I spoke about my own journey overcoming binge eating here. It took a number of years to get to the point where I can take or leave anything at any time, don’t feel any deprivation, even when dieting, and have emotional control when it comes to eating (and drinking).
I want that journey to be shorter for you. Here are ten things that I learnt along the way, that had I known on day 1, would have made for a much smoother ride.
- Lifetime mindset: Approach your health and fitness goals as a long term, never ending part of your life. In reality, that is what it is. Your body carries you every single day of your life and it deserves to be looked after. It is not a short term thing about what the scales are saying before your upcoming holiday or social event that causes you to deprive yourself and then binge afterwards. Ask yourself, are you someone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle and values their body highly?
- Be realistic: When you are dieting or trying to improve eating habits, recognise that you can only be ‘perfect’ for so long. Willpower is a skill, that like a muscle can be developed, but even so you will not likely ever commit to never eating something again, so don’t expect to. Do the right things the majority of the time and work on the reasons you binge eat, such as emotional/habitual/boredom rather than attacking yourself for doing it and feeding back in to a negative cycle.
- Plan your off days: Allow yourself time off from being strict and you will be in a much healthier place to control your eating. Over time if you can be disciplined in allowing a little time off and not beating yourself up, you will naturally start to do it less and less as you are starving the emotional need to binge and allow your rational mind to recognise that it is self defeating and does not serve you.
- Keep a journal: Writing your thoughts, feelings and lessons down at the end of each day is a superb way to gain emotional control and centre yourself. Once something is taken out of your head and written down, it is much easier to see it with clarity and to move on, rather than be in the emotional cycle. Writing is extremely therapeutic. It’s also invaluable to look back over when things aren’t going well, to remind you that times aren’t always this bad and you will come out the other side with a whole new set of valuable lessons learnt.
- Gratitude: Another thing to write down is gratitude. Make it a daily habit to write down 3 things you are grateful for. When you are feeling happy and grateful, you are in a much better place mentally and emotionally and less likely to look for escapism in food.
- Keep your eye on the purpose: When you know what is driving you to control your eating and where your inspiration comes from, be it to live a long, healthy life to see your kids grow up or to be in great shape to build your confidence and meet a great partner for life, keep reaffirming this and you will effortlessly move toward your goal. When the WHY is big enough, the how just falls in to place.
- ‘Treat’ yourself regularly: This doesn’t mean binge, but have something out of the ordinary as a treat. It may be a little indulgence such as chocolate or a nice dessert, but it could equally be eating out at your favourite restaurant and still having something perfectly healthy. A ‘treat’ doesn’t mean it has to be bad for you.
- Find alternate coping strategies: Most binge eating is emotional or boredom, or both. Find alternate strategies such as meditation or exercise to give you the emotional control and ability to change your state of mind and mood that you seek in food. This won’t always be easy, but every little win, every resistance of eating and decision to take the better path builds itself in to your character and habits and will eventually become normal.
- Make it hard for yourself: Binging is a spur of the moment thing. Something happens and you reach for the cookies in the cupboard. If you don’t have any cookies in the cupboard, if you have to get up, go out to the shops and fetch something to eat, you are much less likely to do it. Just by removing the convenience of it, you will curb a lot of it. This goes for the office too, don’t keep stuff in your desk that you don’t want to eat!
- Have an outlet: Bottling emotions up is the worst thing you can do for your health and it will lead to a blowout eventually, whether that is harming others through anger and aggression, or harming yourself through binge eating/drinking/drugs etc. A journal as mentioned previously is a superb thing to do daily for this, but a step further is to have either a buddy or a qualified coach, who you can speak to, discuss things with and ask for advice. If it’s a buddy you of course offer the same support back for them and often in helping someone else, you learn how to help yourself too.
These are my ten best practical tips for avoiding binge eating. If you are unsure what you should be eating in the first place, and don’t know what is a healthy diet, click here to download my ‘Eat this, not that’ cheat sheet taken straight from my Amazon best selling book ‘The 30/30 Body Blueprint‘.