Personal story from Lauren: How I stopped binge eating

I remember finally finding the perfect dress for my semi-formal. It was short, pink, poufy & totally fitting for me.

Looking back, I was such a tiny little girl, there was no weight on my body to lose, but I remember the thoughts going through my head at the time

“Okay you have a few months so you need to tone up & eat very clean to look your best come semi day.”

That was one of the first times I remember making a plan to try & lose weight.

That was also the first time I remember trying to do this by controlling my food & starting to exercise to “burn calories”.

I was obsessed with “calories” & trying to keep them to below 1200, as this was the lowest I read you could go before your metabolism started to slowed down- which I did not want to happen. I’ve come to realize this was absolutely crazy & going to impact my relationship with food for many years later.

I truly believe the reason I ended up struggling with binge eating for many years was because of me trying to restrict my calories while increasing the amount of exercise I was doing. I was not fuelling my body properly in any way, shape or form. I was also not appreciating it or giving it the love it truly deserves.

Now I focus fulling on nourishing my body, eating all the healthy, whole & real foods I know it loves & wants. I love & appreciate all that it does for me every single day.

Instead of being upset because I am not super toned & don’t have abs poppin’ 24/7, I have learned to switch my focus towards appreciating how amazing it is that my body can move each day. It takes me on long walks where I feel the sunshine on my face, it allows me to lift weights at the gym & get a good sweat on then feel great from all the endorphins.

I totally shifted my perspective to focus on how I feel rather than how I look. Because after many years of focusing on only my appearance, I can tell you first hand it does not make you a happy & fulfilled person. Aiming to feel energized, happy, grateful & thankful each day, however, does make me feel fulfilled. I also find when you shift your focus to feeling amazing, you start to look amazing as well. I still have goals, areas I want to improve & can be my own toughest critic sometimes, but now I can appreciate the journey to get there. I love seeing changes in my body & I think that’s totally ok to have body composition goals, etc. but the difference is how you let it control & affect you.

This mindset shift does not happen overnight, at least for me it didn’t.

It takes practice, work & time but it can totally be done. I am by no means perfect now; I still mess up, I can still find my old thoughts & habits showing up again sometimes. But it is all in the way I handle it now. It doesn’t control me like it used to & I know that is not a life I ever want to live again, so I am able to get myself out of it pretty quickly.

Addressing my perspective was one of the number one things I did to get out of my recurrent binge eating patterns, but it’s not the only thing that helped me.

Binge eating for me was a cycle. I restricted to try & lose weight, worked out to burn calories, then felt starving & completely deprived of all energy, so I binged.

My body was not getting the macronutrients it needed to feel satisfied & nourished so it triggered the neural pathways in my brain to go into overdrive. In an attempt to get immediate energy this presented as an incredibly strong urge to binge, in order to get access to some form of energy, usually in the form of sugary carbs & high fat foods.

In order to break this cycle one of the best tips I can offer is to cut out sugar. Sugar has been found to be more addictive than cocaine. It triggers the dopaminergic pathways in the brain, otherwise known as your “feel good” pathways. When these pathways are triggered they make you feel good & happy, therefore, keeping you coming back for more. In order to break this cycle you need to re-set this pathway. Cutting out sugar is a great way to start. It will be hard at first but trust me, if you can break your sugar addiction you will feel better than you ever have before.

To help get your body off of sugar, I recommend fuelling it with good quality protein & healthy fats. These are going to fill you up, which will make you satiated, thus eliminating or greatly decreasing the urge to binge. Binge urges arise when the body is lacking something and feeling deprived. Protein & healthy fats are going to directly combat these urges.

Fibre is also going to fill you up, it aids in digestion & keeps things moving as well. I like to build my plates with tons of veggies (fibre), a good quality protein source (fish, chicken, grass-fed beef, or your favourite vegan protein source), & a healthy fat (avocado, nuts, seeds, avocado oil mayo, almond butter, ghee, MCT oil).

These 3 things are going to nourish your body on a cellular level. The healthy fats fuel you brain, which is essential when trying to combat disordered eating thoughts, behaviours or patterns- we want our brain to be functioning optimally to make the best decisions for our bodies. I also recommend drinking tons of water throughout the day (bonus: add lots of lemon or lime & drink from a straw to protect your enamel). This it not only good for every one of your cells, but it aids in detoxification & fills you up, which will help prevent binge urges from arising.

I would also suggest focusing on your gut health. Our GI system has been referred to as the 2nd brain. It has so much more influence on our mind than we ever realized before, so you want to love up on it. Take a collagen supplement to reduce inflammation within the lining of your GT tract, eat probiotic rich foods &/or add a good quality probiotic supplement into your diet, take a digestive enzyme initially to make sure your body is fulling breaking down all your food & absorbing the essential nutrients it needs to thrive. I also recommend adding a scoop of L-glutamine powder (5 grams) into your water with lemon first thing on an empty stomach. This is incredible not only for your gut health but your immune system as well. It helps to strengthen the lining of your gut. It has also been shown to help with sugar cravings, which will be very beneficial in the beginning if you’re trying to kick sugar to the curb.

There are so many tips & tricks I have used to recover from binge eating, but these are some of my best. I also recommend speaking with a health care practitioner about what you’re going through. Having someone to talk to about this can be very therapeutic & healing while you’re trying to recover. I also, sought help from a naturopathic doctor who can truly address the root cause as to why you are binging in the first place. This can be different for everyone. For some it can be due to unresolved emotional issues. For others it can be more physiological, like it was for me, where my body was lacking essential vitamins, minerals & macronutrients it was needing, resulting in my urges to binge. Whatever you have to do- please just do it. Reach out, do as much research as you can, educate yourself, read books, work with a naturopathic doctor & figure out how to get yourself out of these destructive patterns. I promise you will be a different person after. You will never go back.

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