For so many of my clients, it is the dirtiest word imaginable. Binge eating can be a truly scary experience, and for many, it becomes larger than life.
Food takes over. You eat more than you think you should. You eat until you feel sickly full. And you feel cannot control it. The food quite literally takes over your mind and body.
I believe binge eating has become an epidemic. Every second client in my clinic feels they binge.
It can happen due to stress, anger and even happiness. And in my opinion, it happens from having a complicated relationship with food – as well as not feeling good enough. You binge on food to fill those feelings of overwhelm.
The guilt, the anxiety and the self-loathing begin.
And it happens again out of guilt and anger at yourself.
A horribly vicious cycle.
So why do binges happen? In my opinion as a nutritionist:
Because of the two D words: DIET and DEPRIVATION.
I used to binge because I would diet and deprive myself. I feared food.
It took a lot of time and work, but now I can honestly say I have not binged for years! Once I truly healed my relationship with myself and, in turn, with food, I don’t get the same urges to binge. My current way of eating and my lifestyle actually protect me.
You see, I’ve found that as long-term dieters, people class food as “good” or “bad.” You don’t see food as a source of nourishment; instead you fear foods and obsess over it. And you deprive yourself – you deny yourself the foods you love or crave.
Eventually, it all becomes too much. The deprivation becomes too difficult. And this, of course, usually turns into overeating or binge eating.
If you are a fad dieter, you are used to eating low calorie and low fat artificial “foods.” These food-like products leave you feeling very unsatisfied nutritionally; and often artificial sweeteners in these foods brings on even more intense cravings! So what can you do to get out of this excruciating cycle?
1. Let go of diets and deprivation. You have to give yourself PERMISSION to eat your favorite foods, with joy. Incorporate healthy foods – you’ll quickly learn to enjoy them because they nourish and protect your body. Your body deserves this respect. Become a conscious eater – eat what you wish, but remember moderation.
2. Forgive yourself. Let go of what you ate yesterday or last weekend – today is another day and your body can handle an imperfect day! Trust your body will break the food down, and then get back onto your journey of healing
3. Tune into your appetite. And eat when you are hungry! Don’t let your mean girl shut down the hunger signals. Eat. I always have something in my bag just in case I get hungry when I am out. It’s a little trick that brings peace of mind. You need to feel you always have access to food in the beginning.
4. Remember that food is abundant. Clients often tell me they fear there is not enough food at meals. Perhaps as a child their mom didn’t cook enough at dinner time, or because they deprived themselves for so long they fear food is scarce. Remember you can always have more later or tomorrow – you can! Keep some for tomorrow instead of eating the whole thing now. Food is abundant. We live in a world where food is everywhere! The body can’t handle too much food at once. Have some now and have some later. See, dieters tell themselves they can’t have it later or tomorrow – because “starting tomorrow I am going to be good – I am not going to touch one unhealthy thing.” The pressure that comes with that statement eventually leads to a binge.
5. Remember you are good enough. For many, it helps to see a counselor to remind yourself of this or to figure out what you don’t believe you are. You need to make peace with yourself in order to have a peaceful relationship with food. My e-book, The Clean Life, goes into great deal about how to do this – be sure to give it a read!
6. Food is food. Why do we give it so much power? Food shouldn’t be such a complex thing in our lives. Food is here to keep us alive and well – that’s it. It’s not there to comfort us or fill in emotional gaps. We give it too much emotional power.
7. Plan ahead. And snack in between meals – this really helped me. I always have access to healthy snacks whether I am at home or out. And I will plan ahead as best as I can the night before so I have a rough idea of where I’ll be able to access healthy meals if I am out. Or perhaps I need to pack my own healthy meals. If I am at work meetings, I’ll ensure I have raw nuts in my bag in case I don’t have a healthy café nearby.
8. Don’t eat the moment you get home. You are stressed and frantic. You need to take 10 minutes to shower, breathe, put your phone down, get into comfy clothes and then proceed to the kitchen – in a calm state. It’s a good idea to pre-plan what you will eat before you go to the kitchen. Think about what it is you truly feel like, put it onto a plate and eat it with total mindfulness.
9. Sit down when you eat. Never ever eat when standing, on the phone, in front of the TV, or in front of the fridge. This is my golden rule. You will over eat if you do because you are not being conscious of what you are putting into your body. Sit down with every meal. Always put your food on a plate.
10. Make each meal pleasurable. Get satisfaction out of your food! I get so excited about preparing my meals. I make them pretty and colourful. I sit down calmly and enjoy each mouthful. I usually make a positive blessing before I eat – “Thank you for this nutritional food. This food is going to nourish my body.” It creates a peaceful feeling when eating, and I feel satisfied after the meal. I don’t feel like eating more. I eat what I want and say no to food I don’t like. Sometimes you may feel like a bit of a food snob, but that’s okay. Eat the foods you actually love. This will come as you begin to heal your relationship with food.
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!