Are you terrified of eating but can’t stop thinking about food because you’re always hungry?
Perhaps you tried restricting your food intake before eventually ‘cracking’, and overeating several times the number of calories that you would have eaten, had you not skipped that meal.
Today I’ll show you 3 empowering, and surprisingly simple ways to break the demoralising cycle of calorie restriction followed by overeating. I think you’ll be glad to hear what I have to say, so please read to learn how to stop binge eating and thinking about food.
Step 1. Know why dieting and restricting food while binge eating never works
The first step is to recognise that trying to lose weight while experiencing binge eating cycles never works.
You may recognise this cycle of restriction and over eating:
- You cut calories. Perhaps you under eat. Maybe you skip the meal. Or you opt out of a certain macro nutrient because ‘carbs are bad’ or some other food rule you feel governed by.
- Even if you didn’t skip a meal, what you ate wasn’t satisfying. You don’t feel satisfied at the end of your meal, so you think incessantly about food from the moment you finish eating.
- This increases the drive to over eat, or ‘binge’ later in the day.
- You then restrict further in order to compensate for the overeating.
- Your digestion, hunger and fullness cues are all disrupted and you never feel satisfied.
- This strengthens the habit of large fluctuations between eating too much and too little.
- Frustration builds as weight loss doesn’t happen.
To lose weight, you first have to stop thinking about weight loss, and first, learn how to stop binge eating and thinking about food.
Satisfaction is the key.
Step 2. Know how your body senses huger
I totally understand that you might need to lose 10lbs, like yesterday! Yes you can lose weight rapidly, and you may have tried to in the past.
But how did that work for you?
In my experience, you might restrict calories, and perhaps carbs for a few days.You’d lose 5-10lbs of body weight over the weekend. But:
- You’d feel deprived of food.
- You would feel uncomfortable.
- You would feel weak and lack concentration.
- Then you’d crack, eat a lot of highly palatable and calorie dense food, replenish your lost water weight and glycogen stores, and in a day or two the scales would show a net increase in scale weight.
The restriction is reinforcing the binge eating cycle yet again.
Maximising satisfaction is the key to long term success if you want to lose weight, how to stop binge eating, and stop thinking about food all the time because you’re either too hungry or feeling guilty.
Here’s how your body regulates food intake:
- Your brain decides whether you want to eat food or not.
- Chemical and physical hunger and fullness signals are sent to the brain.
- Stomach and digestive organs send signals to your brain (hypothalamus) about how much food has been eaten, and what it contains, what’s being digested and stored.
- This results in the sensations we perceive as hunger and sateity.
Step 3. Maximise satisfaction, and listen to and trust your body
In the end, you’re reading this because you want to know how to stop binge eating and thinking about food.
You may already know that trying to lose weight at the same time as being in a cycle of restriction, under-eating and over eating doesn’t work.
So, are you willing to take a different approach?
In my experience, taking a leap of faith and focusing on maximising satisfaction will get you into a more stable eating pattern.
Once this is in place, making small incremental changes will get you into a calorie deficit, without feeling deprived and uncomfortable. Here’s what to do:
- Take meals not snacks approach to eating. Shoot for 3 to 4 meals per day. Take 4 weeks to focus on this.
- Feel satisfied with each meal. Make the meal big enough last the time between meals so you are not even thinking about hunger/food for a good couple of hours post-meal. Feel good about this, and get into the routine of eating satisfying meals for as long as it takes. This might be 4 weeks, perhaps even longer. It doesn’t matter how long.
- Once you are consistently eating and maximising satisfaction, if you want to lose weight, you only need to make a small change to tip the balance from weight maintenance to weight loss.
- This is called energy balance, and for weight loss, you need to create a slight energy (calorie) deficit. Let me reiterate a slight deficit – after all, we all know what happened when the deficit is too large. Here’s how:
- Eat until 80% full, or ‘satisfied’ but not ‘stuffed’ (week 5-6)
- Await huger before your next meal – feel a belly centred growling for 30 minutes before eating (week 7-8).
- If you feel hours of hunger, you run the risk of overeating, so ensure you engineer your meal size to account for long gaps or short gaps between meals.
This is so simple yet so powerful. I hope it helps you to regain satisfaction and confidence in your nutrition.
If you’re a sedentary professional who works over 50 hours a week, you’re worried you might be in this cycle of restriction and excessive eating, and you want to get fit and confident, then I would love to help you. Please learn more about nutrition coaching here.