Binge eating: how to break the cycle once and for all

Binge eating: how to break the cycle once and for all

The holiday season is, usually, a time for binge eating. Break the bad habits with these simple tips and get back to your healthy eating habits in no time!

Modern life is busy, to say the least. We are usually under constant stress so, naturally, we have less time to think about our food,  our meals, what we'll eat, how we'll eat it, and how much we will eat.

Unfortunately, this has a negative impact not only on the type of food we eat (fast food is always a simple solution, but at what cost?) but also on the way we relate to food altogether. When we are stressed and always on the go, or always in a rush, we tend to eat the same way. This, in turn, makes us prone to binge eating.

Libby Lemons, nutritionist and yoga expert, says:

“Unhealthy boom and bust or yo-yo dieting eating cycles mean many of us have developed unhealthy relationships with food”

Unhealthy boom and bust or yo-yo dieting eating cycles mean many of us have developed unhealthy relationships with food

According to Libby, this works both consciously and subconsciously. She adds: 

"Consciously we try to eat less, feel stressed and no longer truly enjoy food as there is also guilt attached. Subconsciously our bodies are not designed to calorie restrict so our hunger mechanisms kick in, both hormonally and physically. This results in craving high calorie ‘unhealthy foods’ to make up the deficit. Also as we eat less, we don’t feel full and go on to associate fullness with failing at our goal instead of being our body's natural way of telling us that we have had enough to eat.”

Here are some tips that will help you develop a healthy relationship with food:

1. Mindful eating

One of the key things to break the binge-eating habit is being mindful when it comes to eating. “Try to only eat when sitting at a table while not doing anything else,” recommends Libby. “Writing a food diary also brings constant awareness of food choices. It can be easily done by writing notes or diary entries on your phone. If you have a craving or are tempted by ‘junk’ foods, wait ten minutes, do another task and then ask yourself again whether you really want it.”

Mindful eating is key to develop a good relationship with food.

2. Quality over quantity

If you want to achieve long-term changes, then you should keep in mind this simple rule of thumb: when it comes to eating, quality is over quantity. “Creating a positive relationship with food should be all about what you are ‘putting into your body’ i.e. a nutrients/food counting mentality, not what you are ‘taking out of your body’ i.e. a calorie-counting mentality,” says Libby. “Focusing on creating a healthy diet with as much ‘good’ stuff as possible will mean that you will be filling up and crowding out the not so healthy stuff.”

3. Apply the 80/20 rule

In case you are unfamiliar with this rule, it is quite simple: you can find balance if you eat 80% of healthy food and 20% of whatever food you like. 

“Allow space to enjoy less healthy foods,” explains Libby. “It is unrealistic to be ‘healthy’ all the time and total abstinence is psychologically difficult to maintain.

“Employing the 80% healthy to 20% more relaxed mindset is a better balance and allows for ‘treat days’ as well as social and work occasions. If you do have a ‘cheat’ enjoy it - do not see it as ‘failure.’ Make a note of it in your diary to see how often you are doing it. Make eating a conscious and pleasurable action.”

Learn to listen to your body to avoid eating just because!

4. Don't eat for the sake of eating

If you are hungry, eat! If you are not, don't! sounds simple, right? “Connect to your hunger mechanism,” recommends Libby. “It takes 15 minutes to feel satiation. Therefore, eat your food slowly, chew carefully to aid digestion, and wait at least 15 minutes until deciding whether you have had enough to eat or if you are still hungry."

"Start listening to your body, note how and which foods and drinks make you feel good, light and energised and what foods make you feel sluggish and hungrier. Once you tune in, you will start to crave the foods that make you feel good.”

With these tips, you should find the necessary inspiration for a healthier relationship with food. Which one will you try before the end of the year?

Victoria Thais

A trip to India was all it took for Victoria to realise that meditation is not a fancy word for sitting around in silence. It truly changed Victoria’s life to a less stressful and more mindful one. Now a freelance consultant and journalist, Victoria joined KOKO to share her knowledge on those little things that are life so much better, and cosier.+ info

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