I've definitely had my experience with binge eating and I've also seen it in client's experience over the years. Not a very nice place to be and it can be a very hard cycle to break.
There has been two different scenarios in which I have experienced binge eating and is probably the most common reasons for it.
1. When I've been on a strict diet
2. When I've experienced some form of stress in my life ranging from financial worries, emotional stress or heartbreak.
The worst binging I have ever done in my life was after I finished competing in a fitness model competition. After 16 weeks of really strict dieting which included cutting out food groups and overtraining, I binged really badly everyday for a week straight and I had no control over it whatsoever. I was having dessert after every meal including breakfast.
The very first thing I did as soon as I got off stage was eat a full packet of Tim Tams within 5 minutes. A full packet. I could not have shoved them biscuits in my mouth any quicker. The binge continued that night with pizza, dessert, another packet of biscuits and a block of chocolate. The competition ended at 7pm.
Want to know the quickest way to really screw up your metabolism? Diet for 16 weeks and then binge for a week on chocolate, lollies, biscuits, cake, pizza and every other junk food you can get your hands on. Makes me sick just thinking about that time in my life and the damage that I did to my body. Without even really being aware of how much damage I was actually doing. Sadly this type of cycle is more common than you think and with the rise of fitness models and fitness model competitions becoming ever so popular extreme binging has become more prevalent.
This is the exact reason why I do not believe in fad diets at all. When you restrict yourself you will always end up binging because you can not maintain a strict diet. When you replace meals with shakes, starve yourself, cut out entire food groups and go on a juice diet you put your body into starvation mode. Now I don't know about you but as soon as someone says to me "Sarah, you can not eat that for 3 months", I want it and I want it badly. We always want what we can't have. Put yourself on a diet and the need and want for naughty food is multiplied by 1000. At least that's what I remember it feeling like anyway.
You need to change your lifestyle. Focus on that rather than the latest diet in magazines. Until you make the full lifestyle change you will keep going through a cycle of dieting and binging, dieting and binging, dieting and binging. Just know that every time you diet and binge you slow down your metabolism. So every time you try to lose weight using some "fast track" method just know that when you put the weight back on again it will continue getting that much harder every time. Remember this,quickly and in a way that you can not maintain, when you go back to eating normally again you will put the weight back on and then some. Ending up even heavier than you were to begin with which makes the process even harder. Throw the fact that we are always aging into the mix which does start to slow your metabolism down. You end up being heavier than you've been in your life.
In the week after my competition I put on 10kgs and I found it very hard to lose it in that first year after that. You can not cheat the system.
The other reason for binging can be much harder to overcome. When you eat for emotional reasons or to make yourself feel better, to really be able to get rid of this problem you have to face the thing that is causing you emotional discomfort or making you unhappy. It may be your job, stress, financial worries, a broken relationship, loss or you could even be binging because you are overweight and unhappy about your body.
First things first is you can not continue to beat yourself up about having a binge. There is usually a guilt around binging. The more you beat yourself up the more you binge and it turns into a viscous cycle. Tomorrow is a new day so start fresh instead of writing the whole week off because of one moment of weakness.
Secondly you need to start being aware of why you are heading for the fridge, when you are or why you have a sudden urge to duck to the corner shop to get some ice-cream. Is it because you truly just feel like you deserve a treat or is it because you feel down about something and want to feel better. An emotional binge is usually triggered by something. If you can ask yourself the following questions everytime you go for the junk you may get a better understanding of yourself and how you let stress and your emotions affect the way you eat.
-Why am I wanting to eat that right now?
-Am I really hungry?
- Or am I eating to make myself feel better?
Second of all you need to find other ways to deal with your emotions and stress. You need to find other things to make you happy rather than food. This is how you break the binging cycle. Go for a walk, call a friend, exercise, read a book, play sport, play with your puppy, spend time with family. Find whatever it is in that moment that will make you feel happier. At first it may sound pointless because binging on junk food is a very hard cycle to break but you can do it. Once you understand why you do it you are on the road to getting it under control.
It's doable. Here I am telling you it is. A former binge eater.