First, let me tell you what I mean by “unusual eating.” Think of this as a disclaimer. To me, “unusual eating” is my non-judgmental way of describing a binge.
Binging implies eating out of control, which is something that’s generally seen as a negative, self-destructive behavior. I’ve never battled a diagnosed eating disorder myself, but I have battled the cycle of binging and restricting. There’s a negative connotation around the word “binge,” and I know that thinking of “binges” as “unusual eating”—a bout of eating foods I don’t usually eat in quantities I don’t usually eat—has helped me find peace when I do find myself on the cusp of that restrict-binge cycle.
If you’ve ever been on a restrictive diet, you’ll be familiar with this pattern:
You’ve been good.
- Following your diet to a “t” for two weeks.
- Eating only foods that are on you plan.
- Eating only foods that are on your plan in quantities laid out by your plan.
Then you start getting tired.
- Tired of eating the foods on your plan.
- Tired of missing the foods you really want to eat.
- Tired of restricting yourself.
Eventually, the desire to eat the foods you miss—all of those off-plan, “bad” foods—becomes too much and you give in.
But once you start eating those foods that you missed, you find that you can’t stop at just one chocolate chip cookie, or one scoop of ice cream. It’s almost like a chemical switch has been flicked and you just can’t stop eating those foods that you’ve missed.
- Maybe you eat five more cookies than you normally would.
- Maybe you eat until you’re stuffed and then stopped.
- Maybe you eat until you’re stuffed, and then continue to eat.
How much you eat doesn’t matter. What matters is the guilt you feel afterwards.
You see, it’s not the binge that’s the problem—it’s the guilt that follows.
One bout of unusually eating won’t truly hinder your progress toward your goals. Feeling guilt over that bout, however, will most definitely keep you from reaching your goals.
Finding peace with yourself is the most important thing you can do after a bout of unusual eating. Finding peace, releasing guilt and moving on with your life.
Without working toward finding that peace, you’ll be forever stuck in the restrict-binge-guilt cycle.
So, now you’re ready to end the cycle, but how do you do it?
Here are five tips to help you release your guilt and find peace:
1. Take a deep breath.
2. Know that one day of unusual eating will not keep you from reaching your goals. Nothing is ruined. I promise.
3. Create a reassuring affirmation. Think of why you’re feeling guilty. Once you’ve discovered what’s really causing the guilt, think of the exact opposite and that’s your affirmation. If the guilt is because you’re scared of that out of control feeling, remind yourself that you know exactly what is best for you—that you’re in control of the choices that you make.
4. Think of your next second as your next opportunity to return to your usual eating habits. Wallowing in the guilt will only perpetuate the cycle. Skipping breakfast the next day, or eating very little the next day to make up for you unusual eating will keep you feeling restricted and more likely to rebel against that restriction.
5. Stop dieting. The best way to find peace for good is to break free from the cycle. If you’re not dieting, then you’re not restricting yourself, and you’re less likely to have a bout of unusual eating. Eating whole real foods within the Paleo Framework is the fastest way I’ve found to heal your relationship with food and leave dieting behind for good.
Finding peace, releasing your guilt and moving on with your life (free from dieting) takes practice and patience.
The patience to continue to love and treat your body well while striving to find a way of eating that works for you.