Overeating, extreme hunger, binge eating |How they differ

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

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

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

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

Overeating:

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

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

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

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

Extreme hunger:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Binge eating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My previous posts about binge eating:

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

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

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

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

Why diets don’t work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More posts/articles relevant to this subject:

Extreme hunger: part1 – what is it?

Extreme hunger: part 2 – the experience and science

Hormones and binge eating disorder

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

Dealing with guilt and anxiety after eating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

It will get easier, i promise you.

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

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

And finally, remember that ALL food is guilt free. 

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How to deal with feeling full | eating disorder recovery

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

Dealing with feeling full.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Having extreme hunger or extreme cravings or uncontrollable binging sessions is not a healthy relationship with food and is often a sign that something is wrong.

Binge eating (or bulimia – where you also compensate for the binging) is actually a lot more common than people realise, and it is an eating disorder that many can keep secret for years. Infact it is believed that the statistics are lower than in reality because so many people keep their illness a secret and don’t seek help for fear of embarrassement. Often it is not an eating disorder that people can see from the outside, i.e such as when someone loses a lot of weight due to anorexia. People with binge eating disorder can be a normal weight and keep their illness secret for years – a lot longer than other eating disorders.

Having cravings and over eating is not the same as binging and having unctronllable eating sessions.

 

Having extreme hunger with or without binging is often a sign that you are not eating enough or your diet isn’t balanced. Extreme hunger can happen for many different reasons such as…

Are you eating enough carbohydrates?

Are you eating enough healthy fats?

Are you eating enough protein?

Are you sleeping enough and drinking enough water?

Are you eating enough calories and eating regular meal times?

Are your hormones in check/balance…? 

Do you have a healthy body fat percentage?

Do you feel satisfied after eating a meal or do you still feel hungry/have cravings?

 

If you are feeling extremely hungry my recommendation is to eat…. We are brainwashed with eating mini portions and eating “diet food”. Thinking that we can only eat according to portion sizes… but you know what, your body often knows better than generic portion sizes and recommendations. They are just guidelines, and not something you have to follow. Eat the amount that YOU need.

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Eat an extra snack, take that extra portion of food, eat 8 meals in a day if you feel that that is what your body is calling after. It can be scary, especially if you are used to only eating a few times a day or eating mini portions. But listen to your body… that is key.

It can be scary to listen to your body when it is constantly hungry and you feel like you could just keep eating non stop. But there is often a reason for that feeling, and the best thing is to just eat what your body is calling after.

And remember to NOT restrict if you do eat more – that will just end up in a binge-restrict cycle. Try to eat regular meal times and eat until full/satisfied, and then eat again when you are hungry even if that means 30 minutes later.

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You might just need a few days of eating more (yup, you can end up eating several thousand calories and THAT IS OK.) for your body to calm down. It may be due to hormones, stress or too low body fat. (Too low body fat can impact your hormones and make you feel extra hungry.) Also if you have been on a restrcitve diet – even just a short time can make your hormones go wild and make you feel extra hungry.

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If your body has been restricted from calories or certain macronutrients it deprives your body and then signals kick in to “store food and want all the food” in preperation for starvation/times with little food. And to regulate your hormones and signals you need to eat more, give your body all the nutrients and energy it needs, not stress or feel guilty. But also having a healthy body fat percentage and healthy hormone balance are two factors that regular hunger and cravings.

If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, extreme hunger can last several weeks. And if it is due to stress or hormones, then you need to fix the actual problem – but also eating more can help the cravings and hunger.

I would recommend regular meals and eating more. Eat bigger portions and if it doesn’t go away after a week or two where you allow yourself to eat more – no restrictions. Then maybe go to the doctor to get blood tests or see if there is a medical reason for the extreme hunger (if it isn’t because of restrictive dieting or an eating disorder or too low body fat.)

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It may just be that you have been undereating unintentiontinally, or maybe you are too active and don’t eat enough. Or maybe you just need more carbs or more fats and you haven’t been eating enough of those macronutrients.

I hope this helps anyone who has extreme hunger. Just remember that extreme hunger which lasts for more than several days as well as extreme cravings are often a sign/symptom of something. Also note, this is just advice and i would recommend going to a doctor, dietitan or a therapist if the extreme hunger continues for a long time.

If you are eating enough and eating balanced then there shouldn’t be any extreme cravings, binging or extreme hunger.

Remember, the body is smart. If there is problems or unbalance in your body it will show symptoms and send signals to try to repair the problem. Listen to your body!

 

More posts about extreme hunger, cravings, binges etc:

Extreme hunger – facts and advice in recovery

Lots of posts from my previous blog:

Extreme Hunger
Emotional eating vs. Extreme hunger
Recovery reminders and truths
Gaining weight after anorexia: What to expect
Hunger and fullness
Calorie intake in recovery
Fear of continuing to gain weight after reaching a healthy weight
How to eat after recovery
Phases of recovery
Overeating because its delicious
Making a change and overcoming fear
Increasing meal plan and fear of weight gain
Eating intuitively masterpost
Facing fears and restrictions
Dont compare your eating to anyone elses
Eating more than others
Metabolism and calories in recovery
Facing fears and restrictions
Eating normal foods
Disordered eating times

 

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

I have had a past of restrictive eating as well as a past of binge eating…. two extremes when it comes to eating. Either not eating at all or eating c.a 4000 in one sitting. Both are awful situations as well as mental states to be in.

Having an unbalanced relationship with food where you either don’t eat or you eat everything (or do both) is tiring mentally, physically and emotionally. It impacts your whole life. Your thoughts and your whole life revolves around food and your body image. You worry about food, your worry about your next meal, you worry about whether you will be forced to eat or whether you will be able to keep yourself to portion sizes only or if you will feel that mental trigger that makes you continue eating even past your own limits and hunger cues.

It is exhausting and it leaves you feeling terrible when you can’t eat normally.

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I saw this post on tumblr a few weeks ago and it SCARES ME. It scares me that c.a 11000 people (of course i know it is not 11 000 unique people as some may have saved it, some may have reblogged more than once etc) agree with this…. that they go from not eating to eating everything. And the thing is that that is NOT a healthy relationship with food. To go from restricting to binging is not healty or balanced and it is not something that should be normalized. And it terrifies me that so many people can relate to that way of eating because that should not be a normal way of eating or normal mindset when it comes to food.

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So how did i go from 2 extremes (at different times) to a balanced and normal intake and a healthy relationship with food?

It took time and something i had to work on for a long time. I didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly all my anxieties, triggers and obsessions around food were gone. Instead it was something i continuously worked on and the main thing i had to do was listen to my body. HOWEVER this is a progress. If you suffer from restrictive or binge eating then your hormones are most likely everywhere meaning that your hunger and fullness cues aren’t working as they should, not to mention that your mental fears and thoughts will impact your far too much to actually listen to what your body is telling you, if your body is even sending the right signals.

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So my first recommendation is to seek help from a dietitian or nutritionist who can help you with a meal plan that is designed specifically for you. Don’t go to a PT who has done a 2 week nutrition course, UNLESS you know that they have successfully helped people who have had an eating disorder in the past. If you have serious problems with your food and it is not just “i eat a little too much” or “i have alot of cravings” or “i forget to eat” then i would go to a dietitian who works with eating disorders.

Your goal is not to eat according to a meal plan for the rest of your life, that isn’t so sustainable. However it helps in the beginning… it helps you to eat at regular time and helps you eat normal sized meals and both of these things are important whether you struggle from restrictive eating or binge eating. You need to find a regular eating pattern and to eat ENOUGH. Because when you don’t eat enough you will get more cravings and that can lead to binging, and then because you binge you resort to restricting and the binge-restrict cycle begins.

Over time when you feel that your hunger and fullness feelings are working as they should then you can begin to eat more freely. For example, change a snack or maybe you want rice instead of potatoes for lunch or maybe you want oatmeal instead of yoghurt. Or maybe you want to combine your snack and lunch or maybe you want an extra portion because you are extra hungry. Over time you listen more to your body and your cravings…. you realise that if you want a row of chocolate after your lunch that is ok and you don’t need to compensate for it later by not eating dinner. Or you realise that it is ok to eat a bigger breakfast and maybe eat lunch later on if you aren’t hungry at exactly 12pm. It is a learning process and sometimes you mess up and you overeat, but then you learn to NOT compensate the next day.

The first thing to do is structure up your eating to find more balance.

And while you are trying to eat more normally you work on the mental side of eating. I.e what triggers you to restrict or binge. Is it emotions? Stress? Anxiety? Worries? By finding out what triggers you it is easier to be prepared next time.

Example, if you find that stress makes you lose your appetite or makes you feel non stop hungry then you will be aware of this and then you will have to try your best to keep eating regularly and remind yourself to eat, or remind yourself to try to stick to portion sizes and meal times.

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You begin to work with being ok with eating more, for example somedays you are extra hungry and you need more food. Maybe you are more active, maybe it is your hormones, maybe you haven’t slept so well… and you know it is ok and you don’t feel bad over it. You realise that food is energy and as long as you don’t overeat everyday it really isn’t that big deal.

You begin to see food as energy and not something you need to earn, compensate for or something that is just numbers that needs to be counted. You see it as fuel so that you can live life, work, study, do the things you want to do. You find a balance that works for YOU.

Overtime food is not something that should control you or something you should be scared of.

ALL OF THIS TAKES TIME. And getting professional help isn’t something to be ashamed about. Infact going to a dietitian and/or therapist and admitting you need help is something that is very strong. And also it shows that you are taking power over your life, knowing you are struggling with something but wanting to make it better and THAT is strength!!

You take one day at a time and work towards what your main goal is. You begin to trust your body even if that may require medicine or professional help, it’s not impossible to find balance. However everyone’s balance is different. People eat differently, some people like to follow a loose meal plan all the time, they like having a structure while others feel best when they just eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full… whereas others may need to follow a 5 meals a day plan to keep themselves balanced.

Also be aware  of your triggers! This is the key to a successful balanced relationship with food. Learn to know what triggers you and what you can do to cope when they do happen!

If you want to read more about eating disorders or recovery advice you can look on my previous blog:  posts about different recovery subjects HERE as well as my masterpost of recovery posts HERE. You can find more useful posts about depression, recovery, binging, purging, weight gain etc HERE

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