So there you are. It has been, say, four days where you’ve had a nice daily workout, your meals were on point, you water intake was fabulous. You are in the top of your world! Suddenly, out of nowhere, all that hard work gone. How? Binge eating! Does this sound familiar at all?
I can’t even tell you how many times this has happened to me. And once the binge eating starts, it has some sort of domino effectwhere not one piece fell out of place but everything that I have worked hard for is gone! I know that there’s at least one other person who is going “yup, that’s me right here!” while feeling bad about it. But why does it happen and how can we make it stop? Well, I first would like to clarify that I am not a certified doctor or psychiatrist to explain you down to the T what is up with it, but I am here to share my theory. You never know, I might make more sense that you expected…
The first thing that I have noticed when it happens to me is that I am bored. If it happens at work, is because I am working on a boring project that I really want to avoid, or that I think I shouldn’t be working on (let’s face it, many of us get stuck with someone else’s work at times). If I am at home, I might be having a “lazy day” (already a bad start, right?), and my stomach has convinced my mind that I am bored.
The Web defines “bored” as feeling weary because you are unoccupied or you lack interest in the current activity. At work sometimes I have to prepare welcome envelopes. Easiest job right? Well, printing, folding, stuffing envelopes, preparing labels and stacking the letters in a certain way is indeed an easy job, but IT IS SO BORING! I have no choice but to get it done because it needs to be done. On the other hand, our minds have been programmed with the idea that food makes us happy. “Don’t cry baby, I am sure next time your team will win. How about if we get ice cream to feel better?”
Does this sound familiar? Yes! We’ve heard it, we’ve said it, and we don’t even notice anymore how much we associate certain foods (ice cream, cake, cupcakes, a lollipop, dipped fried anything, a beer or a glass wine) with feeling better. Therefore, when I am folding letter # 50 out 300 and know I still have a lot more to do to, I get this “I-Want-To-Feel-Better” need which typically is associated with food as is one of the things I can easily access while I continue to do my job. So, I would start snacking on whatever is on my drawer, whether is good or bad, and there has been times when I just ran out of stuff to eat because I am not done with my job and the food is giving me the feeling I can power through. But, did you notice when I said I ran out of snacks? I probably ate my entire week worth of snacks, even though most are healthy, all within a short period of time.
The same way, on my days off, I try my absolute best to keep my family out of the house. Why? For two reasons:
- My kids (7 & 3 1/2) can easily become couch potatoes and just watch TV or play games in the computer ALL DAY! So I have to take them out on hikes, we ride bikes, walk to park and play, go bowling.
- I am one of these people who never can watch live TV. So if we have a weekend with no plans, sometimes I stay at home catching up with my DVR. I am talking marathon style TV. I have so many episodes to watch from a few shows I record because I do this like once a month. The kids are playing in the computer, I am on my bed catching up on shows. Suddenly, my body knows I am not being challenged enough while I sit there motionless so I grab a snack. And another one. And another one. And another one. And many more to the point I can feel I gained like 10 lbs while watching TV. So sad right? NO! I can definitely do something about that.
So you probably understand better some of the things that can make our mind and stomach feel bored. I mean you cannot longer walk down the street just enjoying the world. You NEED to have your phone with you, headphones on, Spotify (or whatever online radio you use) on, while checking on emails, texting, posting an update on FB, Twitter or replying to a comment on Instagram. Whatever the case might be, we have gotten used to multitask all the time. Which is why even though our bodies are physically occupied working or watching TV, we feel the urge to do something else in the meantime to satisfy the multitask needs we are growing up with. When we are doing something that is already not fully satisfying us or challenging us enough, we look for something to make us happy, and hello binge eating!! Makes a bit sense right?
Ok, so let’s recap: First, we associate food with feeling happy. Second, binge eating can be triggered by feeling bored. Third, because we have developed such advanced multitasking skills, we easily combine the need to feel better while doing a boring task with eating something that makes our tummies temporarily happy. So what can we do about it? Well, here come my choices to hopefully keep that binge eating under control or down to a minimum:
- Be prepared. Like I said, at work I have no choice but to prepare those letters every other week. Instead of spending an entire day driving myself crazy with it, I split the work throughout my week. It helps a little and is much easier to power through half hour at a time than a whole day of folding.
- Distract yourself a bit. I try to play my favorite music during the time I have to prepare letters that way my mood is better.
- Multitask in a good way. So when I am catching up with my novela, I am only like 30+ episodes behind, I usually watch 2 or 3 episodes at a time (Thank you Fast Forward!). I found myself eating more than I should have while watching TV so I started doing other things in the meantime. The school year is over, but I had volunteered to help the teacher grade homework, so I would “watch” the novela while grading (it was more so like listening to what was happening with a glance here and there). You can also try folding clothes during this time because someone has to fold the clothes!
- Drink water. Like I said a lot of times we are just bored. So our bored belly calls for food for happiness which can easily be confused with being hungry and start overeating to distract your mind, belly and mouth. Instead, try to drink some water. Is good for you plus ZERO calories. You can’t beat that!
- Get active. Whether at work or at home, the moment you find yourself starting to feel that urge or eating a bit more, stand up and walk around. Take a bathroom break, go out of the house and check on your puppies, do some squats while you watch TV. I’m sure you get it!
If it happens, because it will (Hi, I’m human!), don’t beat yourself down for it. Just try to remember what your goal is and explain your belly why you shouldn’t have one hundred pieces of chocolate even though you physically can do it. Don’t be harsh on yourself because it happened. I mean, I think my theory is pretty sound, and if this is truly the case binge eating is no different that burping in the sense that you kinda don’t want to (yuuw, gross!!) but your body needs it. Unlike the nasty burp example, you can retrain your body to satisfy your multitask needs in a different way. Good luck to us! I know is not easy, but I promise is totally possible to keep binge eating under control.