Uh oh… 9 Ways to Cope with a Food Binge: Break not Binge, Feast not Failure

OK so full disclosure, despite my smug post about how I’d lost three stone and kept it off, Christmas was not a good time for me.

This is annoying as last Christmas I managed to have a good time without binging and just stayed the same weight over the Christmas week. I was back to losing very quickly.

So what happened?

Well, to begin with I stopped weighing myself for three weeks. Idiot!!! My justification is that if I want to keep the weight off the the rest of my life I have to accept I will have good weeks and bad weeks. And sometimes I am going to be very wilful and think fuck it, I’m going to eat what the hell I like for a bit.

I think I kind of need this because if I don’t have treat days I won’t want to stick to my diet forever. (By the way I’m going to decide on an age – maybe 75 if I make it – where everything goes out of the window and I’ll eat what damn takeaway I like as often as I like)

It’s funny how I have weeks and weeks when I sail through the days not even thinking of food. (When I say food here, I mean carb heavy food. Toast, doughnuts, Chinese takeaways etc – I can assure you I am not day dreaming about salmon and broccoli) Then at other times I am CRAVING the food. All my smug healthy eating patterns fall by the wayside and I am off the wagon for a couple of weeks.

I had three weeks off over the Christmas holidays. My binge eating was triggered initially by the plethora of dinners I had to attend. Too often I’d come home stuffed from a huge roast dinner to think, ‘ooh I’ll just have a pack of crisps to finish the day off, I’m already over my calorie limit…’

Then the holidays started: it was a bit stressful, we were away, I didn’t bring my scales, my mother-in-law kept cooking her home-made sausage rolls…

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This was not a proud day…

Over the three weeks on TOP of the usual Christmas dinner/Quality Street Tins/Leftover Stocking chocolates abandoned by the children/posh chocolates given by friends (why do they do this!? They know I’ll just scoff ’em down, just give me scented candles for God’s sake – I can’t eat wax)/large glasses of Baileys, and handfuls of nuts, I also did the following…

  1. Stopped off at MacDonald’s drive through ‘for the kids’ more times than I would care to admit
  2. Had a Chinese Takeaway and a Wagamama’s delivered.
  3. Bought, ate and THOROUGHLY ENJOYED a Marks and Spencer’s luxury trifle.
  4. Drank a lot of wine. I don’t do this very often, so I’m not worried about drinking alcohol. The worry is that it destroys any last fragment of sense I have so I start demanding Domino’s pizza delivery, loudly, at about 11pm.
  5. Allowed my daughter to indulge her baking craze and eating every single one of her offerings so I didn’t ‘hurt her feelings.’ But man, who could resist those scones and brownies?

If you’re going to fall off the wagon you have to enjoy it, otherwise there’s no point. Stuffing yourself with guilt and self-loathing along with the pastries and crisps is hopeless. The misery this causes will lead to more poor eating choices (well, I’ve ruined it now) and further weight gain.

But it is possible to come back from a binge and return to your diet.

After Christmas I thought, right! Here we go. Back on the diet. To be honest, though, I didn’t really get back on track straightaway as I couldn’t get rid of a seemingly inbuilt belief that a proper diet start day is Monday, preferably Monday 1st January. Which is what I did.

Scales

The dreaded scales. Excuse the state of my gnarly feet. (I’ve tried to edit out the hairy toes). Nails courtesy of daughter’s Christmas pedicure; plaster courtesy of nasty incident with a double nail growth (a nail seems to grow on top of the bottom one – anyone have that or is it just me?) which ripped off and kept catching on things

On 31st December I weighed myself. This was not a happy day. But if I learned ANYTHING from finally losing the weight is I HAD to weigh myself. Some people use belts or clothes to judge if they’ve put on weight (doesn’t really work for me as I tend to go for the dresses or drawstring trousers options – I wore maternity clothes until Daughter was about 5)

I am convinced one of the reasons I have kept the weight off for so long is because I weighed myself twice a week. I NEVER did that on all my previous diets. When I went to Weight Watchers I wouldn’t let them tell me my weight, just how much I had gained or lost. I also used to wear the heaviest clothes including a jumper, coat, big socks, boots and a woolly hat for the first weigh in, and a flimsy summer dress with flip flops for all subsequent weigh ins. Even in winter. Little tip for you.

All binge eaters out there will agree with me I am sure. You don’t weigh yourself for a few months and when you look again, you’ve gone up 30lbs. That is so fricking disheartening a common reaction is to think oh well it’s hopeless, and the binging continues.

It’s SO much better to get 6 or 7 lbs off than it is 4 stone. Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Unfortunately I didn’t get my head around this until I was over 45. If you have three stone or more to lose and you are still young, get it off now. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it later.

I remember being at a Weight Watchers meeting and a slimish woman was there. I turned to her and said, ‘what are you doing here? You’re gorgeously slim. You don’t need to lose weight!’

She waved away my compliments, ‘I do, I’ve got 10 lbs to lose.’

‘Pppft,’ I said, ‘I’ve got five stone to get rid of!’ She gave me a level gaze.

‘Yes, well.. I thought it was probably better to lose it now before I end up five stone overweight.’

At the time I just dismissed her as someone who didn’t live in my world. 10 lbs over your target was skinny as far as I was  concerned. I was about 28 then. I wish I could go back and shake myself. ‘LISTEN TO THAT WOMAN, YOU FOOL! SHE’S RIGHT’. Actually I should go back even further and slap my stupid 22 year old face and say ‘WEIGH YOURSELF! GET IT OFF NOW!’ I was only a stone overweight then. (And thought I was an enormously fat old cow, of course)

Back to the 31st December. Over three weeks my weight had crept up by 9 lbs. Sounds a lot, but as I’ve said elsewhere, I have managed to put on 11 lbs in a week. But still. Not great and I will admit to having a little cry as I stood, naked, on the scales.

BUT I FORGAVE MYSELF!

That is so important. ‘So you fell off the wagon,’ I told myself. ‘But you kept up with the exercise, and it could have been much worse. At least you weighed yourself before you’d put on a stone.’ and, ‘you can start again tomorrow.’

Today I weighed myself after two weeks of 800 calories, low carbing based on The Blood Sugar Diet.

I’ve lost 8 lbs.

YIPPEEE!!!!

Still got a pound to go but I am very happy. Well done, Warrior me!

Also, I enjoyed my binge over Christmas, but I can honestly say I enjoy the clean, clear-headed feeling I have had for the last two weeks even more. I can feel my ribs and hip bones emerging again and have got out the skinny jeans. My collar bones are rocking it as well.

I feel I am back on track. Most importantly I’ve managed to wean myself back off my carb urges.

Here are my tips to get back on track after a binge

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Binge friendly food from M&S much better than buying (and eating) a pack of six. Sorry it’s only the packet, I ate the contents pretty quickly

  1. Control your Binge as far as you can. I don’t know whether it’s just me, but I can be quite calculating about my binges. I might plan, days in advance, what I’m going to eat. If you’re out getting that food, look for smaller packets. Rather than buy a whole pack of yum yums, see if you can get a mini lunch pack. M&S do little packets of things like Victoria Sponge Cake slices. Enough to feel like you’re being really indulgent, but without having a whole cake which you slowly work through over the weekend.
  2. Think of it as a feast day. Say ‘feast’ not ‘binge’. There is so much research which indicates that dieters are more successful if they allow themselves cheat days. If you have feasted, try fasting the next day – around 500-800 calories and definitely low carb. Naturally skinny people (Like my 6ft 3 husband who has fluctuated by FOUR POUNDS since we met 16 years ago, the bastard) may overeat one day but they cut back the next day without thinking about it. This balances out the extra calories.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. I know. Easy to say, but it’s true. Only people with compulsive food issues will understand the misery of losing all will power and falling face first into a Victoria sponge cake. People are different. My husband and I can each buy the same large bar of chocolate. I will scoff my one down whole in about five minutes. My husband will break off a couple of squares, eat them slowly with pleasure, then wrap up the bar and put it in the cupboard. I will spend the rest of the week hyper-aware of the chocolate in the cupboard which seems to be emitting a radioactive glow whispering ‘eaaatttt meeee’ whenever I go into the kitchen. ‘You going to eat that chocolate?’ I endlessly ask Rob until I take matters into my own hands and eat it for him. If I’m low carbing I’ll make him hide it somewhere high up so I don’t know where it is.
  4. Weigh yourself regularly. Hopefully I’ve convinced you of this as I say it all the time. I can’t say it enough. It’s the one single thing I’ve done that I never did before and it seems to have made a huge difference to me being able to keep it off.
  5. Keep away from the carbs. I can only speak from personal experience. But there is a good body of research that would indicate that the problems with obesity and  diabetes stems from increased carb consumption. How many doughnuts can you find in nature? (You can find roast chicken and pork crackling though, ha!) It is increasingly accepted that sugar is bad for you. The highs and lows caused by carbs make sticking to a diet incredibly difficult. The last two weeks I have felt so much better and my cravings have dropped dramatically.
  6. Keep at it: it’s a break not a binge – a feast not a failure. This is another key message. Don’t see binging as a failure but as a feast day. The semantics are important. Binging sounds like failure, feasting sounds like fun. Think of how many cultures which have feasting and fasting as part of their ceremonies. Instead of thinking of falling off the wagon as failing your diet, think of it as a break. This has helped me keep the weight off, trust me.

    The lovely Norman Reedus, aka Daryl Dixon from the Walking Dead (@wwwbigbaldhead)

  7. Have something worth dieting for. It’s a real motivator to have an event like a wedding or something when you know you will be photographed. Having featured in a number of family photographs looking like a whale (I’m not joking, see my before picture in this post) I’m a little bit ashamed to write this, especially after what I wrote in my post about my mid-life crisis crush. I’ve booked tickets to Comic Con so I can have my photograph taken with Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon! Screeeeccchhhh!!!! I know. I know. I said I would never do this. But that was before I knew they were all coming to London in March. It’s my birthday this month and my lovely, lovely husband Rob (reluctantly) agreed to pay for the tickets for my present. It’s a bit unfortunate that this was just before he read my blog describing my crush on Norman Reedus. I think I reassured him this is just a harmless crush and I will be happy with just that photo. Hopefully I won’t bite him (Norman that is). Anyway, the main thing is that on 11th March I will have my photo taken with Norman Reedus. I need to look good in that photo as I’m going to be showing it to a lot of people. After that, in June, I am hoping to play drums with a mid-life crisis band in front of an audience made up of some critical teenagers so I’d feel more confident slimmer.
  8. Keep busy. So many diet guides advise this and it’s true. I find it much easier to stick to my diet when I’m at work. If you feel the cravings start, go and exercise – do a Davina DVD – have a bath, read a good book, binge watch something on Netflix  or Sky, dance like mad around the room to your favourite music. If the cravings get really bad eat something if you really have to but try REALLY hard to stay low carb. Pork scratchings are sinful and filthy and can fill that craving hole but are zero carbs. If that (or bacon) won’t do and you need something sweet, go for Chocolate Hazelnut Granola with unsweeteened full-fat Greek yoghurt.  You can find the recipe on my post about 5 foods that kept me on the straight and narrow,
  9. Exercise  regularly. Apart from weighing myself twice a week, this is the other one thing I did differently to when I dieted in the past. I have exercised and dieted, but this is the first time in my life I have done both at the same time. And I kept the weight off. Not a coincidence! I’ve always read people droning on about their exercise highs and thought what a load of codswallop. I always felt crap when I exercised. To be honest there are still days when I feel like I’m going to keel over in gym and I must have asked my trainer five times, ‘and you do have a defibrillator in the gym? And you have been trained in resuscitation?’ I have now been going to the gym and running/jogging regularly since last February and I FINALLY get it. Never thought I’d say this but I start to miss exercising when I haven’t done it for a while. Yesterday, I had a fantastic training session with husband Rob. Our trainer made us do boxing with each other which was BRILLIANT. My upper cuts were fuelled with fury following a a stressy day at work and I hammered Rob’s padded hands until he started to back away in fear. I walked out of that gym feeling fantastic.

Me rocking it at the gym. I HATE the climber. I’ve worked for nearly a year now and I can finally do 5 minutes on the bloody thing.

I hope you found this useful. Keep going, people. Please get in touch if you think I can help with any questions you may have. Have you got any binge stories? How did you get through them?

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4 thoughts on “Uh oh… 9 Ways to Cope with a Food Binge: Break not Binge, Feast not Failure

  1. Juliet

    That is such a good post – my weakness isnt chocolate or sweet things, no my love is for cheese or salted nuts and savoury things. Like you say – weigh in, exercise and keep busy (I knit – you cant knit fuzzy yarn and chain-eat eat wotsits, the result is nasty), I also say learn to treat yourself – and not with food, stilI have a way to go yet at WW but this is the lightest I have been in years. I wish I had done this sooner but to be honest I was in no state to face my fears – therefore the time is now, so may as well crack on with it

    (PS thanks for the tips re my chewable lippy, I have been happily exploring Nars and the like with more exploring over the coming week)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. middleagedwarrior

      Ha!! I love the idea of you eating cheesy wotsits and knitting what a great idea! That would be an interesting garment. You’re right I keep beating myself up thinking why didn’t I do this earlier, but it’s silly – I obviously needed it to get through what I was going through then. Annoying though I should have smoked instead 😂

      Like

  2. Pingback: How I put my Diabetes into Remission with Diet and Exercise – Middle-Aged Warrior

  3. Pingback: 5 Foods that helped me stick to my Low Carb diet. – Middle-Aged Warrior

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