Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Moderation Makes Me Fat ~ Part 2

I was going to post a different picture but it included some cake and I didn't want to trigger a binge for anyone ;)

In Moderation Makes Me Fat ~ Part 1, I discussed recent research and theories regarding why some of us binge-eat. Here I will share some of the strategies other people have used to stop bingeing as well as my own plan to try to get my behavior under control (and to fit back into my clothes comfortably!).

1. Retrain My Brain: Kathryn Hansen battled bulimia and has an interesting take on how to stop bingeing behaviors which she shares in her book Brain Over Binge. I have not read the book (yet) but I did spend some time on her website and her basic theory is that binge-eating trains your brain to binge-eat. Therefore, the key to stop binge-eating is to prevent the binge in the first place. There are many behavioral techniques to do so, most of which are intended to distract you from the food. You can go for a walk, call a friend, knit, clean, drink a glass of water, etc. Or you can be sure that you are eating "consciously": sit down, plate your food beautifully, avoid distractions. To me, though, this all seems overwhelming and exhausting since my urges to binge are almost constant. I already feel like I'm in perpetual motion and tired all of the time. The thing that resonated with me about what Kathryn Hansen proposed is that the battle can be won. It might not be a matter of resisting the urge to binge all day, every day, for the rest of my life. Maybe each time I avoid a binge, I'm making a little change in my brain. And maybe each of these little alterations will eventually change my brain enough that the urge to binge will subside or even retreat entirely. To me, this idea holds the possibility of liberation.

So my first step is to retrain my brain and body regarding what is "normal" eating. I'm sure you've all heard that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the messages from your body that you've eaten and are satisfied. Well, I've been doing my own personal research on this and have realized that for me, it takes more like 40 minutes to an hour for those messages to reach my brain. So part of my plan is to plate a reasonable amount of food (like, maybe even the actual portion guidelines) and to then wait 40 minutes to an hour before I allow myself to eat anything else. This is going to be very difficult for me. When I eat and don't feel stuffed, I think I'm still hungry. I'm not a fun person to be around when I'm hungry. So if you hear me yelling at my kids or I don't smile when you say "hello", please cut me some slack. Hopefully it will be because my brain is too busy retraining itself and dealing with pseudo-hunger to engage in social niceties.

2. Go Cold-Turkey on my Trigger Foods:

I've realized that the times in my life when I've been successful at anything, it has been when I get a little extreme. So I've decided to get extreme with my eating. I've had to cut a lot of foods out of my diet due to allergies and I've realized it's not as big a deal as it seems. It certainly makes life a little more complicated and it's hard to watch people eat things like pizza, but for the most part, my life is not significantly diminished because I can't eat certain foods. I have binged on all sorts of food, but there are certain foods that are major triggers for me; chocolate, peanut butter and refined sugary treats are the worst culprits. With these foods, nothing satisfies my cravings. I eat some which makes me want more which ends in me either eating until I feel sick or until the food is gone (usually the latter). So I really do need to have forbidden foods. I've hidden the peanut butter in the back of the fridge so that it's there if the kids want it but I don't have to look at it every time I open the doors. Most of my other triggers can be kept out of the house entirely. I've also decided that if and when there is an occasion where I end up with these foods in my house, I will throw them away. This is another difficult action for me as I hate the idea of wasting food and money, but I think for now, it's the lesser of the two evils. My Weight Watchers leader has said, "You're paying for the food either way so you need to decide which is really more expensive." The negative feelings I have after a binge and the havoc it wreaks on my body is definitely more "expensive" to me than the few bucks I'm throwing in the trash.

Hopefully these concepts and strategies will work for me and might give you a starting point as well. I have already found that with each day that I am able to refrain from eating my trigger foods, I think about them less and less. Please let me know what strategies you are planning to try or what has worked for you in the past. 

Thanks for reading and sharing!

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