Mindfulness Archives - Nutrition|Weight Loss|Mindful Eating
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binge eating urges

Binge Eating Urges Don’t Go Away – Do This Exercise To Make Them Go Away

Binge eating urges

Binge eating urges can overtake our lives.  Do you feel like you have tried everything to stop binge eating, but urges still persist? Maybe you have tried distraction, going for a walk, or having a hot bath – but nothing changes. You still feel like there is this tension building up inside.  It becomes unbearable and you need to eat to resolve it. This is very common, so I want to break this down. 

 

Temporary comfort 

Even though binging at that moment is comforting, you are actually making things more difficult.  At that moment, eating might provide comfort by dissipating the thoughts and uncomfortable sensations in the body.  However, this is merely temporary.  They will return – followed by those heavy feelings of guilt, shame, disappointment, and discouragement.  

binge eating urges

Urges are uncomfortable

Similar to any habit (i.e drinking or smoking), the urge will return because it is part of us.  It is our survival brain being activated and sending a false message.  Essentially, we move into fight or flight mode, and our brain sends messages to our body that we literally need food for survival.    Now, this does not feel comfortable. And it won’t be comfortable or pleasent to move through these urges.  All we want is for the feeling to go away.  But it won’t.   However, the less we act on it, the faster the brain will understand that we don’t need to binge.  

 

So what can you do?

 

Separate yourself from the urge + observe the urge

Understand that the urge is not even you.  We need to learn to watch and observe the urges from a distance.  When we understand that we are separate from the urges, and it’s just our brain sending false messages – we can disassociate and consequently make different choices.

binge eating urges

Confused brain

Ultimately, our brain is confused and believes we need that amount of food to survive.  And you, (the rational part, which is the frontal lobe), knows the truth.  It knows that you don’t need that amount of food at once.  So, while you separate and observe that urge as something independent from yourself –  with time you are weakening pathways in the brain that send these false signals and you change your brain to live a binge free life. With time, the less you act on the urges, the weaker they will become. Until, eventually it will fade.  

 

 

Do this exercise to make the binge eating urges go away:

Imagine you are driving a bus.  You are in control.  But there is an annoying, very loud kid at the back of the bus.  This kid comes over to the front, and wants to take over the bus!  That kid is your urge.  It wants to take over your life.  It wants you to respond to them, and to act on it.  But you are the driver of this bus.  You are the driver of your life. You make the decisions.  That frontal part of the brain makes decisions, and you need to send that kid to the back of the bus. Imagine, you are sending this annoying kid to the back of the bus and you can hear it, but it’s further away and not so in your face.

binge eating urges

Don’t make the kid (urge) go away

Don’t try and make the kid go away – just separate yourself.   This kid has no power over you, so tell them to move to the back.  They will still be there, still talking to us, but it’s quieter because they are further away. Sometimes they come back to the front, and it’s really loud in our ear and they want to take over. But it’s YOU who makes the decisions.  You tell the kid that ‘You are not going to take over my bus, this is my bus, and my life’. And then send them back.

 

Eventually, this kid (or the urge) will sit for longer periods at the back.  We don’t want them to vanish completely, we merely want to make peace with them and reclaim our power.  We might even binge eat from time to time (and this is ok too).  What if we could allow ourselves to do that? This kid won’t be going away completely, but they will become quieter. Less overwhelming and have less control over our lives.  So trust that through this process, at some point the urges will become less and less.

 

 

Keep repeating it as often and as long as you need until the urge is small, quiet and weak enough so that you can keep feeling in control of your life.

binge eating urges

Become the observer

We need to separate ourselves from the urge.  Watch and observe it and you will notice it will have less power over you. This is how we slowly rewire and reprogram the brain.  What we fire, we wire. So what we act on will create new pathways in our brain and subsequently, new habits and realities.

binge eating urges

Binge eating triggers

Finally, it’s also important to remember that one of the main triggers that cause binge eating is not enough calories. So the most fundamental thing you can do is ensure you are eating adequate and regular meals with sufficient calories.  The Balanced Diet Framework is a self-study program I developed to help with this (I tell you what, when, and how much to eat to reduce cravings). I also suggest you eat food you tend to binge on, and integrate that into your daily diet (or regularly) so you don’t feel restricted.  Because restriction, food rules, and not eating enough is the biggest trigger for binge eating as well.  

the causes of food cravings

BALANCED DIET FRAMEWORK
EASY SELF-STUDY NUTRITION PROGRAM
OVERCOME BINGE EATING AND OVEREATING URGES

Telling you exactly WHAT, WHEN, WHY + HOW to eat

 

  • End the crazy binge and restrict cycle that leaves you feeling guilty and ashamed.
  • Create a healthy relationship with food
  • Strategies to stabilize blood sugar / reduce sugar cravings
  • Most importantly you will never need to feel deprived, hungry or like you are missing out again.

 

stress and emotional eating

How To Stop Stress Eating and Emotional Eating

Stress and emotional eating

It is common knowledge that stress and emotional eating can adversely impact us both physically and psychologically.  In this way, when we negatively cope with stress and emotions, we can easily begin stress-eating foods high in sugar, salt, and fat.  But why does this happen? And why does it often happen on autopilot?  Before you even realize, you find yourself elbow-deep in a packet of chips!  

 

Now, if you eat when you are stressed occasionally, that is no problem. But if it is affecting your physical, mental, and emotional well being;  then it might be an issue for you.  This blog will help you take action to re-wire some of the habitual patterns that no longer serve your highest good.

stress and emotional eating

Why does stress-eating happen on autopilot?

Firstly, our brain is a very old brain.  Regardless of the actual situation, stress causes our brain to go into fight or flight mode.  So our brain reacts as if a fierce tiger is approaching, preparing us for survival.   Hence, the brain is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones), whilst our pre-frontal cortex (rational brain) is hijacked.  This process literally shuts down our decision-making abilities.  Survival instinct takes over.  Ultimately, we prepare to freeze, fight, or flee.

 

Fierce tiger

Now, there actually was no tiger. Perhaps the cause of stress was work-demands or family conflict.  Or maybe excessive coffee activated the stress hormones? Whatever it is, our body feels like it has just run away from a scary tiger.  Also, it thinks we used significant energy.  As a result, we now crave calorie-dense foods to prepare for the next attack.  Not only this,  our body will also hold onto fat (in particular, around our stomach area) to save some energy for when we might need it.  This is one reason we crave when we are stressed.

stress and emotional eating

Habits cause stress and emotional eating

Secondly, autopilot often occurs because of ingrained habits.  Habits start with a trigger. For example, when you experience sadness, that triggers a certain behavior (such as eating a packet of cookies).  You feel good momentarily, and get a hit of dopamine (a feel-good hormone in the brain).  So you temporarily forget about the stress around you.  Importantly, your brain will remember this feel-good sensation. And when we feel stressed again, your brain will send a signal: ‘Remember last time when we felt stressed, we ate something and felt good! Let’s do that again!’ So the cycle will continue! This habit will become part of your instinctual and bodily reactions.

stress and emotional eating

Embodied behaviors example

Let me share another example to illustrate this.  Think about when you might have rearranged your kitchen and decided to store your coffee cups in a different location.  It might be days, or even weeks when you habitually go to the wrong cupboard to fetch a cup. You will constantly go back to the same position where they use to be. Because before you even have a chance to think about it, you will open the cupboard and realize ‘Oh, I changed the position and they are not here anymore’.  

 

Thus, your mind has become your body.  We literally embody certain behaviors and habits! It is the same autopilot process when we feel stressed.

 

The subconscious mind

Interestingly, 90% of our decisions are driven by our subconscious mind.  In this way, many actions and emotional states are literally stored in our body and mind merely from repetitive behaviors.  That is why some people are addicted to always feeling angry, sad, or frustrated. We embody this feeling and it becomes our ‘go-to emotional place’.  And to feel good again, we eat.  We temporarily feel good.  And, our brain remembers.  Then, the cycle continues even though we said last time ‘I will not do that anymore…’

stress and emotional eating

What can I do to stop stress and emotional eating?

Here are some solid action steps….

 

1) Observe and change your thoughts

We need to change what we think.  This will create new synapses in our brain and we will begin firing and wiring these new patterns.   First, we need to become aware of all of our thinking patterns.  Ask yourself,  ‘What are my dominant thoughts?’  I am lazy…so dumb…so fat and ugly.  I will never lose weight’.  Your brain picks up on the repeating phrases and says ‘Yeah, that is who I am. I am not going to change my identity’.  Awareness and observing these thoughts is the first step in ending stress eating and emotional eating

 

2) Identify repetitive emotions

Next, become aware of your repetitive emotions and feelings.  What is the feeling you are addicted to? What is your ‘go-to’ feeling? Some people are constantly sad or seem to be depressed about something. To some degree, they are comfortable in that place. They (subconsciously) want to stay in that feeling.  It’s what they know and it meets their needs. We need to be aware of this and be really honest with ourselves….

stress and emotional eating

3) Decide you want to change

Thirdly, we need to make a decision that we no longer want to think, feel, or experience those thoughts and feelings.  I am certainly not suggesting you repress emotions.  I believe we need to feel all emotions and feelings.  We need to see them as a message.  But we need to question emotions and ask – ‘What does this feeling mean? Why am I feeling like this? Is it something that I need to act on?’  If some emotions are a constant theme and are no longer serving us, we need to change how we feel and work on it. 

 

4) Intention setting

Finally, set an intention of what you want to do instead. Next time you are stressed, what are you going to do? What are the thoughts you want to experience? What are the actions? For example, next time you are stressed you might say ‘I want to speak to the person who upset me’. Or, ‘I want to start journaling to start processing my emotions and thoughts in a more powerful way’. ‘I am going to seek support and help and will process what I am feeling and learn new behaviors’.  

stress and emotional eating

Rewire your brain

Setting an intention paves the way for our brain.  Your brain will begin practicing new pathways and synapses for improved ways of thinking and acting.  What we wire is what we fire (automatically). Change can be faster than you think! Practice practice practice! Repetition is the mother of skills.  So let me know what will you do next time you feel stressed?

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO
END BINGE EATING CYCLE &
RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

Regain power over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

 

CLICK HERE to Download Your Free Guide

calm

Supporting Yourself Through Stressful Unprecedented Times

women looking out into the sea looking calm

Finding calm within stressful and uncertain times

In these unprecedented times, it is important to acknowledge that many of us are feeling distressed in one way or another. Most of us find themselves in a not calm state.  Whether through the loss of income, work, separation from loved ones or a decline in mental or physical health. Uncertainty is understandably high for many of us right now. 

 

I would like to discuss the psychology of uncertainty (particularly around food, but also other aspects of life) and give techniques to bring calm and and a sense of certainty.  I discussed these issues and techniques around eating and food in more detail in my interview Kiwi Talks #43.

 

Psychology of certainty 

This pandemic is riddled with unknowns.  So, to combat this, our minds tend to search for what will bring us certainty. For some, it is food because we know how food makes us feel.  For example, binge eating junk food. Chocolate will make me feel good and I get a temporary high.  Is it alcohol? If I have a glass of wine, I will feel relaxed and chilled and forget about things for a while.  Are you obsessing about cleaning? If I clean the house I will regain some control back.  It could also be pornography or online shopping addiction because this releases dopamine and even adrenaline. Have you ever felt excited when you started buying things and felt like buying more and more? That is a combination of adrenaline and dopamine that drives those urges.

 

In times of uncertainty, we tend to go back to what we know. Often these tend to be self-soothing activities that give us a sense of control. These behaviors become like self-medication. Ultimately, in uncertainty, we move towards things that we know because we know how it will make us feel – control, happiness, numbness, distraction, etc. 

calm image of a flower floating on water

It is important to cultivate awareness of what you are clutching onto to bring certainty because the behavior might not be serving your highest good.  But I know from working with clients in relation to their eating habits, that people actually know what to eat. They know exactly what healthy eating looks like.  So if people know this, what is the problem? The issue, therefore, becomes ‘Why don’t we do it?  What are the roadblocks?   Some of this stems from how our human psychology works, specifically in relation to survival instincts. 

 

Psychology of the survival instinct in stressful moments

The survival instinct has a vital function for us as human beings.  When we were threatened by the tiger or lion in the wild, we needed to run away immediately to stay alive.  We didn’t want our brain to think ‘Oh should I run left or right?’.  No, we needed to act now to stay alive!

 

Hormones

So when the cortisol and adrenaline hormones elevate, the rational part of the brain is meant to shut down.  This survival instinct is why many people are not thinking rationally right now. Many people are acting on autopilot or mimicking others (panic buying) in the name of survival.   It is hormones creating this, so we simply need to create awareness and use techniques to get out of flight and fight mode, bringing hormones down. 

women at her desk with her head in her hands looking stressed

Find calm with awareness of habits

Apart from this survival instinct on overdrive, you might be noticing past patterns or habits resurfacing.    Thus, it is an important time to become aware of habit formation and how to change habits (read my blog on this), and become aware of personal triggers.  Self-awareness might also be simple strategy. For instance, if you find watching the news is affecting you, limit this to watching just once per day. 

 

Techniques to bring calm and control when feeling overwhelmed

If we eat when we are not hungry, or drink alcohol to numb ourselves, we are ultimately looking to change how we feel.  It momentarily distracts us and numbs us from painful feelings. But there are other ways to change how we feel.  For example:

 

1)Movement (Singing, dancing, yoga, pilates, HIIT training). Movement powerfully and quickly shifts emotional states. 

 

2)Gratitude (If we think about what we are grateful for it changes how we feel). Studies show that brain and heart waves align and become congruent when we are grateful, creating calm. We can’t be grateful and angry at the same time.

 

3)Do something restorative (Yin yoga or deep belly breathing) In THIS Video I am showing three poses that will give you calm.

 

4) Talk to your inner child.  (We all have an inner child and need to check in with him/her.  Place your hand on your heart, and ask yourself how you are feeling. What is creating that emotion. Allow yourself to feel those emotions). 

 

5) The anchor of breath (Deep belly breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and send the signal to your brain that you are safe).

creating calm with dancing and movement can change emotional states. picture of mum and daughter dancing happily

Power of breath brings calm

When we are born, we naturally breathe deep into our belly.  This is our natural state of breathing. But as we grow up we tend to breathe through our chest.  This chest breathing signals to our brain fight or flight mode. It signals to our brain we don’t feel safe and kicks our nervous system into survival mode.  This mode makes us do irrational things like empty the shelves at the supermarket. This current crisis has many people in survival mode and they would be breathing shallow.  So if we take ourselves back to the breath, we can calm our nervous system down. It will signal to the brain that ‘I am ok,  I am safe’. You will consequently make different decisions and old habits won’t re-surface. 

 

Find calm 

These techniques of breath, gratitude, and movement are powerful techniques to achieve calm and control.  We start to think more rationally and take aligned actions around all aspects of life. Let your breath be your anchor in these uncertain times, as it is always available.  Forgive yourself, be gentle with yourself and allow these times to be an opportunity for radical shifts. Much love, Eugenia @ Mindfoodness. 

binge eating and overeating guide

FREE GUIDE REVEALS

 

6 Hidden Reasons for Binge Eating and Overeating During Covid 19 Lockdown

 

?Uncover what is driving your overeating and food cravings

? Beat binge eating with immediately actionable tips

? Feel in control with stocked up food without giving up eating food you love

? Create an easy relationship with food

? Address the root causes

? Eat flexibly without restrictions

 

lockdown

COVID-19 Edition: Overeating During Lockdown? – Stress, Boredom or Childhood experience can lead to binge eating.

Lockdown binge

Are you finding yourself binge eating on snacks or overeating on stockpiled food during lockdown? Most of us probably have more food at home than usual, whilst spending more time at home.  Throw in the intense uncertainty of the Covid-19 situation with the possible resurfacing of our personal challenges with food, and we have a potentially challenging situation. Given that there are many reasons binging or overeating might be occurring,  how on earth do we navigate it? And most importantly, what can you do?

VIDEO

2: 49mins – Psychology of overeating and binge eating

4:08 mins – Perceived food scarcity 

7:40 mins – Stress related eating

9:20 mins – Boredom 

10:40 mins – Creating habits

13:00 mins – Practical suggestions

16:30 mins – Managing stress + golden tip

Why you might be overeating and binge eating during the COVID-19 lockdown

1)Human psychology 

Essentially, the way human psychology operates is we want what we can’t have.  The forbidden fruit metaphor is well-known to most of us. If you do not allow yourself to eat certain foods, they automatically become more appealing.   If we are constantly seeing food we never allow ourselves to eat in the pantry or fridge, it will be hard to resist. Some people might even give themselves permission to indulge,  ‘I don’t care, I am in lockdown for 4 weeks anyway.  I can go back to clean eating once this is all over’.  If you have a strong diet mentality this might be you too?  I will now explore some reasons why binge eating and overeating might be occurring.  Because if we uncover these, we can actually take control back of our eating

2)Anticipated food scarcity 

Anticipated food scarcity can be one reason we binge.  Now, obviously food is not scarce (for most people reading this blog at least). I am living in New Zealand and food is readily available. However, some might perceive or feel a sense of scarcity if we ever felt this in our childhood experience.  

 

For example, we might have grown up in a country that did in fact lack food.  Or, perhaps our parents did not allow us to eat certain foods, or lacked finances to eat certain foods.  Also, if a parent had issues around their body and weight, these issues of fear can be easily projected onto the child unknowingly through control and the restriction of food. These childhood subconscious patterns might generate an ‘anticipated scarcity’ in the current lockdown.   Consequently, you might feel like panic buying or binge eating everything in your pantry.

anticipated scarcity in the current lock down can stem from our childhood experieces

3)Stress

Many of us use food as a coping mechanism.  It is a soothing and temporal distraction that makes us feel good for a moment.  If we are feeling stressed, food can distract us from our thoughts and worry. I call it self-medication with food. And it is something we learn because we have done it in the past and we know it works to make us feel good. How do you feel when you eat chocolate? Many clients say it relaxes them and they feel good.  So their brain remembers this feel-good sensation. So, when stress creeps in, they will open up bars of chocolate to soothe the pain. Now, this ‘self-medication’ could be sex, pornography, shopping, alcohol or drugs, or any combination of these.   (Check out my interview with Kiwi Talkz #43 @ 14:30mins where I talk about how chocolate activates the reward system in our brain)

 

4)Boredom

Boredom is an interesting reason we might binge or overeat.  Again, like responding to stress this is a learned behaviour. If I am bored, and feel this sensation in my body, I will find something that will ‘fix’ that for a moment.  It not only gives us something to ‘do’ but highly palatable food releases dopamine, the feel good hormone. This process creates a habit and whenever we feel bored we will automatically reach for the pack of chips or chocolate biscuits.  So, understanding habit formation is critical in developing awareness in shifting the pattern.

 

Understanding habit formation

There are 3 components of a habit.  There is a trigger, behaviour and reward.  Triggers can be emotions, stress, situations, or even food.  Behaviours are the actions we take (such as eating) in order to feel good. This ‘feel good’ sensation is the reward.  Now, we always only do something if it meets our needs. So the question is, what is my need? If I eat because I am bored, that meets my need to overcome the boredom.  I want to be entertained and have fun, to do something I enjoy. The critical question here is, how can I meet that need in another way

 

Example of changing a habit

How do we change a habit? First, we go back to the trigger (boredom was the trigger).  Then, we either avoid or eliminate the trigger. For example if we become bored watching TV at night causing us to binge, we begin to plan things we enjoy doing (calling a friend, playing with your children, talk with your partner, doing an online class, or listening to a podcast).  We can also change our behaviour.  If we are feeling bored, your behaviour might be sitting and allowing the sensation of boredom.  Tell yourself gently, ‘I am bored, I am just going to sit with this feeling.  It is ok to feel this, I do not need to change how I feel all the time.’

lady holding donuts with the text "what is your need" during this COVID-19 lockdown

Practical suggestions for the time in lockdown

It is not only critical we hold awareness about what is happening (and consciously shift habits that do not serve us), but have practical ways to overcome what we no longer want in our life. Here are some practical tools you can apply at home.

 

Out of sight

If you have a stock-pile of food at home, place it at a physical distance.  Excess food in the pantry becomes a sensory and visual trigger.  Simply , ‘I see food, I become hungry for it’.  So place it in the shed, garage or high up in your cupboards.  Out of sight, out of mind. 

 

Other practical tools for this lockdown

This is a high-stress time for many.   My suggestion is you look for other ways to soothe yourself to manage the stress, whilst elevating your mood. For example:

 

  • walking (get outside and physically move whilst getting healing vitamin D)
  • morning routine (5 minute morning gratitude meditation / restorative yoga (I offer online classes at Body Love Yoga Classes)
  • journal (write out your feelings in a stream-of-consciousness manner will help untangle stress and emotions)
  • talk to a friend or loved one (talk out your feelings)
  • stay connected to people outside of your bubble (via zoom or houseparty apps – harness the amazing technology we have)
  • plan activities at home so you have something to look forward to (this can be as simple as watching a movie)
  • have projects to focus on (but at the same time, don’t place unnecessary pressure)
women sitting on her bed meditating during lockdown

Golden tip

My clients who are doing well at this time are all doing one common thing.  They are keeping a routine. For example, they get up and go to bed at the same time. They eat meals and snacks at certain times of the day.  Also, they do not leave longer than 3-4 hours between meals. Keeping up an eating routine like this might help you too.  You could also try looking into mindfulness exercises around food or read my blog Mindfulness and Food Choices.

 

Compassion and kindness during this lockdown period

Finally, be compassionate with yourself and others.  This is an extreme situation that we have never dealt with before. So of course we will automatically revert to familiar coping mechanisms.  And, remember to set realistic goals, focusing on progress and not the destination. I talk about goal setting in Beauty Haven’s article that unpacks the diet culture in Australia and New Zealand – READ HERE

 

Free Guide

To find out more about binge eating, download the Free Guide 9 Hidden Reasons For Binge Eating And Over Eating During Covid-19 Lockdown 

binge eating and overeating guide

FREE GUIDE REVEALS

 

6 Hidden Reasons for Binge Eating and Overeating During Covid 19 Lockdown

 

? Uncover what is driving your overeating and food cravings

? Beat binge eating with immediately actionable tips

? Feel in control with stocked up food without giving up eating food you love

? Create an easy relationship with food

? Address the root causes

? Eat flexibly without restrictions

psychology

The Psychology Behind Why We Binge Eat – And 3 Tools To Stop

psychology

The Psychology Of The Binge

I was tired.  I was stressed.  Stressed from the busy juggle of work and life in general.  I had a rough day with a tense deadline to complete.  Obviously, I had to eat the entire packet of __________ (insert favorite ‘go-to’ stress junk food here).  Tim Tams, chips, sweets, lollies, a jar of Nutella, or whatever snack you can find with the highest amount of sugar, fat or salt. Sound a tad familiar? I think most of us would relate on some level.  The psychology behind why this happens is paramount to understand if we want to beat the binge for good. 

psychology

Why We Binge Eat

Absolutly, there are copious reasons why we binge eat.  However, the common culprits are restrictive dieting and stress.  In particular, food becomes a distracting comfort blanket or ‘drug’ to cover uncomfortable emotional states.  Many times, before we even feel the emotion of stress or overwhelm (or are conscious of what is going on at all), we have already devoured a packet of chips! What even happened? Moreover, diets (with their inherent restrictive nature) cause us to crave and binge more; turning eating into a vicious cycle. 

 

De-Stress

Have you ever eaten chocolate to de-stress?  Chocolate is the perfect food that stimulates the reward system in the brain.  Namely, chocolate calms us down for a short period by releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.  So there is no wonder why we develop the habit of eating chocolate when life becomes all too hard…

psychology

The Psychology Behind It All

The psychology around why we crave certain foods whilst under stress is very interesting.  Obviously, there is the science behind the feel-good hormones it releases.  But why is it that a mouthful of sugary goodness is so comforting and even normalised in our culture? Well, we possibly learn from childhood conditioning that food is comforting.  For example, we learn to associate feeling better and ‘cared for’ with treats. ‘Here little Jane, have some chocolate, you have been such a good girl getting at the doctor’.  Thus, this association, alongside an emotional attachment to comforting memories, generates a sense of love and connection that we crave at a deeper level (rather than the actual food).  Does this resonate?

 

Rules = Rebel

Further, not only can stress cause binge eating, but so can self-imposed food restrictions (i.e fad diets).  The ‘naughtier’ a certain food is, the more we crave it! For instance, it’s like telling a child they can not play with the red ball, only the trucks and dolls.  What toy do you think they will immediately want to play with? The ball of course. And psychologically, adults are the same.

 

Don’t Eat The Cake: The Psychology Of Scarcity

Ultimatly, if we make cake the forbidden food, we will focus so much on it that we will want it so badly! Thus, diets actually cause binge eating through its restrictions. It’s what we call anticipated scarcity – a marketing tactic used frequently by advertisers.  If something is only available for a limited time, we want it NOW! And when we do get our hands on the cake, we become so worried about never eating it again (our brain anticipates scarcity) and we decide to devour the whole thing.  Researchers Worchel, Lee, and Adewole asked participants to rate jars of cookies.  One jar had 10 cookies and the other just 2. Which one did the particants choose from more often? The one with the 2 cookies of course…

psychology

How To Stop Binge Eating?

The first step is learning to separate food from our emotions.  Easier said than done, right? We can do this by incorporating mindfulness around eating, whilst cultivating self-awareness around uncomfortable emotions.  So before we unconsciously devour an entire packet of biscuits we learn to feel into the emotion we feel before we grab the packet. Take a few deep breaths and feel what might be going on.  What unmet need do I have? What unexpressed emotion am I holding onto?   There are 3 powerful tools to help with this.

 

1. Deep Belly Breathing (Diaphragmatic Breathing)

Firstly, breath control helps quell the stress responses in the body.  It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which releases hormones that calm us down.  When we are stressed we tend to automatically breathe quite shallow, which releases more cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline causing us to feel more stressed.  To breathe deeply, you feel air coming through your nose, filling your lungs and the lower belly rises. At first this type of breathing might feel unnatural, however it’s all about practice and normalizing this type of breathing.  

psychology

Gratitude

Secondly, gratitude is a technology we can harness.   The human brain can not feel stressed and grateful at the same time.  Lack, anger and loss can not exist in the same space as gratitude.   So when you feel stress creeping in, stop, and mentally focus on something you are grateful for.  I guarantee this will change your current state and emotional response. I personally practice gratitude daily.  A gratitude journal can be very useful also. 

psychology

3. Move!

Thirdly, another way to shift emotional states and our mindset quickly is to move.  Essentially, a change in our physiology can be subtle yet very powerful. For example, if you are feeling down in the dumps, try straightening your spine, shoulders back, pull your chest up and breathe more deeply.  Or go for a run or a walk. Get moving. Pump some music and dance. When we change our body, our state immediately changes. Give it a go.  Ultimatly, physical movement shifts emotion.  Our physiology is key to changing our emotional state and coming unstuck.  

psychology

Psychology Of Binge Eating

Finally, understanding the psychology behind why we binge eat is an empowering step in stopping.  Techniques of deep belly breathing, gratitude and changing our physiology are three powerful ways to shift stress and feel into our emotional needs; to ultimately end binge eating and overeating.  In addition, I have created a FREE Binge Eating Guide – 6 Steps to End The Binge Eating Cycle.  You can download below now, completly free.  

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO
END BINGE EATING CYCLE &
RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

Regain power over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

 

Night Eating

Night Eating Syndrome (NES)- And What To Do About It

People suffering from NES often eat a significant part of their daily calories between dinner and bedtime or wake up in the middle of the night craving sugars or carbohydrates. They might feel the need to have a full belly to fall asleep.  Often, individuals experience weight gain from excessive calory intake as well as shame and guilt after night eating episodes. I am going to share what helped me and my clients to overcome night eating syndrome.

Night Eating Syndrome

My Journey With Night Eating

To be honest, I did not know that Night Eating Syndrome or NES was even a ‘thing’ until I personally experienced it for 2 years.  I had no idea what it was, let alone what to do about it. At first, I thought it was just me being hungry.  But it really affected me because I became so exhausted from constantly getting up in the middle of the night! Also, I literally felt like I could not get back to sleep unless I ate and had a full belly. Consequently, I began looking into NES and realised so many people suffer as well. 

Night Eating

What is Night Eating Syndrome?

The scientific world is still in conflict about NES and what the cause might be. Some theories relate to anxiety. Others suggest a disruption of circadian rhythms. Some say NES is caused by an underlying dysregulation of our biological rhythm that alter hunger cues, sleep and wake times as well as overall energy levels.  Essentially, it is considered a disarray of mood, eating and sleeping. 

 

How we experience NES?

People might have varying experiences of NES.  For some, they can not go to sleep until they eat huge amounts of  carbohydrates or sugars. Others can not stay asleep and need to get up and the only thing that will calm them is carbohydrates or sugars. For me, it was the second one.  I would wake up feeling so stressed with my chest full of anxiety. I would wake up repeatedly. At midnight, then 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am – thinking my goodness, I really need to eat because I want to sleep. This affected me and my life profoundly!

 

Root Causes of Night Eating

Once I reached my pain threshold of this pattern, I began my research.  Thankfully now it is gone. Most importantly, I managed to treat the root causes of the issue, which I will share with you now.

Night Eating

Causes of Night Eating Syndrome

Stress

Stress can be a huge cause of Night Eating. If you have too much stress in your life, or go to bed worried or anxious, it might trigger NES.  This is when it is important to locate the stress in your life and where it might be manifesting. Ask yourself: What are the major stressors? Where are they coming from? Work? Family? Friends? Relationships? 

Night Eating

Lacking Nutrient Dense Foods

NES can also be triggered by a lack of nutrient-rich foods. This might be the case if you are constantly on a diet or not eating enough calories (under-eating).  Therefore it is important to ensure you have enough healthy snacks throughout the day. Further, make sure you eat enough healthy protein, fats and carbohydrates (this will also keep your blood sugar balanced). If you do not have enough carbohydrates this can affect you. You will stay fuller for longer in the evening. For example starchy veges like pumpkin is a good one!

 

Strategies to Stop Night Eating

Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation significantly helped me on my journey.  It helped me find calmness within myself and I subsequently found falling asleep much easier.  Search in google “Half an hour mindfulness meditation” or “30 minutes sleeping mediation”.  Here is one you could try out first:  Sleep meditation: 30 minute Sleep Music .   

Night Eating

Stop intense work-outs 

I realise this might sound counter-intuitive.  I actually stopped going to the gym and doing high-intensity exercise.  Even though I enjoy this style, it caused too much stress on my body. I changed to yoga, pilates, and gentle walks.  I found moving my body in a different way, a more gentle and subtle way helped immensely with stress and consequently night eating.

 

Stress Release

Stress is a huge topic and there are so many ways to release stress throughout the day. Here is a process related to emotions and unpacking feelings.

1. First, acknowledge your feelings
2. Next, label the feeling you are experiencing. Saying out loud: I am feeling…
3. Then, notice where in your body you are feeling that feeling.
4. What shape, colour, texture does that have.
5. Take a few deep breathes into that space (up to 6 full rounds of breath) and watch that shape in your body changing.
6. Finally, ask yourself questions that will provide you solutions to move forward (solution-based questions)

 

Seek support

I understand that NES carries with it guilt and shame, but know that this is common and you can move beyond it with the right support.  If you experience symptoms don’t wait until it gets worse. NES can affect all aspects of our lives. For example, it can deteriorate our sleep patterns, relationships, as well as our psychological well being. Reach out HERE. I will be able to help you to identify sources of stress, triggers and unpack your relationship with food.

Night Eating

Night Eating Summary

Night Eating Syndrome is really awful to live with. I hear you because I have been there! Ultimately what helped me was to focus on where stress was coming from and reduce these sources.  For me, one way of reducing stress was no more morning boot camps. Additionally, I changed to a more gentle exercise regime. I also ensured I ate enough nutrient-dense foods (carbs, protein, and fats).  Essentially, I went back to the basics of a good balanced diet. I also stopped dieting and restricting food!

 

If you have any further questions about NES, how I treat it and how I can support you, message me at eugenia@mindfoodness.nz