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  • Writer's pictureAndréa Lussing

Weight Loss and Binge Eating

Weight loss and binge eating go hand in hand- not as a physical correlation, but a mental one. The majority of people who binge eat also desire weight loss and have a goal to eat in a healthy and weight-loss promoting way. In many ways this is where the struggle of binge eating begins. To hold two desires at once creates mental and emotional conflict. You want to eat the pleasurable foods that you have a tendency to overeat on because they continue to be desirable to you, yet you also want to be someone who orders the salad as a side instead of the french fries and eats fruit and veggies as a snack. You want to be healthy, drop extra weight, feel good and eat health promoting foods, but you also deeply want the other stuff too- the stuff that would never be labeled as healthy in anyone's nutrition books. This separation of two groups of food, healthy (weight loss promoting) vs. unhealthy (weight gain promoting), perpetuates the 'good and bad' mentality of eating, the 'right and wrong', the 'on or off'. This differentiation intensifies guilt and shame and regret, especially after you've told yourself that this day/week would be one of only 'healthy foods' (been there). It's those negative feelings, the ones which feel so uncomfortable, which make you feel hopeless as to following any sort of plan you had, the ones that make you feel like a failure yet again around food, which often leads people to binge, simply to dull the vibration of those negative emotions, to get their fill of off-limit foods, and to start fresh again tomorrow with this day behind them.

Not only that, but turning to 'healthy' or weight-loss promoting foods usually comes with a deficit of calories which easily triggers survival instincts- think skipping meals, cleanses, planning your days for low calorie foods, compensating for last night's binge. Basically, if you're not actually getting enough energy on your 'healthy food plan' (regardless of what you ate the night before), your body will intensely crave what it knows to be a rich energy source- likely the exact foods you told yourself you don't want to eat anymore. Those cravings can be so intense that you'll find yourself ignoring any former desires for healthy food, and instead seek out the foods that are sure to satisfy your body's need for more energy.

If you don't eat enough, your body will find a way to acquire the calories it needs.

The topic of weight loss and binge eating is a tough one to speak about together because of their relationship to one another. Honouring the desire to find your right-sized body is welcomed, and in my perspective quite natural if you know that the way you currently eat doesn't line up with your values, but acting on the desire is counterproductive to ending binge eating. Eating to promote weight loss is essentially setting yourself up to binge.

In order to overcome binge eating, there must be a willingness to let go of control of your body and weight, and allow yourself to naturally explore your relationship with food and find which foods serve you and which ones don't, all while consciously reducing guilt, good/bad, and on/off thinking about your choices. Once binge eating has subsided and your focus is directed more and more at eating foods which support your physical, mental and emotional health, your right sized body will arrive. It may not be as fast as you initially wanted, and it may not be a certain number you had in your head, but it is absolutely possible to find a size and weight that feels effortless and comfortable for you.

My opinion about weight and body size is that whatever weight and size you find yourself at when you're eating foods that make you feel good and line up with your values, and you no longer binge eat, then that's the right size/weight for you. There is no diet or drastic measure that will sustainably get you there, there is simply hard work, mindfulness, curiosity, and a commitment to finding peace with food. A good coach helps too.


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