One way to tackle binge eating episodes (overeating)
Nowadays, many people experience indulgence in terms of eating which often leads to high food consumption. This can be considered an issue (food addiction/binge eating/overeating) if these episodes happen often. However, before one jumps into self-diagnosing, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional that would assess the case and then decide if this can be considered an official diagnosis.
Some specialists argue that overeating should not be classified as an addiction since addictions are usually caused by physiological processes and once one stops the ‘consumption’, withdrawal symptoms would arise. However, in overeating - this is not the case.
There is also a big proportion of people that suffer from unconscious overeating and do not realise they have indulged until they have finished. Thus, this article would give one possible solution that may help one stick to reasonable portions and feel satisfied (both emotionally and physically) after eating. This does not exclude the recommendation to see a specialist if you think you may have an issue with your portion control.
Mindful eating is a practice that helps one be in the present moment and observe the inputs to their senses. This is a good strategy for eating since it makes one think mindfully about the process, the food and the experience. This usually results in a slower eating process and makes one pay more attention to the body’s hunger and fullness cues. When consciously thinking about food, one is more likely to make informed decisions about the meal and not fall into the ‘overindulgence’ trap.
It should be noted that mindful eating is not as realistic as it sounds, especially for people with families, high-demanding a lot of distractions. That’s why the steps below are just to guide you through the journey of incorporating mindful eating into your daily lifestyle slowly and progressively. This is to set yourself up for success in mindfulness.
Have plenty of time for eating
This would allow you to chew food slowly; put your cutlery down in between bites. This lets your body catch up to your brain. It sends satiation signals approximately 20 minutes after the brain, which is why so many people overeat. Thus, slowing down is important to give yourself the chance to hear the signals.
Learn your body’s personal signalling pattern
This is way harder than it sounds but you can ask yourself whether you are responding to an emotional desire or you are actually in need of nutrition. Often, people tend to overeat as they consider food an ‘escape’ from stress, sadness, loneliness and other emotions. Try to ask yourself what you are feeling and if you think you are using eating as a coping mechanism - work on this.
Focus on the breathing process
With each breath you take, think about how your stomach expands. This engages the diaphragm which is linked to the nerves between the brain and the stomach. Research shows that this contributes to relaxation.
Remove any distractions
Such as phones, TVs, books, and phone calls. Instead, eat in peace. Multitasking during mealtime is definitely not a recipe for success because this prevents you from understanding your body’s signals for fullness and hunger. Try to isolate eating as an action and enjoy the company you are sharing your meal with.
Keep a food planner
This allows you to write details about your meals - what you feel, what foods taste like, the smell, textures and experiences. If you want to know more about planners, you can contact me to show you evidence-based health planners.
Do not worry if you don’t do this every day - just start somewhere and build gradually. The more mindfulness you include in your daily life, the better (this applies to every aspect of our lives, not only the eating process). Moreover, you can increase your self-awareness and think about any potential triggers that may make you want to consume more than you should. By identifying them, it becomes easier for you to create some space between them and your response which would potentially give you time to engage in mindful eating and distinguish between emotional and physical hunger.
If you would like to have this process with guidance, then it is better to contact a dietitian or mindfulness specialist. Mindful eating is definitely a powerful instrument that one can utilise to regain control over eating.