Vegan eats in Tel Aviv | Restaurant review and tips

Together with VibeIsrael, i was invited on their vegan food tour (Gifted trip)

I was contacted a few months ago and at first i didn’t know how to respond… i must admit, i even thought it was just another spam mail. But with a little research i realized that Vibe is infact an established organization that has held many different tours.

I can say, i was honored to be asked to join… even if it was uncertain whether i could travel or not because of my studies. However, i can say now that the trip is over i am so glad that i decided to go, because it was an experience for sure.

If you want to see some of the food we ate and what we did, you can watch my 3 videos, PART 1, PART 2, PART 3 showing you the first 3 days of our trip 🙂

So, i am sure many of you have heard about Tel Aviv being a sort of vegan Haven? One of the top cities to visit if you are a vegan foodie. Not just aesthetically pleasing food, but delicious food. Because it is in the Middle East, Israel has food from many different cultures as well as having lots of fresh fruit and vegetables which often make it the center of the meal. Which i love!

I may be all for vegan soy burgers and fake meats, but there is something incredible about being able to make amazing dishes out of vegetables, spices and “natural/unprocessed foods”. Of course, natural doesn’t have to be better and it is fine with processed foods, but being able to make vegetables taste delicious and make meat eaters enjoy and like eating vegetables is definitely a talent. And we need more of that in our everyday lives.

So i can say, i am excited to bring back all the new food experiences and different meals i have tried. Maybe have vegetables be more in focus in my meals… but of course focusing on Swedish vegetables.

But, in this post i want to focus on some of the vegan restaurants we ate at. I am sure there are many more amazing vegan places to eat at, but these are the ones we went to.

There will be a mix of my own photos as well as photos from a proffessional food photographer, Amir Menahem, who you should check out and follow on his Instagram.

Bana:

A really cosy vibe and atmosphere. A place where you can go to eat and just sit there for hours, ordering in dishes to share among friends. We went during the evening, around 8pm so it was dark outside but still warm enough to sit outside. This restaurant gave me tapas vibes, i.e you order in a bunch of different meals which you share and try together with friends or family.

The food at Bana was my first taste of Israeli food and i can say i was not disappointed, however we got so many dishes served to us and we were so caught up in talking and eating that i didn’t always register what it was that we were being served.

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The menu changes based on what fruits and vegetables are in season, so the dishes i ate might not be there when you go to visit. But there was a sweet potato dish that was amazing, as well as an eggplant and tahini dish. Not to mention the desserts that were incredible, my favourite being the waffle with apples/pears and caramel sauce.

Vegetables are in focus at Bana, however i don’t think you have to be a vegetable lover to appreciate the food. However if you are a hardcore meatlover who wants that smokey taste and texture, then maybe this isn’t the place for you. But it is an amazing place to get inspiration for different vegetable based dishes.

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You can see some of the meals we ate at Bana in THIS VIDEO.

Opa:

Opa is a rather newly opened (when writing this) restaurant which is focused on vegan fine dining. Meaning high class, gourmet meals that use ingredients and ways of cooking, preparing and styling food you may not have seen or heard about before.

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Gourmet and fine dining isn’t really my thing if i am honest. I keep my meals simple and don’t like to overcomplicate food and cooking, so this was definitely an experience for me, and a good one at that!

We got about 8-10 different dishes which two people shared. The vegetable was in focus, just like at Bana, and i think the menu changes depedning on the season and what vegetables are in season as well.

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Amir Menahem

There were so many new and different flavours and tastes, and you can definitely tell that it was not the same as home cooked comfort food. If you are into fine dining or just want to try fine dining experience then i recommend going to Opa. It is of course more expensive than a regular restaurant, but it is worth the experience and if you are in Tel Aviv, why not! It is also great for a date night or maybe celebrating an anniversary!

The chocolate dessert was BEYOND AMAZING. So if it is on the menu, then you definitely have to get it

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Photo: Amir Menahem

You can see some of the dishes are my experience in THIS video!

416:

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Photo: Amir Menahem

416 was one of my favourite places to eat while in Tel Aviv. It had very LA vibes…. loud music, lots of plants, friendly staff and vegan remakes of fast food.. but better than fast food. I.e not the greasy burgers and fries or pizza you get at maybe McDonalds or burger king, but the restaurant type of burgers and pizza which taste so much better.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

This is definitely the type of place you would go with friends, maybe before going out dancing. Or if you are celebrating a birthday or just want some good, filling vegan food. it would work great to bring your partner if they are sceptical to vegan food but willing to try as 416 offers vegan fake meat and remakes of different meatbased dishes.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

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I.e vegan ceaser salad, vegan sliders, vegan steak, vegan calamari, vegan filled pasta and of course THE DESSERTS. I highly recommend you leave space for dessert, and maybe order in more than one dessert.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

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Not to mention, they have a vegan cocktail bar meaning… all the drinks are vegan. Which is always a plus because then you don’t need to wonder or ask if the wine is vegan!

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Photo: Amir Menahem

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You can see a video from our dinner at 416, HERE.

If you like fake meats or vegan “fast food” i.e not necessarily just vegetables and plantbased, then i do recommend making time to go to 416.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

Price wise… i can’t really say. But it is in the middle/high class. and in general, Tel Aviv is rather expensive so i would recommend you save up before travelling there so that you can fully enjoy yourself and enjoy the food there – it is well worth the money 🙂

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Citizen garden (brunch)

The last place we ate at was citizen garden, which is a brunch/lunch place and the first thing i have to say is that it is VERY INSTRAGRAM FRIENDLY. Of course, i am sure many don’t care about this…the important thing is that the food tastes good – which it definitely did! But it has amazing lighting, there is a cosy outside “garden” which you can sit in and of course the food both tastes and looks amazing… so yes, you will be wanting to take photos.

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It is the type of place you go to have brunch with friends, weekend breakfast with your partner (or solo!), go there to eat lunch, drink coffee and work for several hours… or even the place you go after a night out, feeling kind of hungover and just want a detox juice and salad… and some avocado toast (which was the case for myself and the rest of the group. A detox juice and plenty of coffee was definitely necessary!).

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I really enjoyed the food at Citizen garden and it is the type of food i make and eat even at home. Different bowls, toasts, drinks and cold dishes. You will want to order a little bit of everything, but i have to say that the bowls/salads are very large almost worth sharing.

So it could be a good idea to get a bowl and toast to share between two people, then you get to try more than one thing.

Price wise… well, it is worth the price for the food you get. It tasted very fresh and of course very nutritious. Not to mention lovely staff and atmosphere!

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Hummus HaCarmel in carmel market

Carmel market is the market in Tel Aviv, and there is plenty to see there. Lots of people, lots of stalls, lots to see and try… almost a little overwhelming. I do also recommend that you try to stay clear from the slaughter/meat/fish part of the market if you are vegan… it wasn’t the most pleasant to walk past that part.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

I did try some things from the market such as bread and sauce, some different sweet desserts and an ethiopian coffee. But the place i wanted to recommend was Hummus HaCarmel. I had never heard of this place, but apparently it is rather well known/a tourist place… which i noticed when we got there. There was a line waiting to eat and we had to wait about 15-20 minutes until we got to sit down and order, but it was worth the wait.

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Basically it is a hummus place. So they have different hummus with salad and you also get pita bread. it is basically a small “in the wall” resturants but it has quite alot of places to sit outside and you do get a place to sit, so it is not just to walk in and sit down.

The vibe is very fast paced… people walking by, people waiting, it is not a place you go to sit for a long time and just talk, instead you go there with a mission to eat your hummus and pita bread and leave rather quickly again. Basically a market place cafe.. it is what you would expect regarding the atmosphere.

But it is worth a visit if you enjoy hummus and are in Carmel market. Also, they do have a sink and antiseptic so you can wash your hands before eating which you will most likely want to do as you eat with your hands!

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Price wise… basically the price of a lunch. More expensive than typical market place food which is often rather cheap (according to me). So even if you just get hummus and pita bread it is rather expensive, but worth it atleast once anyway 🙂

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

Luna

So, Luna isn’t actually in Tel Aviv, it is in Nazareth (about 2 hours from Tel Aviv) so if you just plan to be in Tel Aviv you may not go here, but if you do have plans to travel around Israel and are in Nazareth, then i do recommend Luna.

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The focus is arabic food. Lots of falafel, tabbouleh, hummus, stuffed cabbage rolls, rice etc

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And the dessert, specifically the Knafeh, was incredible. We were all so full from lunch and our previous eats in the morning that none of us were particularly craving dessert… but one bite in and we all wanted more. So that was definitely a hit!

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Photo: Amir Menahem

The atmosphere…? Definitely a place you go with your family. It was beside a shopping mall, so i am sure many go shopping and then go for lunch there or vice versa. It is definitely easy to eat a whole bunch at Luna and end up with a food coma deluxa.

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One thing i do have to mention is that the owner, Luna, was so incredibly friendly and you could tell that she was so passionate about the food and wanting us to really enjoy it. And it was like you could tell that the food was cooked with love…. hahaha, how true that is i don’t know. But it was a really nice experience eating there.

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Like Opa and Bana, no fake meats… only wholefoods and vegetables in focus. Lots of different spices, which is very typical in the middle easten cuisine. And of course, it seems like you order a bunch of dishes to share among many (though maybe you can order a dish just for yourself which you do in European restaurants).

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Photo: Amir Menahem

Price wise, unfortunatly i don’t know.

Other tips:

Anastasia

I never visited Anastasia, but apparently it has a great vegan brunch but there is usually a queue (specially on weekends), so you will want to go there in time and be ready to queue until you get a place to sit down.

Other places you can eat:

Order a Sabich (“Hole in the wall” restaurant)

Similar to a fish and chips shop in the U.K, i.e they have a small kitchen/cooking area where they prepare the sabich for you freshly when you order. Takes about 10 minutes to make as they fry the eggplant when you order. Typically Sabich is made with egg, but you can skip that if you want to make it vegan.

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Lots of fresh vegetables, Amazing fried eggplant. Delicious tahini and amba sauce. Definitely a meal you should try… and perfect if you just want a quick lunch before walking around Tel Aviv, or maybe one of those before going out partying meals.

I am not sure the exact address for this “restaurant”, but it was close to Carmel market so i am sure with some googling you may find it. Apparently the locals do want to keep it rather secret as well as they don’t want a bunch of tourists going there and ordering when they just want to eat their lunch!

Note, there are 2-3 benches outside to sit on… but it is one of those meals you most likely eat while stnading up or while on the go unless you bring it with you to sit somewhere else 🙂

P.s recipe for homemade Sabich HERE

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Betzavta, a Friday night dinner. Basically you eat Friday night dinner at an Israeli host. You contact Betzavta who match you with a host and then the host cooks you dinner and it is a lovely way to talk to people who are locals to share stories and just make connections! It was a lovely experience for me to have the Friday night dinner.

As each host is different and the food they prepare is different, everyone will have a unique experience. So my experience was a positive one, but it can of course vary depending on what host you get.

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Photo: Amir Menahem
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Pop up dinner at TheVeganItalianChef (i.e Nadia):

She hosts pop up dinners at her place where she makes vegan italian food. You can book a place during one of her dinners and she will cook you amazing food. I haven’t done this myself, but Nadia is wonderful and her cooking is amazing (we made brunch together with her), so i would definitely recommend you do this if you want to try different food and different food experiences rather than just restaurants and cafes.

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Photo: Amir Menahem

There you have a list of some places to visit if you want to eat vegan while in Tel Aviv!! If you have any other recommendations, comment down below. Or if you have any questions regarding travelling to Israel or my experience, comment down below or contact me via myInstagram (itsahealthylifestyle)

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Dealing with stomach pain: Elimination method, FODMAP & tips to cope

Many people in todays society deal with stomach pain and discomfort, to certain degrees. Some people just get a little pain from time to time after overeating or maybe eating certain foods, while others can barely live a normal life due to their stomach issues.

In the past, I was the latter. I struggled with a lot of stomach issues and pain.

In this post I am giving you some tips on what you can do to figure out what causes your stomach issues via an elimination method. Though I do advise you to seek help from both a doctor and dietitian so that you don’t end up restricting your intake far too much and far too long so that you end up unhealthy or with nutrient deficiencies.

I have written a post about FODMAP and IBS, which you can read here.

Also a post about dealing with bloating HERE

As well as a post about eating a high fiber diet, which can often lead to cramps and digestive issues, HERE

When you are dealing with stomach pain or digestive issues it can easily lead to a very restrictive diet, either because you don’t want to eat something that triggers the pain, but you don’t know what causes the pain and therefore restrict everything you think might cause pain. Or you infact become scared of certain food because you don’t want the stomach pain and therefore cut it out and get scared to eat those foods.

FODMAP

When someone has IBS they are often recommended to try doing FODMAP with the help of a professional. FODMAP is not a longterm diet or way of eating, it is a way of eating for a (short) period of time to help figure out which foods that cause flareups and stomach issues and which foods you can tolerate.

What is FODMAP?

FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols”

Common FODMAPs include:

  • Fructose: A simple sugar found in many fruits and vegetables that also makes up the structure of table sugar and most added sugars.
  • Lactose: A carbohydrate found in dairy products like milk.
  • Fructans: Found in many foods, including grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley.
  • Galactans: Found in large amounts in legumes.
  • Polyols: Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol. They are found in some fruits and vegetables and often used as sweeteners.

These carbohydrates/fibers don’t fully digest and some become nutrition for gut bacteria while others don’t digest at all and can therefore cause bloating, gas, cramps.

In some individuals, FODMAPs are poorly digested, so they end up reaching the colon. They draw water into the intestine and get fermented by hydrogen-producing gut bacteria.” (Healthline.com)

A low FODMAP diet means you eat very little or no foods which contain those carbohydrates/fibers. I.e limiting the amount of foods which can cause symptoms.

When following the FODMAP diet for a period of time you are very restricted in what you can eat, and even more so if you are vegan. (I had to try the FODMAP diet for 3 days during one of my university courses and I didn’t eat much those three days as I was so restricted in food choices.) But overtime you begin to reintroduce foods and eventually have a much more varied diet and will hopefully have figured out which foods you can tolerate and you may even figure out which foods you tolerate in smaller doses and which you can consume in larger doses. However along with FODMAP you also have to look over your lifestyle and the way you eat.

Sometimes the problem may not actually be the food, but it may be that you are very stressed, that you are anxious around food, that you don’t actually sit down to eat or you eat your food within 5 minutes while standing or on the go. All of these can cause stomach issues, but also foods such as gum, carbonated drinks, alcohol, certain sweeteners and caffeine can lead to gas, stomach issues and caffeine can heighten anxiety which can lead to stomach discomfort or pain.

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HOW YOU EAT:

So along with looking at what you eat, you also have to look at how you eat. Changing how you eat and even where you eat can make a big impact on your stomach issues. If you are eating in very stressful environments or you don’t have time to eat, then you can easily feel anxious and stressed or you don’t really enjoy or chew your food and all of that can lead to stomach discomfort. So making time to eat while resting and preferably sitting and in quiet environments can make a big difference.

As mentioned above, a FODMAP diet should be done with the help of a professional, otherwise it is easy that your diet becomes far too restrictive and that you don’t actually begin implementing certain foods again, instead you just stick to the “green” foods. It is also important to note, that everyone is different. Some people with IBS may be able to consume foods that are listed as red, while they get stomach pain while consuming certain foods that are green. So you do have to try

different foods and see what works for you.

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WRITE A FOOD DIARY

If you don’t have IBS, just stomach issues, the first thing you can do is to write a food diary for 2-3 weeks.

Write down what you eat, what time you eat, the environment/situation when you ate and even how you felt before/during/after, along with any symptoms you felt during or after the meal.

This will help you get a better overview of what and how you eat as well as tracking symptoms.

After 2-3 weeks it will give you better understanding and overview, compared to just a few days or one week of tracking. The important thing is to eat just as normal… don’t begin cutting out food or changing your diet. Write down everything, even the handful of nuts, the latte on the go or the piece of chocolate you eat standing in the kitchen waiting for dinner to cook.

The diary may just be for you to analyse and get a better understanding of how/what you eat, but may even be useful if you do go to a doctor or dietitian for help.

Once you have written the food diary, begin to look over it. Are there certain meals with certain ingredients that cause symptoms or flareups? Are there certain situations that cause pain and discomfort… such as the rushed lunch during school/work, or maybe the dinner straight after training or the lunch you ate while super stressed?

Once you have found out which meals or situations cause the most flare ups it can be easier to make adjustments.

However, now is when the long process begins. The important thing is to not cut out everything at once…. Instead, you do it one by one. If you think that maybe garlic, onion, chickpeas and gluten cause stomach pain… then begin by just omitting garlic from your meals and diet for a week… see what happens and how you feel. Then the next week omit onion and add in garlic (depending on how you felt the previous week i.e symptoms or no symptoms). It is a long process of finding out what works.

You could of course group certain foods together such as all beans, all sweeteners, all foods with gluten, onion and garlic, all dairy products etc and then one week remove all the foods in one certain group, and slowly reintroduce them one by one. Because it may be that you are sensitive to chickpeas but not to blackbeans, or it may be that you can’t tolerate aspartame but you are fine with stevia.

I would also recommend that you do infact limit your caffeine intake (coffee, black tea, energy drinks) as well as not chewing gum or sugar free pastilles, as they can all cause stomach discomfort.

I do also want to note that many believe they are gluten intolerant and cut out all products with gluten, however many products that include gluten also include certain fibers that are hard to break down. So it may not be the gluten you are sensitive too, but the fibers.

Which is an important thing to note, fibers can cause stomach discomfort and pain. There are certain fibers that are hard to break down and cause gas and bloating. So limiting fiber intake and drinking plenty of water can be one step if you don’t want to do the whole elimination process. Though then you won’t be able to tell which foods cause pain or symptoms if you eliminate them all at once.

I also recommend that you keep your meals very simple, just 2-4 different ingredients. The more ingredients and foods you eat in a meal the harder it can be to digest as well as figure out what causes your pain or discomfort.

FOODS THAT CAN CAUSE STOMACH PAIN

There are certain foods that are more likely to give stomach discomfort and they are:

Beans and peas – this is due to their fiber content and that the fibers are hard to break down

Sweeteners – Many sweeteners aren’t broken down or absorbed in the body and therefore lead to gas and bloating

Carbonated beverages, sugarfree pastilles, gum – the bubbles in carbonated drinsk along with both caffeine and sweeteners, basically a triple whammy. With gum, when you chew you are swallowing air which can lead to gas and bloating, as well as gum usually having sweeteners (even if it’s only very small doses)

High fat meals – including creamy and/or, oily dishes. Typically fast food, dairy full fat (specifically cream) or certain takeout meals such as Chinese. Fat leads to feeling full quicker and is also harder to break down compared to carbohydrates. It can also often lead to heartburn. Many find that eating fat sources from avocado, nuts, nut butters and seeds don’t cause the same stomach issues.

Food with lactose or gluten – many cut out lactose and gluten thinking they are intolerant to them. Some may be, but as already mentioned. Many foods with gluten also include hard to break down fibers which may be the issue and not the gluten. With lactose, many can’t handle a lot of lactose or they don’t have enough lactase enzyme which breaks down the dairy. Though this isn’t so strange considering that dairy is actually for baby cows, and not for humans… or well, not in the huge amounts that many consume dairy products now a days.

Too much fruit – Fruit has a lot of fiber but also fruit sugar which can cause certain individuals discomfort if they eat too much of it. And by that I mean eating maybe 4-6 fruits in one go.

Note, just because i mention these foods doesn’t mean that YOU are sensitive to them. Everyone is individual and everyone reacts differently to different foods. You may be able to digest those in small amounts, ,aybe not at all or maybe they don’t trigger you at all.

When you are dealing with stomach pain, it is easy to get scared of food because oyu don’t want to deal with the stomach pain. But you can not completely restrict yourself, the best is to get proffessional care, but if you can’t because of reasons- Then remember to not completely cut out food and if you do cut out food youshould try to reintroduce it. Otherwise your diet can become very restrictive. Also be reintroducing it into your diet after not eating the food(s) for a while you can better understand what is causing stomach pain.

Also remember, if you do think you are sensitive to gluten and want to get it checked. Youahve to eat gluten to do the tests… so don’t cut out gluten and then get checked because the results won’t show any intolerance/allergies then.

Stomach issues and pain is complex. Many get the diagnosis IBS because doctors can’t find any other diagnosis that causes the pain. But IBS is about more than just food, as previously mentioned. Stomach issues aren’t always due to food, but due to other factors which also makes it hard to treat. It often requires changes in diet, lifestyle and way of eating.

It is incredibly debilitating to live with stomach pain, I did for several years. Many plans that were cancelled, many evenings I lay curled in a ball on my bed with extreme pain, many tears due to the discomfort and a lot of constant bloating. What helped me was to go vegan and start eating plantbased, but of course that also meant letting my body adapt to a higher fiber diet. I can still get stomach pain from certain foods, but I have learnt to figure out which foods cause me pain and also know that too much of certain food will give me discomfort… and then it is up to me to make the decision whether I want to eat the food and deal with the discomfort afterwards or to just skip the food or choose something else.

For stomach pain and nausea ginger or peppermint tea can help, as well as having something warm on your stomach.

If you are dealing with a lot of stomach pain, I highly recommend you go to both a doctor and a dietitian. Be persistent with your doctor so that you get all tests done, just to rule out any serious conditions. However, I do also recommend that you keep a food diary for 2-3 weeks, get an overview of your symptoms, how and what you eat and see if your symptoms may just be due to anxiety and stress and certain foods such as caffeine, sweeteners and high fiber.

(From personal experience I can also add that when I am very stressed and anxious, then I can get stomach pain and bloating even if I am eating the same as usual. So it is important to look at your stress and anxiety levels).

Do animal lives matter more than human lives? | Vegan question

I got a rather interesting – and hypothetical – question asked to me which was… if i had to choose between an animal (in this case it was a cow) or a human, which would i save. And this was based on me being a vegan. (It’s a bit like the… if i was stranded on an island with only a chicken/pig would i eat it type of question all vegans seem to get asked).

Of course i hope that i will never be in this situation… and it sounds rather hypothetical. And the answer to that question is that i would save the human…. which someone may think is strange because “I am vegan and for the animals… wouldn’t i save the animals… you don’t want animals to die?” .

And why would i save the human… well, for many reasons but even if a cow has a consciousness and nervous system, meaning they can think and feel, a human being does have that extra consciousness. Of course i wouldn’t want the cow to die, but in this hypothetical situation i would choose the humanbeing to save.

Of course, if it was between my own dog and a human it might be a different answer… but then again if i had to choose between saving (which i never hope happens) a family member or my dog… that would be a completely different answer and situation… i really couldn’t choose.

In our society, the majority of us DON’T need to eat or use animal products to be healthy, to get nutrients or to live. The majority of people can survive without animals having to die for their consumption.

I don’t believe in factory farming. I don’t believe it is correct for thousands and millions of animals to die each year just to be eaten or in worst case… to die, be turned into food and then just thrown away because the food has gone bad. I don’t believe in the animal abuse/torture that happens on a daily basis just for the production of food…. when the majority of people in society don’t need it. It is more sustainable for the planet to actually not consume so many animal products anyway.

So i am against the killing of animals when it is absolutely not necessary.

In the past it might have been necessary to kill animals to get enough nutrients to survive, develop and grow as well as use the fur for warmth… now a days, we don’t need any – or very little in certain cases – animal products to survive. But the killing of animals is on a much higher level than the actual requirement or need.

I am against using animals to test on for different experiments. I am against locking up animals and in some cases beating them just for the sake of entertainment. I am against using horses or dogs for racing or any other animals just to fight each other.

I am against the abuse of animals in all forms.

This however does not mean i think animals are better than humans or that humans should die out so that animals can live in peace, which some vegans believe.

I still believe humans have a higher conscious level and are more developed…. though it also surprises me then that not more people make the choice to go vegan or atleast try to eat as vegetarian as possible.

These types of questions are interesting and can lead to quite a discussion and debate, which i am fine with having – though i would prefer to have it in real life, not online. However they are also unrealistic and hypothetical situations… and i live in a society where i don’t need to choose between saving either a human or a cow…. i can do both. By eating vegan and also doing things such as giving blood, being an organ donar and helping people in other ways.

This is my thoughts on this topic, and as mentioned i don’t mind getting these types of questions…. however it is easier to discuss and bring up different thoughts and nuances in a real life discussion.

If you have any thoughts on this topic, feel free to comment down below… would love to know how others think.

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

Working because you have to vs. working with what you are passionate about

This summer, just like the past 3 years I am working in a food store as my summer job. It is something I have done for a long time now… something I know. Something “easy/comfortable”. There is not so much thinking, nothing “new”…. Even if everyday is different and there are always new and different customers and different situations that can occur. In general, it is the same thing and nothing really “New” happens. It’s a job I do for the sake of money.

However, this year…. I have realised I am done with this type of job. It has given me a lot of experience. How to handle stress, how to handle different situations, being in charge of different sections of the store… but even my type when working in a “recruitment” agency where I worked at different stores each day. Being flexible and hard working.

However the past 3 years I have always used the excuse that, “I am still in school, I am still studying, I will wait until I have my degree” and then begin working with something else as a reason to not really work anywhere else. Not to mention, I have always had my social media as a part time hobby/job.

But now I have realised… I want to give 200% to my social media and working with health and nutrition. I no longer want to work in a store… I feel that it is taking too much of my time that I could be spending on other things, such as working on my social media and applying for jobs within health coaching and nutrition.

Of course, this summer I am working fulltime (and more) at the store and that is what I will do…. But this will be my last summer. From autumn and forward I want to work with what I am passionate about… work with what I love and work with the area I have my degree in.

I am grateful that I have a job, I never take it for granted. I remember when I first began applying for jobs it was so hard to get a job… and even the year I worked at a recruitment agency it was because it was so hard to get a job elsewhere. And I know that I will be facing the same problem when applying for jobs within health and nutrition, but with a good CV, personal letter and experience hopefully it won’t be too hard.

When I work with my social media where I share recipes, take food pictures, share inspiration, do research for blog posts and even now with creating small IG videos and Youtube.. I LOVE DOING IT. I wake up in the morning and can’t wait to work. I can’t wait to spend the day creating and being able to share what I love.

I also LOVE being able to do sponsorships and sponsored content, even if I don’t do them so often (which actually gives me a little anxiety as that is the only form of income I get from my social media).

I love feeling that inspiration, that happiness, that willing to work from 8am to 10pm. It is a happiness, a motivation and a drive….. and I have so many other things I want to work on. I want to have time to film and edit Youtube videos. I want to have time to write and maybe create another ebook or two. I want to be able to post weekly blogposts with *actual* good content.

I want to work fulltime with what I love (even if things like taxes, emails, cleaning dishes isn’t always so fun, it is part of doing the thing I love so it is ok).

And now when I am working in a store… I am doing it for the sake of money, but feel like it Is taking time from the things I want to do. It also makes me think…. If you are unhappy with your job, CHANGE…. I know this isn’t easy… trust me. I know the fear and struggle of applying for new jobs and getting no’s…. the fear of not having a job and not being able to pay rent. So it is not easy to just quit your job.

But if your job makes you unhappy… you have to think about making a change. For me… I can live with this anxiety for 2 months and just work super hard these 2 months and then know that I am going to work with what I love and am passionate about in the near future. This isn’t a forever job.. this is a “I need to pay my bills” job.

So I envcourage you all… if you are unhappy or your job gives you anxiety, begin to make a change. Find what you LOVE. Find what you are passionate about. Even if you may need to work your job for a few months or even years, just to pay your bills until you can move on… please don’t ever settle for a job that makes you unhappy or gives you anxiety.

You have one life to live and the majority of people spend 1/3 of their life at work and working… do you really want to waste 1/3 of your life on anxiety and hating what you do?

(And note, I know this is easy for me to write coming from someone who knows what she wants to do, knows what she loves to do, and already has some sort of hobby business set up and a university degree. If you don’t know what you want to do, have little or no education or don’t live in an area where there are a lot of jobs available or don’t have the economical safety to just quit your job, then it is not so easy. But maybe this post will just get you thinking about what other options are there for you?)