Letting go of food anxiety and control when travelling | Advice

A post about travelling… there are many different directions i can take this post.

How to be vegan when travelling.

How to be healthy/keep up with routines when travelling.

And also… how to be ok with letting go of routines and control and enjoy your holiday.

I want to write about all three, because they are all relevant to different people. For some people, they do need tips on how to maybe stay active during holiday, what to think about with food so as to not go all in all day with the food.

But for others… that is not the type of advice they need. Instead, they need advice on how to be ok with letting go of routines. How to be ok with not exercising for a week. How to be ok with not having planned or structured meals. Eating out several times a day. How to enjoy your holiday, GUILT and ANXIETY free.

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Of course is there a magical answer on how to do this… not really, the first time or first holiday may not be the easiest. But i can say, the only way to find that balance, to be able to enjoy a holiday without letting food or exercise control it or give you anxiety, is to face those fears.

If your holiday is just a week, then realise that it is one week out of 52 weeks. It is 7 days out of 365 days, what does it matter if you eat more than usual? What does it matter if you don’t exercise.

If anything… it will just do you good, because the honest truth is that if you need this reminder that it is ok to not exercise and it is ok to just rest, then you are more than likely doing more exercise than necessary to be healthy and resting will just be beneficial for you. Not to mention, eating differently when you are on holiday, enjoying the food and allowing yourself to try new foods and get that spontaneous ice cream, smoothie or glass of wine is just part of it.

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Think like this….. in the future, you will remember the memories. You will remember the experience and you hopefully want to make it a positive one.

Remember that food is not the enemy. Controlling your body, letting anxiety and fear foods control you won’t bring you happiness. Amir Menahem1437.jpg

  1. Photographer/credit: Amir Menahem

 

Some useful tips if you do struggle with anxiety around food because you are eating out or not able to exercise is:

Knowing where you are going to eat can be helpful. Just to mentally know where you are going to eat, what type of food is being served. NO… this doesn’t mean you compensate with salad for lunch because you are eating burgers for dinner, or that you skip breakfast because you are eating pasta for lunch. It can just help with the control issues which i am sure many know struggle with an eating disorder, or need this advice, may struggle with. Mentally preparing yourself can be helpful.

 

And just like i said in my most recent YouTube video about how to stop counting calories, (Youtube, IzzyM), is that when you go out to eat… ORDER THE FOOD YOU WANT. I know it may be tough, especially when you may be doing it 3 or more times in one day. But do it. I promise you, if you order a food you want, like or want to try, you will enjoy it so much more.

 

Hopefully you will be travelling with friends or family who don’t have any food rules or are very restrictive with their diet. Hopefully you are surrounded by people who can enjoy food, both vegetables and ice cream, and that can help you feel more comfortable and want to do the same thing.

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  1. Photographer/credit: Amir Menahem

Of course, if you are travelling with others who maybe are on a diet, make alot of food comments or are very restrictive in their way of eating it can be very triggering, and maybe make you feel uncomfortable with ordering and eating the amount or type of food you want. But then you have to ask yourself…. what type of life do i want to live? How do i want to remember this trip? Do i want to remember it filled with anxiety and restricitve behaviour… wanting to try a food but not allowing yourself? Or do you want to remember it with delicious food, seeing new places and a good time?

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Photographer/credit: Amir Menahem

It can be helpful to maybe spend a weekend away to start off with, where you don’t actively workout and allow yourself to eat the foods you want when you go out to eat. It can be a good way to start facing your fears.

Have coping skills and ways to cope with your anxiety planned. What works best for you… being alone or being with others? Does it help to just sit and breathe or do you maybe want some time to journal or maybe talk with others to help with the anxiety?

Also remember that the anxiety WILL pass after a meal. I know there may be anxiety before a meal and after, but it will pass… and the only way to make the anxiety lessen, is to face it. Unless you step outside of your comfort zone to face the anxiety, it will continue to control you.

Lastly a reminder… that even if you don’t have the courage to try a whole dish or a certain food all by yourself… if you are travelling with others, suggest you share. Because that can be the start of you facing your fears and fear foods. So if you don’t feel like you can handle finishing an ice cream by yourself, but you still want one…. suggest you share one. Of course… if you truly want th ewhole ice cream – then go for it, because you deserve it!

And remember, even if you don’t go to the gym or go for a run, you are most likely active in other ways…. exploring a new city and walking around. Walking to the beach, moving from place to place. And even if you don’t do that, and all you do is lie on the beach for a whole week… that is ok as well. Remember that it is just a short period of your life.

I know this post isn’t for everyone…. but for many, they may need these reminders.

In the past i could never travel or be away from home. Just the thought of having to eat out more than once in a week or not being able to workout while still having to eat several times a day would have sent me into panic mode. But the only way to get over those fears was to face them…. to travel, to allow myself to eat and enjoy food, to allow myself rest and know that my routines and habits will be there again when i am home. But allowing myself to truly enjoy myself, enjoy food and enjoy the company while i am travelling is so much more important than the amount of calories i eat or the amount of time i spent exercising.

 

When travelling, there can be a lot of anxiety… just because of all the changes… so just be aware and be prepared. Find out what works for you… what helps you cope with your anxiety. Be kind to your self and know that the only way to get better is to step outside of your comfort zone and do the things that scare you, and in that case it means facing fear foods and allowing yourself to rest. It may be easier said than done for some, but you can’t reach that place if you don’t even try or try to face your fears.

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If you have any other post suggestions you want me to make, just let me know!

Overeating, extreme hunger, binge eating |How they differ

Many people lightheartedly use the word, “Binged” when they actually mean overate.

Many in eating disorder recovery – specially restrictive eating disorders – can go through periods of extreme hunger, but they think it is binging.

Extreme hunger and binging can seem very similar, but they are very different. One could be classified as consequences/symptoms of an eating disorder, whereas the other one is classified as an eating disorder.

This post has been a long time coming, and i thought i would try to define and describe the difference in these 3 terms as well as give some tips if you are dealing with extreme hunger or binge eating right now.

Overeating:

Starting off with the simplest definition, which is overeating. Over eating is basically what you may do at buffets or at Christmas or other special occasions where there is a lot of food. Or even at dinner parties where you may eat a large dinner and feel full but still eat some cake afterwards. Basically, eating more than maybe usual or maybe you are 95% full but still eat more just because it is delicious, because it is there or because it is offered to you and you want to be polite. Typically, you may feel very full for several hours, may feel like unbuttoning your trousers and laying down for a while and give your stomach time to digest the food.

Overeating is rather normal. Some people may do it more frequently, others may just do it during special occasions or events. Typically done just because the food is there or because it is delicious.

For some people when they have “cheat days” they may be overeating.

If you overeat, the best thing is to just rest for a while, drink some water or peppermint tea. That fullness will pass and as long as it is not a daily occurunce of overeating then it is no problem. (*Note, overeating can occur at more times than just special occasions i.e such as boredom eating, stress, always eating larger portions than necessary during mealtimes… which can result in weightgain. Which for some is a NECESSARY weight gain, and for others it may not.)

Extreme hunger:

And the next is extreme hunger. So many think that extreme hunger is the same as binging… but it is not. They are two different things.

Extreme hunger is often in response to a period of undereating… it may have been conscious or unconscious undereating. It is your bodies way of finding balance… craving for food and high energy food to feel “safe” again. Also, if you have lost weight, either by choice or by accident, it is your bodies way of getting you back to your set point. The extreme hunger doesn’t last forever, but it can last a while. How long it lasts varies from person to person and situation to situation. If you have been undereating for a long time you may feel extreme hunger for a longer period of time, compared to if it may just have been a short while that you under ate due to maybe stress, hormones or other reasons.

Extreme hunger can be described as a constant or very frequent hunger. You may eat a big meal, but 1 hour alter feel super hungry again, almost like you haven’t eaten in hours. If you have been undereating, or if you are underweight then it is more than likely that your hormones are out of balance, including your hunger hormones which can be why you feel constantly hungry or never feel full. It can of course be helpful to see a doctor who specializes in hormones if they are out of balance, but remember that eating enough, having a healthy body fat percent and not overstressing can help regulate hormones (to some extent).

Typically, you are just hungry… you want to eat, you want food. There may not be any extreme or strong or specific cravings. Just hunger. During extreme hunger you may overeat, i.e eat more than your daily calorie requirements. However, this is also necessary for the extreme hunger to settle and go away. You do need to eat more…. You need to allow yourself to eat the amount your body is craving., Even if that means eating every hour.

My best suggestion when it comes to extreme hunger is to one, actually eat. Listen to your body.

And two, try to eat 5-6 meals a day minimum. Don’t eat tiny meals “just in case you eat too much” or to compensate for being so hungry. Eat large meals. No diet or light foods – eat the full fat products. And if you have any specific cravings, allow yourself to eat them… even if you should also focus on eating main meals and mostly whole foods and unprocessed foods. If you want the chocolate or donuts or crisps, eat them.

Acceptance and allowance are key. It may be a mental battle, but the hunger won’t go away if you keep trying to restrict or deprive yourself… it will just make it worse and it could infact lead to binging and binge eating. Which is what I will describe next.

Binge eating

So, binge eating is classified as an eating disorder, whereas extreme hunger can be a consequence/symptom of an eating disorder. Or a result and part of recovery from an eating disorder. And overeating is just a “normal” thing… and I mean normal in the sense that the majority of people overeat certain times in their life… even if it definitely shouldn’t be a daily thing because that can lead to weight gain for the majority of people (who may not need to gain weight. It is different if you are dealing with extreme hunger and therefore overeat but also need to gain weight… or atleast, gaining weight will help you find balance with food and eating again.).

Binge eating isn’t really about food or hunger… the binges are mostly due to mental reasons. They are often in response to anxiety, stress, emotions. The binges are a form of coping mechanism. Often there is strong cravings for specific foods… often high in calorie, fat and sugar. Or it can be certain nostalgic food that can give you a sense of comfort which can be a way to cope when stressed, anxious or dealing with a lot of emotions.

Binging is not really about the food or feeling super hungry compared to extreme hunger…. But more the feeling of eating, the rush of the sugar and calories and the dopamine the food can give. Dopamine is one of the “feel good” neurotransmittors and often that gives the person a sense of happiness/comfort/takes away the anxiety while they binge eat… but then post binge the anxiety and guilt may kick in.

However, binge eating can also be a consequence and response of extreme and long restrictive eating. Where you have restricted and deprived your body for so long, and all that is on your mind are the “forbidden foods”, and once you do eat one of those “forbidden foods”, there is no stop. An all or nothing mindset kicks in. For some they compensate, which is then classified as bulimia, whereas if you don’t compensate it is just binge eating.

Binge eating is far more serious than the other two, hence why it is an eating disorder that can be diagnosed according to certain criteria. But also, for the majority of people does require professional help to recover.

Binge eating can often be described as a lack of control… even if extreme hunger can also be described as that at times, because you just feel so hungry that you can’t stop eating. (Even if YES… with extreme hunger, you will reach a point where you don’t feel that super hunger all the time. But it does take some time for your body and hormones to reach a safe and balanced place… but eventually it stops.) Whereas with binge eating… it can continue for many years until someone eventually reaches the point where they seek professional treatment in some form, whether inpatient care, day patient or therapy or CBT for help.

On the other side, binge eating can also be seen as something “controlled” as people can plan their binges (even if the binging also then becomes something uncontrolled and unstoppable)… which is something not many people are aware of. Even if binges can happen spontaneously in response to emotions, stress, anxiety, mental state… it can also be planned binges where food is bought and planned beforehand as the binging can give a sense of comfort, peace, happiness…. But the aftermath of the binges is quite the opposite with guilt, anxiety, self-hate and disgust.

With binge eating, it is recommended to try to eat regular mealtimes throughout a day. To not reach a point where you feel starving or hangry. To eat 5-6 times a day and give your body and mind constant energy. Because binges can stem from restriction or a restrictive mindset where you have set up food rules and forbidden foods, you need to work on finding balance with all foods… not having foods you can’t eat. However, in the beginning it can be helpful to avoid having trigger foods in your house and instead eating them when you feel that you can eat them in moderation, example maybe when you are around others.

And one of the most important things with binge eating/bulimia, is that you do seek proffessional help/treatment/support to overcome it. There can be many reasons as to why you binge, but if you don’t seek help it can be an eating disorder you live with. Binge eating and bulimia is actually alot more common than anorexia, even if it does not get as much attention or awareness. And there is nothing shameful in struggling, but it is important you seek help so that you can get better and not just resort to cutting out trigger foods and binge foods so that you eat a very restrictive diet. Because that will just lead to more binging. Unfortunatly food is everywhere and just like with anorexia recovery it is not just about eating and eating the right amount for you, but about finding ways to cope around food and finding ways to eat in balance, and lastly just letting food become a part of your life but not your whole life.

I do have other posts about binge eating and binge eating recovery, so I will not write so much about tips to recover and advice for recovery in this post, instead you can check out my previous posts.

My previous posts about binge eating:

Binge eating recovery: Tips, advice, my experience: Masterpost

Dealing with extreme hunger and binges? | Nutrition advice | Masterpost

Finding balance with food – Restrictive/binging/balanced – advice

How to find balance with food and eating. Overcoming fear foods.

Why diets don’t work

With binge eating, a person often eats far beyond their fullness and to the point of extreme fullness at times. There is most often not a physical hunger than drives the binges – even if at times it may begin with physical hunger but then results in a binge if a person feels triggered or an “all or nothing” mindset kicks in. With extreme hunger, you may overeat but it most often doesn’t reach a point of extreme fullness.

As mentioned earlier… the difference between bulimia and binge eating is that when you have bulimia you may restrict, binge, compensate and repeat. And the form of compensation can vary, whereas with binge eating it is often just binging without any form of compensation.

Lastly, what qualifies as a binge? Well, eating very large and abnormal quantities of food. Amounts of food you wouldn’t eat when around others or portions you know are far bigger than is necessary or normal. I.e such as eating whole packages of bread, cereal, whole boxes of food etc So eating an extra slice of cake for dessert or accidently eating a whole package (one of those roll form ones) of oreos isn’t the same as a binge, where the binge eating can continue for hours at a time and abnormal quantities of food eaten in a “short” period of time.

So, with this…. I hope I have helped bring some awareness to the three different terms. Many in anorexia recovery can find it hard to know whether they are going through extreme hunger or have developed binge eating. But typically, I would say it is just extreme hunger and the best thing you can do is ALLOW YOURSELF TO EAT with no compensation or restriction.

Of course, it is hard to define exactly extreme hunger vs binge eating, but i would say that the person knows themselves – after a while whether it is binge eating or just an extreme hunger.

However, it is important to note that binge eating is one of the most common eating disorders and many in anorexia recovery can end up with bulimia or binge eating if they continue to restrict and deprive themselves even in recovery. I.e continuing to have fearfoods and still eating the lowest amount possible, that strong restriction can kick over into binge eating as a response to the restriction and your body just wanting lots of calories and energy.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if you know anyone else who may benefit from reading this post… send it their way 😊

If you want me to write more about one of these topics or give advice regarding one of them, just comment and let me know.

Or if you have any other post suggestions for me, you are always welcome to let me know.

More posts/articles relevant to this subject:

Extreme hunger: part1 – what is it?

Extreme hunger: part 2 – the experience and science

Hormones and binge eating disorder

Dealing with guilt and anxiety after eating | Tips to cope |Eating disorder recovery advice

Dealing with guilt and anxiety after eating.

First off…. having anxiety after eating is not normal or ok. It is not something that should be normalized either….. even if i see it happening alot more. People saying, “ohh i have so much anxiety after eating this donut”, but saying it in a very lighthearted way. Of course, it can be hard to know whether the person actually does have anxiety after eating the food or if it js just a joke/don’t really mean it….. but either way i don’t think it is ok.

From someone who has dealt with ALOT of anxiety, panic and guilt after eating…. it is not something to be joked about or something to be taken lightheartedly. The amount of harm i did to myself due to the anxiety i felt before, during and after eating is not something to be taken lightly or joked about.

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So, now that i have that out of the way… what do you do when you feel guilty after eating?

There can of course be guilt before and during eating, but in this post i will focus just on what to do after eating and the guilt or anxiety hits.

Well, the first step is to not compensate in anyway or resort to harmful or negative behaviour to cope with that anxiety. That is usally the go to – they want to compensate by eating less or by exercising. Or they resort to harmful behaviour to deal with the anxiety they are feeling. But none of these are helpful or longterm solutions, they may help in the moment but they are not actually helping *you*

It is also important to remember that the anxiety isn’t dangerous, and it won’t harm you. Neither will the food.

The anxiety and guilt WILL pass, i promise you that. Of course it can vary from person to person and situation to situation, but generally speaking… give yourself 30 minutes and the anxiety will begin to lessen. The anxiety will slowly begin to rise but then it will reach it’s peak and it will begin to lessen, so you just have to ride out that wave of anxiety and know that if you get through it… you can do it again and over time, the anxiety won’t hit you as hard, long or as often.

The best advice of course is to not eat or be alone after eating. Eat with others and then sit in the company of othres 30-60 minutes after eating. Whether you just sit there and ride out the anxiety, or whether you can join in on the conversation or activity the others are doing to help distract you.

 

Of course, not everyone has the possibility of eating with others for all their meals so if you do eat alone then have something planned/activity/hobby to do after eating. And it doesn’t have to mean you leave the house or you clean or do something active, it can be just deciding to read a book or do a wordsearch or some suduko after eating. Something that can distract you while you feel all the emotions and anxiety inside of you.

From personal experience, i had to do something with my hands and something that really grabbed my attention when i was dealing with the anxiety after eating. I couldn’t just watch a film or read a book because i would feel so anxious that i couldn’t focus and my thoughts would just go to the food i ate/how to compensate etc So instead i did things like suduko, wordsearch, puzzles while i was at Mando treatment. When i was at home i blogged, cleaned, tried to learn to play guitar, tried to learn to edit videos, studied… and of course sat with my family.

Note – it is important that you don’t become obsessed with cleaning either. It can be easy to become slightly manic with this so that you are always up and cleaning when you have anxiety.

 

Just resting. This may of course be the hardest, because it is easier to just distract yourself than it is to lay still and rest. But it is one of the best and most helpful ways to deal with the anxiety. To just sit in a chair/sofa and be still, or go lay in bed and nap.. maybe watch a series or listen to a podcast. You don’t have to lay in complete silence, but just laying still….. remembering that the anxiety will lessen.

Reminding yourself that it is ok that you ate. Reminding yourself that there is nothing bad about the food you ate. Even if you overate or binged, it is ok. As long as you don’t compensate or restrict, but instead try to get back into regular meals for your next meal. Reminding yourself that it is ok to eat, the food won’t harm you.

In the past, laying still after a meal was almost impossible… but now that is just what i do in a normal day without thinking about it. I sit and eat and then continue sitting as i am working or just resting…. or i lay in bed and watch series while eating and continue laying there even after i ate. It is just part of life and ok to rest/be still. Something which once caused so much anxiety is now just a part of my life.

The only way to recover is to deal with those fears and anxieties. To find healthy coping mechanisms. And it does help if the people you surround yourself with know about your struggles so they can help you.

 

But also if you are alone or have no one to support you… do reach out for help, either to a treatment centre or via online services. If you are really struggling with anxiety and alone, calling someone CAN REALLY HELP. I have had numerous times i have called my family to talk to them when i was in the middle of an anxiety attack (not related to food), just because i couldn’t sit alone with my thoughts and needed some form of distraction…. Sometimes you may not even have the energy or concentration to talk to the person you are calling, but if they understand what you are going through they can talk TO YOU, and it can be a comfort just hearing that person talk.

It will get easier, i promise you.

Face those fears. Face those anxities. In time they won’t be as strong or as frequent. You will be able to live a life without anxiety around food or eating. But it does take time and you do need to eat the foods that scare you or give you anxiety.

Remind yourself that food is fuel, it is nourishment, you need to eat. No food will harm you as much as your eating disorder will. 

And finally, remember that ALL food is guilt free. 

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How to gain weight on a plantbased diet

Gaining weight as a vegan/eating plantbased.

There is alot of talk about a plantbased diet having alot of health benefits and alot of talk about weightloss on a plantbased diet. But not everyone wants to or needs to lose weight….

So how do you gain weight on a plantbased diet? Well…. just like with all weight gain, you need to eat at a calorie surplus. Meaning, more calories in than out.

This can be harder on a plantbased diet as typically vegan food is lower in calories and contains alot of fiber which can leave you feeling full. But it’s not impossible to gain weight while eating plantbased. It just means eating more energy dense foods to help you eat more calories withiut feeling overly full.

Meal one and two are large portions, but not so many calories (aside from maybe the avocado.. but even then.. half an avocado really isn’ät that much energy when you need to gain weight. Then it would be better to eat one full avocado, along with adding some rice/pasta/potatoes or even some dressing to the meals on the toop. ) Whereas the bottom two meals aren’t huge portions but have more energy which can be more beneficial to eat when weightgain is your goal. All four of these meals can be part of a healthy diet whether you just want to main weight, lose weight or gain weight.. it is about the portion size you eat as well as how your diet is in total. So even if one meal may have alot of calories, that doesn’t mean you will gain weight… it is about the total energy intake and expenditure … not  just one meal. These meals were just examples how if you eat alot of low calorie vegetables you get alot of volume but not so much energy, which may be great for some people while not so great for others.

So how to gain weight while eating plantbased?

Increasing portion sizes… and i don’t mean increasing the amount of fruit or vegetables you eat. But increase the amount of potatoes, pasta, rice, bulgur etc you have on your plate. If you don’t eat those foods you may want to implement them in your diet! They are great sources of carbs and nutrition!

If you just increase and add vegetables all you will do is increase your satiety and fullness without contributing the extra energy you need to gain weight.

When i first went vegan i ended up losing a bunch of weight for different reasons, but one of them was that i ended up eating just a bunch of fruit when i went vegan. And didn’t realise i needed to really increase my portion sizes… which is something i have noticed other vegans forget when they first decide to eat plantbased or go vegan. Also.. don’t forget to replace the food you take away. Find alternatives. (Post: Substituting food – but not with the same nutrients? | Vegan )

Below are some of the tips that helped me to gain weight while eating plantbased. But also overall recommendations and guidelines for when you need to gain weight.

If you don’t already eat snacks, it can be a good idea to eat 1-3 snacks a day along with your 3 main meals.

Example of some good snacks. Bread with avocado. Nuts and seeds. Chia seed pudding with nut butter or nuts and seeds. Yoghurt with granola. Smoothie/milkshake with banana,oats, plantbased milk and nut butter. Bread with peanut butter and jam, or peanut butter and banana.  Dates with peanut butter.

Increasing your intake of healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, nut butter, full fat plantbased dairy products, frying in oil. As a vegan it can be beneficial to increase your intake of rapeseed oil or flaxseed oil as they contain alot of omega 3 which is an essential fatt acid, and can be harder to get on a plantbased diet. However, flaxseed oil shouldn’t be heated so can instead be added to smoothies or part of sauces or dressing. However, choose the oil you like best flavourwise so you enjoy the food you eat as well.

If possible, drink some plantbased milk as part of snacks or along with meals. Not only will it give you some extra energy, if you choose the fortified options it will give you more calcium, iron, b12 and even D vitamin.

Don’t be scared to eat some extra dessert, chocolate, candy or fries. When you are eating at a surplus, you have more room for extra foods. Of course you can still eat those foods even when you just want to maintain your weight, but when gaining weight you can eat more of them.

Try to increase the size of your main meals if possible, and make sure to include protein, carbs and fat for each meal… and some vegetables if you have the space in your stomach for those as well!

Example meals: Fried tofu, quinoa, avocado/hummus and some broccoli.

Bean pasta with lentil bolognese including black beans and carrots as well as avocado on top or maybe some vegan cheese or creme fraiche.

Vegan burgers, from soy meat or beans, potatoes and sauce of choice.

Vegan vegetable lasagne, or lasagne made using soy meat.

Pesto pasta with broccoli.

Those were just some example meals!

Other tips… make creamy dishes. Such as potato salad. Creamy pasta salad. Creamy pasta dishes. Use plantbased cream or margarine in your meals when you can.

If you need to gain weight, just eating fruit or raw salads or raw vegetables isn’t enough.

Gaining weight while eating healthy?

I know many want to gain weight in a healthy manner, and eating oil/margarine/vegan cheese/vegan cream can all be part of a healthy diet and healthy weight gain. It can be very hard to gain weight eating just extra beans, potatoes and avocado… even if it is still possible, it may not be the most fun as you may feel overly full. However, if you snack alot on nuts and seeds as well as nut butter, or make example raw food balls or raw food cakes and add alot of avocado to your meals it can help with the weight gain.

Also, you may feel full or feel like you can’t eat bigger portions or more food… but give your body time to adapt. You may spend 1-3 weeks feeling a little overly full when you are first adjusting to eating more, but eventually your body should adapt. It can also be good to not go overboard on fiber rich foods when you have the goal to gain weight as all the fiber can make your stomach go a little crazy, as well as making you feel full.

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Weight gain does usually take time and doesn’t happen overnight. Enjoy the food you are eating, and try to look forward to eating more frequent meals or bigger portions!

Many people are dieting and trying to lose weight so it can feel tough to have to do the opposite, but see the positives in weightgain. Being able to eat more, eat alot of food, hopefully feel more energetic and stronger, and also the health benefits of weight gain if it is something your body needs!

If you have any questions regarding this topic or other nutrition related posts, don’t forget to comment below and i will do my best to answer!

How to find balance with food and eating. Overcoming fear foods.

When i talk about food, i talk alot about intuitive eating, balance, moderation, eating according to YOUR bodies needs.

But how do you do that when your hunger and fullness feelings aren’t working as they should, or maybe you don’t trust your body yet? Or maybe you just have too many fear foods to actually eat them, or when you do eat them you can’t stop yourself and eat the whole package?

If you have lived with an eating disorder, or disordered eating for a long time… intuitive eating including balance and moderation can seem very far away. And learning to trust your body and find balance with food doesn’t happen overnight, it is a process and a journey.

I do personally recommend everyone to try to eat intuitively, to listen to their body…because the body is smart. HOWEVER, the mind is almost smarter and there can be ALOT of mixed signals when it comes to eating.

All the misinformation about nutrition. All the “rules” regarding what you can eat and how much. If you were to listen to all the rules, you wouldn’t be able to eat anything.

It feels like children are the only ones who truly eat intuitvely and listen to their bodies. However unfortuntly more and more children are beginning to develop disordered eating or eating disorders for different reasons. Which is incredibly sad, and also shows that something is wrong with our society/how we talk about food/teach children how and what to eat, and that diet messages are being converted to children early on.

How do you begin to listen to your body and trust your bodies signals? How do you begin to eat intuitively?

First step is to try to get rid of all the rules and regulations you have around food. Sit down and analyse how and why you eat. What choices do you make when it comes to eating?

Do you choose a food based on nutrients? Based on calories? Based on what you deem as “healthy or unhealthy”? Or because you enjoy the food?

Do you portion the food out according to what you crave/want, or how much you think you should eat?

Do you eat when you are hungry or when the clock tells you when to eat? Do you allow yourself to eat when you feel hungry or do you limit yourself because you think you shouldn’t eat at certain times?

Do you eat until you are satisfied? Or do you leave food, thinking that is what you should do?

Do you plan and control your food intake?

Do you enjoy the food you eat? Do you get cravings for more after eating? Do you feel satisfied after eating?

Do you compensate after eating? If you have eaten a big meal do you eat less later on to compensate?

Do you eat foods you enjoy? Do you avoid foods out of fear? Do you have certain rules of when and what you can eat? Do you allow others to make food for you? Do you choose the option you want to eat when eating out?

Once you have answered those questions, you become more attuned to the way you eat/make food choices and whether they are healthy or not. I.e if you never eat until you are satisfied, only eat food that is low calorie and only eat at certain times due to rules… then maybe you need to rethink your relationship with food.

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Change rules and habits

The second step is to actually change those rules and habits if you have them. And you can start off by questioning the rules you have.

I.e why do i only eat at certain times and not allow myself to eat when hungry?

Why do i avoid certain foods even if i like them?

Why do i choose the food that is the lowest calorie even if i want another option?

Why won’t i eat food that is prepared by someone else?

etc etc

By questioning the thoughts and habits you begin to think differently and more rational. Because you have the answer inside of you… often it is out of fear or just out of habit that you eat the way you do/think the way you do about food.

 

Face fear foods

Third is to face those fears and make changes when necessary. Really try to listen to your bodies signals, and go against the conflicting or controlling thoughts you have about food.

If you go out to eat and you want to order the pasta but your mind says order the salad which is lowest kcal, then you need to go against that fear and order the option you really want. Not the option based on calories.

Do you feel extra hungry between breakfast and lunch, but don’t usually eat a snack then, and your mind says you should wait until lunch? Then go grab a snack and face that fear – listen to your body.

Do you want some cookies but you know you will feel guilty, or you won’t be able to stop yourself at one cookie? Then realise this is the perfect time to practise balance and not compensating.  My best tip is to buy single pack items. Don’t buy big packs of cookies, chocolates or crisps, not if you struggle with binge eating anyway. By eating one or two portions, it helps you practise balance and will stop you from binging on the whole pack. And by eating fear foods in a controlled way, it can help you to realise that you can eat the food in a regular amount without anything bad happening or having to compensate. It can be the first step to reintroducing and eating your fear foods in a controlled way…. which hopefully in the future can lead to you being ok with having a whole pack of cookies at home, or going to a buffet or party and eating all types of food in a healthy manner.

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Stop compensating what you eat

Another important step with finding food balance, is to not compensate for the food you eat. If you compensate, whether it is by eating less the next meal/next day, or by exercising or purging or using laxatives, this just makes it harder to truly trust your body, and it will also mess with your hormones and hunger/fullness feelings. Not to mention that you can’t find food balance while you still compensate for what you eat… this just turns into a negative cycle.

Eating the right portions sizes

If you are someone who eats very little, or if you struggle with binge eating… your hunger and fullness signals won’t be working as they should. A normal portion could seem huge or could seem tiny, depending on your food struggles. I don’t typically recommend weighing or measuring your food, especially not if you are trying to break free from an obsessive and controlling relationship with food. However, it could be beneficial to try to base your meals according to the “plate model” where you have carbs, protein and fat for each meal. This can be a first step to eating a decent portion of food and eating from all food groups for lunch and dinner, and can eventually lead to you feeling more free with what and how much you eat. Example, beginning to trust your bodies signals and eating more the days you feel you are extra hungry, or other days you may not want a cooked meal at all and that is also part of eating intuitively.

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Mindful eating

Another step in finding balance with food is being mindful of your eating, but NOT overthinking/overanalysing your food or eating. If you suffer from restrictive eating you may already be super mindful of how and what you eat and overanalyse/overthink how and what you eat. But balance with food is having a mindful approach to eating… are you eating out of hunger/boredom/stress? Are you eating your meals in 5 minutes or 45 minutes? It can be hard to explain this point without making it seem like you have to overthink each time you eat… because that is not the case. But if you are someone who eats very mindlessly, always snacking or sufers with binge eating… trying to tune in more with your body and whether it is real hunger or boredom/stress can be helpful.

And if you are someone who suffers with restrictive eating, it can be beneficial to become more mindful of your hunger… to actually eat when you feel hungry and not just drink coffee/chew gum or skip eating.

By being mindful of eating also means savouring your food. Enjoying your food. Taking the time to eat and not rushing your food.

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Take the time to cook your meals

Taking the time to cook food and actually have food at home is a way to find peace with food. If you take the time to cook a wholesome meal it is also a form of self respect and taking care of your body and mind. Take the time to enjoy each meal your eat and savour the food. If you eat in a rush or eat without really noticing you are eating, it makes it harder to feel full or to really enjoy the food.

Typically eating without distractions is recommended, however we live in a society where most people like to eat and watch tv/series/YouTube. So atleast taking the time to cook – whether it is by meal prepping or cooking each meal, you know you eat homecooked, nutritious food. (Even if not every meal has to be homecooked, it is fine to eat out or premade food every now and then).

Also, having “healthy food” at home is a way of nourishing your body. I know far too many people who pretty much never have food at home and instead order out each day or just don’t eat because they don’t have the interest, time or motivation to cook or buy food. But actually taking the time to do a grocery shop each week, meal prep if you don’t want to cook each day and if necessary, planning your dinners/lunches for the week, can be a way of taking care of your body and mind. It also limits the risk that you skip meals or order take out/heat premade food just because you don’t have any food at home.

 

Food is part of your life, not your whole life

Another step to finding balance with food, is allowing food to be part of your life, not your whole life. If you spend every minute of your day thinking about food, planning what you will eat, thinking about what you can and can’t eat, it will take up alot of time and energy. Not to mention that food begins to take a huge part of your day and alot of your focus. That focus, time and energy could be spent on other things.

Of course, if you are someone who works with food… whether it is cooking, baking, creating recipes, recipe blog, working with nutrition or any other job involving food, of course it will be part of your day and thoughts. But don’t let it take up more time and energy than necessary. Your day and thoughts shouldn’t be consumed by food thoughts… and especially not thoughts of what you can eat, when you can eat, what you can’t eat etc

Try to focus on other hobbies or interests you have, or surround yourself with friends and family if you find yourself consumed by too many food thoughts or obsessions. By allowing food to just eb part of your life, part of your day it is easier to find balance with food when it isn’t the sole purpose of your day.

People may make jokes that, “they live to eat”, or “food is my only happiness” or other quotes… but as long as they are just jokes it is fine. Because if the only happiness in your life is food or you only live to eat, then you need to question your eating habits and your relationship with food.

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Îf this if you in real life then you need to overthink your relationship with food and make changes to focus less on food.

Intuitive eating isn’t perfect

It is important to note that just because you eat intuitively doesn’t mean you always listen to your bodies signals. Food is more than just energy and eating nutrition. Food also plays a role in social contexts, it can have an emotional connection and times such as stress, tiredness, anxiety or other emotional states food can be a comfort. So don’t think that just because you eat intuitively and try to listen to your body, that that is what you do 100% of the time… because nobody really does that.

Intuitive eating isn’t supposed to be controlling or restrictive either… you can’t eat a perfect diet/eat perfectly while eating intuitively… there is nothing perfect about it. You should feel satisfied with the food you are eating and the amount you are eating. You should feel nourished and energized (as much as possible anyway!).

 

Summary: How to find balance with food?

So to summarize, how do you find balance with food? Well, first off questioning your habits, thoughts and mindset.

If you are reading this post, it is most likely that you are aware that you need to change something in your eating habits or you need to find more balance with your eating.

How you find balance also depends on what you struggle with …. whether it is restrictive eating, binge eating, constant yo-yo dieting or just not being able to trust your body or bodies signals.

A good recommendation is to try to eat regular meals throughout the day and to not restrict or cut out food groups.

Be mindful of your choices and be honest with yourself… that is where change begins. You often know the truth and why you make the choices you do.

It is not easy to find balance, especially not in todays society where it seems like every other person is on a diet or trying to lose weight.

Try to focus on YOU. Tune into your body…. of course like mentioned, many factors can affect your hormones which can affect your hunger/fullness which in turn makes it hard to trust your body. So just by starting to eat regular meals, and finding a routine with eating is the first step to trying to eat more freely.

Face fear foods in a controlled way to start off with. Be honest to yourself about your food choices, and make small active choices to make changes. And facing your fears is part of finding balance.

It is possible to find peace with food and find a balance relationship with food. However.. .remember there is no perfect way of eating. And most people have days where they eat too much or days they may not eat as much or days they just eat chocolate and bread… that is ok. It is not about eating a perfect diet or just eating fruits and vegetables, but LISTENING to your body and somedays that means eating oats for lunch or cookies as a snack. Othertimes it may mean a green smoothie for breakfast and a salad for dinner. That’s balance.

Some other relevant posts:

 

Eating intuitively – how and how to eat enough. 

How much is the right amount to eat? Talking portion sizes.

Binge eating recovery: Tips, advice, my experience: Masterpost

Intuitive eating: Is it really intuitive eating if….? | Nutrition post

Dealing with extreme hunger and binges? | Nutrition advice | Masterpost

Getting caught up in numbers around food – absorption/digestion, counting calories | Nutrition post

Does your life only revolve around food? Too much focus on food

Constant hunger & hormones? | nutrition post

How to deal with feeling full | eating disorder recovery

Yesterday, i posted about how to cope with feeling full, as it had been afrequent question and requested topic i had gotten in my messages. But i thought i would share it here as well, for anyone who may search for this topic on  Google.

Dealing with feeling full.

For the majority of people, feeling full/satisfied is a good feeling, it means you have eaten and nourished your body. It means you are satisfied and no longer have the annoying hunger feelings. However, for someone struggling with an eating disorder… fullness can be negative feelings, whereas hunger feelings can be related to positiv feelings.

For me personally, in the past feeling full was an incredible trigger for anxiety. As soon as i began feeling the uncomfortable fullness feeling – which happened relatively quick – i would begin to feel anxious. Not only was it fullness feelings i had to sit with, but also anxiety which made the whole situation worse.

In the past, there was no way i could eat the portion sizes i do now. It would have been far too much food for my stomach to handle, not just physically, but mentally as well. However, during the recovery process it meant gradually increasing my intake. Learning to sit with the uncomfortable fullness feeling and also expand my stomach size, buecause when you don’t eat, your stomach size also decreases hence why you feel full after a very small amount.  But you stomach can expand and decrease, so overtime, your stomach and body will adapt.

But also, mentally you learn to deal with the fullness. You learn to realise that it isn’t a bad feeling or something to feel guilt over. It means you have nourished your body. It is a normal feeling.

Sure, feeling over full after eating a little too kuch than your stomach allows may not be the besy feeling. But feeling satisfied after a meal is what you should aim for. Not overly full, but not still hungry… and also, not getting cravings 15 minutes after eating (everyday.. once in a while is normal).

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I know that many with an eating disorder avoid eating util satisfied or full because it causes too much of a trigger and negative feelings. But if you are always going around slightly hungry and never satisfied, your mind will always be on food. But also, you never learn to face that fear of being full. And part of recovery means facing your fears.

So how to deal with fullness? Overtime increase your portion size. Eat a little more so you feel satisfied. Know that nothing is wrong with feeling full. Sit with the anxiety or distract yourself… and over time it gets easier. Overtime your body adapts and that full feeling doesn’t trigger negative emotions.

Eating isn’t something to feel guilty about or ashamed over. It’s ok to feel full… infact walking around constantly hungry is not normal or ok. Feeding and fueling your body is what is healthy.

 

Starving yourself is not a sign of strength and being able to disregard normal hunger signals is not a sign of strength.

Of course i know for many who struggle with binge eating or bulimia, it can be the opposite where you are constantly hungry/mentally hungry, and then having to withstand the mental/emotional hunger is what is part of finding balance with food. So i know for some who struggle with binge eating, feeling hungry can actually be a negative emotion/trigger, and they don’t ever want to feel hungry. But at the same time feeling full can be a trigger, and can lead to compensation methods to get rid of that full feeling.

But learning to sit with the fullness, either distract yourself or just sit with the feeling, is the only way to get used to and learn to be ok with the feeling.

Though as mentioned, being overly full where you feel like you will get sick, is not the feeling you should have after eating. However being satisfied. And over time your body gets better at digesting the food and it won’t cause as much discomfort once your body has adapted.

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