About six weeks ago a friend invited me to join a group health challenge. There were 12 women who all paid money to join and the top three contestants with the highest score at the end won prizes. I will spare you the details of the competition rules but I will share with you what I learned during the last 6 weeks.
If you’re curious, I got 3rd place. I’m competitive and told all my friends that I was going to win. I egged on other competitors just to see them get worked up about it. Prior to the 6 weeks, I had already been consistently drinking 10-12 cups of water, eating 2.5 cups of vegetables, and I had just started working on my sweet addiction. I knew that I had a fighting chance since I had been working on improving my health already.
Little did I know the demon living inside me called “binge.”
During the challenge we were allowed one treat per week. Without much guidance after that, it left my mind reeling at the possibilities and restrictions all at the same time. Questions poured through my brain constantly as I tried to navigate in order to win. "So does whipped cream on a bowl of strawberries count as a treat?" Is a large bowl of ice cream count as a treat or is it one bite of ice cream? I started making excuses and labeling food as "treat" "not treat." I even planned a week in the middle when I was going to purposefully take a hit on points and eat as many treats as I wanted. I ate so much in anticipation of the following week not being able to eat them again. It was HORRIBLE and I knew it.
I have never binged in the past. I know what it is and that it's something to avoid. I know… I know… I KNOW!!! That’s exactly what I told myself while I ate 2 cartons of ice cream, 2 batches of cookies and other things I can’t even remember. The fact that I can’t remember is sad but true, and a testimony to how much I enjoyed eating them. NOT MUCH!!! I ate because I could, not because i was hungry or even liked the treat offered. I ate because the challenge was over and I had been “deprived” for 6 weeks. I even woke up the morning after the challenge and ate cookies for breakfast. It made me feel sick but that didn’t stop my spiral down, down, down into sweet oblivion. What a mess. What a monster that bingeing is.
I can see how it easily binging can turn into a huge mess and continue if left unchecked. Feeling guilty for eating large amounts of “bad” food, depriving yourself of said “bad” food to get back on track, then throwing in the towel when you mess up and start the cycle all over again.
So what am I going to do about it???
Call in my support team and do some inner searching. What do I really want? Do I really want ice cream, or would i rather have a piece of dark chocolate. Focus on foods that make me feel good. If I’m not enjoying every bite and it makes me feel sick (like the cookie for breakfast) then I’m going to stop eating it and find something else that is good for my body.
I’m going to make a plan and stock my fridge with the most delicious food (like the bowl of fresh strawberries and blueberries I ate after lunch).
It’s not the challenge’s fault for throwing me into binge mode but it apparently is a trigger for me. Depriving myself and hyper-focusing on what I CAN’T have is detrimental to my wellbeing. I have cut back on sweets before in my life and it didn’t cause a binge after or during. I just chose NOT to buy ice cream at the store, and chose NOT to make cookies 2 times per week. I just plain didn’t buy foods that weren’t in line with my best health. I didn’t focus on "bad" or "good" foods. I just chose food that I knew was healthy and would make me feel and look my best. It may sound like the same thing to some people, but in my mind it feels different. Our minds are powerful tools and if they aren’t convinced then it’s not going to happen.
I’m regaining inner strength, learning from my bump in the road and moving toward my goal of a better me. I also just checked out a book at the library by a well know Registered Dietitian called "The Mindful Diet." Since I'm needing a mind reset, I thought it was high time I read this book that I've heard so much about. Stay tuned for my review of the book when I'm done reading.