“Mom, can I get this muffin?”
Per usual, Starbucks was overcrowded and I was fiending for a coffee. This little girl and her four friends were standing between my next caffeine fix and me.
This girl couldn’t have been more than twelve years old, so it struck me when she followed her begging with “But Mooooom, I will run a mile tomorrow. Can I please get the muffin? Please??”
Her mom refused and off they went, caffeinated and sans muffin.
This happened over a year ago and it still bugs the hell out of me. This girl’s approach to food looks and sounds too familiar. It’s the same unhealthy relationship with food that all women learn at one point or another. Some are more serious than others. How did this young girl learn to associate punishment, shame and guilt to eating? Do you think she will have a healthy relationship with food in her adulthood?
At her young age, she was already playing into the food binge mindset, which believes in scarcity. The [false] belief that a particular food must be devoured right then and there because ‘Oh my god! When will I ever have access to these delicious cookies every again!?’ So we go overboard only to feel guilt and shame for losing control, and justify the binge with punishment in the form of more exercise and more deprivation.
I want to tell you that you don’t have to think like this. That you can just move on with your life and not stress about it, but I know if it were that easy, then we wouldn’t have 20 million women in the US suffering from an eating disorder. Our culture wouldn’t get off on body shaming, detoxes and cleanses.
So let’s cut to the chase.
A little food binge will happen. Stress and hormones and bad days will creep up and we’ll get chocolate wasted with tears running down our faces while watching reruns of Sex and The City. Or you’ll just get wasted and eat an entire pizza with a side of last night’s Chinese takeout in one sitting. No judgment. I’ve actually done this myself.
If it happens to you, you can and will bounce back, guilt-free and without punishing yourself at the gym. Here’s how:
Drink more water. Like, a lot more.
I’m going out on a limb here but chances are you didn’t binge on kale chips and wheatgrass. Whatever your food of choice it was probably greasy, salty, freaking delicious and full of regret. Your body, on the other hand, is bloated and feeling like garbage so do your bod a favor and drink more water than you think is necessary. You need it. The combination of the food binge, stress and a hectic lifestyle only makes things worse. Your immune system is weaker as a result, but the extra hydration will boost the production of lymph, which carries all the useful nutrients and white blood cells to your tissues and organs (and they need it!).
I love plain old, freezing water but if you feel like channeling your inner Beyoncé (heck, if you ever feel like Beyoncé after bulldozing through a bag of chips, God bless your soul) just add in natural flavors like mint, lemon or cucumber.
Juice, juice, baby
Aside from the occasional salad, we probably don’t get enough fruits and veggies as it is. Drinking your greens is a surefire way to get in all the awesome nutrients from super foods like kale, broccoli, and spinach that we miss out on when we’re binging at brunch. This is not a meal replacement, just a little dose of TLC for your body to get back on track. Plus, the extra dosage of healing vitamins and properties in the juice will bring your skin, hair, nails back to glowing form and clear your digestive system.
Try this super simple recipe inspired by The Paleo Kitchen:
Go lift some sh*t
Real talk: Punishing yourself with exercise after a binge is a guarantee for disaster. Don’t be like the Starbucks girl who thought she could outrun her guilt and shame. It’s business as usual on the workout front. Carry on with your training program like any other day. The goal is to move on from the binge not kill yourself at CrossFit and follow it with a 6-mile run because you had too many mimosas. The act of carrying on with your routine sends a signal to your brain that life moves on from a binge. You move on. You don’t wallow with your empty boxes of pizza and sweat for three hours.
In fact, put those extra calories to good use and squat, deadlift, press, do a few farmer’s carries. Make it heavy, get strong, and then get on with your life.
Have sex and catch some ZZZ’s
You know what makes people happy? Sex. And sleep. And puppies.
You may not feel attractive post-binge but I bet your man (or woman) still does. Get naked with your partner and I’ll be damned if that food binge crosses your mind once. Plus, it helps you sleep better so it’s a win-win.
Lack of sleep leads to low energy and bad decisions. It’s a lot easier to reach for that donut for a quick shot of energy when you’re sleep deprived, and that’s the last thing you need after a binge fest. Do your body a favor: get some and then get some sleep. Wake up energized and replenished and I bet you won’t fall into another binge trap the following day.
Write down something good
It’s likely you’re kicking yourself in the pants after a binge. All your mental energy is focused on the negative: Shame, guilt, judgment, fat talk and disappointment. It’s this mental pattern that keeps us trapped in this god-awful merry-go-round. The best way to wash down that negative self-talk is to douse yourself with positivity.
Grab a notebook, sit in a corner and write down three things about yourself that you love. Then write three things you’re grateful for. Sounds cheesy, right? Well, it works. This 5-minute exercise shifts your negative perception into something positive, and like I said before, food binging starts with the limiting belief that everything is scarce. This exercise focuses on abundance.
If you still struggle with this exercise, here’s a little hack for you:
- Write down the negative thing you’re saying to yourself now
- Then write down it’s positive opposite
- Cross out the negative one and repeat the positive. Out loud. Go.
Jack Canfield, creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul calls this ‘reverse engineering’. It’s simple, effective, and it’s good for the soul.
Remember this, you’re a beautiful and wonderful human being. You deserve to enjoy every bite of your meal without feeling guilty, and if you ever do go overboard, you have the tools to return to peace.
Now it’s your turn. What are your 2-3 strategies for bouncing back from a binge? Share your comments below or tweet it out to @lovelifefit
Know someone who needs to read this? Share the love, yo!