I get A LOT of e-mails about bingeing, asking me what my meal plan is like, how I break up my calories throughout the day, etc.
These are pretty difficult to answer because I think the responses should vary for everyone. My meal plan is not going to be the same as what a 50 year old woman should have. My body is different from every single other body in the entire world and it is that way for every one of you as well. There is no “one size fits all” in the food and nutrition world.
But with this in mind, I do have some thoughts on these inquisitions that might be of help.
Today, I specifically wanted to talk about bingeing.
This is a really hard topic for me to discuss because my perception of a binge might be a little skewed. I once wrote a post about a time I thought I “binged” and what the result of those feelings were, a few months ago, but since that time my feelings on the matter have changed.
The morning I discussed was a much larger, unmeasured breakfast, which was something completely out of my comfort zone. But what I failed to consider was that at the period of my life my body was running nearly 50 miles a week, strength training occasionally, and being pretty active since I worked at a restaurant and my husband and I enjoy the outdoors. Taking all those things into account, I probably needed around 3000 calories a day to optimally function. Not to mention I was on vacation and having some “splurge” meals is perfectly acceptable! Encouraged even!
So now that my mind is a bit less distorted (remember I told you nutrition does wonders!) and because I did a bit of research, bingeing has taken on a new meaning.
I used to think eating two bowls of Frosted Mini Wheat constituted a binge, but when I looked up a clinical definition it provided a time frame; specifically consuming thousands of calories of food within a two hour period.
I don’t necessarily agree with this. I know many people who struggle with disordered eating who will literally go ALL day without eating. And at night their bodies are SO hungry they will consume their entire day’s worth or caloric needs, in one sitting.
I know people who do not have an eating disorder who sometimes do this as well (my dad for example used to be so busy all day, eat practically nothing and then go to dinner, order the biggest steak on the menu, a few side items and eat them all himself).
This may not be the healthiest way for someone to eat, but his dinner was not a binge. It was his body saying, “OK, now that you have slowed down you are so hungry and need to EAT!”
Bingeing is more characterized by feelings and intent behind the behavior, rather than the amount consumed; at least in my opinion.
Sometimes I think, especially with those who make it a habit to restrict their intake, bingeing is a natural response; our biological way of saying “I am starving, please feed me now.”
Our bodies are smart and made for survival (please see the Key’s Study for more proof on this!) but they really can only withstand a deficit of nutrition for so long. Eventually when they are finally permitted, or given food, they no longer trust that this will be a regular occurrence and eat to “stock up” (remember when I told you about the re-feeding belly?!) So unless you are consuming box after box of cookies because you are trying to punish yourself or mask emotions that are too challenging to actually face and deal with, you might not be bingeing.
Please do not think I am diminishing episodes that you consider a binge, because honestly, there are still times where I eat an abnormally (for me) large amount in one meal or snack, and I have trouble dealing with the repercussions of my action; shame, guilt, embarrassment because I feel like I lost control, a lot of unnecessary self-loathing.
Those who restrict, or once restricted will often have these thoughts after any amount because it is pretty unfamiliar to eat “normally” or adequately for daily needs, but I can assure you, practice helps the process.
The negative thoughts will not completely go away (at least they have not yet for me) but they do weaken a bit as the journey moves forward.
If you want to read further on this topic, check out this article. It was seriously enlightening and helped me shape a more “healthy” outlook on my intense bouts of hunger I experience in recovery.
Just know that it is totally normal, acceptable and understandable, but support is essential to get through these periods in a recovery-based manner. As cheesy as this sounds, it wouldn’t hurt to pull out that old box of positive coping skills if you feel that you just experienced a binge. Trust me, they can be a great help.
I hope what I said may be of some assistance to any question or confusion you may have on bingeing. It really is a difficult topic to tackle because there are so many emotions, distortions and stigmas that surround the behavior. There is nothing wrong with you if you have engaged in this action. Trust me, its pretty common, but I know from experience how it feels, and how triggering it can be in the moment.
If you have and addition questions please e-mail me anytime. I will definitely be addressing meal planning and caloric distribution at another time. These things are essential for recovery and even though I am no expert by any means, perhaps the last few years have given me some insight that you may find resourceful.
Have an awesome Tuesday and like I said, shoot me a message, any time 🙂
P.S. If you think Bingeing is only somewhat acceptable for underweight individuals, think again. See this article for reasons why even those who are weight restored can sometimes experience an “over-indulgence.”