I lost my Modelling Contract to Emotional Binge Eating
I feel it’s important for you to hear my story because if yours is similar, I may be able to help you.
On multiple occasions throughout my early adulthood, I would consume so much food in one sitting, I couldn’t move. I felt so sick, so bloated, so disgusted in myself that I wanted to force myself to vomit the food up. I felt that I couldn’t stop myself from continuing to eat even after I was well and truly full. The worst part was I spiralled into a loop of self-destructive thoughts, not just that day but the following days too.
I was always trying to prevent myself eating like this, as I knew the consequences. The following day I would exercise so intensely to try to make up for the number of calories I had consumed. I would even starve myself for days to try to lose all the body fat I thought I had added.
Each time I’d binge I’d have the same self-destructive thoughts, I’d get depressed and the most stressful part was that my work relied on me to be in shape.
I put the reason for bingeing down to a few things. The first and probably the biggest factor was not eating ENOUGH. That’s right, not enough. Dieting too intensely and undereating. Since I was in such a depleted state I would unconsciously find the most caloric dense foods to consume. Some refer to this as going into the “animal mind” or going into a survival state. Our mind/body does this so we can survive.
The person I’d turn into was the worst part of this all.
It’s one thing when your actions are detrimental to yourself but when I started to affect others, because of this person I was becoming, that’s when I realised it had become a serious problem.
I noticed certain events would trigger emotional eating, which turned into binge eating. A stressful day, issues with loved ones or friends, work-related problems. These were all triggers to finding something to change the emotional state I was in. Eating is one of the biggest, natural triggers for the release of endorphins (feel-good hormone). So it makes sense why people look to food to get out of an emotional state like stress or sadness.
How to start
Use a phone, paper or diary to write down each step that we take and the most relevant information needed for you to overcome emotional eating and/or binge eating. I also encourage you to read this multiple times because revision is key to implementing information. You will most likely pick up on other important points when reading it a second time around.
Know that we are going to do this one achievable step at a time. I don’t expect you to change overnight. So please, take your time. A way you can do this is by using your phone, paper or diary that you already have out and outline week 1 – 12. On each week input a piece of information from this blog, that you want to work on to overcome this.
Understand why it is happening
If you are emotional eating, you’re eating because you want to change your emotional state and you look for food to do that. The most common causes are depression, sleep deprivation, stress and low self-esteem.
If you’re binge eating this can easily stem from emotional eating. As stated above, food, when consumed, releases the feel-good hormone. Some people binge because they want this feeling to last.
Another major cause of binge eating is extreme dieting or undereating, which can put your body into a survival state which can lead to overconsumption of foods. This is your mind/body trying to protect you from what it perceives as starvation, which is exactly what happened to me. I convinced myself I was weak and was lacking in self-discipline but really it felt like I had no control over my actions.
In some other cases, causes to emotional/binge eating can be gut or hormonal issues, which I will address later on in this blog.
Figure out if you’re undereating. A good way to do this is to input exactly what you normally eat (when not bingeing) into a calorie calculator like My Fitness Pal. This will help you determine if you’re in a caloric deficit and are undereating.
Meaning the number of calories (energy) you’re consuming each day is below the calories you’re burning.
If you are in a calorie deficit I would suggest adjusting your calories to be able to maintain your weight. Once you feel that is under control, a small deficit (nothing below -250 calories) can help in reducing fat loss (if that is your goal). For those of you that aren’t in a calorie deficit, don’t worry I have a plan for you too!
If this all seemed too confusing, I’d be more than happy to help you with these calculations and design a specific meal plan suited for your goals, lifestyle and needs. If this is of interest to you, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
As we touched on above, some triggers might include depression, stress, sleep deprivation etc. These are some major topics in themselves and need to be focused on separately. If you believe these are issues you’re dealing with, my book goes into more depth on how to overcome them. Alternatively, seeing someone to talk to and resolve these issues might be a major step forward in overcoming emotional/binge eating.
Understand this action has become a habit and a great way to break a habit is to create another one… A healthier one!
We need to decide what we really want and having a goal is a great way to do that. It could be a health/fitness goal, a career, self-development or relationship goal. Whatever you choose, you will realise that emotional eating and/or binge eating will prevent you from obtaining that goal.
An example of some goals:
Jenny wants to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and be happy with who looks back at her. She wants to be able to enjoy eating while having control over what she eats.
Dave’s dream is to work as a personal trainer but he knows that he must practise what he preaches. Dave is going to start becoming physically active, eating healthier and is going to start studying personal training.
Let’s also let our social circle know we are making this change – so hopefully, they can support us. This puts more pressure on us as we have declared it. Though this is a good type of pressure, as we are held accountable.
Removal and Restore
Remove all junk food from the fridge. If you’re unsure if it’s junk food or not, it probably is! If you can’t remove the junk food because you live with someone, that’s fine, this next part is imperative for you then.
Find a healthy meal plan that fits in with the calories you calculated earlier. As I mentioned above, I’d be more than happy to help design a specific meal plan suited for your goals, lifestyle and needs, though there are plenty of free healthy meal plans online, that you can download within seconds.
I am also a big believer that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of the foods you love. Whether that be ice-cream, chocolate, pizza, etc. Because in some cases deprivation of these foods can actually lead to more bingeing and/or emotion eating. In saying that, for most people, they need to start off by removing these foods from their fridge/pantry. If the desire for these foods comes about, having a healthy alternative recipe on hand is imperative e.g. healthy pizza recipe.
Whenever you have an urge to binge and/or emotionally eat, I want you to think of the acronym WAIT
W – Why do I have this urge and
– What can I do to prevent it?
A – Affirmations
- I want to be happy.
- I want to control my actions.
- I want a healthy relationship with food.
- I want a clear mental state.
- I will overcome this!
I – Interruptions
- Go for a walk and get some sun and fresh air
- Watch a motivational video on YouTube
- Call someone and just talk or explain why you called them
- Drink some water or tea (white, chia, chamomile)
- Quick exercise: high knees, squats, star jumps, push-ups
- Sing! LAAA DEEE DAAAA
T – Target
- What is my target or goal?
- Why do I need to achieve this?
- How will it feel when I start achieving it?
If you give in
First and foremost – never stop “trying” to quit. Each time you try to quit, you are either going for one day, an hour or even a minute without binge eating and/or emotional eating and that all adds up.
It is completely normal to give in when you’re trying to quit something.
Remind yourself that you are only human and these things do happen. Try to reflect from a non-judgmental place, just the facts – what triggered you, how you felt, where did it come from (boredom, being overwhelmed, stressed, sad). The more you understand your actions the more control you can have over them.
Remember, for some people, keeping a journal may help immensely when it comes to assessing the situations that did or didn’t help. You can include notes like – what were the consequences of binging, what has it cost me/what have I lost, how has this hurt and destroyed my life. More importantly, include notes of how you felt when you overcame binging and how your life was abundantly different because of that. Lastly, take a moment each week to reflect on these notes, it will help immensely in your progression to a healthier life.
In some other cases, there are factors like gut or hormonal issues. Unfortunately, I had these issues too. The way I found that out was through a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner Anthony Chovan. He ordered two tests for me. A Dutch Test, which tests for hormonal issues and the GI Map Test which tests for problems in the gut. Below are some of my results. If you believe this might be a contributing factor to your emotional eating and/or binge eating, then booking in with a practitioner like Anthony would be a great start.
Remember, revision is key to implementing information. You will most likely pick up on other important points when reading it a second time around. If you feel you need further guidance on this issue, feel free to book a consultation with me via the contact form on my website.
Lastly, I want you to know I have enormous respect for you. If I can overcome this, you can too.
With love and support,
I feel it’s important for you to hear my story because if yours is similar I may be able to help you.
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