Breaking the Binge: my past struggle with disordered eating and how I finally broke free

“What the hell just happened?” 

I’d often sit post-binge and ask myself this question, which meant I asked myself this question almost every single day for over two years.

I mean, why couldn’t I just put some peanut butter on a piece of bread and be OK with it? Why did I have to finish the whole jar? Oh, but bread… I couldn’t possibly eat that! Bread was really bad for me.

The height of my binge eating was in 2013 and it felt like my life revolved around food. 

If I went to my parents’ house it was a guaranteed binge because they had all the treats I wouldn’t allow myself to buy at home.  Whenever I was alone in the kitchen you’d better believe I was diving into that snack cabinet. 

If I was driving in the car it was a free-for-all.  I remember driving to my friends house and stopping at Trader Joe’s on the way.  I bought a tub of cookies, peanut butter cups and dried mango and ate it all within a 30 minute drive.

I wasn’t safe before or after work either.  I’d stop at CVS and stock up on Pop-tarts, or run over to Dunkin Donuts and grab one muffin and one donut and eat them before I had to go back into work.

My solution to break the binge was always the same.  I’d start on a new meal plan or diet and restrict the foods I’d binge on.  No more pop-tarts, pizza, bread, peanut butter, Nutella, ice cream, trail mix, cookies, candy, donuts.  It was all lean proteins, veggies and fruit because they were safe.  Or rather, I felt safer around them. The new diet would only last a few days of course before I was right back to bingeing.

Not only was eating like this really hard on my body (I gained 20 pounds and had lots of digestion issues) but I felt like a total fraud because who was I to be someone’s personal trainer and give nutrition advice if I couldn’t even handle a cookie?  I felt like I was letting my clients down because I was supposed to be the shining example for them- an example of fitness and health and I felt like anything but. 

So now I was binge eating, gaining weight and feeling like a fraud which equaled extremely low self-esteem and crushed self-worth. 

I’d also exercise like a mad woman.  If I couldn’t control my eating I could at least try my hardest to burn the calories off, right?  7 mile run in the morning, 90 minutes of hot yoga mid-morning, a spin class or lifting in the afternoon then fitting something else in at night if I could- all on top of teaching classes and training clients.

Guess what?  That didn’t work either. Even though during my workouts I felt in control, and that I could get a handle on things, almost immediately after the gym I’d binge again.

I hated how I looked, called myself some of the most horrible things, I was ashamed of myself, felt guilty for not being able to control my eating habits and hated how much food seemed to control me.

I’m SUPER happy to say that I’ve kicked the binge eating habit to the curb, but it was a struggle to get to where I am now, so I know how hard it can be. I knew that if I was going to make a change, and make it stick, it was going to be up to me to make that happen.  

I’m going to share with you my top 5 tips to stop binge eating.  Keep in mind that this is what worked for me and is not guaranteed to work for anyone else but I do think it can help.

  1. Say ‘goodbye’ to dieting and say ‘hello’ to those once ‘forbidden’ foods.

As hard as this can be (and trust me, I know) you absolutely have to say goodbye to any kind of diet or meal plan.  You have to begin trusting your body and trusting yourself to eat when you’re physically hungry then stop when you’re satisfied and be OK eating the things you once looked at as “bad.”  There’s no diet in the world that can teach you how to tune into your body the way you can if you just give yourself some time. 

Back in my bingeing days I really believed that I couldn’t control myself around certain foods. I didn’t trust that I could eat what I really wanted then stop when I was finished.  Instead I fought tooth and nail to abstain from those foods and ended up eating a whole lot more food in the long run.  Had I just allowed myself a few cookies when I wanted them without any guilt attached to it, I could have avoided the binge and probably maintained a lower weight. Again, this is not easy and it takes practice so be gentle with yourself.

Accept that everything and anything is allowed in your plan.  Yes, you might eat more than you’d like on some occasions but just remind yourself that it’s OK and that you could even go buy MORE of those foods if you really wanted to because they’re always available and they’re always ok for you to have.

 

  1. Sayonara scale!

Our weight can fluctuate like crazy over the course of 24 hours. The number is completely dependent on what you ate, how much water you drank, if there was sodium in your food, what kind of exercise you did, what time of day you weigh yourself and which scale you use. The number will without a doubt be different due to any of these scenarios.

I once gained 11 pounds in a weekend from a binge. 11 freaking pounds. You can only imagine what that did to my psyche as I was already beating myself up for what I ate. Those 11 pounds weren’t fat necessarily, there was a whole lot of bloating and a whooooole lot of undigested food, but still the scale is a tricky SOB and you’re better off just staying away.

When you’re breaking the binge habit, focus on doing the best you can day in and day out making the best choices you can.  No number on a scale can make you feel the way doing your absolute best can.  Throw it away, break it, run it over, just say goodbye to the scale.

 

  1. Let go of perfection

Something I stress to my clients is that life keeps going even though you’re breaking your binge habit.  Temptations and treats are everywhere and sometimes you’ll want to partake and other times you won’t, but you always have a choice.  In my mind, there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to nutrition.  There’s only choices and progress. Make a good choice, great.  Make a not so great choice, great too because you can learn from it. 

Giving yourself permission to let go a little bit takes the pressure off of being “perfect” on your diet.  If no food is off limits and you don’t have a strict meal plan to follow, you have access to anything and everything you want and all you have to do is be mindful about your choices. There’s no on or off the wagon or on/off track because you’re just kinda cruising along making the best decisions you can each time you eat.  

Besides, what is a perfect diet anyway? 

 

  1. Let go of the rules- start simple

Nutrition rules that are given to you by someone else, most likely a total stranger if you’re following a prescribed diet or meal plan you find online, are complete bullshit.  Not eating after 7pm, doing fasted cardio, counting calories/carbs/fat/protein, eating every 3-4 hours…none of this is sustainable in the long term because it’s all way too involved for your average gal who isn’t looking to compete in a bikini competition.

When it comes to nutrition, forget everything you know and start over, but this time, start simple.

  • Protein
  • Veggies
  • Fruit
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy fats
  • A few treats added in for fun 

It doesn’t matter how much really, when you’re trying to knock the binge habit, just start building your meals using those food groups and start taking notice of what foods make you feel good.  I’d also suggest having a couple pieces of dark chocolate for a cookie or two after dinner each night.  Yes, 7 days a week I want you to eat a cookie or have some chocolate.  This not only takes the food off the pedestal but it also satisfies the sweet tooth.  If sweets aren’t your thing, eat some chips or crackers instead.  Allow yourself a treat every day and before you know it, you won’t even want it anymore.  It really does happen! I promise!

 

  1. Get support

When I was in the middle of my bingeing days I confided in someone that I trusted and told them I needed help.  Their response?  “Just stop doing it…it’s disgusting.” Ha!  Not exacccctly what I was hoping for! I also tried therapy but her methods only made my bingeing worse. Luckily though, the more I read on the subject and the more I researched the less alone I felt.  I knew I wasn’t the only one who was going through this stuff and that was so reassuring. 

There are websites, support groups, therapists and coaches who specialize in binge eating and it’s definitely worth getting started with someone or something if you need the support.


Download my FREE End Binge Eating Blueprint where I teach you my Triple A Method to help make binge eating a thing of the past HERE!

 

 

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