other words: We choose to stay stuck.
9. You Keep Saying “Tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow things will be different.” Or, “tomorrow I’ll do better.” Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes, and until you start speaking to yourself in the affirmative: 1.) I can do this. 2.) I will fuel my body with balanced nutrition today. 3.) I am not defined by binging. 4.) I have a choice to make today. Speak in the affirmative. And do it now—not later.
10. You Keep Your Mouth Closed.
There is strength in numbers—and finding a trusted friend—or two—in whom you can spill the beans can help bring truth to light—and keep you from hiding in darkness. Struggle loves darkness—and secrecy. Begin to share openly and honestly your struggles and your goals for your health. Not sure who to talk to? Tremendous self-care takes place with the support of a counselor, therapist or other healthcare professional with whom you connect and can process many of your struggles and get to the bottom of your emotions.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but in order to end a habit, we must first gain awareness around why it exists and what triggers that habit in the first place.