I struggle with binge eating, and eating more "paleo" for the past month has helped a little bit but not enough. I know this isn't just a matter of nutrition (but it definetely helps to eat less sugar to want less sugar). I am telling myself that at least if I binge it's on more healthful foods, but then again I'm sure it's still not very good to eat an entire block of creamed coconut in one go.
So I am open to any and all advice - diet related or activity related or mental training related.
Here are some tips based on my own experiences and those of others (personal friends and PH-ers). The first was the biggie for me:
1) Make sure you're eating enough nutrients. Seriously, a varied diet, vitamins, etc. If you're malnourished, your body will beat the crap out of your brain and force feed you until you're not anymore. When I was nutrient starved you had to tie me down to keep me off the nut butters.
2) If you have a history of calorie restriction, just lay off for a while. Anxiety = bingeing. If you're thinking about food all day, whether it's guilt about yesterday or listing all the ways you won't eat today, you're still obsessing about food all day, and increasing the chances you will binge at night. Plus, long-term calorie restriction leads to bingeing in lots and lots of people.
3) Don't eat at night if you feel even remotely bingey. Just no food at all. No snacks, nothing. Don't tell yourself you'll stop at 8pm, just don't eat after work. Obviously, this necessitates some planning to ensure you're still eating (see #2). So, I wouldn't skip breakfast and lunch ever. If you're going to IF, plan to skip dinner, or make it a really early dinner, like Nance does, at like 4 or 5pm.
Alternatively, go out for dinner so that you have a restricted amount you can reasonably eat, but only if you're going to eat great food and be able to not snack when you get home.
For whatever reason, night-bingeing is the most common, and once you start it's virtually impossible to stop. Eating during the day and eating out also restricts the quantity of food you can eat at one time simply by virtue of the fact that you can't lie down afterwards and you still need to fit into whatever clothes you're wearing.
4) Rehashing the basics: keep refined carbs low, no sugar, don't keep bingey foods in the house (nut butters, dairy, fruit).
Other people have awesome advice here and there are some other threads, so you're in good hands. :)
Edit: I just read some of the comments and had a quick thought:
The whole bingeing on paleo thing is great for people who overeat (eat until you're stuffed/guilty), but for people who seriously binge (eating until you're sick) I'm not sure it's that helpful. Learning to respect food as food helps. That is, there aren't "bad foods" and "good foods," there's just non-food and food. Eating non-food will make you sick for sure, but eating too much food will still make you sick. There's no magical food that you can eat until your gut explodes without your gut exploding, unfortunately.
I'm not sure how much my saying this helps, but it might be useful to remind yourself of it mid-binge.
Just speaking for myself here, but until I got the emotional component under control, no amount of tinkering with and manipulating my food (macronutrients, micronutrients, mealtimes, IF...) did diddly squat. Get some counselling or look into Overeaters Anonymous if you think there is an emotional aspect to your eating.
That being said, what helps me when I've gotten off the rails is zero carb. Broth + grass fed /wild caught meat and a generous serving of coconut oil all stewed together for breakfast and dinner (don't feel hungry for lunch). Also it helps to have a "free comfort" (mine is herbal tea) that I can have at any time I need an escape or release. I find that if I have "just one bite" of this or that, it immediately leads to a binge again. I have to be absolutely strict when I am feeling dicey about food.
Another thing that helps is pausing before I eat. Not eating while cooking or snacking, but when the meal is prepared and on the table, I take a deep breath, close my eyes, calm myself down, and then when I feel calm and collected, I enjoy the meal. After the food is gone, before I start worrying about dishes, I take another moment to breathe, feel how satisfied I am, tell myself "that was enough, I am nourished."
I have a history of serious binges - always carb and sugar heavy foods. A tube of Pringles or a pack of cookies used to have no chance.
I have flirted with paleo for about a year and got serious over the last 2 months. I can honestly say that the desire to binge has dramatically reduced. Although I don't think that's quite it...I never had a desire to binge. I had a desire for the first Pringle/cookie/muffin. And then I'd want another one. And another...and it turned into a binge all by itself. So what I actually find is it's easier to say no to the first one. It's not so much a will power or resisting temptation thing...I can't really explain it - it just is easier.
If I am going to "pig out" these days I do try and do it with something else (bacon is my new favourite thing for a binge) but I find the occasions are getting more rare as I go on with this life. At work there is an unbelievable quantity of cake...in December it was maybe 3 times per week...and I'm getting really good at just not having any. I know that having none is easier than having a small piece.
I am convinced the main thing is that I am slowly resetting my relationship with food to make it more healthy and natural. Eat the right things that I enjoy when I'm hungry. Rather than eat when bored/happy/sad/frustrated/any other excuse but hunger. After a lifetime of wrong and unhealthy, it will take time to completely reset.
I'd suggest 1 month is too little...keep up the good work, don't sweat it...and if you want to eat a block of creamed coconut, go for it. I guarantee you won't do it too often!
I can't cite research so I don't know what percentage of binge eaters might have similar experiences, but I do have a long history of binge eating and I am now either cured or in total remission.
BACKGROUND: It took about 6 months for me to reach my current state of control. The beginning was 4 months of eating ancestral foods. I was bothered by cravings but they weren't overpowering. Between 4 and 5 months, though, my "need" to binge came back. I went on 2 separate binges and was amazed by 2 things:
Once back onto ancestral foods, everything tasted fabulous and I felt wonderful and that was pretty much the end of binge eating although I didn't realize it at the time. The final revelation came at the just-past holidays, when I found I could eat some neolithic treats without lapsing into a binge.
WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE? Obviously, my intolerance for wheat is a strong motivator. Six months of letting my taste buds enjoy real foods makes processed foods taste like what they are--junk. But most importantly, at least for me, was that after I was fully acclimated to ancestral eating and leptin sensitive again--see Dr Jack Kruse's Leptin Reset--I began using intermittent fasting (IF.) I routinely go 16-30 hours between meals, and food has lost its all-important role in my life.
You can't "plan" or "schedule" IF--it needs to develop naturally to be effective as binge control. Start your day with a huge meal of fatty meat and whatever other whole foods you want. That should satisfy your physical hunger for a while and, over time, you may gradually find yourself going longer and longer without being driven by hunger. Try to distract your emotional cravings by getting away from temptation and doing errands, walking, or whatever it takes.
Firs thing first, look at what you are eating. Favoring nutrient dense food. On paleo this should not be a problem.
One thing I do is after a meal, gulping a pint of water, then having a cup of tea. Helps to put out the cravings and gets my mind off of looking for more food to eat.
I also tend to add lots of vegetables for volume, just to get my stomach feeling full.
I would look at your relationship to food. Why do you overeat? I know for me I tend to overeat out of boredom, or because I am looking at a treat for my hard day (this is why I tend to binge at night). I know I am not hungry anymore, I just want to have more.
This is one reason I buy the whole food reward hypothesis (don't necessarily agree that this the dominant factor in obesity).
For some reason, I have made a bond with the food that goes beyond my nutrional needs, so just relying on my sense of hunger failes me.
You can checkout Stephan Guyenet's blog where he outlines some possible protocols - http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/06/food-reward-dominant-factor-in-obesity_28.html
Another interesting resource is Todd Becker's Getting Stronger Site. Checkout his diet: http://gettingstronger.org/diet/
If you are eating paleo, then you probably already have phase 1 dialed in. So I would look at phase 2" Cue extinction and counter-conditioning.
One last thing, I IF daily, which is for me works because I am a big eater. Previously eating more smaller meals made me unsatisfied every meal. With IF, each meal is a bit larger, and I find it easier to get in my calories for the day (not over), and still eat big. So not sure if you looked into IF at all, but may be something you would want to try out.
Hopefully this helps slay the demon.
Having an eating disorder I keep my binges in control with fat. Coconut oil to be truthful, I drink a cup of hot tea with a tablespoon of oil in it before any binge and if that does not work the first time I repeat the act, after I never binge, and had a severe disorder, and was hospitalized a number of times.
You must force yourself to do this everytime or it does not work. It will help the craving, it will make the feeling go away.
I recommend Geneen Roth's book, Women, Food, & God. Or any of her books, really. I think the first one on eating was Feeding the Hungry Heart. She's fabulous, and has practical, do-able things to help.
I've had to treat my binges of refined sugar and grain much the same way I handled my cigarette smoking, a total abstinence. Just as I would never smoke again for fear that I would lapse back into the habit, I’ll never eat another donut or bagel. That has as much to do with my mental state as my physical one, I just don’t do bad habits in small doses, I do them all or nothing.
With regards to “Paleo binges”.. I tend to binge on nuts, bananas, and beef jerky. The cost of nuts keeps me in-check with those, and I don’t seem to have any real negative reaction to a couple of bananas a day or a bag of homemade beef jerky.
My personal feeling is that I binge on refined sugar and grain because my body has a physical addiction to it. I know this concept is disputed in some circles. In turn, I believe I binge on “paleo snacks” because I’m hungry and so I can up my real food intake to eliminate these cravings.
I have also had problems with binge eating....it's like you can't stop thinking about it and it's really hard to resist! There are many good suggestions so I'll just add a couple. When I'm feeling like I"m about to lose it - or even when I'm just kind of like "hm some chocolate sounds nice" but maybe it's not in my carb count to have it that day, or maybe I feel a grazing session about to happen, I have a cup of Dandy Blend. It's bitter and I think that's the reason that it works for me. I'm working on this theory that if I crave sugar, to eat something bitter makes the craving go away. Definitely eating something sugary doesn't help - just makes me want more! Instead of complete abstinence one thing I've done is to put off my binge for a few days until, say, Saturday. So I tell myself that tonight I can't eat blank but if I still want it on Saturday I can. Many times if I could just get through that moment, the craving went away and I didn't feel the need to eat it later on. When it didn't I kept my promise to myself, and usually felt like crap after eating whatever it was I was craving - ha!
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