AFTER THE BINGE
You ate -- and ate and ate. Now what?
It felt like you were doing so well. For days you had been in
control of your food and you had even started adding some physical
movement into your routine. Now you've gone and done this. Maybe you were all
alone and ate the entire tub of ice cream. Or you found
yourself in the kitchen consuming a jar of frosting and a tube of
un-baked cookie dough.
Whatever the circumstances, you indulged in a binge. Now you're
likely feeling a range of emotions: guilt for having eaten so much
food, anger for having lost control of your eating, and depressed over
feeling so uncomfortably full. You may feel hopeless and despairing
because of falling once again into an old, familiar pattern. Before
you sink into self-defeat, here's an encouraging scientific nutrition
fact: Even the biggest binge won't add fat to your body. Adding body
fat requires that you continue overeating over a period of time. An
isolated binge will not have an effect on your body fat stores.
With this thought in mind, here are some guidelines to putting a
binge behind you and getting back on track.
DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP ABOUT WHAT JUST HAPPENED
Abusing yourself will NOT help pull you out of this. Instead take
the time to learn something from your experience. A binge may be
related to a variety of factors including:
Being in a semi-starved state
Restricted intake (i.e. "good" food vs "bad" food)
Sense of deprivation
Low blood sugar levels
Too few vegetables and fruits (lack of fiber)
Inadequate protein intake
Excessive processed carbohydrates
Coping mechanism for stress (boredom, anger, sadness, etc.)
Explore the issues that triggered your binge. If binges are a
common experience, you might consider keeping a binge journal. In
this journal, gather information surrounding your binge. Ask
questions such as, "What am I feeling and thinking right now? Is this
hunger? What do I need to soothe myself? How can I help myself
through this?" Begin using your information to construct strategies on
how to stop a binge before it starts.
DEVELOP SOOTHING STRATEGIES
If your binges are a coping strategy for emotional stress, develop
several potential alternative soothing techniques. Have these
possible methods readily accessible. Consider the following
Acknowledge the strength to bear this moment is already with you.
You might find that a particular quote, passage from a book, painting, or
piece of music may soothe you.
Journal. Give voice to the thoughts and feelings inside of you. Read it out
loud. Allow yourself to listen to your true hunger.
Encourage yourself. When you're feeling good, get yourself a pack of index
cards. On these cards begin writing self-truths. Before a binge, read them over
and over: "I can stand this moment. Food will not help me feel better. This
feeling will pass. I'll live through this. I always do the best I can."
Listen to an educational, inspirational, or relaxation tape.
Call a friend, or learn to meditate.
HIDE YOUR SCALE
Resist the self-defeating urge to weigh yourself after a binge.
Decide in advance how often you wish to weigh yourself (if at all).
If weighing yourself once a week works, stick to that routine and
track the results.
VANQUISH THE BLOAT
Since you are most likely retaining water and feeling bloated, it's
time to shed some of that water. Carrying the excess water will only
make it easier to fall into the "I'm fat" trap. For today, pass up on
high-salt foods like frozen dinners, fast food, canned soups and other
canned foods, and many cereals. Drink lots of fresh water throughout
EAT REGULAR MEALS
A tendency after a binge is to restrict meals and food the next day.
This strategy is counter productive and may lead to yet another
binge. Eating regular meals will keep you from getting excessively
hungry. This will decrease the desire and tendency to binge. Decide
to eat at least three meals today. It's understandable that you may
not be hungry at breakfast time. If this is the case, you may decide
to hold off eating for a couple of hours. Drink a glass of low sodium
V8 to start your day off to a good start.
Include high quality protein sources with each of your meals. You
might experiment with about 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal (see
below for examples). Protein will help your body shed water. Also,
choose plenty of high fiber vegetables to keep you full, while
minimizing your calories.
Choose 20-30 grams of protein per meal from fish, poultry, tofu,
lean meat, eggs, or low-fat cheese. Eat at least three meals per
3 egg whites (10 grams Pro) plus 1 cup of milk (10 grams Pro)
3 oz low sodium, water packed tuna (26 grams Pro)
2/3 cup or 5 ounces low-fat cottage cheese (20 grams Pro)
1 cup beans (14 grams Pro) plus 1 oz low fat cheddar cheese (7 grams Pro)
3 to 4 ounces of lean meat, fish or poultry (26 grams Pro)
5 ounce piece of firm tofu (20 grams Pro)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (9 grams Pro)
plus 1 cup yogurt (10 grams Pro)
1 Green Giant Harvest or Boca Brand burger (18 grams Pro)
SAMPLE DAY-AFTER MEAL PLAN
The following is an illustration of a higher protein, higher fiber,
lower sodium day after a binge meal plan. My suggestion is to use it
only as an guide to help develop your individualized "day-after the
binge" diet plan. Take some time and pre-plan a one day strategy to
help you regain control.
If you're still stuffed from the night before,
try a glass of low-sodium V8
or concoct your own vegetable drink.
If you are hungry
(or a couple of hours after your V8):
1 cooked egg white
piece of whole fruit
1 cup cooked plain oatmeal cooked with skim milk
16 oz of water
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt
or high protein shake
8 oz water
1 to 2 cups dark green salad
a variety of fresh vegetables
cup low-sodium canned beans
3 oz low-sodium water packed tuna
small amount of nuts or seeds
2 tablespoons non-fat salad dressing
16 oz water
1 slice whole wheat bread
1 tablespoon peanut butter
8 oz water
3-4 oz lean fish, meat, poultry, of tofu
1 cup cooked broccoli
1 or 2 cookies
16 oz water
Piece of fruit
1 cup skim milk
Nutritional Analysis For The Day:
114 grams protein
31 grams fat
196 grams carbohydrates
30 grams fiber
1600 mg sodium
My worth as a person is not diminished in any way
by my eating patterns.
I am finished blaming others, situations, and myself for the way
I eat. I will take action immediately to re-establish
control of my eating patterns.
I will take care of my body as a loving mother takes care of her
child. I love myself unconditionally.
Submitted by Annette Colby, PhD, RD who can be reached by email at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or visited on the web at:
Copyright 2000, Dr. Annette Colby, all rights reserved