Do you overeat or binge when you come home from work? - Why this is such a common pattern and how to start shifting it

Green smoothie for breakfast, salad for lunch, and you managed to say no to the donuts someone brought in for work.  You’re feeling fantastic and oh-so disciplined.

But at the end of the day, you’re feeling tired and low-energy.  It was a pretty tough day where you were running around from commitment to commitment and you couldn’t wait for the day to end.  You’re willpower is weaker and you find yourself in your tired, groggy state, making your opening your apartment door. The first thing you’re thinking about is the Haagen-Daaz in your freezer.  “I’ll just have a little bit…” you say as you plop on the couch and turn on Netflix.  The first bite is delicious, so you have another… and another.   You put the container back in the fridge but soon find yourself going back and forth between the couch and the freezer to get more.  The food was so good as you began eating but at some point that inner voice starts to become mean and ugly. “I knew it… you’re so lazy… You’re such a failure… You’re going to be fat and ugly forever.  No one likes you…”  Then, you feel guilty and the guilt fuels the eating.  It continues and continues until you’ve finished the entire container.”

 

“What is wrong with me?” you might ask yourself.  “UGH, I blew it…”

 

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?  I know for myself and for my clients, it’s all too common.  If this describes you, I want you to know there is nothing wrong with you and it’s absolutely possible to start shifting the pattern.  The key to breaking free is in understanding what eating is doing for you in the moment so that you can meet the underlying need in a way that serves your health and wellbeing.

 Here are the most common reasons that people overeat and binge eat after work that I’ve seen from my client work:

Reason # 1: The Need for fuel

One thing to ask your self is “Am I eating enough nourishing meals during the day?”  So often, I see busy and hardworking men and women living off coffee and quick, processed snacks throughout the day, so that when they are finally home, their bodies are starving for fuel and nourishment.

“I was so good all day!!” they say.  But what this might mean is that they are skimping out on eating during the day and are famished by the end of the day…. and when we’re famished, what do we naturally want - the most fatty, oily, gratifying thing we can find.

How to meet this need: Make sure you’re eating enough during the day.  If you aren’t, you’re often more susceptible to overeating at night, which feeds a vicious cycle of waking up feeling bloated and perhaps telling yourself to “make up for the calories” by restricting your food the next day.

It might be helpful to plan and prep meals ahead of time and for a while focus on eating at regular intervals. Slowly, you’ll start to retrain your body to eat more during the day and move away from eating at night.

Getting enough protein can also be key to helping you feel satiated.  Instead of quick, processed foods, which digest quickly and can send your blood sugar on a roller coaster, bring in some lean protein and fiber into your meal to keep your blood sugar more balanced.

 Lastly, get in touch with your hunger again.  This key is huge for my clients who perhaps have learned to demonize their natural hunger cues and appetite.  Rather than relying solely on a diet or meal plan to tell you when and what to eat, get in touch with your body’s signals.  Instead of waiting until your famished, start eating when you’re feeling the first signs of hunger.  You’ll tend to make wiser choices at this time.

 

Reason #2: You’ve forgotten you’re a human “being” vs. a human “doing”; i.e. discomfort with transitioning between “work” & “home”

The transition period between being busy to having unstructured time can be uncomfortable for people so that they begin to fill it with food.  In our modern day society that values hard work, we often forget that we are human “beings” instead of human “doings.”  Eating after work therefore may be your default routine to help you transition from being busy to being at home.  Food may be a way for us to de-stress and relax after a long day.

How to meet this need: Start creating a new routine to transition between “work-mode” to “home-mode.”  One of my clients decided to shift her exercise routine to be after work instead of the morning, so that she could use it as a method to de-stress and transition.  Practices like meditation for example can also help you become more comfortable with just “being” rather than reacting and “doing” all the time.

Self-compassion and self-acceptance is key in this particular cause.  This might mean forgiving yourself for not accomplishing all you wanted to do today.  This also could be giving yourself credit for doing your very best.

  

Reason # 3: Need for a pick me up

You may be overeating after work or school simply as a way to fight the sensation of tiredness. After all, food has biochemical effects on our body and therefore can change our state.

How to meet this need: There are two options here. Option 1 is to surrender to the tiredness. For example, you may take a nap or go to bed early. You might want to assess what’s causing your tiredness in general. Are you sleeping enough hours for example? Are you getting regular exercise?

The second option is to learn to change your state without food. It’s counterintuitive but getting your blood flowing through exercise and movement may be what you need for an energetic boost. Take a 10 min brisk walk or put on some music and notice how your energy changes.

Reason # 4 Need for guaranteed pleasure and fun

Food often can signal a need for pleasure in our lives amongst the busy-ness of life.

I remember that for a time while I was working full-time at a desk job.  I was quite ate eating to cope with boredom.  I had outgrown the work and found myself going numb in order to cope with another long monotonous day.  There were days I would keep a full bar of dark chocolate at my desk and consume it fully to give me a sense of pleasure throughout the day.  This of course did not do bode well for my body, sending me on a sugar and caffeine high and crash later in the day.  

How to shift this:  Make maximizing fun and pleasure in your life more of a priority.  Many of us have guilt around doing this especially if we were told we always had to work hard and play later. In my particular experience, I had some beliefs that kept me feel stuck in my job. In working with my coach, I was able to shift these beliefs and transition into doing work I love, so that food no longer became my only sense of pleasure but became something to fuel me as I was doing work I love.

In the case of food, eating is and should be pleasurable!  The thing is when you’re actually hungry is the time that food is the most pleasurable. 

So if food is the only real sense of pleasure you get regularly during the week, it’s time to make fun and pleasure more of a priority in life both in the short-term and in the long-term. In the short-term, what other sorts of activities and experiences can you find pleasure?  Perhaps it’s dancing, sports, writing, or being with certain people you love. In the long-term, how are you spending your time and how energized are you by your work, your relationships, etc. If you’re using food to run away from the pain or stress, it may be time to look deeper at making a change to support your happiness.

Reason # 5: Need for attention/unconditional love

As social beings, we all have a need to feel valued by others and ourselves.  We all have a need for attention.  After all, have you ever met a little kid who didn’t want attention from others?  As children we learn what sorts of behaviors get us attention from our caregivers.  Many times, kids who feel like they can’t keep their parents’ attention will “act out” even if this means their parents will berate them.

I find that if we don’t give ourselves this love and attention, inevitably, we’ll try to meet this need in other ways that don’t serve us.  Abusing food and the subsequent self-abuse by beating ourselves up may be the only time we give ourselves attention.  It’s almost like our inner child is acting out so that we start to listen.  I think back to myself when I was in the worst of my binge eating.  I was so misaligned with myself and had shut down feelings that told me I wasn’t happy about certain aspects of my life. Also, due to my beliefs at the time, I felt I didn’t have a choice to change things.

In binging and in the aftermath where I would beat myself up, this inevitably became a time that I actually paid attention to myself, even if it meant saying harsh things to myself. Like my clients, I had perhaps believed in this way I was doing the best for myself - hoping that if I just beat myself up more and more, things would change.  But, time after time as I’ve seen for myself and for my clients, the overeating would continue where I’d feel terrible about myself and continue abusing food. 

How to shift this:  Start to give yourself the gift of presence and love.  Instead of beating yourself up, start to observe and be gentle with yourself.  A big part of this is learning to be with your emotions and the messages they have for you rather than using food to cover them up.

One key in the Food & Body-Love program is to learn to come from curiosity rather than judgment.  In this way we learn to observe ourselves as children who are learning and doing their best from the eyes of a loving and supportive.  Get curious about what the overeating my signal for you and know there is absolutely a reason for it even if it doesn’t make sense yet.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you begin to learn the need you are meeting with food, you can start to break free from pattern so you can make peace with food and your body.

If you are looking for support and are ready to find your freedom with food in the next few months, I want to let you know that the next Food & Body-Love Group Coaching Program will be starting in May 2019.  In this program, you’ll get the understanding of why you’re eating mindlessly/binge eating and the tools support to start breaking free from the yoyo-dieting and binge eating cycle. If you are interested, feel free to apply for a Breakthrough to Food Freedom Consult here.


 

 

Posted on March 18, 2019 .

A Brain Science Perspective on Binge Eating + How to Break Free from the Habit

I’m sitting her in a coffee shop where I just enjoyed some tea and a cupcake (gluten-free for me ;), having fully enjoyed experience of eating.  To think, in the past I feared cupcakes and would avoid them at all costs…

Flashback to 2013….I remember a particular morning I woke up, feeling bloated and disgusted with myself.  I had binged the night before going completely mindless with food. For me, binge eating started as an occasional occurrence in middle and high school, but once I started my first year of college, it had become an daily nightmare.  I was in my 4th year of college at the time, which had been incredibly stressful with the number of classes I was taking, trying to balance my extracurriculars and social life, and uncertainty about my future career.

I look back with compassion on the writings of my younger self.  I wish someone could have told her that overcoming binge eating wouldn’t always be a linear process.  There were some days I would learn a new concept or tool and do really well my eating.  “Yes!!! Finally!  I’d tell myself… this is the answer.”  Inevitably, the new “diet high” would wear off and I would be back to where I started.  Then I’d beat myself up and wonder if something was wrong with me or even binge to escape the sense of unworthiness I felt.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me to be gentle with myself.  After all, I was doing my very best.  I wish someone had told me that change and healing isn’t always linear.  At the time, I think it’s something I understood theoretically but didn’t fully embody especially having come from a culture and expectation of “Straight  A’s” all the time.

So let me tell you this, if you struggle with the dieting-binge eating-repeat cycle, there is nothing wrong with you.  You just need a better understanding of yourself and your biology.

Do you reach for food under stress? - Four Keys to Retrain this Habit

Here’s the thing - there will always be stress in our lives.  Change inherently causes stress, even if that change is something positive, such as get a new job or going on a date with someone new.  So it’s important to start developing other methods and strategies to handle it better.

Are you someone who turns to food under stress?  If you want to start shifting this pattern, I recommend to start making peace with your emotions and finding other ways to manage them.  Here are 4 keys to break the stress eating habit.

7 Steps to Bounce Back Quickly from a Binge (or When you've Overdone it with Food)

If you’re a human on planet Earth, you’ll encounter food.... and if you encounter food, chances are you’ll have instances where you overeat from time to time.  Even “normal” eaters who wouldn’t say they struggle with food have had instances of overdoing it, perhaps after Thanksgiving holiday or a vacation. However, for people who struggle with dieting and binge eating, a single instance of overeating can send us into a spiral of guilt and shame that leads us to to further binging.

If you’re a dieter (or someone following more rule-based eating), you know exactly what I’m talking about.  This happens when you break your rule and because you do that, you figure you might as well keep eating and wait until tomorrow (...or Monday) to start again.  This is a phenomenon that Josie Spinardi coined as “Eating ‘coz you ate.”

We have to start accepting our “humanity” and recognize that from time to time we’re going to make “mistakes.”  We won’t do things perfectly and instead of punishing ourselves, we can create a new habit that helps us turn binges/slip ups into opportunities.

So how can you being to do this?  Here are the 7 Essential steps to Bounce Back Quickly from a Binge (or When you Overdo it with Food)

Step 1: As as you recognize a “slip up,” hit the PAUSE button right away.

I remember when I struggled with binge eating myself that oftentimes it would start with a single cookie.  I had done well all week but then a single cookie would turn into a sleeve of cookies, which would turn into a day of binging… then weeks.  For many of my clients, the pattern of binge eating started in a single instance where when their willpower was low and sadly spiraled into months or even years of binge eating.

So as soon as you recognize you’ve slipped up, take a pause.  Take a breath. Go for a walk… anything to get yourself out of the zoned out binge eating state back to where you feel calm and safe.

It may be helpful to find a place in your house or an activity that helps you to pause.  For example, if you would never binge in the bathroom, go to the bathroom for a couple minutes to let yourself breath.  Or you might want to consider going for a walk, getting out of the house to help you reset.

Step 2: Forgive yourself

“I feel so disgusted with myself when I overindulge,” one of my clients recently told me.  “Why can’t I have more self-control?”

I really felt for her as she shared this with me because I too have felt this way in the past.   But one mistake I see people make is beating themselves up and feeling so guilty about their mistake that these low feelings cause them to eat even more.

If this is something you struggle with, I invite you start developing a practice of forgiveness self-compassion.   One way I like to have my clients do this is to recite Hawaiian Hoʻoponopono prayer to themselves: “I Love You, I'm Sorry, Please Forgive Me, Thank You.”   It’s simple yet incredibly powerful. It encourages us to take responsibility for the situation but also let go of what you cannot control.  Recognize that as a human being, given the circumstances, your beliefs, and perceptions up this moment, you’re really doing the best you can at every moment.

Step 3: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

When you’re feeling bloated and stuffed, taking in any other food or liquids may be the last thing you’re thinking about.  However, if you’ve overdone it with food or perhaps drank the day before, then hydrating can help ease the hangover and help support your digestion.  Drinking enough water can also prevent dehydration which some people can often confuse with hunger.


Step 4: Get some **gentle** exercise

Notice the emphasis on **gentle**.  In this case, your mindset around exercise makes a BIG difference.  Please watch out for the tendency to “make up for the calories” after you overeat.  I remember back in my dieting and binge eating days, I would run intensely the day after anytime I overdid it.  This practice got me to associate exercise with punishment and then that continued mental stress would often cause me to binge again!


Forgive yourself right away and get moving to aid your digestion.  Do some yoga, go for a walk, or if you do enjoy the act of running, do so from the act of caring for your body.  Whatever you choose, come from the perspective of easing, soothing, and caring for yourself.



Step 5: Don’t starve yourself.  Do wait until you’re hungry again to eat

A big mistake I see many people make is restricting and starving themselves all day to “make up for a binge” but when they’re feeling famished, the inevitable happens where they binge once again.  This often gets people stuck in the pattern of nighttime binge eating.


So please, EAT!  It may take a bit longer to get hungry again (perhaps 6-7 hours) but when you notice the first sensations of hunger, let yourself eat!  It may also be helpful to incorporate a bit more protein (for most people this will be 1 palmful size of protein) at each meal to help you feel more satiated.



Step 6: Get curious

As shared earlier, beating yourself up NEVER in my experience has led to people healing their relationships with food.    A slip up can send us down a shame spiral where we start to tell ourselves a story that we’re wrong, broken, or undisciplined.  One of the big keys in the Food & Body-Love Group Coaching Program is to come from the perspective of the “Observer.” Put on your detective hat on and see what you can learn from the occurrence.

  • Why did the binge happen? - For example: Were you tired?  Were you starving and that cookie was the only thing available to eat?  Were you stressed?

  • What can you learn from this occurrence that you can change and improve for next time?


Step 7: Get support

"If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.

- Brene Brown

I used to pride myself on being independent and being a lone wolf but looking back I realized this came from a place of fear and insecurity that others would judge me as broken, weak, and needy.  Let me tell you this… if you struggle with food at all, you are not broken, you are not weak, and it takes courage and bravery to ask for help when you need it. When I started working as a coach, I was surprised to learn how many people who I interacted with daily also struggled with food and would have benefited had we known we could support each other. Let me emphasize the “right” kind of support. You want to look for the people will love and accept you exactly as you are, not the people who will shame you or judge you.


So who can you add to your team to support you as you continue to grow in learn in this process?

When I struggled with binge eating, I told just a couple of friends I could trust. It was good to be supported. However, it wasn’t until I got support from coach with the tools and who could also challenge me to be accountable to myself that I was able to release the shame and guilt and could live free from dieting and binge eating.

In the Food & Body-Love Group Coaching Group Program and in 1-1 coaching, having the right kind of support is a big key to my clients finding food freedom.  Together, we work on breaking the habits that keep you stuck in the cycle of dieting and binge eating and also give you the safe space to process and learn from your experiences..  If you are looking for additional support and would like to learn more, I recommend applying for a complimentary Jumpstart to Food Freedom Session ($250 value) here so we can chat further. In this session, we’d spend 30-50 min getting clear on where you are, where you want to be, and I’ll give you some personalized recommendations on how to get started.

When it comes any pursuit, whether that be healing your relationship with food, starting a business, or getting into shape, we have to start accepting there will be times when things don’t go as we’d like.  I invite you to start developing a habit of self-compassion, forgiveness, and resiliency so you can bounce back no matter what the challenge!

Lastly, I’d love to hear what tips were most useful for you and your biggest insights.  Would you comment below and/or share this article with someone who might benefit?

Stay well, eat well, and savor all that life has to offer you because life is simply too short not to!

Above all, love,

Keia


Posted on February 20, 2019 .

3 Ways to Fall More in Love with Yourself on this Valentine's Day

So whatever your relationship status, I invite you to use this Valentine’s Day to prioritize the most important relationship of all, your relationship with yourself! After all, even if you are in a relationship or not yet in a relationship and looking for one, you will still always have your relationship to yourself that will serve the basis of how you connect to and relate with others. Make today a day to practice self-love.

So how do you do this? Here are 3 practical ideas on how you can show yourself love today: