As a personal trainer, I can sympathise with how easy it can be to slip into a binge eating episode.
Believe it or not, binge eating can be commonplace within the fitness world, as the all year around strict dieting regime can take its toll and one day the rules go out the window. It also happens to people who are on restrictive, very low calorie diets, as the body releases hormones such as ghrelin, which makes us more susceptible to extreme hunger and result in bingeing.
It is believed that, as human beings, we only have a certain amount of will power when it comes to food. This is why the majority of us can tend to overeat now and again. My own personal experience of binge eating happens once every few months when you just feel as though you need a blow out to help you mentally as much as physically. The problem being, however, that due to the serotonin produced by the body in reaction to these foods, they are extremely addictive.
If binge eating becomes a common occurrence, it can seriously derail any progress in the gym, but can also lead to an eating disorder. There is a fine line between cheat meals and over excessively binge eating, and I’m writing this article to try and help you overcome the need to eat excessively.
Flexible dieting is basically how I preach to my clients to live their life. The idea is to eat healthy, nutritious foods for 90% of the time, and allow yourself the occasional treat. This way you are not excessively over consuming too much ‘bad’ foods, and you are far less likely to affect any gym progress, or become addicted to that sweet, sweet sugar. Just make sure that the treats you consume are in small quantities. A great example of this is that if you are craving chocolate, allowing yourself a square per day, you wont feel the need to overeat at the end of your diet or on a cheat day.
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent binge eating. By planning your meals well in advance you are much more likely to stick to a diet plan, and far less likely to cave in and eat that packed of crisps. If you plan and organize yourself frequent meals, say every 3-4 hours, you will prevent yourself getting so hungry that you need to satisfy your hunger with whatever you can grab. Studies show that when you’re really hungry, you’re more likely to choose fatty/sugary food as this is your body’s natural food choice to replenish glucose stores quickly, if it is in starvation mode.
Controlling your mind-set
The mind can play tricks on us. We all know that. I’m sure many of you have fallen into the trap of eating when bored. The key around this kind of binge eating is to really try and control your temptations by asking yourself, ‘do I really need to eat now?’ Take a step back, a deep breath, and just ask yourself this question. This is a difficult skill, and will take a high level of motivation, but once you get into this habit, it will become a walk in the park.
If you are really struggling, think of the consequences of binge eating, and what it will mean for you. Will it mean an extra workout that week? Will it mean cutting more calories out that day? Just stop before you eat and have a think of how it could affect your day, and also the awesome progress you are making. Is that whole bar of chocolate really worth it? I think not!!!