I’d like to share a typical scenario from back when I was obsessed with dieting and weight loss.
It’s a scenario that kept me perpetually stuck in dieting mode without ever actually losing weight. The official term for this is binge eating.
See if you can relate to it. And if you do, I will suggest a way to break free from binge eating at the end.
But first, a little background to my story:
I used to be an avid Women’s Health magazine reader. (Yup, the story has already started to go downhill, I know.)
And inside each issue was a spread titled “Your Flat-Belly Day” that outlined a 1 day meal plan under 1,400 calories (which is well under what you need in a day).
And yet I was always entranced by these “Flat-Belly Days.” I always read them and wondered what my body would look like if I ate that way every day.
Logically, I knew that I couldn’t and shouldn’t. But my desperate, burning desire for a thin body always trumped logic.
So I tried these “Flat Belly Days” many, many times. And they would always turn out the same way…
The Downward Spiral from Hell
On my ‘flat-belly days,’ I always started with a small, healthy breakfast, a similarly small, healthy lunch, and a sorry excuse for a midafternoon snack.
By the time midafternoon was over… I was really hungry and pretty cranky. Food was constantly on my mind, and now I was craving unhealthy stuff even more than normal.
By the time dinner rolled around, all I wanted was a chicken and black bean burrito.
But that wasn’t in the meal plan though, so I ate a salad that, although beautiful and delicious, left me still feeling hungry.
The Downward Spiral Continues
As the night creeped on, my hunger only grew – even though I had finished eating the “entire day’s worth of food.”
So in my attempt to not sabotage all my effort, I would have a piece of fruit to curb my hunger.
Surely this 100-calorie piece of fruit wouldn’t push me over the edge….
And yet 30 minutes later I was back in the kitchen looking for more tiny bites to eat to try and satisfy my raging hunger.
So I had a handful of pretzels. And a handful of almonds.
Surely these little snacks won’t undo my entire day…
Now it’s 10:30 at night and I’m ready for bed – but then my stomach grumbles and my body starts craving protein!
Now I’m in front of the fridge pulling out last night’s leftovers and eating the entire thing.
It was probably around 700 calories, which put me well over a normal caloric intake for the day. Plus it happened at night. Plus I created a ton of unnecessary stress and unhappiness and wasted willpower trying to resist the foods that my body wanted in the first place.
This is what binge eating is.
Mind vs. Body
In that moment – the moment where I finally ‘cave’ and eat everything in sight (or so it feels like) – I always wish that I had just eaten the damn burrito.
Would it have really ‘pushed me over the edge?’
No. No it would not have. The 500 calorie burrito pails in comparison to all the food gradually eaten – plus the final binge – while resisting the damn burrito in the first place.
And yet I would repeatedly learn this lesson over and over again: Whenever I ignore my body and listen to my mind, I binge.
Whenever I don’t eat what my body wants and eat what I think I should have instead, I binge.
Can you relate to this?
Have you deprived yourself of food during the day only to binge and break at night? Have you fallen into the trap of restricting and bingeing and beating yourself up over it each time?
If so, I feel you. I totally feel you because I was in that place for a really long time.
And you and I can climb out of this, together.
The 6 Month Remedy
Binge eating is caused by restriction and listening to your mind instead of your body.
And binge eating is perpetuated by a pattern of self-hating, self-shaming, and self-punishing.
Therefore, the cure to binge eating is to remove the restriction and practice listening to your body by taking a 6 month break from weight loss.
The idea of giving up on this ‘food thing’ sounds really scary, I know. But you have a lot to gain by trying this radically gentle approach.
It Changed My Life
By completely removing dietary restriction from my repertoire, I was finally able to start healing my relationship with myself and stop binge eating.
Because the chicken and black bean burrito is now perfectly allowed, I can have it when I want it without all the extra shame and guilt and overeating that used to come with it.
Taking a 6 month break from dieting and ‘flat-belly days’ changed my life completely.
I learned how to reconnect with myself and my feelings, and I learned how to feel those feelings instead of numbing them with food.
Binge Eaters Are Not Broken
A 6 month break from dieting will help you learn that you’re not broken after all.
Your metabolism isn’t broken; your willpower isn’t broken; and your emotions aren’t broken.
The only thing that was ever broken was your ability to listen to your body and stay with yourself when times got tough.
Taking a 6 month break from weight loss gives you a chance to practice that crucial skill.
And once you reconnect with yourself and learn the skill of staying with yourself even when times get tough, the weight will take care of itself.
Take the Break with Me
So wherever you are on your weight loss journey, make the commitment to yourself to stop dieting for at least 6 months – preferably forever.
…This is how you make peace with your body.
…This is how you relax around food.
…This is how you break free from binge eating.
So start your 6 month break today. ❤