This post is about when the healthy eating goes wrong. When you intend to have just one chocolate digestive with your cuppa, and you accidentally end up devouring the entire contents of the biscuit tin or when a couple of squares of chocolate turns into the entire family sized bar…come on we have all been there, I certainly have anyway. This post is not about having a binge eating disorder, so when I refer to the word ‘binge’ this is not in relation to bulimic tendancies.
Now I am not making excuses here but being a mummy, especially to a young child (or multiple young children) is seriously TOUGH! Especially during events such as teething, the child being unwell, overtired, post vaccinations, sleep regressions…the list goes on…and on. I am currently a stay at home mum whilst I am on maternity leave and I try to eat healthily where possible. I start the day with porridge, I have my nutritionally balanced lunches prepped and sitting in the fridge ready for me and I stock the cupboards with healthy snacks. But despite all this there are times when the stress of being a mother gets the better of me and I will sit and scoff an entire pack of Hobnobs (often whilst crying). This post is about the techniques that I use to get back on track after I have ‘messed up’ my diet. And by diet I just mean sticking to healthy eating, I am not consciously trying to lose anymore weight at this point.
Immediate action to take after an accidental binge is to drink a large glass of water which will re-hydrate the body and help to combat any post, salty food induced bloat. Gentle exercise (or vigorous exercise if you don’t think it has the potential to make you vomit) is a good idea aswell. Exercise speeds up digestion and will help prevent the spikes in blood sugar that occur when we eat lots of refined sugars and junk food. We want to prevent these spikes because when they drop and we come down from the sugar high they can leave us craving more unhealthy options.
If you are anything like me the first emotions you are likely to feel post binge are shame, embarrassment and disgust. I literally will feel as if one biscuit splurge will have resulted in me gaining about four stones and I feel ‘fat’ straight away. Now this is ridiculous. Just like eating one salad and going for a jog isn’t going to make an overweight person instantly slim eating an entire pack of biscuits (swiss roll, chocolate bar, takeaway…whatever’s your poison) isn’t going to make us instantly fat. Doing it on a regular basis will but not the odd moment of weakness here and there. Don’t start negative self-talk or body hating. Yes you might have messed up but it’s completely reversible, don’t put yourself down. In the same way try not to let that binge put you in the mindset of ‘it’s all over, I have messed it all up. Just aswell quit now’ because although that’s how you might feel in that moment it’s not the case at all. How you react after a binge is key.
I would avoid the weighing scales for a couple of days. I personally hate the weighing scales full stop and prefer to go by measurements and how my clothes fit, but if regular weighing is how you keep a track of things just avoid it for the time being. Immediately after a binge, particularly if a lot of salty or sugary foods have been consumed the body will be holding a lot of water weight. So if you weigh in at four pounds heavier at least two or three pounds of that is likely to just be water. Instead drink plenty of water to flush out the body and reduce water retention and bloating and if you do like to weigh yourself do it after a few days where you have been back on track with eating and exercise. Another thing I avoid is starving myself after a healthy eating slip up. It’s always tempting to cut right back on calories in the days following a binge but if you do this then it will only mean you will be hungry and craving junk food. In the long run it will just make it more likely for you to fall for temptation again and it’s important not to get into an unhealthy binge/purge cycle. If you have binged at the start of the day just eat healthily for the rest of it.
It’s easy to view junk food as a ‘treat’ or a prize, and it is in a way and I definitely struggle with this. If I have been sticking to my workouts religiously and being ‘good’ food wise for a while then I start thinking that I probably deserve some chocolate (I would just like to point out here that there is NOTHING wrong with eating chocolate and it’s something that I do on a regular basis.) Also if I am stressed or feeling down I often see junk food as something that I deserve to make me feel better…which it doesn’t. Rather than seeing unhealthy food as a treat, try to re-educate your brain to see healthy alternatives that will nourish your body as a treat. So substitute ice cream for Greek yoghurt and fruit or have nuts instead of crisps…although not too many, they contain good fats but are also pretty high in calories so check your serving size there. Basically don’t create unhealthy food associations by viewing foods with low nutritional value as treats, otherwise everytime you have a bad day or feel like you have been doing well on your diet so deserve a treat then you will reach for the junk food.
I would say that if you are finding yourself bingeing on a regular basis maybe check that you are getting enough calories from your healthy diet day to day. If you have just started a new healthy eating regime and you are exercising along side it your body may actually need more calories than you are taking in. Consistently not eating enough calories can mess up the metabolism and not be positive for long term success. If you are actively trying to lose weight then you do need to be in a calorie deficit but not to a large extent and not to the extent where you are feeling hungry all the time. Apps like ‘Myfitnesspal’ and ‘Lifesum’ have a function on them whereby you can calculate your daily calorie needs based on your body, activity levels etc. I will be talking about this in later posts aswell. Also if you have cut out any entire food groups like carbohydrates as some actual weight loss diets recommend this could leave you feeling hungrier and craving fatty or sugary foods. When exercising and losing weight your body needs protein and complex carbohydrates to keep you feeling full and to give you energy.
So if you are currently in the midst of the post binge guilt then just stop. We are all human and we all mess up sometimes. As I type this I have just eaten a slice of cake, a Bakewell tart and some marshmallows all post breakfast and all before 8:30am…it was my birthday yesterday so there is temptation everywhere! I am not going to let it get me down though I am going to have a large glass of water and do a workout and have turkey and veg for lunch! A binge doesn’t make anyone a failure and it might just be a good opportunity to revise your current healthy eating plan and ensure it’s providing you with everything that you need. Sometimes finding a healthy and SUSTAINABLE diet plan is about a bit of trial and error.
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