BINGE EAT > REGRET > REPEAT
Picture this >>>
You’ve been good all day. You’ve eaten healthy. You did some exercises this morning. You said no to cake at lunchtime and you are determined to keep on driving when you see the Starbucks sign as you leave work.
Then you get home.
And it all goes wrong.
You are not alone.
Emotional eating has a devastating effect on the self-esteem and health of women worldwide. I have encountered numerous women who have faced this issue over the last year and although each set of circumstances is different, the pattern is always the same.
THE PATTERN OF MINDLESS EATING
First comes the emotional trigger. (A bad day, relationship issues, feelings of low self-esteem etc.)
Next comes the binge or junk eating.
This is followed by self-shaming and guilt: ‘Why did I do that? I’m so stupid. I’ve ruined all my good work. I’m such a mess. I shouldn’t have done that. I feel so bad’.
Later, there are feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. ‘I don’t know why I even try to eat well. It’s pointless. I can’t help myself. I should just give up. I’ve ruined today so I may as well eat what I want.’
This then leads back to more binge eating and so on.
If this sounds familiar to you, I’m here to help you with a six step plan. My plan is based on mindful eating and it is designed to support you in a practical way. I’ve read lots of articles that give useless advice like: just brush your teeth whenever you feel the urge to eat. I strongly dislike advice like this. Even if it does work in the short term, this isn’t really a practical solution to a serious long term problem (although you can end up with really clean teeth!)
This is one of the reasons I became a life coach specializing in women’s wellness. I have a number of strategies which will help you to:
1. Recognize the dangerous ‘binge zones’.
2. Avoid eating the things that you don’t really want to eat.
MINDFUL EATING: BREAKING THE EMOTIONAL CYCLE
1. HAVE A PLAN
Before you can begin to exercise control over your eating habits, you need to know what it is you should and shouldn’t be eating. I am not here to give you a diet program, I am uncomfortable even using the word diet in this context, but I will help you to categorize the foods you typically eat into three main areas.
Take a piece of paper and make three columns. Label the columns RED, ORANGE and GREEN. I want you to write all of the foods that you really want to avoid in the red column. Now put all of the foods that you can eat as much as you like of in the green column (try to make this a long list.)
There will be some foods which fall in the middle, which you will allow yourself to eat sometimes. They may not be super unhealthy but they’re also not great for you. Put those items in the orange column.
Now for the fun stuff. At the bottom of your paper write three cheats you are allowed from the red column each week (if it’s too hard, start with five!). Ta daaaa, you have a workable plan. Put this list somewhere visible and cross the treats off as you eat them in the week.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE ABOUT CHEATING: I am torn on the idea of cheat eating. I know the pros and the cons but as a life coach I have to put the steering wheel firmly in your hands on this one. If the cheat treats are going to cause you anxiety and stress, eliminate them. If the cheat treats are likely to make your eating plan more realistic and successful, keep them. Simple as that.
Mindful eating is the practice of eating with your full attention.