As someone who as suffered with a binge eating disorder for most of my life, I know exactly what most people are going through. Binge eating makes sustainable weight loss almost impossible. What weight you do lose tends to be short term in nature. And for me, weight rebounds of 20 pounds in a month were very common.
The following two-pronged approach is how I overcame my binge eating disorder. Hopefully it can help you so that you too can finally reach your true fitness potential. As always, please seek professional help if you think you have an eating disorder.
Moderate Your Food Quantity Restrictions
Binge eating disorders tend to happen more with people who are actually conscientious about their weight. There are a myriad of reasons why this disorder develops, but one of the more common ones develops out of extreme calorie restriction when dieting and trying to lose weight.
Binge eating in this instance is almost like a spring loaded disaster. You start off your weight loss program well, but within a few days the hunger pains start to kick in. The cravings get stronger and stronger until the spring pops and you end up bingeing.
One bite turns into an hour long or more eating extravaganza. This is your last chance to eat this food before you start dieting again, so you better make the most of it. The compulsion to keep eating seems out of control.
I made this dieting mistake for nearly a decade – eating too few calories. The calorie calculators I used had my suggested calorie intake way too high – or so I thought. There was no way I could eat that many calories and lose weight. After all, I was already having difficulty losing weight on the low calorie intake I was currently on.
One day I came to my senses and realized there was only one thing that I haven’t tried throughout the years of failed dieting attempts, and that was eating more calories. So I set off to slowly raise my calories 50-100 per day each week through a process called reverse dieting.
To my surprise, the extra calories not only improved my mood, energy levels, and strength in the gym, but it started affecting my weight – in the complete opposite direction that I thought. That’s right, my weight started going down.
I decided to not stop there. I kept raising my calories, and I continued to lose weight. I was ecstatic. Dieting seemed so much easier now. I made it all the way up to 2500 calories, and then to further test the theory, I decided to add in a single refeed each week of 3000 calories. My weight was still going down, but was starting to finally normalize.
Finally, I added in a second 3000 calorie refeed each week. My weight had finally reached a steady level. I felt better than ever. From there, I cut 100 calories from the 5 non-refeed days, and my weight loss picked back up.
I was losing weight eating nearly 700 calories more per day than before, and my binge eating was non-existent. Which leads me to the second part of the two-pronged attack.
Moderate Your Food Quality Restrictions
I read a book one time about how to stop binge eating. The idea behind it is that binge eating is different than other substance addictions in that with drugs and alcohol addictions the treatment is to abstain from the substance.
In the past, I used this solution to try to overcome my binge eating. That only made things worse. There were just too many temptations in my lifestyle to easily abstain.
In this book, the treatment for binge eating was to moderate your restriction. The idea is to slowly add back to your diet the foods you’ve been trying to abstain from all your dieting life. At first I thought this was crazy. I knew myself. If I had just a bite of something I really liked it would set off a chain reaction. A single bite would turn into a 3000 calorie stuffing.
What I realized later was that this really was the cure, but it had to be combined with the first part of the attack – increasing your total calories. Trying to add in those so-called addicting foods while eating so few calories actually exaggerates the problem. The combination of feeling hungry with the teasing of delicious food is a recipe for disaster.
So, once my calorie intake was up to higher levels, I decided to carefully add in some of those previously off-limit foods. I started off with something simple like a few slices of pizza, and to my surprise I was able to stop eating after just a few slices. I stayed within my calorie allotment and macronutrient ratios for the day.
Contrary to what I expected, I continued to lose weight. I was completely shocked, mentally confused, and elated all at the same time. The experimenter I am, I decided to push the limits a little and add in a few other foods.
I started making a homemade cookie dough dip that’s made with dark chocolate, peanut butter, honey, oatmeal, and garbanzo beans. This stuff is amazing and made entirely of whole foods. I had a 400 calorie serving each night about an hour before I went to bed.
Do you know what happened? I continued to lose weight at a targeted rate of 1lb per week. “Holy crap!”, I thought. Every single day I was eating something that I loved. The binge eating desire and food cravings were completely gone. I had almost completely eliminated my food restrictions.
Finally, I underwent the ultimate test – ice cream. I thought maybe it was the sugar that stimulated the binge eating, so I purposely held off adding in higher than normal sugar foods. However, I couldn’t truly be free from the disorder until I tried incorporating it into my everyday lifestyle.
You guessed it. I did it. Goodbye binge eating disorder. I now fully trusted the weight loss process. As long as I tracked calories and maintained my desired macronutrient ratios, I was able to eat any foods I desired.
I still avoided foods with trans-fat, bleached flour, artificial additives and preservatives, but that was easy to do once I found a way to make these foods with whole food ingredients. And when my weight loss inevitably stalled, I simply cut 50-100 calories and saw my progress pick right back up.
Throughout the week I eat homemade pizza, ice cream, and my special cookie dough dip. I love every single meal I eat. I look forward to mealtime. Eating is an enjoyable experience now.
What about you? Does any of my story sound like your life? Do you try to lose weight on low calories? Does your weight loss stall after only a couple of weeks? Are you always hungry and craving processed food? Are you a binge eater?
If you are, perhaps you should try to moderate both your food quality and quantity restrictions a little. You might just be surprised at how easy the weight loss process really is. I hope your experience turns out to be as great as mine.