It happened. It’s a blur. You remember going to the cupboard...reaching for the cracker...then going to the fridge for the hummus, and then… it’s all a blur.
The entire pantry later, you realize, you just mindlessly ate the kitchen.
Regardless if it’s good food or crappy food, there’s all been a point when we’ve eaten more than we should, when we shove mounds of food in our mouth, only to shove more in before we’ve swallowed.
And then it’s over, and the guilt sets in.
Why do we do this? Do we like punishment? Because after that binge is over, it’s not a good feeling. Normally it’s the guilt-ridden, how-did-I-do-that-again feeling that takes hours to shake off.
Here are four questions you can ask yourself to help uncover the why, and maybe prevent the gorge next time….
1. Did I have enough fat with my last meal?
When our breakfasts, or lunch, consist of a lot of carbs (breads, cereals or even super fruit smoothies) we throw our blood sugar completely out of whack. When this happens, your blood sugar goes up really fast, but then drops really really fast as a result of an excess of insulin being released to deal with the amount of sugar in the blood. This drop will typically mean a desperate binge for more food to get our blood sugar back to normal . To avoid this, make sure every meal has some good fats with it to help stabilize your blood sugar!
Plan of action: every meal has good fats like MCT oil, olive oil, raw nuts and seeds and avocados. .
2. Was I avoiding my emotions?
I’ve been guilty of this one. When I’m stressed out, anxious or feeling the pressures of being behind in my work, I’m more likely to escape into food. “Cognitive avoidance” is one theory as to why binge eating occurs (1). In this theory, binge eating serves as a way to escape negative thought patterns, or anxious behaviour. Simply put, we numb our feelings.
Plan of action: If this holds true for you, maybe the next time you feel the need to eat to excess, ask yourself what’s really going on. Is there something you are trying to avoid? Take some deep breaths (in for the count of 4, out for the count of 4) and give yourself a big hug. Then go from there. Do the work you're avoiding, call a friend and talk, or maybe just go for a walk by yourself and reflect. Then see if you’re still feeling the need to binge.
3. How many nutrient-rich foods have I had lately?
“Overfed but undernourished”. Unfortunately, this phrase holds true for a lot of people eating the standard North American Diet. There is so much food out there, but a lot of it is nutrient-poor. Burgers, fries, ice-berg lettuce salads, chips, etc. are really dense in calories and fat, but hold very little nutrients that the body needs. So although you are eating a lot, you're not giving your body the essential vitamins and minerals it so desperately needs. From a physiological level, you're eating so much as a desperate attempt to get these nutrients.
Plan of action: Eat more nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds throughout your day. If you eat more nutrient rich foods, you probably wouldn’t eat as much, and would be satisfied far longer.
4. How tired am I?
When we don’t get adequate sleep, we tend to eat more. Two hormones that help regulate our hunger are leptin, which tells us we’re full, and ghrelin, which tells us we’re hungry. When we don’t get enough sleep, our leptin levels drop and ghrelin levels increase (2) . Simply put: you’re not full as easily, and you're more hungry than you should be.
Plan of action: Have a 20 minute nap, or if that’s impossible try to get to bed a little earlier tonight. And know that your sleep will affect this binge-eating in the future. Something to keep in mind.
Where to go from here:
The ONE thing you can do from here, is to NOT FEEL GUILTY. That just adds insult to injury. If you feel guilty after eating (be it a little or a lot), that stress on your body will impede your digestive process.You won’t digest properly, you won’t properly absorb the nutrients, and you're more likely to have adverse reactions from whatever you just ate (gas, bloat, zits, etc.).
Be kind to yourself, you’re the only you you’ve got.
So you ate a lot, it happened. Your body’s trying to tell you something. Reflect on it, smile and enjoy the rest of your day, guilt-free. And the next time you feel the need to gorge, ask yourself a few of those questions first.
The take aways..
Have a super day!