Often, binge eaters or emotional eaters may tell me that they feel they are addicted to sugar, or chocolate..... or cakes. Whatever.... [insert your own addictive food here].
For them, there is a rush, an excitement and an intense urge to eat specific foods or to feel out of control and to overeat on these foods that they feel addicted to.
It's a hard thing to resist and it can fuel the cycle of binge and restrict. The chemical release in the brain, the joy and the intense feelings it can give can then result in guilt, a feeling of depression or such a low that there is a drive to eat that food again.
It's a difficult thing to get out of. But not impossible.
It's never clear cut but there are lots of things we can do.
A highlight for me and this client was when we did a taste test. Yes - blindfolded! The lot. And we worked through some foods that she was choosing and what she avoided. We simply compared "diet" and "healthier" foods compared to what the client perceived to be "bad" or "binge" foods.
One example was a low calorie high protein heavily advertised "healthy" pudding against an "indulgent", "calorific" pure chocolate pudding. The client did not know what I had chosen. Her description of the "healthy" alternative was that it did not taste natural, it was a bit sickly and too sweet, and she wasn't convinced it had any "real" chocolate in it. It was scored 2/10 and she said it was not something she would ever buy or want to taste again as it didn't really 'hit the spot'. After cleansing the palate she tried the regular version of a pudding and described it as indulgent, really chocolatey, and probably a very naughty treat, something she would be scared to buy as she would overeat on it because it was "so good". It was scored 8/10.
We repeated the test with 2 more kinds of foods comparing healthy alternatives to regular brands. In every case, the client marked down the "healthy" version.
Much to her surprise when the blindfold was taken off, the "healthy" versions were foods that she actually buys and she was shocked to see that she had described them so badly. Her mind was made up there and then - "no more low fat hummus for me".
It was a bit of mind bender for her really and it took a while for the shock to disappear from her face..... then we discussed why she had been buying and eating food she actually did not like eating. We talked about the marketing of the foods and her reasons for choosing low fat, low sugar, high protein or low calorie. All very valid reasons, but none that were actually working for her.
I set out a few more activities for her to do and think about after the taste test to open up the thinking around what food she actually liked and from there is where the biggest change began to happen for this client.
It is really important to understand that deprivation can come in many forms, and avoiding or restricting foods you like is one which can have an extraordinary impact on how you feel and how you react when around food. Your food satisfaction can be so low on a day to day basis that it is only a matter of time before a binge strikes, with all of the associated guilt, remorse and promises to yourself to do better next time, or start again on Monday.
It is difficult to change our habits, and truthfully, after the test, the client still kept or bought some of the foods that she thought she would not buy again. Breaking the diet mentality is hard and you do need to give yourself space and time to let it sink in and work for you.
So, this week when my client told me that she actually now dislikes certain foods which she used to eat, and that she is happy to chuck them in the bin, and they just don't excite her any more, I know the work is done. A massive breakthrough has occurred.
The same lady who feared a chocolate bar as she imagined it would cause a binge can happily sit and eat chocolate now without fear. And also without it causing a binge.
I get so much joy hearing about how she eats now and how she makes cakes and bakes again, and she isn't looking out for diet food in the shops.
This is what it's all about. Helping people to free themselves from the stories they have been telling themselves for years which have caused the opposite effect to what they were looking for.
You know it's not working when your diets are making you bigger and bigger so like I said before...... maybe it is time to STOP DIETING.
And start living.
If you want to know how I can help you then just book in a free call.
It's really that simple to get started on changing your life.