Another weekend has passed and despite the promises you made to yourself, you went on a binge eating fiesta that both shocks and embarrasses you.
You know the feeling, it’s Monday morning and you’re standing in front of your bathroom mirror getting dressed and everything just feels uncomfortable. You consider yourself a smart person but the body staring back at you from the mirror is one you want to hide away behind as many layers of clothing as possible.
Sure, you have a laugh and a giggle when someone in the office brings in a cake because it’s their birthday but deep in your heart, you know that stopping at one piece is virtually impossible and even if you do, you’re going to sneak out later for a chocolate bar anyway. The desperate need to eat just never seems to go away, you don’t even like food anymore. You just need to eat.
Your weight gives you so many issues that you hide your nakedness from your partner, if you have one,as often as possible, and thoughts of summer beach days are filled with dread.
Psychologists will tell you that over eating itself is not the problem, but that it is symptomatic of a deeper emotional trauma that you are yet to deal with. Fit healthy people talk to you like they think that you woke up one day and decided to get as fat as possible.
I’m no Psychologist, so I’m not qualified to give you advice on your emotional trauma but I have been an over eater my entire life. My mother will tell you that no matter how much I ate at meal times, I’d be back in the kitchen within 15 minutes looking for something that would fill that empty void.
And it’s because of that journey that I’ve tried and tested every method and diet I could to lose weight. What I share below include some of the changes I’ve had to make to my life after being declined for cover on my Trauma Insurance application. These are strategies I’ve used in the past to good effect and am using right now as I slowly recover from the brink of a blood pressure reading that got as high as 180 over 125. That was a scary scary day. I was also 154 Kg or 339lbs.
If you can relate to any of the above, please seek help from a qualified Psychologist. It’ll change your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.
The tips below are snippets. Let Google be your friend.
The 7 Tips
1 – Drink More Water
Emotional over eaters are so used to feeling empty, that we often mis-diagnose dehydration as hunger. Forget the 8 glasses a day rubbish that gets trotted out as being a standard that seemingly fits everybody. Keep a 1L drinking bottle with all day and swig from it everytime you feel the need to eat. Fill the bottle up each time you empty it. Not only will you stay hydrated but you’ll also help your body flush excess toxins that are affecting other areas of your health.
2 – Raw Food
If you do nothing else in this list. Do this. Radically increase the amount of raw food you eat. And I do mean radically. I’m not talking about throwing a side salad on your steak. I’m talking about eating salad leaves by the bagful. Buying fruit by the box and consuming as much raw fruit and veges as you possibly can. Fill your fruit bowls and fridge drawers with as much produce as you can. Your body will have to work harder to access a smaller pool of calories so don’t be surprised if your hunger pains start to disappear and fat starts disappearing from all over your body.
nb. I prefer whole food over juicing to retain the fiber element and satisfy the chewing element but be warned that lots of fibre has consequences. Bathroom consequences.
3 – Intermittent Fasting
This is another that has had massive impact for me. I use the IF method espoused by Martin Berkhan of LeanGains fame.
That is I limit myself to an 8 hour eating window. The daily 16 hour fast gives my body time to rest and use the nutrients, I’ve previously given it. The great thing about this method for overeaters is that you set your 8 hour eating window that fits your lifestyle and only drink tea or water during the resting period.
You’d be surprised how much less food an over eater can get in when they stop eating from the moment they get up until the time they go back to bed.
4 – Heart Rate Variability
You knew, you’d have to face an excercise tip eventually, right? If you’re an over eater like me, the thought of going for a 10k jog either fills you with boredom, a common reason for over eating, or worse, dread. Could you even jog for 10klm’s without your larger than normal body breaking down? If you’re not built for long distance jogging, then don’t do it. It’s not necessary to burning fat and most would agree inefficient.
Try some form of HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training. I have screwy knees because of damage I did to them in the gym a few years ago, so on the occasion that they’re pain free, I do 100 metre sprints in the park, on the grass. When they’re not, I do some pretty exhausting multiple joint movements at the gym. If you don’t know what these are, invest the money required to get a good PT to teach you. Or buy a punching bag. Regular intensive sessions on that will have you dropping fat very quickly.
5 – Meal Timing
I found that one of the great rewards of excercise was that I would actually enjoy my post workout meal. And what was even more exciting for someone who loves a big meal, is that the period immediately following a workout is when your body is most ready for additional nutrients and energy. So if you’re limiting your eating window to an eight hour period in a Lean Gains type scenario, then organise your schedule so that your biggest meal is after your workout. i.e my 12pm – 8pm eating schedule means, I can train after work and go to be after eating a massive dinner.
If you eat big meals anyway at night, you may as well use them in your favour.
6 – Cheat Days
All this talk of raw food, fasting and water by the bucket load is exciting for about 3 weeks and then, that’s when serious over eaters fall off the wagon and fall hard. The trouble is they never get back on. So setup a system that allows for these needs. The sort of people who can stick to a nice healthy eating plan forever are probably not reading this. So find something that works for you.
To keep me focused, on the discipline that is needed to eat healthy while accomodating my need to eat all the time. I literally have one cheat day per week, where I eat anything I want in my eight hour window. To be honest, I should probably only have one meal like this until I get my down to my ideal size but this method suits my family’s lifestyle.
7 – Measurement
Do yourself a favour. If you still have a set of scales in your home, throw them in the bin. Now! If you are engaging in an excercise programme, and change the makeup of your nutritional input i.e food. Then you are going to transform your body in incredible ways.
We’ve all heard that muscle is heavier than fat, so how to we record and track our progress? Aside from the aesthetic reasons we want to burn fat, the most pressing issue is the health profile of over eaters. It’s time to ditch the scales and pull out the measuring tape.
So let’s deal with the issue that really matters, our health. In order to reduce our threats from cardio vascular disease, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases, the Australian government recommends that Men should have a waist circumference no greater than 94cm while women should be at or under 80cm. While they agree that some races, such as Pacific Islanders have higher body type allowances, their advertising recommends that everyone stay under 100cm.
In the first part of this article, I recommended that self confessed over eaters, seek help from a licenced Psychologist. The Australian government has a programme to help individuals access this type of help. Just ask your GP about The Mental Health Plan. It will give you access to subsidised treatment.
All substance abuse has a cause, hopefully this article encourages you to find better physical health, while your searching for answers to your mental health questions.
Please share your story below, if you feel it could help someone else.