Let’s have some real talk here. We are human beings having a human experience. Even when we have “done the work” to plan reframe our thoughts after a holiday weekend with food, we are doing our food & mood journalling to understand our emotional connections with food, we are following intuitive eating guidelines, and are working hard at not seeing food as having morality attached to it as “good vs bad food”….. we can still find ourselves post a food binge. This is NOT because you “failed” in any way! it means you are human and the road to unlearning and relearning is a lifelong journey and one that requires learn and grow from every inevitable dip in the road. You can learn more about reframing our diet narrative in the 3 Mindful Eating Tips to Reframe our Post Weekend Diet Thoughts Article Here
Now when I am speaking about a binge in his piece of work, I am speaking about it in terms of how YOU define it for yourself and not in the clinical terminology. This means that each of us know’s when we have overate due to physical, emotional and mental sensations and feelings we experience after eating a certain volume or type of food without what felt like outside of our control. When I speak of binge in this article this is what I am referring too.
We can find ourselves here. And when we do, despite all the work we have done those old school diet mentality thoughts like to creep back in and whisper to us “just eat less tomorrow!” or “I won’t have XYZ foods this week to make-up for it”.
When these limiting narratives that keep us feeling at war with food and/or our body finds it's way back in, instead of reverting to old diet behaviours try these 8 Gentle Mindful Eating Tips to reset your mind, body, and heart after a food binge:
1. Be Kind to Yourself
It is easy to get frustrated, especially when you are doing the work to develop a more positive relationship with food and self. Giving yourself space and grace is key. If you feel you engaged in a what you define as a “food binge” for you, then take a pause, a step back if you will, and use it as an opportunity to ask yourself why without judgement. Is there something that can be learned here? Was it really a “binge” or is that also some old diet mentality coming back into play? Be kind and curious.
2. Joyful Movement
This is one that will resonate for some and not for others based on where you are at in your mindful eating journey. If you are still working through thoughts that “exercise will cancel out calories”, then adding movement may not be the best place to start. However, if you can add in gentle or joyful movement this is a great way to shift how you are mentally and physically feeling quickly.
Moving in a way you enjoy can help increase gut motility which can help that “heavy” feeling. Movement also triggers your brain to release dopamine and serotonin, feel-good chemicals that can boost your mood and help you get back on track mentally.
So, go for a walk outside in nature, turn on some music and dance or .tackling some chores. Getting moving can help shift thoughts and physical sensations in the right direction.
YES! Drink some water. It is simple and effective. If we overate or ate foods that we might not be used too and we are feeling not so great, instead of looking for restrictions and what to take away, shift your focus on adding in more water. It will help digestion, if you consumed more sodium rich foods it helps your sodium-potassium balance in the body, if you consumed more fried foods it can help liver and kidneys. Basically our entire system needs water, so focus on adding that in versus taking things away. Addition versus restriction is a simple mindset shift but a supportive one.
4. Stay Away from That Scale!
Firstly, maybe you are at the place in your journey where you threw away your scale! If so good for you. If you are still at the place where you find yourself checking your weight on the scale then after a food binge really do what you can to stay off it.
Our weight changes all day long for many reasons (hormones, hydration, food, sleep, bowel health, etc). And remember, too: Weight isn’t a measure of health. Instead listen to HOW your body is feeling and ask what do you need right now? to move? to rest? to hydrate? to eat a veggie? whatever it is be kind and responsive.
5. Don’t Purge or Restrict
Extreme actions to undo a food binge can include vomiting, using laxatives, exercising excessively, going on a cleanse, detox or diet to restrict calories for an extended period of time to “due the binge. This is not a supportive solution, these are known as disordered eating behaviours and can cause serious damage long-term to your body such as organ failure, hormone dysfunction, fertility or menstral issues, digestive disorders, and cardiac and stroke risks. If you are binging and purging, talk to a healthcare provider to get assessed.
6. Identify reasons for a food binge
Often when we find ourselves asking questions after a binge it is connected to either an emotional or environmental trigger. Understanding what are your triggers can support you in the future.
Emotional triggers can include things like stress, trauma, loneliness, or even boredom. The best solution here is to separate yourself from food if you get that urge to binge. Do something action-oriented that connects to the emotion you are experiencing (i.e. if you are bored- do something. If you are stressed, what actions can you take to destress like walking or reading).
Environmental triggers include things like just seeing certain foods. It might be a bowl of candy on the coffee table, the donuts in the lunch room at work, or someone brought home pizza after you already ate dinner. Solutions can be putting yourself in a better position to avoid mindless eating in situations like packing snacks to work so you have something to eat when hungry, or ensuring you are getting enough protein at meals so you don’t come home starving after work and find yourself in the pantry. Again get curious about what the triggers are for you and potential solutions.
7. Food & Mood Journalling
Data is simple that, data. Its neutral. Keeping a journal to understand your emotional place before eat and after eating, what and when you eat can help you identify what food triggers and what foods make YOU feel your best. When we identify out emotional and environmental triggers as discussed in number 6, we can better identify what our actual needs are and how we can better meet those needs.
I have attached a FREE Food & Mood Journal below for you to download to get started, click the link below to download.
8.Establishing a Positive Relationship with Food
As mentioned above, we want to start with the idea that food has no morality. Food is neither ‘good food’ and ‘bad food,’”, we are not passing judgment on who we are as a human based on what eat.
Look at your daily diet in totality. We dont want to feel guilty or bad for what we ate over the weekend or during the holidays. Instead, make adjustments to feel better and release these diet mentality narratives after a “binge” that we have discussed in tips 1-7 based on what resonates for you. Remember we are human, all having a human experience. So, move on and find a harmony in your eating that isn’t swinging to the extremes of binging or restricting or punishing yourself with diets, cleanses and detox’s.