Breaking Free From Binge Eating, by Jill Rudison

We are all guilty of binge eating. We tend to binge when we are stressed out, sad, depressed, bored, or are just not meeting our body’s needs and requirements for proper feedings throughout the day. Binge eating and other eating disorders are indeed brutal habits to break. Sadly, it will take some time to stop binge eating. Yes, dear readers, it will take time. You didn’t develop these eating habits overnight, so one cannot simply expect to break them overnight, either. Now, there’s no singular approach to stop binge eating, but there are a number of methods and behaviors that you can practice that will assist you on the road to recovering from such poor eating habits.

Another diet is NOT the answer. More likely than not, there’s probably a good chance that following a fad-diet is what downward spiraled you into binge eating in the first place. Many people are simply looking for that “magical” diet that will end all of the confusion, and frustration with food restrictions, but sadly another diet is not the answer. What is the answer then? It’s simple; Develop a clean-eating lifestyle that enables you to eat and feel satisfied, while still enjoying your food.

Studies have shown that strict diets, especially those that revolve around limiting or even completely eliminating particular foods, whole food groups, or macronutrients only seem to add fuel to people’s binge eating fires. Ultimately, the solution is not going to be found in a diet, so stop searching for one!

To understand binge eating is to understand biology. All you have to do is understand why these changes happen in your body to make you crave food and how you can overcome them.

The underlying cause is an imbalance of the hormones that regulate your appetite. These four hormones are the following:

  • Insulin – An extremely important hormone that your body produces to process the sugar in your diet. When your insulin spikes and then crashes after eating sugar, flour or junk, it then makes you hungry. This can even happen after a large meal of “good food.”
  • Leptin – Think of leptin as the brake on your appetite. Leptin is responsible for telling your brain, “I’m full. I don’t need any more food.” When you consume lots of sugar, processed foods, and flour, the leptin receptor doesn’t work anymore and your brain actually becomes leptin resistant. Yikes!
  • Ghrelin – A “hunger hormone” that is produced in your stomach to help regulate your appetite. Ghrelin sends the message, “You should eat – I’m hungry!” (Can we shut this guy up or mute him?)
  • Peptide YY – A hormone that is produced in your intestines, and tells your brain, “I’m full! I’ve had enough to eat. I don’t need any more.” (Can we manipulate this one??)

Another hormone to consider is cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. (Booooooo) When you get stressed, your cortisol level increases, and when that happens, you get hungrier and your blood sugar and insulin levels increase, as well. This increase of cortisol, blood sugar and insulin levels set the stage for pre-diabetes or insulin resistance.

Now that you know what your hormones do, your job is to eat properly in order to keep all of these hormones in balance. So, how do you get them in balance? It’s very simple. Make sure to do the following:

  • First and Foremost – Eat breakfast: Eating breakfast is one of the key strategies to stopping mindless junk food cravings. By consuming breakfast, you are laying the foundation for a well-timed meal regimen for the rest of the day. Every day (unless you are carb cycling) should start with a good hearty protein-filled breakfast and healthy carbohydrates for fuel. Eggs are a great source of protein that helps balance your blood sugar. If you are pressed for time, try a blended protein shake or a Modern Proteins protein brownie that you can take with you on the run. Starting your day off with a proper blood sugar level is key to making sure that your body will operate at its most optimal throughout the day.
  • Don’t drink your calories. EAT Them: If you have sugary, liquid calories that come hidden in the form of sodas, juices, lattes, sports drinks, or iced teas, it can and will spike your insulin and blood sugar levels and will cause cravings. And such cravings can be even MORE intense when you ingest these drinks because they tend to trigger hunger pains faster than if you were to just drink water. Why? Energy that comes from quick bursts in the form of sugar will spike your blood and then cause it to come crashing down, thus making you more tired than before you chugged that Skinny Vanilla Latte down. What do you do when you’re tired? You mindlessly eat. Just say NO and pass the gallon of water! Not only will it help drive away hunger pains, it will keep you hydrated and satiated!
  • Make sure you eat regularly: We recommend you eat every 2-3 hours. That means you should be eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a meal in between breakfast and lunch and in between lunch and dinner. If you eat more frequently, you will find that you create a natural rhythm for your body to be fueled, which will ultimately cause you to be hungry less frequently. Compound that with a properly portioned meal including protein and healthy fats and you will find you are satiated longer, with more energy and an improved digestion schedule. Eat regular, be regular! Yay!
  • Ingest protein & healthy fats at every meal: Examples of healthy (good) fats are nuts and seeds, avocados, coconut, olive oil, and/or quality protein like chicken, fish, or grass-fed beef. A proper combination of these (plus lots of green leafy vegetables) will balance your blood sugar and insulin levels. Modern Proteins entrees all contain the proper measurements of each food group that your body needs to properly keep it fueled throughout the day. That will make YOU less stressed, which brings us to our next tip.
  • Learn to de-stress: Stress makes you fat and mindlessly overeat, whereas relaxing makes you thin. Learn how to find your “pause button” and de-stress properly. Deep breathing, all forms of yoga, and regular exercise all have been proven to reduce stress, which helps reset the hormones, which helps keep your cortisol levels in check, which helps balance brain chemistry, and ultimately stop food cravings. Ordering your prepared meals from Modern Proteins’s meal delivery service has also been proved to reduce stress levels! Easiest stress reducer ever!
  • Prioritize sleep; More IS More: Your body heals itself and your muscles grow when you are sleeping. If you don’t sleep, you will find yourself hungry, especially with a bothersome craving for carbs and sugar. Ugh! Why is this? When you deprive yourself of sleep, Ghrelin, which is the hormone that initiates hunger, increases and PYY, the hormone that makes you feel satiated, decreases. Therefore, if weight-loss is what you are aiming for, you will need to learn to hit the hay earlier and get your full amount of beauty sleep recommended, which is a minimum of 6-8 hours per night.
  • Know your food triggers: Many people are shocked to learn that the very thing that your body and brain is craving usually tends to be what your body is actually allergic or sensitive to. Huh? Why else do you think so many folks have food sensitivity issues with gluten and dairy? Try eliminating these sensitive food items from your diet for a few weeks to see what your body’s reaction is like. Some people’s skin clears up, others find that they are less bloated and have improved digestion and some have even lost weight when such food groups are removed from one’s eating. After a few weeks the cravings will subside and you will physically feel a difference from removing them from your meal plan. Go on – give it a try!
  • Use supplements to help cut out cravings: Bet you didn’t know that natural molecules can help balance your blood sugar and insulin levels in order to help stop food cravings you are experiencing. Try supplementing your diet with;
  • Omega-3 Fats – particularly fish oil. Add a few capsules to your daily vitamin intake to help balance your blood sugar.
  • Vitamin D – helps regulate hormones and balance insulin.
  • Fiber – It slows the spiking of insulin and blood sugar, helps make you feel full, increases the PYY, balances out all the hormones, and stops the cravings.
  • Chromium & Lipoic Acid  – can also help cut cravings
  • Amino Acids & BCAA’s – also help balance your hormones, stop your cravings and increase muscle mass.

Another great diet-hack is to think addition instead of restriction. No sugar? Fine. Eat some veggies or fresh fruit. You can always find suitable and healthy replacements for the very same foods that you feel like you “cannot live without”. (You’re just being dramatic.) When you add something to your meal plan, something else naturally has to fall away. The positive spin on this is focusing on an action you CAN achieve versus not.  Also learn how to be proud of what you HAVE achieved. Only have one week down in eating clean?  That’s great! That’s a whole week more than you had before you started. Baby-steps, folks. Baby-steps! Even if you stumble along the way, simply get up, brush it off and keep going. And by ordering your custom meal prep from Modern Proteins, you can easily eliminate stress, improve your cortisol levels, never worry about making any food choice decisions and always have fresh and healthy pre-made meals available to you no matter what your schedule. (Not to toot our own horn, but we actually just improved your life in over 5 ways and that’s BEFORE you even eat a bite!)

When you begin to eat clean and follow a meal plan you will not only begin to see results, but more importantly, feel them. Starting a new eating plan is never easy and your body and your brain will try and convince you at first that you can’t do it, that you need sugar, or a binge meal here and there, but with a little self-love, determination and patience, you will overcome such enticing within a few weeks. Remember! It takes between 4-6 weeks to make an action a habit. Be patient and kind to yourself during this time! You are a work in progress!

Jill Rudison
IFBB Professional Bodybuilder
Contributing Author
Twitter, @jillrudison
Instagram, @jillrudison