Battling the binge – how to stop the self-sabotage

If you’re a Turn’d Up regular, you’ll know I’ve always been 100% open about my battle with binge eating. I’m a firm believer that we need to be honest, upfront and keep the conversation going around this issue. I want to help others overcome the vicious circle that emotional eating brings.  I’ve always had an issue with food. Who hasn’t? It’s the most pleasurable thing on the planet. It dictates our whole life. Let’s face it, as soon as your tummy starts rumbling, it will distract you from whatever you’re doing!

A toxic relationship with food….

I used to regularly eat whole packets of biscuits, cakes, pizza, Chinese and Indian takeaways, ALL the chocolate. I developed a toxic relationship with food. Bad day at work? I’d binge eat. Relationship problems? I’d binge eat. Feeling down? You know what comes next! It just went on and on.

Once my taste buds started going, I’d just keep eating and eating. I wouldn’t think too much about what I was doing. It tasted so nice and I wasn’t getting full, so I’d just keep going. It all started with trigger food. My sister’s tasty cooking, or chocolate, or biscuits. I’d say, ‘Oh I’ll just have a one chocolate’. Then, before I knew it, I’d eaten the whole box, and the biscuits AND the cake.

What is binge eating?

Binge eating means you’re consuming large amounts of food very quickly, even when you’re not hungry anymore. You’ll often eat until you feel uncomfortable and sick. Everybody overeats once in a while (Hello Christmas Day!) but if it becomes a regular thing, it can develop into a disorder.

After a binge you feel disgusted with yourself and say you’re not going to do it again. You spend the next day starving yourself, promising you’ll have a healthy tea. But by the time night comes, you’re so hungry you’ll eat anything. Then the self-sabotage starts again and you binge more.

Eating binge foods feeds into low self esteem, you feel bad about how you look and the sugar and additives in the trigger food makes you feel depressed and low. Binge eating can often be linked to struggles with body image. You don’t look the same as the perfect girls on Instagram, so you think you are worthless. You find comfort in eating too much sugary food.

Binge eating has so many negative impacts on us. The bad foods will slow your cognitive function, so concentrating on anything is hard. You’ll feel sluggish and tired. Plus, all that excess sugar and fat is hard for the body to digest, it can lower your immunity and make it really hard to sleep properly. It’s no good for you, emotionally or physically, but it’s a tough cycle to break. Trust me, I’ve been there!
What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating means you’re someone who reaches for food to suppress and soothe negative feelings. I’m definitely guilty of this! There’s so many things in life that can get us down. We’ve had a bad day at work. We’re not happy in a relationship or with the environment we’re living in. Due to the pandemic many of us are lonely and disappointed with how life is right now.

All these feelings can lead to a feeling of emptiness or an emotional void. Then we see food as a way to fill that void and make us feel whole. But that feeling of fullness is physical, not emotional and quickly wears off. Afterwards you feel guilty and ashamed and you’re back where you started again.

When you’re upset it can be hard to understand the difference between physical and emotional hunger. Stress also increases a chemical called cortisol in the blood which can cause cravings for sugary or fatty binge foods.
Tricky times…

Right now we’re all facing one of the most difficult times ever due to Covid. Financial problems, relationship issues, bereavements. We’re stuck at home, bored, fed up and unable to see much of other people to cheer us up and support us. It’s no surprise so many of us are turning to the chocolate, the wine and the biscuits to feel better. There’s not a lot to do in the evenings, other than eat.

But then we have to deal with the after effects. You wake up with brain fog. It’s playing on your mind how much you’ve eaten. You notice lumps on your body that weren’t there before. You feel disappointed with yourself. The toxins in the food we’re eating affect our mental health for the worse. So what do we do? Reach for the junk food and the wine again to try and comfort ourselves. It’s a vicious circle and it goes round and round – until you break it.

Realising you’ve got a problem…

A real wake-up call for me was when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease a few months ago. It made me really change my eating habits. Eating properly has definitely made a difference. I noticed a massive change in my performance and energy levels. I usually do eat healthy food, but sometimes I’d eat something I knew I shouldn’t and would end up binging.

A positive step forward…

Something that has REALLY helped me has been working with Ryan Evans, The Holistic Health Coach. I was sooo lucky to find Ryan. He’s an expert in gut microbiology and mental health and he learnt to heal himself from the inside out. He’s now dedicated to helping people understand how important gut microbiology is and he has been a total game changer for me!

Ryan showed me the right foods, that I SHOULD be eating. Having nice healthy meal choices made such a difference. He also taught me about  preparation. Now my food gets delivered on a Tuesday and I prep what I’m eating for the week ahead. I’ve been doing this for so long now it’s formed a habit. Research shows it takes 66 days to form a habit. So do this for two months and it will become second nature to you.

One thing I’ve learnt is that willpower alone won’t stop the binges. It’s getting into good habits. Almost like brushing our teeth. We brush them because we like the feeling of how fresh our mouth feels. My new habit is eating healthy meals 3 times a day, that make me feel energised, slim and happy. Getting into the habit of eating healthy food and being organised and making it a priority is key. Add in regular exercise (I’m addicted! I couldn’t go a day without exercise, no matter what mood I’m in!) and your life will change.

I felt so amazing after going on Ryan’s plan and eating the right foods for me. As I felt SO good I wasn’t tempted to binge. I never want to go back to the old me again.I’m not going to lie though, even though I’m much better now, I do have slip ups. I guess for binge eaters, giving up is like alcoholics trying to give up alcohol. We have to completely cut binge foods out of our lives. Knowing how amazing you feel with the right nutrition in your body is something you can focus on the next time you feel like binging. We all know that we should be eating organic fresh vegetables, fruit and lots of water. That we need to stay away from gluten and dairy and sugar and processed food. But changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. You need to set yourself realistic targets.

Breaking the cycle

If you want to break the cycle, don’t worry, I’ve got you. There ARE ways you can stop this kind of self-sabotage and you’ll start to feel better and stronger every day. If you are willing to change your eating habits and stop the binge, I’m going to share some tips on how to help.

First of all, I’m hosting a totally free emotional eating workshop for you this Sunday at 8pm, with the awesome Ryan Evans who I’ve been working with for the last year. Ryan has been through emotional eating himself and knows SO much about the psychology behind binge eating and how to address it. He has changed my life and he can change yours too!

Join us on Sunday as we share our own experiences of binge eating, answer all your burning questions, look at coping mechanisms and how to tackle binge eating going forward. Don’t miss it! To get your ticket register here on Eventbrite and if you have any questions you’d like Ryan and I to answer, get in touch. You can leave a comment below, or email me at info@turndupfitness.com.

Can’t wait until Sunday to get started?

I like your style! Here a few things I’ve learnt in my emotional eating journey that will help you beat those binging urges:

Keep those cupboards clean

I’m not talking about getting busy with the Mr Muscle! I mean what’s inside. Throw out all the unhealthy trigger foods in your home. If you don’t have them, you won’t be able to eat them. Keep your fridge stocked up with healthy goodies and plenty of nuts and fruit to snack on. Keep a selection of herbal teas and have a cuppa if you’re tempted to snack between meals. At the moment many of us are snacking because we’re bored. Try taking a walk outside, read or listen to an audiobook instead. Fight the impulse to eat just because you don’t know what to do with yourself.

Don’t buy your trigger foods in the first place

Get strict with yourself in the supermarket! Write out a shopping list with all the ingredients you need for your meals and healthy snacks for the week. When you’re shopping, focus on what you need to buy and don’t get tempted by all those binge food baddies like biscuits and cake. Swerve the chocolate and crisps aisles and focus on the good stuff. You’ll be saving money too, veggies and fruit are so much cheaper than unhealthy snacks.

Sidestep those unhealthy snack situations

If there’s one place I’m going to be tempted to eat those naughty foods it’s at my Mum or sister’s house. They always have lots of biscuits and goodies I know are bad for me. I recognize this and when I go to visit them I always eat a proper well-balanced meal beforehand, so I’m not starving. I also take some of my own healthy snacks and a big bottle of water, so if I do feel hungry I’m in control of what I’m eating. Go into tempting situations prepared with alternatives and you’ll smash it!

Visualise your goal

Have a vision in your mind of the health goals and rewards you want. It’s very personal, it could be you looking FINE in the mirror. Feeling full of energy and not sluggish and tired anymore. Choose something that excites you, so you have a lush reward to focus on when temptation comes calling. When I want to binge I remind myself of the brain fog that comes the next day and I instantly don’t want to binge anymore. I hate that feeling and it stops me reaching my full potential, why would I do something to bring that on?

Read yourself healthy

If there’s something in my life that I want to change, I love to read about it, and diet is no different. I’d really recommend The Bulletproof Diet and Super Human by Dave Asprey . These books have been total game changers for me. I would recommend getting a notepad, pen and ‘post its’ to make notes of all the best parts of the books. I’ve become obsessed with brain cognitive function and what foods and supplements can help with this, so you can feel on top form all the time. Both these books can help you with this. When you feel energetic and sharp mentally, everything in your life feels better.

Over time these things will become second nature to you

Soon you won’t even think of heading to the kitchen to get your chocolate fix. Firstly, because it won’t be there! Secondly, you won’t want it anymore. I’ve rewired how my brain works now in response to food. I recognise my trigger foods and I won’t go back because I know how great it feels not to binge eat. Of course I have my slip ups, I’m only human! But I’m so much better than I used to be.

Once you can stop binge eating, you ’ll start to feel stronger and stronger. If I can do it, you can too and I want to help you become healthier and look and feel AMAZING. Give the tips above a try and don’t forget to book your ticket and join Ryan and I for a big step forward on Sunday.  Together we WILL beat binge eating and stop the self-sabotage girls. I believe in you!

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