Jun 19, 2019
In this solo episode, Balance365 Life co-founder Lauren Koski gives a comprehensive overview of binge eating from a psychological and physiological perspective. Tune in for practical tips and a no-guilt look at one of the most challenging habits to break!
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Annie: Welcome to Balance 365 Life Radio, a podcast that delivers honest conversations about food, fitness, weight, and wellness. I'm your host Annie Brees along with Jennifer Campbell and Lauren Koski. We are personal trainers, nutritionists and founders of Balance365. Together we coach thousands of women each day and are on a mission to help them feel healthy, happy, and confident in their bodies, on their own terms. Join us here every week as we discuss hot topics pertaining to our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing with amazing guests. Enjoy.
Lauren: Hello. Hello. Today we are talking about why you may be bingeing and what to do about it. My name is Lauren Koski, one of the cofounders of Balance365 Life. And thank you so much for joining me for a solo episode today. And so I said we're going to be talking about binge eating today. And I used to be a binge eater. I was a secret binge eater. I was a weekend binge eater. Basically I was a "whenever my latest diet failed" binge eater. And so I know very well the feelings of shame and guilt that come with bingeing and with feeling just completely out of control around food. It's something that so many people are dealing with. And I see so many popular diet plans, basically all of them that set people up to binge later. And if you've seen our workshop, you'll know the story I'm about to tell because I talk about it there.
But back when I was a strict dieter, which I was a for about 10 years, I had a roommate who worked at Dairy Queen. And as you can imagine as a dieter, it was a nightmare for me to constantly avoid eating a freezer full of Dairy Queen. So my low point came one night when she came home and she went to get her favorite kind of blizzard that was in the freezer and they were all gone. And she asked me what happened and I told her that I went to get one from the back and the rest all fall, all over the floor and I had to throw them all away. And I don't know if she believed me, probably not because it was a lie and it was a horrible lie because there were four blizzards in there.
I ate them all in one sitting because I just could not resist that any longer. And I felt horribly, physically and mentally, but it was a horrible lie because if you've ever dropped anything out of a freezer when frozen, it doesn't spill all over the floor and you don't have to throw it away, right? But that's just what I came up with. I was mortified that I could not control myself around that ice cream and I ate all of it even though she shares it with me, she used to share it with me, but obviously it was hers. So that was about 10 years ago. And since then I've worked really hard on my relationship with food and myself and my body image. I'm a trained habit based nutrition coach now and it's been at least five or six years since I've really gone on a binge like that.
So let's take a minute and talk about why people binge in the first place. There are several reasons, including restriction, trauma, shame, guilt, stress, etc. Sometimes all of them. But what I'm going to cover today is reactive bingeing, which is really, really common. Before we get going though, I will do want to make one disclaimer. I am not qualified to treat binge eating disorder, which is a clinical eating disorder. And if you think you may have that, then please seek out qualified medical professionals. So I classify reactive or restriction based bingeing as a binge that happens after someone to physically restricts their food, either through intentional or unintentional means. And I'm sure most of you are familiar with what this looks like in real life. So let's say you go on a diet and this diet severely restricts your calories and you need to use willpower to stick with your plan.
Your willpower starts off strong and you do really well for a week, maybe a month, maybe even a few months. But along the way, your cravings increase and ultimately you find yourself face first and pizza or ice cream or chocolate or whatever that calorie-dense, delicious food is for you. And at first it feels amazing to eat that food because you've been craving it for so long, but you're soon filled with all of that shame and guilt and regret and you're feeling like a failure. And you also might notice that each time you diet or restrict your food, it takes a shorter and shorter amount of time before you lose control and overeat or binge. So we are going to talk about what to do about that. But first I want to go over what not to do because what not to do is exactly what I see most people doing and what most people end up doing.
And it's a totally logical response to binge eating. And that is to lay on the shame and guilt and then to restrict again, right? When I always did that after failing another diet, right? I would binge and then I would continue to eat everything that was off limits during my diet. I was already cheating on it, right? So I thought I'd just get it all out of my system, right? That all or nothing thinking. And then I'd start again on Monday or next week or after the holidays or whatever. And I would start fresh with a new diet, a new restrictive program. And I followed this cycle way too many times to count before I learned a better approach. So let's, that's what not to do. Now let's go over some realistic steps to get you out of this cycle and stopping binge eating.
So number one that I want to cover is to rip up your good food and bad food lists. We tend to have all or nothing approaches to weight loss and nutrition and in my experience, that is a quick way to a binge or to overeat. You have to remember there is no wagon to be on or off of. The cookie that you had after dinner doesn't mean that the vegetables you ate were any less nutritious or vice versa. When you realize that there aren't any foods that you need to be totally off limits it takes away that deprivation and that scarcity mindset, right? Anytime you want a particular food, you can choose to have it if you want. And when you start to truly allow yourself to eat without guilt, some of those really intense cravings will lessen simply from you knowing that there's no foods off limits anymore.
When you can't have something, it makes you want it more. So if you take those off limit foods and really allow them, some of that scarcity goes away just by doing that. So number two is when you binge or overeat, forgive yourself immediately. You're probably not gonna stop binge-eating totally overnight. So the most important thing you can do is to forgive yourself as soon as it happens and move on. I know it's easier said than done, but shame and guilt will only increase your desire to comfort and numb and overeat. Alright, so number three is going to be "Just say no to restrictive dieting." You have to remember that another diet is never going to be the answer with reactive binge-eating. Restriction is only going to perpetuate this cycle. We call it the Diet Cycle. So I urge you to stay as far away from dieting as possible.
And in fact, a history of yoyo dieting and restrictive eating is actually a risk factor for developing binge eating disorder. Number four is to make sure you're eating enough. Binge eating can be as much about physiology as it is about psychology. So your body needs energy to function and it gets its energy from the calories in the food that you eat. So even if you aren't following a specific diet, it's still really important to make sure you're eating enough to sustain you throughout the day. So when I really struggled with binge eating, a typical day of eating for me would look something like this. I would eat Special K cereal with skimmed milk for breakfast. I'd maybe have an apple a few hours later as a stack. For lunch I'd have a small dry salad with grilled chicken. And then I'd have another snack of low fat yogurt and broccoli with no butter, no nothing on it, just plain.
And then dinner was something like more grilled chicken and broccoli. And then as you might imagine, nights or weekends, I would binge eat everything delicious and high calories and high fat that I could find. And I would eat no absolutely no vegetables and nothing, basically no whole foods. It was just all as high calorie and high fat as I could find. And this might sound familiar to you right when you're on a diet like that, even though I wasn't on at that time a specific diet, I was still eating as little as possible and still those biological factors were still driving me to binge eat and overeat along with the psychology factors. So your body needs calories and if you're trying to eat as little as possible throughout the day, it will increase cravings for those quick energy sources. So if this is you like it was for me, try eating a larger breakfast and a larger lunch and I'm willing to bet that your cravings and your uncontrollable urges to eat those cookies or whatever it is for you will lessen dramatically just from doing that.
And number five, last but not least, don't underestimate the importance of sleep. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is linked to excess cravings of less nutritious foods. I find this to be true for myself as well as for our clients. But a little caveat with that said, when you have kids, I know that sometimes it's just out of your control, right? When your baby keeps you up all night, just give yourself compassion and know that this is just a phase of your life. Prioritize sleep when you can and then realize that you're doing the best that you can do right now. So before I wrap this up, I do also want to mention that I'm definitely not saying that this has to be a choice between the restricting binge cycle or no change at all. There is a middle road and that is exactly what we do recommend, so the middle road is going to look like making smaller, sustainable changes that you can actually stick with and that won't cause you to binge later, right? Things like choosing one thing at a time to work on instead of trying to change your entire life and eating habits overnight, which is what you do when you go on a diet.
It's going to look like focusing on the process instead of only looking at the outcome that you are wanting and creating a smaller calorie deficit so that you don't activate those biological processes that begin when your body thinks you're starving, which again is exactly what happens on a diet. So I hope this has been helpful for you. I hope you are having a fantastic day and I hope you enjoyed this solo episode. Bye.
Annie: This episode is brought to you by the Balance365 program. If you're ready to say goodbye to quick fixes and false promises and yes to building healthy habits and a life you're 100% in love with, then check out Balance365.co to learn more.