I know it can be really difficult to stop eating your favourite foods, and for some people, just the thought of having to give up a favourite food can then lead to the binge of all binges. Which doesn’t lead to anything but a massive increase in calories in the short term, feeling sick for a few hours, disrupted sleep, a whole load of guilt and sadly like the person who’s drunk too much and swears to never drink again, one week later the cycle happens all over again much like groundhog day.
I used to see a friend of mine who was attending a weight loss group on the evening after the weigh-in she lived for this one day so she could go on her massive blow out, literally eating everything in sight. Once that evening was out of the way, she was back on track cutting out everything she loved, but she lived for the day of the weigh-in, not really to find out if she had lost weight, but to know that it was a massive takeaway night with several desserts involved. Potentially she was just running a system now called carb cycling except a little more extreme and it never stopped her from gaining weight, so no where near as successful.
It’s not just those focused on weight loss who can be lurching from binge eating day to binge eating day, bodybuilders tend to get show ready and then often eat all sorts of foods when they’ve done the show putting the weight back on again. Scott Abel is a great example of this and explains in his book how he became show ready losing 50lbs then put it all back on in less than a week. Can I just point out that it took him 12 weeks to become show ready!
Going backward and forwards or up and down more probably with your diet isn’t helpful for the body, but then you probably know that. In fact most people I talk to know how to diet, they know how to put on weight, what causes the weight. They know what they should be doing differently, they know how to do weight gain and weight loss better than I do, because they have done their 10,000 hours at becoming expert in the field, and quite frankly they know more about the calories in foods than I ever will!
But eating larger amounts of foods has become a norm in our society, particularly of the foods we actually need to eat less of. We often eat portions that are more than we actually need for the amount we are doing in our life. With supersize cups of drinks and snacks it’s become hard for many to really gauge how much they are actually eating, particularly when most of the time we aren’t even paying attention to it, so our idea of what is normal is now very skewed. When I was a child packets of biscuits were only just becoming the norm in households, so you just didn’t eat your way through a whole packet, because it wasn’t there, and it was rude to eat a whole cake your mum had spent hours baking. Food wasn’t so easily available, and you need to consider how you’ve made it too available in your life because it’s often rubbish that is readily available in high amounts that are causing the problem. We are hard-wired to eat, so why wouldn’t we?
With nutritionally reduced foods so readily available, we can end up eating much more of them in volume to make up for the lack of nutrition, our body wants to keep eating, mostly it’s hoping that it will eventually get the nutrition it needs. When we eat far more nutrient-rich foods we tend to end up eating less of them, we just don’t need the quantity, the body knows this and recognises it and those hormones that naturally trigger, do to tell us we have eaten enough. They are able to trigger because we have the nutrition to create those hormones so that they work in the way they should do. The body is never doing anything wrong, it’s just doing the best with what you are giving it. What is your body meant to do in reality if your main meals are crisps and chocolate? It’s going to struggle to rebuild itself and function at its basic level.
So if panic and binge eating set in at the thought of me asking you to remove a food, the questions should always be, do I have to completely remove it or can I make a healthier version as a stepping stone? One of those conversations happened recently where one of my clients has a healthy addiction to chocolate.
Let’s just take it as an example of changes you can consider making to help reduce the binge eating that might be happening around chocolate.
Eating a big bar of chocolate? Move to smaller ones.
Don’t buy them in bulk, just buy enough for that one snack. Of course, this is to make it more difficult to overeat the ones still sat in the cupboard who like The Sirens will be calling to you in an effort to wreck your ship.
Although carrying out a weekly shop can be great for time-saving it can also mean that you end up buying stacks of snacky processed foods that are sitting there and you then find you don’t just eat one but the whole lot. Buy only what you will eat in your next snack.
With clients who love their favourite bar of chocolate and who aren’t yet ready to move to dark chocolate, melt your bar down it takes less than 5 minutes, and pour onto parchment on a baking tray, add lot’s of nuts and seeds to the melted bar. Allow this to set in the fridge or freezer. Break into the smaller bars, and you are less likely to overeat your bar this way because it’s packed with nutrition from the nuts and seeds.
Move to dark chocolate it tends to have a lot less sugar, just double check!
Move to raw chocolate and make your own, mixing the raw chocolate powder with coconut oil, or cacao butter. You can add lots of nuts and seeds to this and essential oils such as peppermint or wild orange. Making your own means you can really personalise your chocolate to your own tastes and reduce your sugar down. You can add vanilla to help calm the body, chilli for a little hot spice, stevia or agave nectar to sweeten. Making your own chocolate releases the creative side of you, and helps you get more in touch with your foods, even your snack foods. Learn to make your own signature dish!
Move your bar of chocolate to a raw hot chocolate instead, check for the amount of sugar, and ideally make your own hot chocolate powder up with your favourite ingredients and reduce the sugar content down. Make with raw cacao powder, your favourite milk alternative, and dates or stevia, and a little vanilla. Of course, you can spice it up with cayenne, ginger or chilli, calm it down with vanilla, or add a little wild orange essential oil or peppermint essential oil. If you want to make this into a cold chocolate you can and you can also add almond butter to it, my favourite is actually cashew nut butter or cashew nut milk.
When people tend to move away from eating so much sugar they tend to replace it with dried fruit instead for a period of time. In regards to a stepping stone to where you want to get to, I don’t see a problem with making this choice because you are more likely to make it a long-term lifestyle choice than one that only lasts 12 weeks!!
Energy balls or fridge cake bars as I used to call them you can easily replace your chocolate craving with using cacao nibs and chocolate powder, and you can make them again to suit your own tastes. You can make them very simply with coconut oil, dates, cacao nibs, cacao powder, and coconut, or pecans or Brazil nuts, so many things you can add into them. Energy balls you just throw everything into a food processor and they are extremely easy to make. Masses of recipes online now, but they are a far better choice and stepping stone to a healthier life.
We always had treats for high days and holidays as one of my clients says, cakes were for Sundays and celebrations and foods that are not really foods have crept in to push our calorie intake up and our waistlines out. So putting these foods back into their rightful place in the hierarchy of what we eat is important, but if it’s looking too difficult at first then just make a step towards healthier choices. Make it easy for yourself, the easier it is, the more likely you will stick to it!