Bust the binge
Food is my downfall.
The healthiest choice you can make is the food you eat. Somehow I find this the hardest change to make. Even when I know exactly what I need to do and why.
Food is an experience. Just by testing different foods, your emotions can change through the release of different hormones. Food satisfies us on more than just a hunger level.
Its like coffee, I love it so much I can't bring myself to the thought of cutting it out. It's more than the drink itself, flavour or that little burst of energy… it’s the ritual of it. Sipping on a cup of coffee makes me feel like I'm getting a warm hug from my nana. It's comforting, cosy and brings me to my happy place. When I'm drinking a coffee, I'm usually reflecting or dreaming up my goals for the day.
This is what makes it so hard. You can't just cut out the bad stuff. It's JUST NOT THAT SIMPLE. I binge eat the most when I try to do this.
I say to myself, "I'm not going to snack anymore" and what happens... I go and get all the junk food I can find and have a big ol' Netflix binge session.
So, what do we do?
Look at your habits. If you can find the pattern of when it happens, plan ahead and swap out small things you can change this bad binge habit into a good habit that you enjoy.
When does the binge happen?
I have noticed, usually on a Sunday, which is my designated chill day. I find a good binge-worthy series sit on the recliner and eat a more than human amount of bad food. I have tried to completely cut out this ritual from my week, but I keep failing.
The fact is, its not just about the food. I know I need to rest and I love having that time where no events are planned and I can just be.
If your binge sessions come on randomly, questions you can ask yourself at the time of gathering the food is:
"Am I snacking because I'm actually hungry? Could I make something decent to eat instead? Just answering this has stopped me in my tracks many times before.
Most of the time my answer is yes I am actually hungry, I haven't eaten lunch yet. I could eat all this junk food or I could make myself a sandwich and then see how I feel.
For those that find the binge a more regular occurrence, you will need to plan ahead.
When planning ahead you can either make substitutes in the recipes or swap your food out for better options.
Convenience is key.
I am definitely a person who would rather eat what is in the cupboard (as long as I like it) than going down to the shop to buy something specific at the time.
If it's already there, more than likely I will eat it. Most of us follow the path of least resistance especially when it comes to food.
Identify what you usually have in these binge sessions. Can you recreate it with substitutes? It's ok to be a little bad sometimes and substituting will still feel like your normal binge. Instead of sugar in recipes, you can use stevia or agave. You can swap flour with coconut flour etc. It might be a bit of an experiment but it can work.
Choosing a better option
The alternative is to swap your bad food for better choices. Try to change small things, one at a time and be persistent. Some example choices are detailed in the picture. Try eatforhealth.gov.au for more ideas.
I did a food psychology course a little while back. They looked at having healthy relationships with food. Essentially it boiled down to two main factors:
What mood and emotional state you are in
How you perceive the food you eat
It's not just about what you put in your mouth it's also about the experience around you. All of your senses together make it a good binge session. This will change your mood and emotional state. Ensure you are still within your comfortable environment and surroundings that you normally binge in.
During this course the lecturer suggested, if you are introduced to a certain food in a positive way, you are more likely to like it. What you can hear, what you can smell, what you can see, other people's body language and tone especially the people you trust come into play when you are eating. A bad experience with food, whether it is the food's fault or not can lead to a dislike of that food.
For example, if you are shoved a plate of greens and get told to eat them in a loud voice, or have someone arguing in the background, or even have dim lighting and dead silence; this will affect the way you relate to this food.
If everyone is eating and enjoying, there is no thought of a negative connotation around the food, more than likely you will like the food.
You may feel a little off at first with your new food. We need to change the way we perceive the food we are eating. If we already like the food; it is a lot easier. Just persist with it and you will get there. If you are unsure about your food choice or have a bad association with it, it may be a little harder but not impossible.
Food can be learnt.
With saying that, food can be learnt. It takes time, but it can be done. If you persist with a certain food, your taste-buds will change. And eventually, you will like and enjoy the food.
I always relate this to blue cheese. I was first introduced to it at a party when I was a teenager. It was part of a truth or dare game. One of the boys got the dare to eat a slice of blue cheese, low and behold he threw up immediately after eating it. For years after I associated it with gross mould and who would ever put that near their mouth. The older I got the more I saw it and eventually tried it. I had a small bit mixed with fruit and on a biscuit. It wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t know if I would go in for seconds. I was then introduced to buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce, which I loved. I gave the cheese another chance, and another. And now it is essential on my cheese board.
Our taste buds change naturally over time as well as being manipulated by the foods we eat. If we eat a lot of sugar, we are likely to find non-sugary foods quite bitter.
But when we limit our sugar, we will eventually become more sensitive to it, tasting the sweetness in plain foods such as milk.
Having a good environment to learn foods will make this change faster. Remember to consider all of our other senses when learning new foods.
What we can hear, feel, see and smell all come into play to create the whole experience.
Food creates a joyful event which is why it is so hard to just cut the bad food from our lives. If we consider how it makes us feel, we are more likely to find a better replacement or make an allowable allotment.
This will stop us from overeating the bad stuff and factor in the good stuff.
Don’t give up on it, keep planning and enjoying the moment of eating and you will get there.
When do you do your most bingeing?