You don’t have to look too hard to find a weight loss diet. You’ve seen them: Atkins, Nutrisystem, the South Beach Diet, Sugar Busters, the Cabbage Soup Diet (mmmm), and literally hundreds or even thousands of others options.
While I agree that it is possible to lose some weight in the short term, the real test of a program that aims to promote healthy fat loss is if the results are sustainable in order to avoid Yo-Yo dieting (the constant cycle gaining and losing weight).
The thing that many people don’t realize is there are often strong emotional factors which, if not properly addressed, can make long term weight management a very difficult journey. As Jillian Michaels (trainer for the black team on the show, The Biggest Loser) often says,
“Weight gain is the manifestation of other issues, not the problem itself.”
In this series, I’ll talk a little about the 5 major types of emotional eaters:
* Binge Eaters
* Emotion Eaters
* Stress Eaters
* Self-Esteem Eaters
* Snowball Effect Eaters
The first and most difficult type of eater is the binge eater, but the good thing is that it is also the least common type. A binge eater is someone who, once they have had even a taste of a certain food (their “binge food”), is almost completely out-of-control until they’ve consumed as much of the food in one sitting as possible and who are eating for reasons other than physical hunger or emotions.
Binge Eating Is An Addiction
You’ve probably heard of the phrase “Chocoholic” to describe someone who absolutely loves chocolate (If not, well, now you have. You: 1 Ignorance: 0). Besides an attempt at hilarity by over-paid food industry marketing consultants, it’s a condition similar to that of an alcoholic or any other type of addict.
Now, the purpose of this post isn’t to argue the severity of one addiction over another, but I’m sure the person who’s experiencing symptoms ranging from aching knees to more serious conditions like diabetes and/or heart problems due to an intense psychological need to voraciously consume certain foods would argue that it’s not a joke. Feel bad for judging?
I’m sorry. It’ll never happen again, I promise.
Food Can Contain Mood-Altering Substances
Take it easy, Cheech. By that I mean some foods contain certain chemicals, like pyrazine, that some say affect the pleasure center of the brain in a similar fashion to more traditional vices. It puts new meaning into the phrase “comfort food’, doesn’t it?
Well, there is some truth to that. A binge eater is unconsciously eating large amounts of their binge food due to their brain being flooded with feel-good chemicals like dopamine. This positive feeling is met with the rationalization of:
“Mmmm it feels to so good to be eating this right now. I’ll go ahead and have one more little bite. *chomp* Well, I guess one more won’t hurt anything. *crunch* Alright seriously after this, I’m done. *chomp* There’s only a little bit left, so it’s not really worth saving the rest…”
What Does This Have To Do With Healthy Weight Loss?
That’s an excellent question! Imagine for a moment that you’re a binge eater who has recently achieved 50lbs of fat loss. One day, you decide to reward yourself by buying a bag of potato chips (your binge food in this example) since they are, after all, probably your favorite thing to eat. You take the first salty bite and revel in the crunchy goodness.
“It’s been far too long, my delicious friend.”
You notice the words, “Once you pop, you can’t stop”, and not being one to get in an argument with a bag you grab another handful. And another. And another. And another until most, if not the entire bag is gone. But the real issue is when you step on the scale the next morning.
Your weight hasn’t changed! Awesome!
You think to yourself that maybe you’ve become one of those people that can seemingly eat whatever they want without gaining an ounce. So you get another bag of chips and start down the path of slowly gaining back the lost weight and more.
Identifying Binge Foods
As I mentioned, a true binge eater is the least common type of emotional eater (In actuality, it’s not emotional at all as you’ll see with the rest of the series). For someone that is a binge eater, it’s necessary to identity what specific food(s) are going to set off a feeding frenzy and ruin your weight loss goals.
Step 1. Identify your binge food(s)
- Ask yourself â€śhow does eating this food make me feel?â€? Happy, content, depressed,Â full of energy? Have you ever been able to eat just one (or a single portion) without an overwhelming craving later in the day/near future? Do you feel nervous orÂ guilty after eating it? How often do you start overeating after youâ€™ve tasted this food? Do you feel compelled to eat this type of food even when youâ€™re not upset/stressed/etc.? If not, you’re not a binge eater and should try reading the next post in this series.
- Try eating without any distractions like television. Eat one thing on your plate at a time while noticing your levels of anxiety. Did you feel like you didnâ€™t want anything else but large quantities of one specific food?
- Binge foods can be general, as in spicy foods, or sweets, but are usually more specific (nacho cheese chips vs. chips in general).
Step 2. Avoid Your Binge Food
I know, that’s probably not the most popular answer, but for a binge eater abstinence is the only answer, if they want to avoid the proverbial upswing of yo-yo dieting that is. Alcoholics can’t start drinking again without a severe risk of relapse, so why is it any different for someone who is addicted to overeating a certain food?
That, my friends, was the first of my many logic bombs.
I’d love to hear your questions, comments, criticisms (j/k not really), ideas for future posts, or anything else you have to say, so please leave them in the comments section below!
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