Do you ever experience a feeling of being ‘out of control’ around food? Feelings of being addicted, emotional eating or even what you might consider a binge?
Maybe this is a common thing for you, maybe it’s primarily happening in the evenings?
Whenever it happens, whatever the frequency – I ask you:
Are you getting enough?
The number one reason for this type of behaviour is food restriction – either intentional or not.
• Either you’re not physically getting enough to eat.
• Or you’re getting enough to eat but you’re not meeting your needs.
Restriction has a profound effect on our bodies - Sometimes emotional eating and feeling addicted to food is just like what happens when we hold our breath for too long. When we finally take a breath it’s not a polite little inhale it’s a primal, gasping giant gulp of air. Much like eating something that’s been restricted or simply eating after a day of not getting enough.
It may seem obvious, but eating is so important, eating enough is even more so. Did you skip breakfast even though you enjoy it? Nibble on a few pieces of cheese and an apple for lunch? Coffee on the run for afternoon tea? Suddenly, you get home and the children’s lunch boxes seem like a delicacy unlike any other and a cascade of eating takes you well into the night. You may even think to yourself – well, I’ve already blown it, I might as well keep going.
You can also be eating “enough” but still not getting what your body needs or wants. Maybe it’s those joyous carbs or maybe you’ve sworn off sweet things because that latest diet simply won’t allow it.
Several studies have looked at the effects of dieting-led-restriction. The results were often the same. The more dieting they pursued – the higher relationship with emotional eating. When food is restricted we have primal biological mechanisms that cause us to be food-seeking and have food on the mind. Add emotional distress to that and we will be even more likely to turn to food.
And so if you find yourself feeling out of control around food, self-sabotaging, eating emotionally or binging – ask yourself – Am I getting enough?
Start with self-care by ensuring you’re getting enough physically. Listen to and honour your hunger, no matter how busy you are and eating enough to nourish and sustain yourself. If you’re meeting your needs physically and still feeling like food has a hold on you, start to look at whether you’re restricting yourself psychologically. For many, carbs are essential – perhaps you’re not getting enough? Or perhaps you completely avoid your favourite treats for long periods of time. If there’s restriction – there’s probably intense cravings, feelings of addiction and perhaps emotional overeating and binging.
It’s important to recognise the role of food restriction on the body and mind. There is a profound biological and psychological cascade that can happen and that in itself can trigger the loss of control around eating.
And so, again, start with self-care. Nourish your body and your mind and pay attention to the effects of doing so. Gradually increase the size of your meals, begin to experiment and potentially reintroduce foods you’ve banned. Observe it all like an objective sports commentator and see what happens.
And if you need help with this – that’s what Empowered Eating is all about. Helping you to meet your nutritional needs without confusion or restriction. Check it out if you’d like a hand. Or get in touch for 1:1 coaching and support from myself or one of my coaches.
You got this!