How many of you have ever completely fallen off your fitness plan after several long and grueling weeks of following a strict workout program and adhering to a flawless diet while trying to attain a shredded and lean physique? Maybe you even went several months of having razor-sharp focus and incredible discipline only to mess everything up with one bad cheat meal that spiraled out of control into a crazy all out 2-3 week bender. That one small hiccup just completely derails all of your focus to stay on track and the only thing you can think about is eating more and more sweet and salty goodies while being a lazy sloth on the couch watching Netflix for hours on end. All of this is coupled with absolutely zero exercise or activity during these long and depressing days. All you want to do is stay in your comfy bed with those incredibly soft 1,200 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets or curled up on the couch with that favorite blankie of yours while having the curtains drawn and saturating in your own endless bliss of overindulgence.
Why Do We Binge Eat?
Why do you think we do this to ourselves? Are we being too stringent on our fitness plan and is it just some weird kind of decompression mechanism for letting go and not having to always worry about each and every calorie that goes into our mouths along with stressing out about making absolutely sure we get in those calorie burning cardio sessions and muscle building weight training workouts every day?
Many of you who have started a workout plan due to being overweight, or just simply being a little out of shape, usually have some type of issue with food in one sense or another. That’s one of the main reasons why we all get started on the fitness path, right? We need to drop some extra pounds, so we push ourselves to adhere to a diet and exercise plan in order to burn off body fat, build some lean muscle tissue, increase our energy levels and live a healthier lifestyle. If we didn’t have underlying issues with food, we most likely would not have those 20-40 extra pounds of ugly and flabby adipose tissue hanging off our bodies.
The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we need to do more than just go to the gym 3-4 days per week and watch those extra carbohydrates in our daily nutritional plan. Maybe we need to look even deeper within ourselves and ask the important question about why in the world we use food as a drug to help us deal with emotional issues. Maybe it’s too much stress at work or extra pressure at home with your spouse while running around after your kids that is causing you to fall off the wagon and break your fitness plan every 2-3 months like clockwork. It’s so much easier to simply hit the drive-thru on your way home and snag a few delicious fast food items than it is to cook up a healthy and nutrient dense dinner. This quick and convenient option is very addictive, especially when you consider the amount of fat, sugar and salt that these types of foods are laden with.
Is Food a Drug?
So many people use popular drugs like nicotine and alcohol when they run into a stressful situation and food is no different. There are many similarities between sugar, junk food and abusive drugs. These forbidden cheat foods flood the brain with dopamine which is the “pleasure” hormone that is released from the area of the brain called the reward system. Your brain basically gets hijacked by these intense signals and you can’t stop eating these mouth-watering goodies! Studies have shown that sugar also has some effects on opioid pathways within the brain which is the same system manipulated by drugs like morphine and heroin. It’s no wonder why people can’t seem to stop eating these delightful sugar-laden treats once they take that very first bite. Your brain gets seized by these powerful “happiness” hormones and you virtually have no control over the outcome! You sit there in absolute nirvana while piling food into your mouth not thinking about the outcome or what it will do to your waistline.
There are millions of people who use food as their drug of choice and it’s their go-to source of instant relaxation and happiness. This is a very popular solution to choose when you want to unplug from the daily stresses of your life and it’s even more difficult to control when compared to recreational drugs since you have to eat to live, so it really comes down to having awareness about the real reasons why you fall off your plan and make the decision to eat these sinful and delectable foods that you know will only deter you from reaching your health and fitness goals.
How Can You Avoid Binge Eating Episodes?
The first thing to do when you feel a binge creeping up on you is to just be aware of your feelings and try to decipher exactly what is causing you to have those emotions that are trying to pull you into the dark side. Unconscious binge eating is one of the worst things you can do since you won’t be able to learn anything about what caused you to make the choice to fall off the wagon. Just being aware is the key since you can then understand what those triggers are and make an adjustment in the future. These triggers can range from going out to lunch or dinner with co-workers who don’t follow a healthy way of eating, getting stressed out from projects at work, getting into an argument with your loved one, being late to a few important appointments or just being bored with the mundane day-to-day diet you may have been following for weeks or months. Another common trigger to binge eat is being frustrated with your body when looking into mirror, trying on clothes or stepping on the scale. It’s extremely disappointing to see no results from all of your hard work in the gym pounding weights and doing endless bouts of cardio. The important thing is to keep going and stay on the path since it usually just takes a simple tweak in your diet or exercise plan to kick-start your results and get over a difficult plateau. Here are some tips to help you avoid going down the path to overindulging when the evil binge ferry visits your door:
- Go For a Walk – Many times it’s as easy as getting outside for a nice little walk to help your feelings of debauchery subside. Just walk out the door and get into a peaceful environment and be one with nature. Take a few deep breaths and think about all the hard work you have put into your fitness plan.
- Write in a Journal – Grab a pen a some paper or fire up your computer and start writing about your feelings and why you are thinking about taking the plunge into the abyss of overindulgence. The simple act of introspection and writing about how you are feeling will do wonders to curtail a binge episode.
- Get Yourself Out of the Situation – You wouldn’t walk into a bar if you were an alcoholic, would you? Then why in the heck are you going to Krispy Kreme with your friends on your lunch break? There is no way you can say no to all those delectable doughnuts so don’t even tempt fate!
- Eat a Healthy Snack – If you start getting hungry while driving the kiddos to their daily after-school activities, it can be super easy to just run into the convenience store or hit your favorite fast food spot and grab a few sinful treats. Avoid this by packing several protein bars into your glove compartment and grab one when the hunger hits.
- Call a Friend – If you have friends who are also following a healthy lifestyle, then call them up to get some moral support and encouragement to stay on track. You might have a friend who you workout with or have a colleague at work who is also on a diet or workout plan and you can vent a little about your current situation and talk about why you are having certain feelings of cheating on your diet. Having support and insight from your friends is a huge benefit and will likely cause you to step back and really think about the situation.
For anyone who has ongoing food issues and has dealt with these problems of slipping up and falling off the fitness wagon over the years when trying so hard to follow a healthy eating plan and exercise routine, it’s important to understand that you can make changes to help avoid going down the binge eating path. Many times, it’s simply a matter of trying a few tips from the list above to help snap you out of your depravity and bypass your favorite vice to become stronger, both mentally and physically!