HOW I STOPPED BINGING
Those few moments after a binge… are a few of the worst moments of your entire life.
You feel so….
Why did I do that?
What the HELL is wrong with me?
Why can’t I just CONTROL myself??!
Panic. Stress. Needing to “un do” the damage.
Binge eating is something I struggled with a lot, and if I’m being honest was THE main reason that I failed to lose weight even though I was working out hard and “eating clean.”
I have not discussed my experiences with binge eating much publicly yet — only really in my private coaching community.
But, one of my followers recently asked in a Q&A “How to recover from a binge?” and I realized I can’t really answer this without sharing my honest experiences with it —
SO: Here it is. My experiences with binge eating, how I broke out of it, and some tips for you.
This blog will help you understand the root cause of your binging and give you some mental tools to stop it for good.
Note: This is going to get pretty personal, so please be nice in the comments. If you read the whole thing, I would love for you to send me a DM on Instagram and share how it helped you.
Before I get into this let me just clarify I am a coach, not a psychologist. If you are struggling with a binge eating disorder I recommend you see a licensed psychologist to work through it and fully overcome it. I am simply going to share MY experiences with binge eating, how I overcame it, and the tools I have used to coach dozens of other women achieve peace with their body and food, shed fat, tone up, and feel amazing naked.
WHAT IS BINGING?
Let’s be clear: #BingeEating is different than standard overeating.
When you overeat, you can usually stop at a reasonable point, laugh it off the next day, and move on with your life.
But when you binge:
You feel completely out of control with food.
You feel like no matter how much you eat, you’re still not “full.”
Even when your stomach is extremely, uncomfortably, full… you still keep eating, and really just cannot stop.
After you finish the binge you feel terrible. Like a total and utter failure.
You may feel like you need to “undo the damage” either by over-exercising, purging, starving yourself the next day, or some other measures that are proportionate to the extremity of your binge.
Binging is very different than overeating.
But look: Before you can stop binge eating, you need to understand WHY you are doing it.
WHY YOU BINGE
Binge eating happens either for (1) PHYSIOLOGICAL REASONS or (2) EMOTIONAL REASONS.
I have struggled with both, and am going to share the difference with them below.
REASON #1 YOU ARE NOT EATING ENOUGH
If you are constantly under-eating, constantly hungry, or constantly on a restrictive diet of some sort…
Then when you’re around delicious food, you are at a very high risk of going crazy with it.
Look: Your willpower is a finite resource, and it’s constantly being drained throughout the day.
At the end of a long week, or a long day at work, when you have no willpower left… You’re just going to give in to your appetite, and binge.
You can only strong-arm a restrictive diet for so long.
Here’s the other thing to understand: Our bodies are wired to see food as a scarce resource. The primal, cavewoman part of our brain has this urge to “stock up” on food whenever we can, just in case there is a famine.
So the harder you diet, the more your mind sees food as scarce. When you veer off the wagon just a little bit and get a taste of rich food… Your brain is at high risk of going hard, and binging, so you can “stock up” while you get the chance.
From a hormonal perspective, extended periods of restrictive dieting will wreak havoc on your hunger hormones, and can cause you to signal “hunger” even when you aren’t hungry.
This happened to me during my bikini competition prep. I was on SUCH a rigid diet for so long, that when I finally got the chance to eat “normal” food I went balls to the wall crazy with it.
During my bikini prep I had some of the worst binges of my entire life.
I distinctively remember one day where I veered off my rigid diet and decided to go “all in” because I “might as well.” I ate SO MUCH I thought I was going to die from how full I was.
I ate a massive burger. Two GIANT plates of fries. A full plate of chicken wings. A full plate of three sliders. Nachos with cheese.
But instead of stopping there… I ate dessert! TWO pieces of cheesecake! A slice of apple pie (WITH ice cream)! And of course an Oreo brownie on TOP of that!
I had the worst stomach pains of my ENTIRE life… I felt ashamed, bloated, disgusting, and like a total failure.
I knew I had reversed all the progress I had made from the previous week in one day... and I am ashamed to admit I attempted to purge when I got home.
Despite that, it still took my body about two full weeks to rid itself of the remaining water retention and bloat from this binge.
I really cannot stress this enough: The more you restrict your diet… the harder you are going to binge on it.
The MORE you restrict, the MORE you are going to see food as scarce, the MORE you are going to screw with your hormones, and the HUNGRIER you are going to get… Thus creating the optimal conditions for a B I N G E! Then you will try and restrict again... and the cycle will continue.
SIDE NOTE: THIS IS ONE OF THE BIG REASONS I DON’T DO ‘CHEAT DAYS’ with clients.
Cheat days — are basically entire days where you are “allowed to binge.” They completely reinforce a scarcity mindset with food, and you develop the habit of restricting for a full week and then eating like a pig for an entire day because you ‘earned it.’ Not good. I would MUCH rather have you incorporate indulgences into your macros daily or a few times a week rather than suffer through an entire week of deprivation just so you can “earn” one ‘binge day.’
Food is not something you need to “earn!” Please understand that.
How I stopped this type of binging:
I STOPPED with the restrictive diets and started Flexible Dieting / tracking macros.
Instead of cutting out entire food groups, I encourage you to LEARN about nutrition. Track your macros and utilize flexible dieting. Flexible dieting and understanding macros saved my life, and was the one of the MAIN reasons I stopped restricting and binging constantly.
Obviously, this showed on my body too. Instead of constantly being stuck in a restrict / binge cycle every WEEK with zero progress to show for it… I finally understood how much I could actually eat to shed fat (which was much more than I expected). I was able to stick to a moderate calorie range that was not drastic. And guess what? I shed the fat MUCH faster!
If you are interested in learning about how to utilize #flexibledieting and macros to help you shed the fat… Stay tuned for my upcoming program this month! I know many of you are awaiting it, and it’s ALMOST here! Make sure you’re on my email list to be the first to know and reserve your spot when it launches. LINK FOR MY WAIT LIST IS at the end of this article!
REASON 2: Emotional Escape
Now we are going to get into a deeper reason many of us women binge:
You binge… as an escape.
You crave the rush —
The emotional surge that the food gives you.
It’s been a long day, a stressful day… so you binge on chips when you get home. Ice cream. Cookies. Alcohol. Whatever it is.
The food is like a drug.
You just need more and more of it each time, to get your “high” and lose yourself in it.
Many times we binge eat or drink because we are seeking an “escape” from pressures of the real world.
What are we escaping from?
It really varies from person to person but usually comes down to:
- Expectations that others have put on us or that we have placed on ourselves.
- Inner feelings of unworthiness / not being ‘good enough’ no matter what we do.
- Feelings of living a life that is not true to who we are deep down.
- Feelings of suppressing part of our true selves, and our innermost desires.
- Feelings of being “trapped.”
When I think back to the times that I binged the hardest… it was always times where I was living in a manner that was not aligned to what I truly desired in my life.
I started binging in college.
This was a time where I based my self-worth heavily on external factors: Grades, what sorority I was in, whether guys liked me, etc.
I was pre-med at an Ivy League school, and the pressure was intense. Not to mention I knew deep down medicine wasn’t for me, and I literally never once saw myself being a doctor like the rest of my family. I later went into pre-business, and tried management consulting because it was what people said was “successful.” But quite that didn’t feel like that was a good fit either.
SO I started to binge and purge… as an escape.
I didn’t even THINK it was an escape mechanism at the time, but now that I look back on it I can clearly say I lived for weekends when I could use alcohol as an excuse to eat even more food and blame it on “drunchies.”
I didn’t think it was “that bad” though — I only did it sometimes! I only purged a few times a month! It’s not a REAL eating disorder!
I stopped doing it that often towards the end of college… but it still happened now and again when I got stressed out.
The second time my binging really flared up was when I was working in my corporate technology job, which was simply not for me.
I would live for the weekends, Friday nights, where I could leave work, go to a restaurant with my friends, and totally lose myself in food, to forget about my problems. “I’m just a foodie!” I would say, and use that as my excuse to binge eat / overeat every weekend.
Other times binges from work-related stress came in the form of “stress baking,” where I would bake as a form of stress relief… and then binge eat the entire plate of baked goods that I had just made.
I cannot tell you how many entire batches of brownies and cookies I have eaten in one sitting after stress-baking.
My worst binging episode EVER came towards the end of my time at corporate job —
I was attending a Christmas party with my boyfriend, and was just having an “off day.” Nothing felt like it was going right that day, I felt crappy about my body, I was extremely discontent after a draining work week… and just generally feeling shitty about everything.
I was attending a party with a ton people I didn’t know, in a dress that felt way too tight, which was making me feel very ‘body anxious.’ The topic of conversation was of course small talk about the tech industry, talking about which company had IPO’d, which company had been acquired by which, and which CEO had said what on Twitter…
I was frustrated, bored, discontent, and just feeling so… stressed and cranky. I wanted to poke my eyeballs out with frustration.
But instead… I spent the entire party binging, and losing myself in food.
It started off with a plate of fries…
Then a mini donut…
Then seven more mini donuts…
Then another plate of fries…
Then sliders, cookies, lamb skewers, pita pockets, and God KNOWS what else was at this party!
Bear in mind I had already had dinner before coming to this party.
This was probably the worst binge of my entire life. I told my boyfriend I was feeling ill, but instead I ran home from the party and immediately tried to reverse the damage. (Unsuccessfully, because I hadn’t had enough water to drink with my food, so nothing was coming up…). I spent the entire rest of the night crying alone while my boyfriend remained at the party.
During both these periods — college and my corporate job — I was suppressing a huge part of myself, suppressing my deepest desires around what I truly wanted in my life, and stuck in a life and trajectory that was extremely misaligned for me.
What DID I truly want? I knew deep down (you always know, trust me) — but I was scared to admit it even to myself.
I wanted to feel free.
I wanted to live my life on my own terms.
I wanted to stop doing a job just because society expected me to do it and it was what people said were “successful.”
What I really wanted, deep down, was:
I wanted freedom in my lifestyle, where I could work from anywhere.
I wanted to travel often, while earning a high income.
I wanted to make a big impact in the world, helping MILLIONS of women daily.
I wanted unlimited earning potential, instead of feeling like my worth and salary was determined by someone else.
I wanted this type of lifestyle every since I was a kid, to be honest. I kind of always knew — you always know — what your soul truly wants.
And I felt so, insanely, trapped. Unable to fulfill my potential, and completely caged by my job and so ridiculously caught up in “what people thought.”
Quitting my job is a story for another time. But know this:
If you have deep inner desires and feelings of discontent, angst, stress, and feeling ‘not good enough’ it is extremely hard to suppress them.
By the end of each week my inner feelings of discontent would bubble up and I would need to release them… somehow.
So I binged, as a release and a escape.
HOW I BROKE OUT OF IT FOR GOOD:
Well quite frankly… I stopped living my life on other people’s terms, and starting living it on my own terms.
I finally quit the tech industry that was sucking the soul out of me… and I started my coaching business.
I found that once I started doing the work that was truly aligned for me to do… I RARELY had urges to binge anymore.
I was doing work that fulfilled me to my core, and I was not suppressing ANY part of me.
I gave myself permission to be fully, 100% myself online, in my business, and with my clients at all times…
And so naturally, my urges to binge subsided, because there was nothing to release, suppress, or hide any more.
I won’t lie and say that I never have urges to binge ever, because I do. There are still days here and there that I want to escape everything and stick my head in a freezer full of ice cream… but it’s rare. MUCH rarer than before, and I truly am able to manage it much better. I can also usually pinpoint it to a specific reason: I’m usually obsessing too much about what someone thinks of me, and it’s resulting in feeling like I need to escape with food.
Honestly, fitness, nutrition, and lifting weights played a big part in this.
Fitness and understanding proper nutrition gave me the confidence to shape my body… but also my LIFE. Once I felt like my BODY was finally in my hands… I felt my entire life open up for me. I had the confidence to create the DREAM life I had always wanted, and finally achieve my fullest potential in impacting the world via my business.
This is a big reason I am so ridiculously passionate about fitness coaching — because I have seen first hand the impact it can have on women’s lives.
Once you find areas of your life that fulfill you and give you meaning, urges to binge often subside on their own.
Maybe this means you need to —
Set boundaries on toxic relationships.
Set boundaries at work.
Find side projects or creative outlets for your energy.
Whatever it is, figure out what you genuinely want out of this life, and how to add more meaning and fulfillment in your life. Set boundaries on the things that are draining your energy and exhausting you. You deserve to reach your fullest potential in this world, and you can’t do that if you’re not setting energetic boundaries that are constantly stressing you out.
If you catch yourself about to binge, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself:
- What feelings am I looking for with this food?
- What am I escaping from?
- What am I hiding or suppressing, that I need to release?
- Why am I afraid to admit this? / What am I afraid of?
I encourage you to pull out a journal and journal for 10 minutes, before the binge. This one habit has helped me stop numerous binges time and TIME again.
If you binge, you are not alone.
I cannot tell you how many successful, ambitious women I have coached who struggle with binge eating. Binge eating is extremely common, and I hope this post has shed some insight into why you may be doing it and how to prevent it from happening.
In my next article I will be discussing HOW TO RECOVER FROM A BINGE. > My top tips for you to MINIMIZE the damage, alleviate your mental stress, forgive yourself, and move forward with your goals.
In the meantime you can check out this articles below that might help you —
PS: Send me a DM if you read this! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and see how it helped you.
PPS: I know many of you are eagerly awaiting my newest program in August and I cannot WAIT to share it with you very soon. This is going to be one of the biggest programs I have ever launched and FINALLY something accessible to many of you around the world. Be the first to know when I release it by signing up here!
What to do when you OVER INDULGE // Exactly how to get back on track and MINIMIZE fat gain —medium.com