Part 1 of 3 part series: How to overcome binge eating. This episode discusses how you might be active or even subtly restricting your food…
Episode 3 Transcript
Hi, and welcome to the Food Freedom Podcast with me, Claire Feldman. I’m a CBT therapist, hypnotherapist, and eating disorder practitioner. And having recovered from my own history of disordered eating, I wanted to create a podcast where I could bring bitesize episodes to help you with tools, techniques, and strategies to overcome your own food, weight or body image issues and ultimately overcome binge eating.
Welcome to episode three of the Food Freedom Podcast. And in today’s episode I’m gonna be talking about where do you even begin if you struggle with maybe emotional overeating or binge eating and you’re not quite sure, where do I even start to try and overcome or address this issue? And I think sometimes there can be a lot of conflicting information on social media and social media in particular can be a real breeding ground for people who are sharing their own success stories and saying, well, I did X, Y, and Z and that’s how I managed to overcome binge eating. And so the assumption is, well, if it worked for that person, well then I must do the same thing and that will work for me. And I think that particularly when it comes to our relationship with food, it’s often very complex and it’s very personal to us which can make it difficult to overcome binge eating.
We’re all different. We all think different, we all eat different. So it’s, there is no, I think one, one size fits all approach to overcoming issues with food. It really needs to be personalised. But having said that, there are I think some kind of key aspects that can be, I suppose, very common with all clients that I see that really struggle in the relationship with food. And I’m gonna break them down and probably create a separate podcast episode for each of these three aspects. So the, the three key thing I can nearly speak, the three key things that I will look at with clients is physical and mental and emotional. So by physical, I mean what are they physically actually eating and are they undereating? And might the undereating actually be the trigger or a cause that’s preventing them from overcoming binge eating?
The mental is then how might they be speaking to themselves around food? Might they have a real critical inner dialogue around food and be giving themselves very specific rules around what they should and shouldn’t be eating, seeing foods as good and bad, and might the mental restriction or inner dialogue actually be contributing to the binge eating? And then finally, the emotional. So what does the emotional landscape look like for this client? How do they manage their stress levels throughout the day? Their sense of overwhelm. What does their day typically look like? Are there boundaries in place? Is there time for self? And helping them to really, I guess, understand perhaps the underlying emotional triggers that might be causing the binge eating or contributing to the binge eating and how to manage those more effectively. So physical, mental, and emotional. They’re kind of the three broad aspects that I’ll often look at with clients who are trying to overcome binge eating.
And so we’ll start maybe by looking at physical. So by physical we’re meaning what am I actually putting in my body? What am I consuming and am I consuming enough? Because we know of, particularly if you are a chronic dieter or you’ve spent a long time trying to lose weight, you’re probably really familiar with calorie counting or perhaps working towards a set calorie intake goal for the day in order to lose weight. And there’s this magic number right there that a 500 calorie deficit is going to support you to lose one pound in fat a week and will help you progress towards your weight loss goal. And whilst from a yes, a scientific perspective, absolutely reducing calorie intake will result in weight loss. For many people, not for everybody, but for many, many people, particularly individuals that struggle in their relationship with food, that actually going into the physical restriction alongside kind of the mental and inner dialogue that they have, alongside that is the thing that can actually create bigger issues further down the line in terms of their relationship with food and is often the thing that will cause a lot of yo-yo dieting where people will end up rebounding weight and then continuously kind of repeating the cycle of trying to restrict lose some weight and then eventually rebinding and then repeating the process kind of over and over again.
And I think calorie counting is just something I, I suppose for me, I think, well, every individual is different. We are all engaging in different activities on a day-to-day basis. So how do we actually know, like precisely how do you know precisely exactly what your body’s energy requirements are? And although there is that sort of general figure, for example, for female of 2000 calories a day is recommended, how do you actually know that that’s exactly what you require a day? And also if you are reducing your caloric intake and your calorie counting, unless you’re buying all your meals already made and already processed, how do you know that you are actually eating the target? You know, the target that you are setting yourself? It’s all very, very nuanced and I think very, very difficult to accurately kind of monitor in any way.
And something I’ll often explain to my clients is that actually, you know, you’re not a robot, so you might find that some days your energy requirements are greater than another day. So a classic example is when you’re menstruating, you are more likely to maybe to crave certain foods, you’re more likely to feel hungrier at times like that. Or perhaps depending on how physically active you are, you might have a day where you’re incredibly physically active, you expand a lot of energy, and so you may find that perhaps even the following day, your hunger levels might be higher than what they would normally be. So you know, this can really demonstrate that that setting a specific calorie target to work towards may just actually be completely counterintuitive to what your body needs. And also, the more that we follow those external plans or external targets, the more disconnected we become from our own body, from being able to listen to our own hunger and fullness signals and being able to make decisions around what actually serves me better and how much do I need, how much do I feel is gonna satisfy me?
Is this, is this meal, are these choices going to nourish me and give me the energy requirements that I need to get through the day and to be able to achieve everything that I need to achieve? And that’s ideally the place that we want to get to with our eating, where we can actually regain the trust within ourselves, within our body, that we can make these choices for our ourself based on what our daily needs and our daily requirements are. So in terms of like what physical restriction, what does that actually look like? Well, obviously I’ve already mentioned there about calorie counting. So setting yourself a specific calorie goal that you’re working towards that’s a deficit from what you believe you might require is an example of physical restriction. It could be skipping meals, often. Skipping breakfast is a really common one that I’ll come across or perhaps restricting as a knock on effect to a perceived overindulgence.
So you believe that at one meal you’ve had too much and you’re overly full, and so you might intentionally kind of cut back at your next mealtime replacing meals especially breakfast, maybe with drinks like coffee or excluding food groups altogether, you’re physically restricting yourself if you’re cutting complete food groups out of your diet that are absolutely nothing to do with medical reasons. So an example of this would be if you are cutting bread out of your diet and it may be that you cut bread out of your diet because you’re telling yourself that carbs are bad. You might be telling yourself that they cause you to bloat. You might be telling yourself that they disrupt your gut. If you are excluding any sorts of food groups from your diet, but you don’t have an actual medical reason or diagnosis for why for example, if you’re a celiac, then that’s really understandable why you would be cutting bread out of your diet, for example.
But if you don’t have an actual diagnosed medical reason why you’re excluding these food groups, I would really encourage you to challenge this. Is this a belief that I’m holding onto based on something that I have learned or picked up perhaps through social media or through something that I’ve been told? Is this just a perception that I have and perhaps maybe it’s attached to maintaining a lower body weight. This belief is if I, if I exclude this food group, whatever it is, that it will help me to maintain a lower body weight. But in doing this and excluding food groups from our diet and physically and consciously trying to eat less on our body requires what it’s doing is creating a deficit. Whether that be that it’s creating the physical deficit and increasing our hunger levels and making us desire food more, or creating a mental deficit in which we feel we are being deprived and then only intensifying our desire for the foods and making it more difficult to overcome binge eating.
Even more so I want you to maybe really reflect on some of those examples that I’ve given of what actual physical restriction and undereating might look like and considering if that is something that you might be engaging in. A few other things to consider as well is other signs and symptoms that you might not be eating enough. So a really common one that I’ll see is particularly for individuals who struggle with overeating in the evening, is that they’re actually, when we look at kind of their food journal and we explore that, we see that they’re not really eating significant amounts of food during the day, perhaps ’cause they’re just incredibly busy, they’re stressed, they’re focused on their work, they’re not really paying attention or listening to their body. And so they aren’t eating a significant amount during the day, but when they get home in the evening and they start to eat in the evening, it’s almost as if they feel like the floodgates have opened then, and then almost this kind of satiable hunger takes over and they end up eating then much larger quantities than perhaps they intend to.
So overeating, particularly at nighttime might be a good indication that throughout the day you’re not getting a sufficient amount of energy that you require and your body’s just trying to make up then for this deficit in the evening time. Another example or symptom might be that you feel maybe you feel lethargic quite a lot of the time. Maybe you kind of struggle with your energy levels or that you feel quite easily fatigued and perhaps your mood is affected, that you might struggle with low mood or feel irritable at times as well. If you’re going long times between your meals several hours between meals, you might also be experiencing quite low blood sugars. And might lead to kind of those episodes of feeling hangry. And and the obvious one is that if you are actually feeling like physically hungry but because of your long history of dieting, that you almost perceive feeling hungry to mean that you’re dieting successfully or that weight loss might be working for you.
And you’ve maybe been given some tips about chewing on chewing gum or drinking water when actually you just need to eat something. So just fighting fighting hunger is another sign that you are undereating and making you more predisposed to potentially a binge at a later time. So if any of those things resonate with you and you recognize well actually do, you know, there might be, there might be chance here that I’m not eating enough or that I am excluding foods, or that I am physically restricting myself in some way by banning myself from having certain foods. My recommendation would be just to begin by keeping a food journal. And this is not to record calories or anything that at all. It’s just to really get a good sense of over the course of the day, what are you eating how much are you eating, and at what times are you eating?
And when you actually have that journal, keep even for a week just to get a good overall sense of what that looks like, you might be able to then at the end of the week, sit back, reflect on it, and perhaps you might see patterns that have emerged. So you might see that actually you’ve skipped meals and you’ve drank coffee instead. You might see that actually you’ve been incredibly strict with yourself Monday to Friday. But you’re binging really heavily. At the weekends you might see that there are certain, maybe certain days where based on like what your activity levels that you’re doing, maybe days where you’re particularly physically active, that you’re not actually adequately fueling your body for those kind of, for those activities. You might discover that you’re eating mindlessly at times and then when you’ve mindlessly at one part of the day, you’ve then skipped your next meal as a consequence.
So by doing that, that food journal, it just gives you that, that bigger picture I guess, of understanding what patterns that you might be in. And then when you have that baseline and you’ve got that understanding, what you can then consider is where might there be opportunities for me here? So if I’m regularly skipping breakfast, maybe the first opportunity might be bringing in a, a balanced breakfast every day so that I’m starting my day with balanced energy that’s gonna help support me throughout the day. Have a little look at your snacks. You know, are you consuming snacks? ’cause Again, we know that having snacks, three good balanced meals a day and perhaps up to two snacks a day might support stable blood sugar levels. Keep you feeling fuller for longer, keep your energy levels stable throughout the day and perhaps reduce that opportunity of overeating in the evening.
Consider just gen from a nutrition perspective. Is there balance? So when I’m talking about balance, it’s that balance between protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats and look at opportunities to consider. Are some of my meals actually just pure carbohydrates, for example, is there a real lack of perhaps healthy fats in my diet? Because I’ve had this negative association with fats and so I’ve really been trying to cut fats out of my diet. So just using those gentle nutrition principles of protein carbohydrates and healthy fats, is there opportunities to add in to my diet? And I know that adding in to the diet rather than taking away, because when we’re cereal dieters, our focus is always on taking away from the diet, not on adding in. I know that the, the fear attached to adding in to your diet can create anxiety, it can create the fear of weight gain, it can create the fear of, well, I’m just going to eat more, or I’m just going to lose more control.
And I completely understand and recognize that fear. But I would also encourage you to treat these things, these opportunities, these challenges, treat them as an experiment and try to create a sense of, I guess, curiosity around this. ’cause If you’ve been stuck in this battle, you’ve been stuck in this struggle around food for such a long, long time, what you’re currently doing isn’t helping you. What you’re currently doing isn’t serving you and it’s not helping you to overcome your issues. So whilst you can recognize and appreciate that, yes, there’s fear, there’s anxiety here about doing something different, there might be an opportunity here. So I’m gonna get curious with this and I’m gonna experiment. So give yourself maybe a week or two and say, right, I’m gonna experiment over the next two weeks of eating really good, filling nutritious breakfast every morning when I normally don’t.
Or I just have a coffee. I am gonna experiment with this and I’m gonna give it two weeks. At the end of the two weeks I’m gonna review it and see what’s happened. What I’ve noticed, has there been any benefit? Is there any significant change here? And when you’ve, when you’ve done that, when you’ve, when you’ve approached it with curiosity it really helps you to, I guess have a more open-minded approach to that stepping outside of your comfort zone. So the idea behind addressing your physical restriction is to get to a point where we can start to experiment and play a bite with the quantities of food that are needed to actually ensure that you are nourished appropriately. And like I’ve already alluded to at the beginning of this episode, that there is no exact number, very detailed, specific amount of this is exactly what need in order to feel satisfied and feel like you’ve had enough.
And this is just simply a practice that will take time, that will take experimentation that will take patience to allow your body to begin to I guess reconnecting for things to stabilize for you to be able to recognize your own hunger, for you to be able to notice perhaps when you’re feeling full, to experiment with perhaps even giving yourself permission to eat a little more at mealtime. That all of this is like a, it’s like a dance that you’ve got to practice and practice and practice until it’s fine tuned and you find that sweet spot that is working for you. And I know that that can feel very vague, that can feel very wishy-washy and we often just want someone to tell us, just tell me exactly what I need to eat and how much I need to eat in order for this issue to go away.
But unfortunately, the answer will always come back to come back to me. It’ll come back to me learning where that, where that point is and where that kind of, that sweet spot is. And it might, it might involve a number of perceived setbacks or failures until I find out where that that place is. So I hope that this episode has been helpful for you and given you a little bit of maybe just some suggestions of areas that you could look at in terms of your own dietary intake and opportunities that there might be. And certainly I would recommend for everybody that struggles with their eating habits and it has issues with food to definitely even begin to do a food journal because it just gives you that bird’s eye view on what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis. So I hope you enjoyed the episode and stay tuned for episode four where we’ll move on to talk about the mental restriction and its influence over our eating also.
So guys, that’s it for today’s episode. I hope you enjoyed it. And of course this is a new podcast. I would love to get your feedback on how you have found it and hear any suggestions you have either for improving the podcast or even topics that you would like to be discussed in the future. I really would love and appreciate to hear from you. So feel free to drop me a DM on Instagram or send me an email. And also if you would like to find out more about my services and ways that you can work with me, check out my website, which is www.eatology.co.uk
Otherwise that is it for now. Goodbye and I hope you tune in again soon. Take care.