Whenever I started a new “diet” I had a tough time with binge eating. I would follow the diet perfectly until I got to a point where I would cheat a bit. That bit became a whole meal, the whole meal became a meal and dessert, then I would give up the next day because I already messed up so what was the use of continuing, right? I am going to share something with you that is horrible but someone out there may relate to it.
Say I bought a tray of cookies because I thought I could control my portions. I would have one cookie, then two. Then three. By the end of the night I had the whole tray! My twisted thought would be, “I might as well finish the whole tray now so they are no longer in my reach and I can eat clean again tomorrow.” Pretty twisted I know.
I am going to lay out what I now follow to avoid binge eating and to stay on track with my health goals.
Healthy Habit #1: Do not view what you are doing as getting on a diet, it’s a change of lifestyle.
The word “diet” has a negative connotation which is usually connected with suffering, restrictions, limitations, and it being temporary. The word “diet” actually means whatever you eat, so everyone is on a diet regardless if you eat healthy.
Shifting your view to a lifestyle change instead will allow you to think of these healthy habits as part of you long term. There is no negativity attached, these are choices you are making for your life.
Healthy Habit #2: Eat breakfast!
I know you hear this all the time but this is extremely important. I find when I eat a big breakfast full of protein, carbs, and good fats I am not craving sugar in the evening and I do not binge eat later in the day. You sleep for hours without any food or water, it is vital to replenish your body in the morning.
Healthy Habit #3: Think of what certain foods do to your body.
This might sound bizarre but I think of what happens in my body once I ingest certain foods. If you are thinking of having a chocolate bar, stop and think what the chocolate will do for you. Once you have that chocolate bar your blood sugar spikes and to get it back down our bodies produce insulin. If our bodies are continuously doing that repeatedly, there might be a point where our bodies become insulin resistant. That could lead to type 2 diabetes. That is only one example of what processed sugar can do to you.
Aside from processed sugar which I am not a fan of because what it does to your body think of what good, clean, whole foods do to your body. I find that I am energized, less likely to be depressed, my mood is positive, I am not bloated, and I know my body has an easier time absorbing and digesting foods when I consume whole, real foods.
Find patterns for yourself. Pay attention to how you feel a few minutes after you eat something. After eating a chocolate bar I get sleepy, after having bread my stomach hurts, after drinking milk I get bloated and gassy. I don’t do well with milk but you may be fine. Your body will tell you what it likes and does not like, you must listen to it.
Healthy Habit #4: Listen to your body, food is fuel.
This is a two-part tip but I cannot stress these two enough. You can enjoy your food while also giving your food more thought. Your body is a machine and you need to feed it good things to function efficiently and properly. I make a mental checklist each time I eat a meal and when I choose what snack to eat.
Usually ½ of my plate consist of carbs (vegetables and/or fruit), ¼ of protein, and ¼ of healthy fats. I try my best to build that kind of a plate each time I eat. If I am not able to, I make sure whatever I was missing I have that as a snack later. This type of plate works for me, my body, and my goals. It will vary for each person.
I know if I am craving sugar that means I did not have enough fat in the day. It is a pattern I have picked up over time. I also know if I am feeling extra tired after a hard training session I did not eat enough carbs and protein. I am usually good about my carb intake but not my best in the protein department. Usually eating some kind of protein will boost my energy immediately.
It will take some time for you to pick up the signals your body gives you and make the connections between your food and mood but I promise if you pay attention it will make sense.
Healthy Habit #5: Drink loads of water!
The rule I use in determining how much water to drink in a day is half my weight in ounces. For example, if I weigh 150lbs I would aim to drink at least 75oz of water. That seems like a lot but I do take into consideration the foods I eat with high water content such as fruits and vegetables like zucchini. If I am around 75oz I am happy.
I find that many times I want to snack on something it is not because I am hungry but I am thirsty instead. Next time you have a craving to munch on something drink a big glass of water, wait a few minutes and see how you feel. If you are still hungry by all means eat, I only suggest checking if you are thirsty before munching away.
Healthy Habit #5: Do not limit healthy food.
I do not limit the amount of food I eat. I eat when I am hungry, I stop eating when I am full. Sometimes I have small plates, other times I have a massive plate of food. When I am craving something sweet, I load up on fruit. Fruits are my dessert and I do not limit my fruit intake. Fruits do have natural sugar however, it does not spike up your blood sugar the way processed sugar does as explained in tip #3.
The way I see it is if I limit my fruit and do not satisfy my sweet craving I know I am going to reach for something processed. I rather have unlimited fruit and full myself up with that than binge and eat processed sugars.
To be clear my diet would not consist of fruits all day long as wonderful as that sounds 😊 but if I have eaten a balanced diet and want something extra I would never limit my intake is all I am saying.
So long as you are eating whole, real foods eat until you are full. I know that is simple, but it really is that simple. I do not calorie count, I listen to my body and eat loads of real foods.
Healthy Habit #6: Be consistent.
This is key. No matter how clean you eat, no matter how long you exercise if you are not consistent you will not see changes. Stick to your goals.
Healthy Habit #7: Patience.
Evolution is not quick, it is gradual. Be patient with yourself. If you are taking the right steps toward your goal, the changes will happen. Do not give up and binge eat because it does not happen quickly. Practice patience, consistently work toward your goals and you will reach them.
Healthy Habit #8: Talk to your doctor.
Weight gain occurs for many different reasons and it will be helpful to find out the cause to solve it. It could be because of a hormone imbalance, stress, medications, diet, etc. Discovering the cause could help you create a plan that is best for you and your body.