This week, a client of mine asked me “Do you ever give in to bread?”
Well, not bread, but chocolate cake, yes! So it occurred to me that maybe I need to clarify something:
I eat chocolate cake. And sometimes, I eat A LOT of chocolate cake – as in I binge on chocolate cake.
The first time it happened I must have been in my mid-late 20’s. I remember the details of the binge itself but have no recollection of the exact date or the exact circumstances that lead to it. But I must have been stressed, tired, emotional, pmsing, or the like.
I do know it was a few days after one of my daughters’ birthday parties because the victim was leftover chocolate cake with creamy chocolate icing. Betty Crocker. The cake and the icing. (Yes, I know, Betty Crocker is bad, bad, baaad. But at the time, no one knew any better and Betty Crocker was just so GOOD).
What sticks with me are the sensations. I walked into the kitchen that night and opened the fridge. I remember not looking for anything specific and even thinking “oh…we STILL have chocolate cake?”…which goes to show the extent of my nonchalance towards it.
I pulled out the Tupperware and a fork and just took a bite.
It might have taken me a few minutes to finish the box or a few seconds. I found myself gasping as I stared at the empty container both from the frustration because I wanted more and because I was thinking “wow…what was that?”
There was no remorse, no guilt, no shame. Well, maybe a bit of shame because my immediate second thought was “How will I explain this if Karim (my husband) wants a piece and they’re all gone?” I quickly decided to tell him I tried a piece and realized it’s going bad so I threw it all out. But what if he looks in the garbage and doesn’t find it (And who said he would go looking?? But clearly all rational thought was slowly leaving me).
As I processed those thoughts, I kept going back to “WHAT WAS THAT??” I REMEMBER thinking “that was so easy…I feel really good…how come I never thought of this before?” I REMEMBER the feelings of relief, peace, the sugar high. And so the cycle was put in motion.
The fact that I don’t remember WHY I felt I needed the cake that night is irrelevant now. From that day on, I turned to food-mostly sweets and especially chocolate cake to feel better-no matter what the issue at hand or how significant or irrelevant.
I had made the connection between eating (or in this case—overeating) and feeling good. And once you make a connection, especially one that is rooted in satisfaction you will keep going back to it. Perhaps unconsciously at first. But eventually, do it long enough and it becomes a habit:
Tired—eat. Frustrated—eat. Sad—eat. Angry—eat. Nervous—eat. Even happy!—eat. You can literally attach any feeling to eating to justify it.
And so, as a health coach and as a recovering binge-aholic I can tell you a few things about binging:
Overeating or binging comes from a lack of sharing love. Take a step back and evaluate your primary relationship—are you fully satisfied, committed to making it work and creating a positive, fulfilling mutual space for you and your partner to THRIVE?
Binging can also signal a lack of SELF-LOVE. Do you fulfill YOUR needs? Do you have a career or a passion that drives you every morning? Are your days filled with motivation, positivity, dreams or are you stuck in a rut—doing the daily run around on automatic, taking care of everyone but yourself? Trying to solve everyone’s problems but yours? Both of these deficiencies make you feel empty. And so you try to fill the void. Identify which of the two–or both–that you are dealing with, and you will stop relying on food for comfort.
Exercise minimizes binging. MOVE everyday. Give your body the chance to release those endomorphins that naturally give us that skip to our step.
You will never stop binging 100%–Unless you’re a robot.
But the incidences becomes few and far in between. The urge comes up when there is something I REALLY CANNOT solve. When life presents itself in a way that no amount of thinking, crying, rationalizing, or planning can overcome. And so I give in and ALLOW myself to use food as comfort. It is a conscious decision instead of an unconscious free-for all.
Celebrating is not binging. It is a time to partake of life, the occasion and the people who matter in your life.
There are ways to “fix” a binge:
- Drink a lot of water. If you have coconut water, even better. Aim for 8oz or 250ml. Water works to flush out toxins from the body and lessens the overload of toxins on your liver. You can also add lemons and/or limes.
- Drink Green Juice. You need 10 asparagus stalks; 3 cucumbers; 4 celery stalks and 1 lemon. Juice all of these ingredients (either in a juicer or a blender) and fill up as many times as you can during the day.
- Work out. Yup. Sweat. A LOT of sweat. Your skin is one of your largest elimination organs. Use it.
Eating is just easier than dealing with the issue(s). I get that. I really, really get that.
But how much longer can you keep the cycle going? Knowing that the issues don’t GO anywhere. What is this costing you, whether in terms of your health or your life’s goals?
Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.