Opposite of the Nightmare of Binge Eating is the Wonderful Sensation that can Come from From Eating Nothing.
Bob, I ask this question in all sincerity. What exactly is ‘binge eating’? I’ve interpreted it to mean that one eats anything / everything in sight, but I don’t want to speculate. I’d like to know what others mean by that phrase. Thanks. – Cameron
Hey Cameron: For me binge eating is non stop out-of-control eating to the point you are running to the bathroom and its coming out either end in liquid form. Sorry to be so graphic. This can happen very quickly after a fast of any length.
Another of my readers has suggested that the solution involves keeping only healthy food around and tells me she keeps organic energy bars in her desk at work. I agree with keeping healthy foods around, but I bet I could polish off 10 organic energy bars when I am on a roll. Many people get thrown off the fasting track by thinking a lot about “healthy food”. I for one can get very fat on “healthy food”. I have known many fat vegans. When fasting the mental emphasis should be on eating nothing.
This is one of my reader’s description of a “mostly healthy” binge cycle:
” Today, mid-afternoon, the very bad hunger came in. So, I began to eat. First, it was vegetables, some chicken breast and two hard boiled eggs. Then, I was craving chocolate so I figured a tall soy mocha won’t hurt. Then, I had two packets of seaweed snacks. When I got home, I had a lot of coconut oil, almond butter, avocado, and hummus. I also had some wine with my roommate since I figured that I was already on the path of destruction so why stop? Wow. Now I am about to go meet some classmates for drinks, which I could have said no to, but now it is too late.”
There is no magic bullet for “curing” binge eating. I am of the opinion that binge eating is triggered by high levels of insulin that starts with the ingestion of high carbohydrate food. For me the insulin trigger can be something as innocent as grapes or water melon. But once that insulin spike starts I can become an animal.
I remember once when I got into this mode by eating a few handfuls of sunflower kernels. Suddenly my body was screaming for more carbohydrate. I grabbed a box of my son’s 100% Whole Grain Wheat Thins while he was in the bathroom and not watching. When he returned from the bathroom and wanted his 100% Whole Grain Wheat Thins back I was almost ready to cry. I wanted those crackers that bad! I had entered the very unhealthy world of raging hunger; the sunflower seeds had been converted to pure sugar in my blood stream and my body was putting out a lot of the appetite stimulating hormone we call insulin.
There is no magic bullet here, but these are three ideas I have that might help with binging:
1) If you find yourself in this wild eating mode like I describe above, it can be stopped by allowing insulin levels to return to normal. You can do this if you can stop feeding for about an hour. The problem is your brain is NOT going to want to do this. But the best thing is, if you can tear yourself from the food environment, is to take a one hour walk. When you come back you will find you can stay away from food much easier because that wild out-of-control feeling is gone because your insulin levels have returned to normal.
2) Avoid carbohydrate rich food and high glycemic carbohydrates in particular. There are piles of these kinds of foods in health food stores and they will trigger an insulin rush just as fast as anything sold at McDonalds. Dark organic chocolate would be a prime example, but less obvious would be organic bananas, organic mangoes or just about any kind of crackers, chips or bread, organic or not. All of this stuff ends up as pure sugar in your blood stream and has your body putting out insulin to convert it to energy or store it as fat. The problem is insulin will stimulate appetite and inhibit the body’s ability to convert the fat back to energy. You could call insulin the “fat hormone”. And if you are insulin resistant your body will try to compensate by putting out excess insulin. If you are having problems with binge eating this stuff is not healthy for you. Given enough time it can kill you. Don’t die for Trader Joe!
One of the things I have done for myself is the super, extra-large, monster vegetable salad. I go into just a regular grocery store and buy a little of many kinds of vegetables. For example I might buy romaine lettuce hearts, red cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, carrots, snow peas, cactus, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli. Then I cut this all up into a HUGE serving bowl. I add to this three or four hard boiled eggs, as much garlic as I want, a little olive oil and pour on the Italian red wine vinegar.
If you do this like I do this is going to keep you busy chewing and eating for at least an hour or more. And it is going to stuff you like Porky the Pig, but I guarantee it is under 800 calories, will not spike your insulin and will not cause weight gain!
In other words go ahead and binge on low glycemic vegetables!
3) And this is the hard one. Focus on the wonderful feelings of feeling skinny and abstention from food. Stopping binge eating is not much different than stopping smoking, drug abuse, drinking or other compulsive behaviors. It involves some self control and re setting your priorities.
But the one advantage that you have when dealing with overeating is that the end result is not pleasant. People who overeat feel terrible in the end. And at the opposite end of this terrible feeling is the wonderful feeling you can experience from fasting and from being skinny. I have trouble fasting sometimes just like anybody else, but I cannot tell you how good I feel sometimes when I am fasting. For me it is a feeling of timelessness and transformation. And in behaviorist terms that can be a tremendous positive reinforcer to make me want to continue this fasting behavior.
I had an e-mail friend who sent me the above picture and quote from the model, Kate Moss, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. As hard as it may be to do, that is the wonderful feeling that the binge eater must try to focus on rather than the initial good feelings of sticking excessive food into ones mouth. Ending binge eating is a really challenge, but being skinny makes it all worth while.