Deprivation dieting, binge eating, guilt, deprivation dieting, binge eating, guilt . . .
Know what I’m talking about?
For those reading this post and have never struggled with an eating disorder, count your blessings and feel free to move onto reading something else of interest.
However, for those who can relate, and know exactly what the cycle is like, let’s dialogue about the subject.
Here’s how the typical scenario goes:
Nutrients are unrealistically and severely restricted to cause the numbers on the scale to go down; aka deprivation dieting. It's like trying to desperately breathe with no oxygen available.
One survives a few days, and then . . bam, pent up emotions emerge out of nowhere.
McDonalds ~ quickly! Big Mac, fries, chocolate shake, and apple pie.
Next, Dairy Queen is in sight. Oreo blizzard and a caramel sundae.
Gas station is on the way home. Two chocolate bars and a bag of salted cashews.
At home more food is ravenously eaten like a giant monster that has been let loose.
The belly expands. Fatigue overwhelms. Guilt engulfs. Remorse entangles. Vows are made.
“I’ll diet again tomorrow,” is the infamous promise.
Three days pass, and without warning, the monster returns with full vengeance.
How does one stop the cycle?
The following are suggestions that have worked for me:
- Stop deprivation dieting. If one’s focus is on calorie restriction for the scales instead of eating necessary nutrients for optimal health, that mindset will eventually lead to binge eating, guilt, and more binge eating. Guaranteed every time.
- Take food addiction seriously. It’s right up there with destroying one’s life every bit as much as heroine and cocaine. Know that literally thousands have been set free from severe food addictions by following Dr. Fuhrman’s eating plan for optimal health. Thoroughly study his books and articles to understand the science behind his recommendations. Hold onto his life-saving instructions and don’t let them go, no matter what.
- Establish habits of creative expression to replace the habit of releasing emotions through eating. For example, I’m a painter, and when I began the journey to get my health back, I chose to document my feelings along the way through visual creativity. I cut up 4”x 4” pieces of illustration board and committed to make one artwork per day. Sometimes I painted on the illustration boards, other times I wrote or doodled on them with markers, and a few times I glued items that I had collected on a walk. Any form of creative expression, whether it is quilting, knitting, wood working, sculpting, dancing, journaling, writing poetry, singing, songwriting, playing an instrument, or whatever one enjoys, will keep the mind engaged and distracted from the habit of turning to food for emotional release. Plus, as an additional benefit, a creative project specifically dedicated to documenting the journey, will keep one continually focused on the goal of earning health back, even in the midst of life’s many, and sometimes stressful circumstances.
- Develop a healthy support system with likeminded friends, and seek professional counseling for the deep stuff. Isolation fuels pent up emotions like kerosene fuels a fire. I learned to process and communicate my thoughts and feelings on the member center instead of turning to food. The gift of understanding that others gave was priceless, and helped me establish a new path of emotional health.
- Exercise. And I’m not necessarily talking about the regularly scheduled, daily workout; although that’s vitally important. Get out in the fresh air. Go for a walk with a friend. Hop on a bike and ride around the neighborhood. Play a game of ping-pong with the kids. Many times, just a brief diversion of exercise will release pent up emotions that are brewing within.
- Be still and visualize. Take a few moments to be quiet, close the eyes, and visualize life in one, five, and ten years from now living in optimal health. Make time for daily,
quiet moments to recharge vision.
Food addiction and emotional eating can be successfully overcome. The availability of toxic foods and the ebb and flow of emotional turmoil will always be a part of life; but food addiction and emotional eating doesn’t have to be!
What’s worked for you?
image credits: scales, dailymail.co.uk; friends walking, sports-council-wales.org