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).

Processed foods are unhealthy? – What are processed foods exactly?

In my life, I have both heard and read many people say processed foods are unhealthy. I understand what they mean, but their statement isn’t totally correct.

What the majority of people may mean when they say processed food, is the highly processed foods such as frozen pizzas, cakes and buns, meatballs, baconand soda which are often high in saturated fat, sugar and salt. But what people forget is that processed food entails anyfood that has been altered in some way from their natural state.

This meaning…. Prechopped frozen vegetables, canned beans, crushed tomatoes, tofu, oatmilk, bread are just some examples of processed foods which are not unhealthy or filled with saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt.

Why process food?

Processing food is actually a way to limit food waste and to help preserve food. Processing food can help keep them nutritious and can even make them more nutritious via fortification, example adding D vitamin and calcium to oatmilk, cereals and orange juice. Via pasterization it also makes dairy products safe to eat by removing harmful bacteria. Not everyone can cook their own beans, so buying precooked in a can is amazing. Now a days there are also usually salted and unsalted precooked beans you can buy. Not everyone can bake their own bread or not everyone has the money to buy fresh produce or food that hasn’t been altered in any way. Not to mention, just because a food hasn’t been processed doesn’t automatically mean it is healthier or more nutritious.

Also, you can’t forget that certain processed foods make it convenient and easier to eat and buy…. Example if you’re having a picnic then you might run into the store and grab some bread, tofu, premade hummus and some prewashed, ready to eat spinach. I.e a processed meal but also a highly nutritious meal.

Buying frozen vegetables is both cheaper and a way to limit food waste as many don’t manage to eat the fresh vegetables they buy before they go bad, so then frozen vegetables are a good alternative. Have written a post regarding the nutrition in frozen vegetables vs fresh vegetables, you can read it HERE, but to quickly summarize… they are still very nutritious and sometimes more nutritious than certain fresh vegetables as the deep freezing helps protect the vegetables and nutrients during transport and storing. But just like with all fruits and vegetables, the process of heating them up and preparing them can affect the nutritional value but in such a small way that it isn’t anything you need to think about.

Types of processing:

There are different ways of processing foods such as freezing, canning, drying, baking or for dairy products, pasteurizing the milk is a form of processing. And in the case of pasteurization, that is actually necessary to make the milk safe to consume as it removes harmful bacteria… so without that step of processing, it wouldn’t be as safe to consume.

So what counts as processed food?

Well as you have just read… there are a lot of foods that count as processed. But there are different degrees of processed, example frozen pizzas, different meat products such as sausage, meatballs, granola bars, certain cereals and even fake meats can all be classified as highly processed. These types of products often contain added sugar and salt and are typically high in saturated fat or cholesterol.

There is nothing wrong with eating these foods in moderation, but they shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet.

Processed food falls on a spectrum from minimally to heavily processed:

  • Minimally processed foods — such as bagged spinach, cut vegetables and roasted nuts — often are simply pre-prepped for convenience.
  • Foods processed at their peak to lock in nutritional quality and freshness include canned tomatoes, frozen fruit and vegetables, and canned tuna.
  • Foods with ingredients added for flavor and texture (sweeteners, spices, oils, colors and preservatives) include jarred pasta sauce, salad dressing, yogurt and cake mixes.
  • Ready-to-eat foods — such as crackers, granola and deli meat — are more heavily processed.
  • The most heavily processed foods often are pre-made meals including frozen pizza and microwaveable dinners.

(Source: Eatright.org)

You don’t need to avoid processed food

But you should of course be aware of certain processed foods… such as the ones stated above where you can infact try to make your own version at home if you eat those foods a lot. Example, make your own pizza at home (Recipe, recipe), make your own snack bars (recipe,), you can even try making your own seitan instead of buying your own…. (recipe), however because of the marinade it will still contain a lot of sugar, salt and oil so making your own seitan will be similar to buying fake meat.

I have not got around to writing a post about fake meat vs. real meat (I began writing already in July!), but it is better to eat fake meats than red meat. However the best is to consume other protein sources such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, oats, quinoa, nuts as your majority of protein source and include fake meat as an extra/smaller part of your diet and protein source. And if you eat meat, then choosing white meat such as chicken, turkey and fish (also including salmon) is a lot better than red meat from a health perspective, but it is also recommended to consum plantbased protein sources as the ones mentioned above.

So next time someone says that processed foods are unhealthy, link them to this post or tell them what processed food actually entails.

Just like with all foods, too much of anything isn’t good. Trying to choose the alternatives with no added sugar or salt and contain mono and polyunsaturated fat instead of transfat or saturated fat is best.

And lastly… not eating processed food will definitely limit and restrict your food choices. It will mean you have to do alot of cooking and preparation yourself. Also it has no health benefits avoiding all processed foods…. even if there are benefits in limiting or avoiding highly processed foods.

I’m an introvert and that’s ok

If i am honest….. i have many times gotten sad over the fact that i am an introvert. I have tried to be extroverted…. but it just isn’t me.

I am not someone who needs to be around people all the time.

I am not someone who needs the attention on me.

I am someone who needs my alone time. I enjoy being with my close friends who give me energy… but it also takes alot of time for people to break down those walls around me to actually become a close friend

I am not saying that all extroverts want attention or to always be around people. Everyone needs their alone time…. i just need more than others.

Of course i am more of an ambivert in recent years. Wanting to be more social, wanting to spend more time with my close friends, wanting to meet new people and not always be on my own. Not needing as much alone time as i did before. In a way, i guess the majority of people are ambivert, i.e both introverted and extroverted… even if some are just either or the other.

When i ask people to describe me… or what their first impression of me is/was, the answer is 95% of the time:

You are rather quiet. You observe before you speak and you choose your words. You are never someone who judges and i feel like i can tell you anything without being judged. You are amazing at listening.

But i also get… You are very different when i actually get to know you. You are sarcastic, joke and laugh alot when you are comfortable around people.

Of course… for me to get to that stage where i feel comfortable just being myself, being sarcastic, open and laughing… it does take a while. Which is of course why i can come across as very shy, in the background, listening…. not taking up alot of space. I don’t like small talk…. i prefer to talk about other things and meaningful things. Even if i love jokes, sarcasm and memes. I am not someone who feels the need to speak… i can walk beside you in silence and not feel awkward or feel the need to say anything… but of course, if the person i am walking beside gives of an awkward energy because they don’t like being quiet… then i also begin to feel awkward. But i like spending time with people who are ok with just being quiet sometimes… not feeling the need to fill every second with sound and talking.

What is an introvert and extrovert?

“An introvert is often thought of as a quiet, reserved, and thoughtful individual. They don’t seek out special attention or social engagements, as these events can leave introverts feeling exhausted and drained.

Introverts are the opposite of extroverts. Extroverts are often described as the life of a party. They seek out interaction and conversations. They aren’t one to miss a social gathering, and they thrive in the frenzy of a busy environment.” (Healthline)

Being introverted, having my guards up does make it hard for me to make friends… or atleast very close friends. I have alot of friends, but maybe not ones who are super close because i never really get to that stage where i let my walls down.

And this does sadden me…. sometimes i feel like i need to change. I need to change who i am. I need to change my personality and try to be someone else… someone more extroverted… someone who has lots of friends… someone who is social all the time. But on the other hand, i tell myself that this is just who i am and i should accept it….

On my recent trip, we were talking about being extroverted and introverted, and everyone else was pretty much an extrovert, even if some were more like me…. slighly held back and maybe not as open and energetic at first. However i was told that i was very introverted…. and even if i am aware of it. It saddened me…. maybe because i feel like i am really trying? And i didn’t feel like i was holding back or being shy, infact… it was the most extroverted, open, friendly and energetic i have been around others. To think that i spent 12 hours a day with a group of people and never once felt tired or drained of energy from being social, instead felt comfortable being myself…. but yet, i still came across as very introverted. They didn’t mean it in a bad way, but it made me sad…. and that was what sparked me to write this post.

To make me realize it is ok to be an introvert. I am ok the way i am. I don’t have to change or try to be anyone else. People like me the way i am… even if it takes time to truly see my personality and true self. I still socialize, i still have friends, i still enjoy meeting new people and being social. But i also want my alone time…. i don’t always have to say what i am thinking, instead sometimes i can just listen…. be someone who people want to talk to or feel like they can talk to me about anything – which is what many people say that they feel when speaking to me.

I am telling myself that i am ok the way i am.

And if you are introverted, just like me…. tell yourself the same thing, that it is ok to be an introvert. Of course… do push yourself to be social, do push yourself to meet new people. When you find the people you feel truly comfortable and yourself around, they will fill you with energy. For me personally, my closest friends and family always give me energy and i can spend hours with them without feeling drained…. Find people who love you for who you are and want to spend time with you. You may feel lonely….

Even if introverts, like myself, love their alone time… love spending time alone and just doing what you want to do. It can get lonely, or it can feel like no one really likes you because you have a small group of friends or never really open up enough to let people know the real you. But remember, try to just be yourself… try to be as open and friendly as you can be with new people. People will like you for who you are, and you don’t need to be someone else… it won’t last anyway. In the past i have tried to be someone else… put on a personality and facade that wasn’t truly me, just because i thought i needed to act a certain way to please others and make them like me. The fact is, it doesn’t work that way. Be true to yourself and accept yourself the way you are….. even if you also need to be honest with yourself and change the habits or personality traits which may be self destructive or harmful to others. I.e just saying that you are a bithco r have a hot temperament as an excuse to be rude to people is not ok… and is instead a personaity trait that can be changed or atleast controlled.

It is ok to be an introvert… we need both introverts and extroverts in society. Just don’t isolate yourself because you feel/are introverted…. you still need to push yourself to be social and step outside of your comfort zone.

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

My thoughts on food waste | How to limit food waste | Masterpost

Something i have noticed alot of online is the amount of food waste that is due to example different video ideas…. Such as making shoes out of sandwiches, making freak shakes which the people just throw away later because they become so inedible. Or just buying a bunch of food which just doesn’t seem to be eaten up, of couse I can never know… they may give the food away, but sometimes they say that the food has gone cold and they are just going to throw it away.

And it just all feels so unnecessary…. And of course there is nothing that one person, like myself, can do about it. Instead there just needs to be more awareness about food wastage and how unnecessary it is. Especially when it comes to things like just wasting food for the sake of a video.

There is food wastage everywhere and if I am honest the biggest problem is big companies such as food stores, restaurants, school, factories where the food is made. That is where the most food goes to waste. I work at a store and it is crazy how much food we throw away each DAY. I wrote a post about it HERE (along with some facts and thoughts about food wastage), if you want to check it out.

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But as individuals we can all do our best to try to limit our food wastage.

I have some meal ideas for limiting food wastage, HERE. & Some tips for what to do with food leftovers! & another post: what to do with leftovers

But I thought I would give some more tips on how to limit how much food you throw away.

Let’s start off with, that everyone has some foodwastage, it is hard not to end up with some food wastage each week or month.

Sometimes you buy food that is already moldy and there is no way to save it. Othertimes you don’t manage to eat the fresh produce fast enough before it turns to go off and mold. And othertimes there may be crosscontamination or the risk of bacteria on the food which means you have to throw it away… and othertimes maybe you burn the food, drop the food or anything else that means you can’t eat the food and have to throw it away.

However, we can all do our part to try to limit the amount of food we throw away, and the first step is:

Tips to limit food wastage:

Planning your groceries and meals so that you don’t buy an excess of fresh produce which you might not be able to eat throughout the week.

Buying frozen food can be a good way to both save money and stop food from going moldy before you manage to eat it. You can read more about the nutrition differences between fresh and frozen food (Hint, there isn’t a huge difference!). Post HERE.

By planning your meals you both save money buy also just buy the food you know you will eat so that you don’t have food just sitting in your fridge. Another option is that if you do cook an excess amount of food, then you can freeze it in for later.  That’s what I do whenever I cook too much of something and know that I may not want to eat only that food for the whole week. It is perfect for the days you don’t feel like, or don’t have time to cook!

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Get better at using up what you have at home before buying more. Sometimes you end up with just a tiny bit of rice or two potatoes, or barely a portion of pasta left and many people have the automatic response to just thor wthose away (from what I have noticed from friends or family). But don’t… instead get creative and making something out of those small remainders. Or…. You could just use that amount when cooking and not leave just a tiny bit left, hahah.

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Practical tips are: If you have a little coffee left, you can pour it into ice cubes and make frozen coffee later. The same goes with example fresh herbs/lemon/mint/lime, so that you can later add to water to make flavoured water.

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If you have a bunch of vegetable scraps left, turn then into your own vegetable broth.

Vegetable peels: You can even turn vegetable peels into chips.. but then just make sure you really scrub and clean then as they could have pesticides or soil on them which you don’t want to ingest in too high amounts. (Home made vegetable crisps: recipe)

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Fruit going bad? If you have left over bananas, slice them and freeze them. – The same goes for other fruit or berries… if they are beginning to go bad, just place them in the freezer to make smoothies later on. (Of course, this also means you have to have a food processer or blender to make the smoothies/nice cream.) Otherwise, if it is apples, pears, nectarines that are beginning to go bad, you can always bake them or fry them and add to oatmeal….. Or why not make a pie out of them if you have time and ingredients for it.

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Maybe you have a little cooked rice or roasted vegetables left which have gone dry…. Then you can refrey them (of course, you should be careful with rice as it is a risk that bacteria can grow in rice. So if you havenät eaten rice within 48 hours I would throw away… however if it was placed in the fridge right away and not left standing in room temperature it might be ok. But typically reheating, cooling and reheating rice over and over isn’t recommended).

How to save fresh salad in packages? I recently learned a tip that once you open a pacakge of fresh salad, example spinach in a plastic bag, take some householdpaper, fold it 2 times (to a little square) and place in the corner of the spinach bag… this will soak up the extra moisture and keep the spinach fresh!

Buying ingredients/food that doesn’t go bad – i.e limiting fresh produce if you don’t have time to eat them. Just buy the food you will eat… i.e if you know you won’t be eating the fruit or vegetables, don’t buy them… I know many who buy fresh produce just in the *hopes* of actually eating them because they have bought them, but week after week throw away the food anyway. Don’t be that person. Either eat the food, or don’t buy it.

Another tip to save food and limit waste is storing food correctly. If you store food in too high or too low temperatures it can make the food (fresh produce) go bad/rot quicker… so make sure to store the food correctly!

 

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Best before vs use by date?

Typically, you can still eat food after the best before date… it just means that the taste or texture *may* be a little off/different, not always… but it is still safe to eat. Just do the smell, look, taste test… your senses should be able to tell you whether it is still ok to eat or not 🙂 But you shouldn’t eat food after the use by date, as then it may not be safe to eat due to bacteria or other risks. Especially when it comes to meat.

Going out to eat? If you don’t finish your meal, ask for a goodie bag/take away. If you don’t want to finish the food at home anyway… ask for a takeaway bag and give to a homeless person (if possible).

Don’t waste aquafaba from canned chickpeas. I know it may seem silly, and i have to be honest, 50% of the time i just throw away this liquid as i know i won’t make anything with the aquafaba before it goes bad. But you can infact make quite alot with this liquid, RECIPES HERE. And i even have an upcoming recipe which is SUPER TASTY using aquafaba. So when you use chickpeas from a can, save that liquid and use the liquid in another dish… example works great in pancakes!

Got leftover bread? Freeze it. Otherwise… make your own bread crumbs or croutons or bread pudding or french toast casserole or if you have tortilla bread, make home made nachos.

Freeze in fresh herbs to use later in dishes. You can even grate the peel or orange, lemon, lime etc which you can later use in baked goods or other recipes. 

Or if you have garlic/chilli/ginger which is going bad, chop them up/grate and freeze in… makes it alot easier when you need them when cooking!

And finally…. food compost. I know not all households have the possibilty for this, but if you can…. do it! Sure, it may mean having to go compost the food every other day (or preferably less because *you don’t have so much food waste 😉 * , but it is much better for the planet!

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I know that the people who may need this post and reminder are the ones who most likely won’t be searching or reading this post…. but maybe to those of you who already are aware of minimizing food waste can remind others to do the same thing! 🙂 Even if we are just “One person”, it all adds up, and we can all make a small difference.

If everyone thought, “i am just one person, what does it matter”, then there would be no change happening in the world… because “just one person” adds up! 🙂

If you have any other tips to reduce food waste, or your thoughts regarding food waste, comment down below!!