How to Stop Binge Eating Your Goals Away
Recently, If I’m being honest, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder that has lasted a few years.
It feels dramatic calling it that, but now that the cycle has ended, I can see what a dangerous and harmful cycle it was.
I had a serious problem with binging and I had no concept of moderation.
I had an all or nothing dieting mindset and it was destroying my self-esteem, confidence, and most of all it was harming my body.
I’d eat faultless for five days (maybe six, if I was feeling like a self-controlled Jedi) and then binge until I was close to sickness. I thought, “I deserve this cheat day”.
Though sometimes I didn’t even last a day and I would have something that wasn’t “diet-friendly” and I would decide “cheat day” came early. One cookie, turned into a bag of cookies. A bowl of ice cream into a tub of ice cream.
Turns out the very thing I was doing doing for sanity made me feel more insane because I felt out of control with my eating and ultimately my health.
Have you ever felt like this?
Unless it’s part of the diet you follow, like the slow-carb diet, I personally see and have experienced nothing beneficial about having cheat days or meals and the guilt that often goes along with them.
What can be helpful about labeling yourself “A Cheater”?
For a long time I wondered if there was a better way. And friends, I’m glad to say I’ve found it.
Why Moderation Isn’t A Naughty Word
We buy a book, read about a diet, and become indoctrinated to believe some foods are good and some foods are evil. Some are “clean” and some are “unclean”.
Ok, it’s obvious some foods are more nutritionally dense than others and some should be eaten regularly while others more sparingly.
But unless you have allergies, intolerances or other health issues, I don’t believe you should have to exclude any foods out of your diet 100% of the time.
If you’ve struggled with an “all or nothing” mindset that’s led to an unhealthy relationship with food, then moderation in your diet may just be the thing you need.
Having foods you enjoy, in moderation, allows you to be consistent and stay on track with your health goals long-term. I never understood this and for years I was spinning my wheels wondering why nothing was working.
The key: It’s not about being more strict, but being more relaxed (and strategic).
How to Be Flexible Without Ruining Your Progress
I’ve tried (almost) every diet under the sun and I’ve finally found something that works for me.
I follow something similar to what blogger and author, Chris Kresser, calls the 80/20 rules.
80% of the time I’m strict with how I eat. 20% of the time I kick my heels up. (More specifically I follow a way of eating called Flexible Dieting)
These percentages may change day-to-day but I try and keep the principle the same. Of course you don’t want your moderation to stall your progress, so how do we eat the cake and have the flat stomach?
Here’s what I’ve found to be the most helpful for me:
Become aware of how much you eat.
How much you eat will often determine more about your size and health than what you eat. Don’t believe me? Recently a science teacher set out to eat only McDonalds for 3 months.
He could eat whatever he wanted on the menu, he just had a daily calorie goal to keep too. He tracked how much he ate. The results: He lost weight and more surprisingly, gained health.
I’m not telling you to go eat McDonalds for months (though I believe fast food can be eaten, in moderation, while still staying healthy and lean).
I want you to just become more aware of how much you eat.
For years I was gaining weight while eating what was said to be a really nutritious diet. I didn’t understand being in a calorie deficit is the key to weight loss.
By tracking how much you eat you can be flexible, have your favorite foods in moderation, all the while knowing they won’t derail your progress or health.
I love the way I eat now. It’s sustainable long-term and helps me reach my goals. It has also helped me to quit dieting for good.
I also personally track everything I eat and I enjoy it because it gives me a lot of control over my health and body. I do so on my phone using myfitnesspal.
Remember this: One bowl of ice cream won’t make you fat just like one salad won’t make you skinny.
Question: How has an “all or nothing” diet mindset affected you? Could you benefit from flexibility in your diet?