For the past month, I've been stuck in a pattern. I'm always fighting the urge to binge - on any given day it probably takes up about 10-20% of my energy. I lie awake at night crying over how much I want Nutella, and have borderline panic attacks at work because there's an ice cream store next door and it's right there and I want it so bad I can taste it and I'm terrified of giving in and getting some. My binge eating is pretty much 100% emotional (I live alone, 3,000 miles from my nearest friend, work a job I hate to pay off the student debt hanging over my head - my life is pretty unremittingly lousy right now).
My behavior pattern goes like this: I go a few days eating healthy, fighting off the urge to binge with all the energy and willpower I have. Then I give in and have a huge sugar binge and feel sick as hell, wake up the next day and start the next few days of healthy eating. Meanwhile, I'm trying to keep up with the only thing I have outside of work: exercise. I've been doing strength training 3x/week, tabatas/HIIT 2x a week, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3x/week, with one rest day on Friday (and yes, some days I have 2 workouts).
This whole binging pattern sucks and I'm really sick of it - it reached a new low the last couple days where I've felt constantly sick and disgusting, which makes me feel miserable, which drives me to binge because I'm miserable, which only makes me feel worse. I'm constantly bloated and constipated and having breakdowns every couple hours. So my new plan is as follows:
-Stop IF. I had been doing a Leangains-type 16/8 program, but I was much more successful sticking to Paleo before, so I'm going to go off it and see if it helps.
-Focus on fat. I'd been worrying a lot about protein, for my lifting, but not so much about fat. Someone here once suggested a big, fat-heavy breakfast to stave off binge eating. I stocked up on bacon tonight and I'm going to try that for the next couple days.
-Take a break from training. I think I might be suffering from burnout, so for the next few days I'll stick to long walks (and I already use a standing desk) and then re-introduce workouts gradually.
I already make sleep a top priority, and I've been actively looking for another job, but do you have any other suggestions? The only thing I'm sure that WON'T work is the idea of having a "cheat meal" every week - if I have even a little of something, I WILL spiral out of control into a massive binge. One spoon of ice cream means I'm eating the whole pint. One cheat meal means the whole day is going to degenerate into a pile of candy and pasta.
(For the record: female, 5'4", 115-120lbs, 22 years old.)
asked byMaria_8 (4292)
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on May 09, 2012
at 01:03 AM
To be 100% honest, it might take adding back a couple of things that you REALLY, REALLY want... that's not the answer you're going to get from other people here, but I've had a binge eating disorder for awhile, and I've realized that the only solution is to give in on occasion if I can identify that I very much want cake, or chocolate, or whatever.. because if I don't, I could just end up much worse off.
I have a very black and white personality -- I could eat healthy for days, and then go on a wild binge. Frankly, it would be healthier to eat those unhealthy things in moderation when I have a very specific craving than to restrict completely and then get out of control and eat everything in sight.
The fact that there's a mental component to this -- beyond food -- is going to make it a lot harder for you... and trust me, I know where you're coming from. It was always worse when I felt alone or abandoned.. like the summer that all of my friends left and I was stuck on campus alone
Good luck, and just know that it WILL get better. It might take giving up a little bit of your strict control right now until your mind and body are in a better place, because this can be a vicious cycle and I really believe it's driven by constantly denying yourself
on May 09, 2012
at 01:51 AM
It sounds to me like you need a paleo sponsor. Someone you can call when you want to binge, who can talk you down. You mentioned you don't have any friends who live close, maybe try meetup.com and look for a paleo group in your area, or start one. There is really something to be said about having community and social interaction. This is something I think is really missed a lot in the paleo community. Mostly because a lot of socialization is around food and drinks, which most of us choose not to participate in.
on May 16, 2012
at 11:46 PM
Probably not the most popular answer, but Overeaters Anonymous can really help with addressing the source of bingeing. Sure, there's the "Higher Power" stuff, which can be challenging to atheists, but if you can take what you like and leave the rest, it can be a really transformative program. I think you would really benefit from having some on-call support, like an OA sponsor or other group members who can help talk you down out of a binge. Having a community of people working towards balanced eating might curb the isolation. It's much harder to resort to these behaviors when you're consciously addressing them with others in the same position.
on May 16, 2012
at 06:58 PM
Hi, I really feel for you, as I'm in exactly the same shoes as you...I used to do a lot of cardio before and now find that my binges got a bit better since I've cut back. As you rightly say though, the problem is in our head, so cutting back on cardio won't be a miracle solution. Unfortunately I don't have a real solution for the problem yet, but I would absolutely NOT include any of the junk items I crave in my everyday diet, in no amounts (hey, I'm also a big fan of Nutella, I should know!) right now, I'm trying to stick to a more serious paleo regime, trying not to eat overly sweet fruits either, such as bananas, and next week will try to cut out dried fruits as well. Started overdoing the fats and nuts though, so watch out for that! If you need to talk to someone, I can give you my email, maybe we could give each other some support whilst getting through this - I know I could use some as well. Let me know!
on May 09, 2012
at 12:26 AM
When I was working out hard..... I mean really hard..... I never figured out how to not binge on occasion. I was really, really working out hard every day. It wasn't unusual for me to get up at 2 AM and eat a box of Fruity Pebbles??? (pictured below) or something like that.
With the benefit of hindsight, I believe that it was the chronic overtraining that did it to me. I was extremely lean, by the way. Don't know how that affects things, but the extreme binging didn't put weight on me.
Maybe when you're burning so many calories you need a lot more than you think you need. I don't know.
Anyway, reading your post and looking at your workouts brought that to mind. (For what it's worth, I was doing quite a bit more than you list, but it still looks like you're doing a lot.)
on November 02, 2012
at 04:59 PM
Maria, like a lot of us with these kinds of food issues, is an ABSTAINER.
The (lucky?) people who can have the square of dark chocolate or the bite of nut butter, those are the MODERATORS. (Inspiration for this here: http://happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2009/01/quiz-are-you-a-moderator-or-an-abstainer/ )
Figure out if you are an abstainer and it makes things easier because the path to dig out of the hole involves big fatty breakfasts, NO SNACKS, accountability (let the significant other or roommates know it is NOT OK to eat at your desk, etc), and keeping binge-worthy foods out of the house if possible.
Binge-worthy foods, if you are prone to it, can be pretty wide-ranging. Dried fruit, nut butters, chocolate are only the beginning. Try dried unsweetened coconut. Carrots(!) Anything sweet and/or fatty does it. Protein doesn't seem to, though I've eaten my fair share and then some of jerky once or twice.
on May 19, 2012
at 02:48 PM
I can relate! I live 1,000 miles away from my nearest friends or family, it is very isolating, lonely, and anxious inducing. It makes a HUGE impact on the rest of your life when you are so far away from anyone close! It sounds like you aren't even that crazy about the new location, I know Texas has been quite different for me to get used to. Plus, I work IN a restaurant so I am faced with SAD devil choices everyday (a candy crane machine for the kids and a milkshake machine)! I also feel like I spend a fair amount of time resisting temptation.
The Big Ass Breakfast does work pretty well. You can find info about it on Jack Kruse's website. Basically you need to eat at LEAST 50g of protein for breakfast (it would be like 4 eggs plus 4-6 oz turkey-it is a lot) plus a lot of fat. I have also found that my cravings are less when I eat more fat. Avocados are great, I usually eat at least one a day.
I also have my 30th birthday coming up and I do well with goals. I want to be in awesome shape for my Bday and it is a HUGE motivator for me. It is much easier to resist things by going over and over "If you eat that ice cream, it will be detrimental to your goal." You could also try thinking about how sick you feel after, how you want to look and feel when you meet up with friends and family again,etc. After my Bday, I am planing on the Tough Mudder for my next goal motivation.
Start fantasizing about forbidden fruits instead. Literally, a juicy ripe mango, fresh raspberries, pineapple. Paleo warm blueberry muffins. Yum! You could start some paleo baking, even half-ing recipes so if you do overeat, it is only 6 muffins and they are good for you.
As others have said, you are doing a lot of training. Your body is probably craving a crazy amount of calories to keep up. I would think the IF would be very detrimental to someone training so much but I'm not super well-informed on IF. Try snacking more often when you are hungry. Bring pre-sized snack baggies with you everywhere-nuts, apples, dried fruit, I eat nut butter plain.
I cannot let myself get too hungry or else I will eat tons of bad food too. When you start to get hungry, eat something ASAP, it WILL help make the craving for bad food go away. Last night, I had a big healthy supper before work but for some reason was getting hungry again (duh, probably from walking my butt off all night & working out hard last couple of days). I didn't really want to eat more for the day or late-ish at night. Steamed broccoli sounded good and I could have ordered it, choose not to. Instead, an hour and a half later, I was eating some queso and chips.
Felt guilty and not nearly as good as if I ordered some veggies. But, oh freaking well!!!!! You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. We all slip up. If you stop beating up yourself so much for the bad choices, you probably won't crave the bad stuff as much either. When you punish yourself so much by feeling sick, crying, guilt, etc it almost makes the "forbidden SAD" food have a mysterious allure or power...which just ends up making you crave it in a way. Truly start enjoying your food. Make meals that taste awesome. It's Spring-asparagus is awesome right now. Fresh blueberries could beat the crap out of any bowl of ice cream! Good luck girl!
on May 19, 2012
at 12:18 PM
it might be because at your weight and body fat your body is borderline starving, so you are really straining your endocrine system by trying to maintain that weight. the stress of this is definitely enough to do some damage if you arent kinder to your body and actually realize that you probably need to eat a bit more food or perhaps just a different ratio...maybe more carbs, maybe more fat like you said, perhaps more small and extremely nourishign meals per day? maybe simplify? i only know this because i have had my diet and controlling my binging take up 100 percent of my energy....and it wore me down, and now i have no other option at the moment and i am trying to build my life back up, and its not fun
on May 16, 2012
at 07:22 PM
This isn't really even a food related answer, but here goes:
This statement from your post jumped out at me: "my life is pretty unremittingly lousy right now"
Life's too short to be miserable where you live and work. If your job and location is that unbearable, start planning an exit strategy-- start working on your resume, apply for jobs in your hometown, be sure squirrel away every extra dollar you can find and plan to move back to wherever home is, even if that means that you have to live with your parents or friends for a while. If you ending up quitting and moving home without a job, you can ask for a forebearance of your student loans until you find a new job. And, yes, I fully realize that it's difficult to find a job in this economy-- but happiness is important, too.
Before you think I'm being unrealistic, I assure you that I'm not ignoring basic financial needs (in fact, I'm a personal finance blogger), I am old enough to know that misery isn't worth it, student loans or no. Wishing you the very best of luck!
on May 10, 2012
at 03:10 AM
I will agree that over exercising causes me to binge. I become ravenous if I do too much cardio. I'm a cardio junky but not as intense as I use to be. I will double the vote for coconut oil. I also take gymnema sylvestre and that helps too! And, although not paleo, I get the fiber chews sugar free from costco and that satisfies my sweet tooth and fills me up. I HATE BINGES THEY SUCK.
on May 09, 2012
at 11:57 PM
The easiest way to stop binge cycles is to use Shangri-La Diet techniques. One technique is nose-clipping, and what follows is my description of how I do it. While holding your nose closed with one hand, use the other hand to drink an oil you are willing to ingest. (I currently use cream.) Then rinse out your mouth multiple times with water. If you can tolerate them, put on swimmers noseclips for the next 5 minutes or so. When you remove the noseclips and start breathing, breathe in through your nose and exhale out through your mouth, ten times. That should clear out any residual flavor. You must surround noseclipping with one hour of flavor-free eating/drinking, on each side. For example, if you stop eating/drinking at 9am, then at 10am you can noseclip oil, and then at 11 you can eat again. It may take up to a week for this to take effect; do not expect immediate results. The amount of oil to ingest varies; one rule of thumb is to take 2 times in calories your weight in pounds. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, ingest 300 calories of oil.
There are other SLD techniques; investigate the book or the blog or the forum for more info. I'm relaying what works for me.
As for an immediate binge, if you are about to engage on a binge, that is, if you are just about to enter your kitchen, then, if you have just a little bit of willpower left, you can try to overwhelm your appetite control systems by using the following technique (my own invention): consume small quantities of strange combinations of food. For example; a date with a dab of mustard; a baby carrot with a layer of ketchup; a grape with a half teaspoon of a spice mixture. It is best to prepare this list ahead of time and have it stuck to the refrigerator. About ten combinations. I have never been able to go beyond the fifth combo. These must be eaten one right after the other, as quickly as you can while still paying attention to the flavors.
on May 09, 2012
at 07:06 PM
I have the exact same problem. I don't do a lot of exercise right now, but I still have the binging problem. Someone mentioned a spoon of coconut oil, and I think that might REALLY help. A lot of fat with your protein at breakfast might help too. But that's just the physical part of it...
I would also suggest some kind of counselling. Is there any kind of free counselling where you live? If not counselling (but I really suggest it) then finding some paleo people to talk to would be good. Whether online or in person. I need to do that too...that way, you have some kind of support atleast.