How to be healthy without obsessing this Christmas

How to be healthy without obsessing this Christmas

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How to be Healthy Without Obsessing this Christmas

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

12th December 2018

It’s been a busy year. You’re exhausted and you’re ready to take a well-deserved break.

But you’re also feeling slightly anxious about the upcoming festivities – mainly because being merry often involves eating and drinking. Perhaps you are worried this could “undo” the progress you’ve made this year in your nutrition journey.  

But fear not. I’ve compiled my favourite tips and strategies to help you enjoy the holiday period (and all other times of the year!) without being concerned with weight or “out of control” eating behaviours.  

Tip #1 – Make the buffet your friend 

Buffets can be extremely overwhelming and cause much anxiety when it comes time to filling up a plate. With so much choice and food available it’s hard to know where to begin. What should I have? Should I have sweet or savoury? How much of each thing should I have? Can I go back for seconds?  

What can you do if you find yourself feeling anxious?  

Give yourself permission to eat all foods. All of the dishes that are presented on the buffet tables are there for you to enjoy – in as much or as little quantities as you desire. The food does not control you, but rather, trust yourself that you can figure out exactly what food you need that will truly satisfy you. 

But how? 

  • First, pick up a plate and wander around the buffet.  
  • Ask yourself “what looks good and what do I really feel like now?”  
  • Prioritise what you would like to REALLY eat now.  

Go for fewer options to have quality, rather than a little bit of everything. This can lead to a very full plate filled with foods that you may not really feel like eating. Being mindful in this way will help you to choose something that will truly satisfy you. This will help avoid any deprivation, which we know can lead to binge eating and guilt later on.  

A few things to remember when you’re doing this exercise: 

  • The food that you see will be there tomorrow. 
  • The food that you think you might crave later can be bought later. 
  • If you’re still hungry after your first plate, you can go get more food!  

“Choose something that will truly satisfy you and avoid any deprivation, which we know can lead to binge eating and guilt later on.

Tip #2  You can have great time with or without tipples 

There can be a lot of pressure at holiday events to always have a drink in your hand. You are your own person and you can make your own decision about what and when you would like to drink. If you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps make a plan about which events you’d like to have alcohol at and which ones you don’t. Having a strategy over the festive period could mean fewer sore heads in the morning and happier holidays!  

What can you do at the events to manage how much alcohol you drink?  

Alcohol can be a tricky one, and when you’ve had a few drinks, listening to your intuition and tuning into your hunger tends to be a little more difficult. This is something to be mindful of. 

If you would like to drink more consciously, here are some things to consider. Before you head out, perhaps have something to drink before you leave the house to quench your thirst. This may prevent you turning up to an event thirsty and dehydrated which could lead to less conscious drink choices.  

Once you’re there, try to tap into your body signals to figure out what it is that you’d really like to drink. Similar to when we eat mindfully, ask yourself what is it that will truly satisfy you right then and there. If it’s a non-alcoholic drink, then choose that!  

If you’re not sure about what to have, have a glass of water while you decide. If you enjoy a cheeky cocktail, then go get it! But then don’t feel pressured to have multiple cocktails one after the other. Feel free to have a soft drink in between. 

Tip #3 – Don’t let people drag you into negative diet talk  

We know we live in a world that is obsessed with weight and the latest fad diet that promises to “improve health”. Well I’m here to tell you that diets do not work for the majority – whether it’s in the form of a fast, a cleanse, a wrap or a clean eating lifestyle change.  

All of these diets need to be given the flick because robust evidence shows that at least 80% of the population who diet cannot sustain long term weight loss (1,2).

Why? Because our bodies are biologically driven to hold onto fat stores and slow down metabolism any time we deprive ourselves or restrict food. No wonder we have such intense cravings and end up binge eating when we diet! And not only that, dieting leads to poor selfesteem, disordered eating, loss of hunger/fullness cues, rebound weight gain, slowed metabolism, preoccupation with food … need I go on? Dieting needs to be voted off the island. Pronto. 

So what can you do if you find yourself in a circle where negative diet culture or body shape/size is the topic of conversation?  

You can either remove yourself entirely from the conversation or if you’re feeling bold you could suggest “I am sure we have more interesting things to talk about other than weight loss… Carole, how’s [insert interesting topic here].” And if that doesn’t stop the diet talk, remove yourself from the conversation. You do not have to engage in diet or negative body image talk!  

Hopefully these tips help you stay on track with your body positive and intuitive eating journeys through the festive season. (For more in depth information about intuitive eating, feel free to have a read of this article which goes through fundamentals of this mindful practice). Just remember, there is no such thing as eating or drinking perfectly and it’s normal to feel as though you’re going “off track”.  

Use this time to reflect on how far you’ve come and celebrate your wins. Trust in yourself that you have the control and wisdom to know exactly what your body needs at this time of year. Honour your internal cues. You hold the key to knowing what your body truly needs to be nourished and satisfied.  

I hope you have a wonderful festive season and spend this time doing the things that make you happy with the people you love most. 

If you need a little something to help you through this Christmas period without getting sucked into diets, diet talk and obsessing with food and your weight, check out my FREE download. This will guide you through how to start intuitive eating to help resolve your food problems.

References: 

  1. Ikeda J, Amy NK, Ernsberger P, et al. The National Weight Loss Control Registry: a critique. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour. 2005;37(4):203-205.
  2. Anderson, James W., et al. “Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies–.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74.5 (2001): 579-584.

What is Intuitive Eating?

What is Intuitive Eating?

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What is Intuitive Eating?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

10th December 2018

Whether it’s a detox, counting calories, fasting or “healthy eating” where you only consume “clean” fruit and vegetables, it is well established that restrictive eating (aka dieting) does more harm than good.

Dieting and restriction for the purposes of weight loss, doesn’t work for the majority. 

Robust studies show that restrictive eating can increase disordered eating, make us gain weight, binge eat, become totally preoccupied with food, lower our selfesteem and decrease our overall mental health (1). You will likely have experienced some of these yourself.

So why do we do it?  

Because we live in a world where it is considered normal to diet and pursue weight loss to be healthier and better. Stopping dieting can be hard, but I promise that there is a way you can stop … and that is through Intuitive Eating.  

So you’ve heard about this Intuitive Eating … but what is it really?  

Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It does not pursue weight loss and it does not control or restrict food intake. It’s an approach to help you get out of your head, and more into your body, removing the should / shouldn’t voices that constantly sit on your shoulders.  

Intuitive Eating includes mindful eating practicewhere we eat in a ‘present’ state, free from distraction. That means putting away our phones and laptops, which can be hard I know! By fully tuning in to what we’re eating means we can listen to our hunger and fullness cues which is another important part of this practice.  

This practice is also about honouring our body’s physical and psychological needsAsk yourself, what do I really want to eat NOW? If you feel like a slice of cake, eat the cake. If you feel like a Caeser salad, order the salad. By honouring your body’s needs and not depriving yourself of the thing you really want to eat means you’re more likely to feel satisfied! Hurrah.    

Finally, this practice is about taking weight out of the equation and allowing our body to settle at its natural weight once eating patterns normalise. This practice is all about learning how to enjoy food and feel satisfied, and therefore decrease binge eating and increase our overall health and wellbeing.  

Some 70 published studies have confirmed that many psychological and physiological benefits can arise through this practice (2). As such, Intuitive Eating has become a buzz term in the social media world as many people discover it can help stop dieting and reduce binge eating episodes. But sadly, it has been misinterpreted by some as being yet another potential tool for weight loss, which it is NOT. 

“Intuitive Eating is not a diet. It does not pursue weight loss and it does not control or restrict food intake.”

So how do you actually do this?  

Developed by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995, Intuitive Eating is evidence-based with 10 principles underpinning it (3). The principles and how you can get started include: 

1. Reject the Diet Mentality  

Unfollow any social media accounts that promote weight loss and push unrealistic body standards. Toss out diet plans, magazines and books that once graced your bookshelf. It’s time to break up with diet culture for good so you can allow Intuitive Eating to become part of your life.  

2. Honour Your Hunger 

Nourish your body with the right amount of energy to avoid going into starvation mode. Allowing yourself to become excessively hungry triggers a natural intense desire to eat, often leading to unintended binge eating. Try not to skip meals or have long gaps in between eating which can leave you feeling ravenous! 

3. Make Peace with Food 

Give yourself permission to eat ALL food! No single food is going to make you healthy or unhealthy, and restrictive eating can often lead to extreme feelings of deprivation. This often leads to binge eating which can fill you with guilt. No food should be “forbidden”.  

4. Challenge the Food Police  

Stand up to the Food Police in your head who create unrealistic food rules (e.g. no sugar, dairy, gluten, eating after 6pm, counting carbs). The Food Police often let you think that only healthy eating is good and eating cake is bad. It’s time to give these guys the flick!  

5. Respect Your Fullness  

When was the last time you stopped eating when you were comfortably full? Feeling BETTER for eating? When stuck in the diet mentality, we can often swing from being overly hungry (through restriction) all the way to being stuffed.

With intuitive eating, no foods are off limits and there are no rules. You can therefore feel safe in the knowledge that you can eat as much as you need to feel comfortable right now, and eat again when your body is ready for it. 

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor  

Eating rice cakes, kale crisps and low-calorie cereal bars probably aren’t going to leave you feeling satisfied. If you’re out at dinner and feel like ordering the chips, order themIf you deprive yourself of the thing you really feel like most, you are fuelling the restrictive diet mentality, which at some point will likely lead to feeling out of control around food.  

7. Honour Your Feelings Without Using Food 

Emotional eating is perfectly natural and is usually an act of self-care. It should not fill you with guilt. As you move through the intuitive eating journey, honour your hunger and remove the forbidden of foods, emotional eating can dissipateHowever, if food is still your only or main coping mechanism, we can work together to identify other ways to soothe your emotions that aren’t just with food. 

8. Respect Your Body  

It’s time to accept that your body shape and size is special and unique. Your genes are set in stone, so being critical about something that you can’t change is not a helpful exercise. Focus on all the wonderful things your body can do or has done to help rediscover self-love.  

9. Exercise – Feel the Difference 

Find movement that you love and do it as much or as little as you wish. Ditch rigid exercise plans and certainly don’t pursue activities that you don’t enjoy. If you find movement that you makes you feel good, you’ll automatically want to do it more often without even realising!  

10. Honour Your Health  

There is no such thing as eating perfectly. It is about making progress to consuming a variety of foods that make your body feel well and also satisfy your tastebuds. It turns out that most people find eating a nutritious balanced diet feels good! And it is about doing this consistently over time.

So you are ready to give Intuitive Eating a go, but feeling scared? 

 Embracing Intuitive Eating can be more of a challenging process than just being given a diet plan or set of rules. But it’s a way to find true freedom so you never have to go back to diets again. Of course, diets and the scales will always be there to go back to… 

Here are some answers to common fears: 

Fear that you may never stop eating 

 As result of years of chronic dieting and under-eating it can be hard to trust that you will ever stop eating. As you move through intuitive eating there may be a short period of time where you eat more than you desire. This is totally normal, and a natural response to restriction. When you start learning to trust that food is ALWAYS available, and there are no weird conditions on this, you will start to trust that you will only eat as much as you need.

You don’t know what or how to eat 

When you actually stop and pay attention to what you are eating, you may realise that you don’t even enjoy those foods! But rather than being concerned about what to eat, use intuitive eating to explore different kinds of foods and flavours. This is a great opportunity to figure out what you like to eat rather than what you think you should eat.  

Fear of loss of control 

Imagine if said you can eat whatever you want all day, every day. You may think you would never stop yourself eating chocolate chip cookies, wine, cheese, crisps and all the foods you consider ‘bad’. Let’s see what happens if I give you an endless supply of cookies.   

  • Day 1, you would eat a lot.  
  • By Day 2, you may still eat a lot, but less than Day 1.  
  • Day 3, you’d most likely eat less than Day 1 and 2.  
  • After a few days, you will start to crave other foods.  

This process is called habituation and is another key part of the Intuitive Eating practice.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember about Intuitive Eating is that it is not about eating a perfect diet – there is no such thing! The goal is to eat a variety of nutritious food with some ‘play foods’ that truly satisfy you. To remove the noise in your head and make peace with food and your body, so you can move on with other things that matter more in life. 

For more on how to start intuitive eating check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps to support you through your food problems. You will learn how to stop food obsession, battling with emotional eating, stress eating, and how to start intuitive eating

References  

  1. Bacon L, Aphramor L. Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift. Nutr J. 2011;10:9 
  1. Tribole E, Resch E. The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications; 2017 
  1. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating, 3rd ed. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press; 2012 

Why diets don’t work

Why diets don’t work

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Why diets don’t work

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

28th November 2018

Can you think back to the last time you went on a diet?

That doesn’t mean officially being ‘on a diet’, like following Weight Watchers or going to the extreme of ‘juice cleansing’.

A diet is anything undertaken for the purposes of trying to lower your weight. Even if it is reframed as ‘balance’ or a ‘lifestyle change’, it’s still a diet!

Other examples of pseudo diets include:

  • Cutting or counting carbohydrates.  
  • Only eating ‘safe foods’ that are low in carbohydrates, calories or fat. 
  • Only eating at certain times of the day. 
  • Making up for eating certain foods by skipping meals, eating less than you normally would, or telling yourself you will be ‘good’ tomorrow.
  • Cutting back when you are feeling fat, or in preparation for a special event. 
  • Basing what you are going to eat now, on what you have eaten earlier today, even if you are hungry or desire something different. 
  • Cutting out or restricting certain food groups based on the idea that they are ‘bad’ or not good for you. For example, cutting out gluten, dairy or sugar without underlying reasons for needing to do this.
  • Pacifying hunger by drinking coffee or diet coke. 
  • Putting on a false food face when out e.g. saying no to pudding/cake/dessert or certain foods in front of others when you actually really want it. You then leaving the meal and overeat on your way home, more than you would have done if you had just eaten the pudding. 

So, now you know what a diet is, let’s get back to the question…

Can you think back to the last time you went on a diet?

Did the diet work?

By that I don’t just mean did you lose weight. I mean, did you actually lose weight and keep it off? Was it sustainable? Do you still feel satisfied, fulfilled and free from continuous food and weight thoughts?

My best bet is a no. 

It’s become more and more known that diets don’t work among individuals and professionals. This article has been written to help you understand why dieting doesn’t work so you can start to break the habit of dieting.

Dieting is associated with:

Weight regain

Yep! It’s been published in the Australian Government Guidelines and is yet to slip into the UK’s. Based on reviewing the highest quality research, they state “Weight regain after intentional weight loss happens most of the time”.

Most weight re-gain tends to occur within 1 year, and the rest within the following 4 years. In Fiona Willer’s words, the evidence is strong, and “we can be as sure of this as we are that smoking causing cancer!”

Binge eating and food obsession

Dieting damages our relationship with food. When our bodies are deprived, our brain doesn’t know that you’re just trying to be ‘good’. It just thinks you are starving.

Have you ever had strong urges to want to eat when dieting? Perhaps scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, drooling at delicious looking food.

We have biological survival mechanisms that kick in to make us want to eat, and there are a number of hormones that create this. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but fighting biology is a losing battle and these normal biological urges to want to eat will kick in at some point.

A loss of ability to detect hunger, fullness and satisfaction

Relying on outside food rules/diet plans/calories/points teaches us to ignore our natural biological signals that were created to help us detect hunger, fullness and satisfaction. This can result in over or under-eating.

For example, if you’re counting calories, what happens if you feel hungry but you’ve used up all of your calorie? You either remain hungry, or beat yourself up for going over and promise you will be ‘good’ tomorrow. Equally, what if you don’t use up all of your calories for the day? It’s unlikely you would let them go to waste, and eat them anyway!  

It’s no wonder our hunger and fullness signals don’t hang about any more. If we’re not listening to them, they are seen as wasted energy and don’t show up.

Slowed metabolism

Dieting makes it harder to not only lose weight again next time, but much easier to gain it back. Your body becomes better at storing fat, and more efficient at using less energy.

So what can you do if diets don’t work?

This can all be quite mind blowing, especially if you’ve been dieting for many many years. But there is a way out, I promise.

For more on how to stop binge eating sugar, how to stop food obsession, emotional eating, stress eating, yo-yo dieting, and how to start intuitive eating check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps to support you through your food problems. You will learn how to stop food obsession, and how to start intuitive eating

How to stop emotional eating

How to stop emotional eating

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What causes emotional eating and is there a way to stop?

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

19th November 2018

It often starts by digging through the fridge or cupboard, moves onto picking at a few crackers, and then the cheese, and before you know it you are elbow deep in ice-cream.

You go to bed feeling uncomfortable, sick and accompanied by guilt, shame. Worst of all, the initial uncomfortable emotion that triggered it all (perhaps stress, anger, loneliness) hasn’t really gone away.

This is a classic case of emotional eating and in this article I am going to share with you how to stop emotional eating forever! 

Actually, not quite. Let’s get something straight. Emotional eating is not inherently bad or wrong. If you think about it, it’s probably been one of the best coping mechanisms you have had available to you so far. So it’s has served a purpose and actually helped you take care of yourself when you’ve needed that comfort. It’s also a pretty benign coping mechanism. After all, there are worse things going on in the world than eating a heap of food in one sitting – the world is unlikely to cave in.

However, I appreciate you are here for tools to help. I am a Registered Dietitian working with those who experience emotional eating, anxiety eating and feeling guilty after eating. I have outlined below a number of potential causes. I offer some suggestions on how to stop emotional eating and how to start intuitive eating. 

Video Caption

Emotional eating causes and how to stop 

So what are the possible causes?

1)    Firstly, you have to rule out actual physical hunger

I know this may sound obvious, but in my practice, I frequently see clients who consider themselves emotional eaters. However, when we dive into their eating patterns, it quickly becomes apparent that their episodes of emotional eating are driven by hunger (at least partly).

In addition, some are denying, ignoring, or not actually able to feel their hunger. This results in blood sugar levels dropping, which can manifest in anxiety, stress or feeling irritable. So when hunger manifests, it’s coupled with the anxiety, stress, irritability.  It’s pretty understandable to be scoffing down the first thing in site. In can sometimes feel like a binge

“So what feels like an episode of ‘emotional eating’ is in fact just as a result of leaving too long between eating, or simply not eating enough throughout the day, and then hunger catching up.”

2)    Check in with yourself – are you really satisfied?

Whether it’s food, relationships or our career, if we are not satisfied, we are not happy. To find satisfaction in the food we eat, the meal needs to be something we enjoy and actually want to eat.

It’s no good denying the pudding just to be ‘good’ if you find yourself scoffing a whole pack of biscuits the minute you return home. Equally, it’s no good eating the green salad when you really wanted a warming bowl of pasta. It’s likely that you will finish the meal unsatisfied and looking for other foods to satisfy your taste buds. So eating when you are not hungry is often mistaken for emotional eating, when it’s not entirely. It’s just a natural response to feeling unsatisfied by the foods you are eating.

Equally, if you imagine an experience you’ve had where you have eaten to push down your emotions. Again, it’s not a very satisfying experience, leaving you wanting to eat more. You are filling up your emotional hunger (as opposed to physical hunger), you will ultimately not feel very satisfied.

3)    Okay, you have realised it’s not hunger or the fact you are not satisfied… and you are still struggling?

As I mentioned before, emotional eating is not inherently bad or abnormal. We all have an emotional connection to food. Food is love, comfort, reward and a reliable friend. Sometimes it becomes our only friend, and when we consider how emotionally charged food is, this is completely understandable.

So when is it really a problem?

Emotional eating is only really a problem if you rely entirely on food to soothe your emotions and you have no other coping mechanisms.

So what can you do about it?

1)    Start reframing your thinking.

Rather than thinking negatively, try to look at your eating habits without judgement. Look at your habits with curiosity. Ask yourself “how has emotional eating been helpful for me? What need has this met for me?”. Reflect on this, and only then can you start to build up your emotional coping toolkit.

2)    How to identify your emotions

Start by really understanding your emotional triggers. Cravings for a specific food, or simply a desire to eat can be triggered by a variety of feelings and situations. Using the emotional feelings wheel below is a useful tool to identify these feelings. Writing your feelings out, talking to a friend, counsellor, or just sitting with the feeling and experiencing it (as uncomfortable as that may be), can also be helpful to identify the feelings you are experiencing.

3)    The power of 3

Having a list of 3 simple and accessible alternatives can be a handy way to deal with your feelings when they arise. This will reduce your need to push them down with food. It could include; calling a friend, writing down your feelings in a journal, letting yourself cry, breathing deeply, jumping around and shaking them off. Keep the list somewhere you can easily access it (e.g. your phone home screen).

We also sometimes eat through boredom, loneliness, fear or anxiety and simply distracting yourself can be a way to reduce overwhelm of trying to deal or feel the feelings in that instance. Reading a book, going for a drive, cleaning out a cupboard, doing a puzzle, taking a nap, playing on your phone or computer can also be great ways to distract yourself.

4)    Take care of yourself

Whilst some people learn from a young age that it’s okay to ask for a hug, or are taught how to look after themselves in productive and nurturing ways, some of us still need to discover unmet our needs. Some basic unmet needs can include; getting rest, expressing feelings, being intellectually and creatively stimulated, being heard, understood and accepted, receiving warmth and comfort, and being sensually stimulated.

Ginger Kara has created this self-care diagram which is an excellent demonstration of ways in which you could nurture yourself so that food loses its number one position in this role.

Remember, emotional eating is not inherently bad. It’s simply your body’s way of telling you that it needs something. We shouldn’t be driving to eradicate it as we will be fighting a losing battle. Rather, we should be pausing and asking questions like

“am I hungry?”

“What am I feeling?”

“What do I need?”

These needs can sometimes be met without food, you just have to find it. It’s okay for food to still be one of these coping mechanisms, just try not to let it be the only mechanism.

Your relationship with food will become more positive as you begin to let go of it as a single coping mechanism, and bring it back into your life as a pleasurable and calm experience.

For more on how to emotional eating, how to stop food obsession, how to stop binge-eating, stress eating, yo-yo dieting, and how to start intuitive eating check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps to support you through your food problems. You will learn how to stop food obsession, and how to start intuitive eating

How to stop binge eating sugar

How to stop binge eating sugar

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How to stop binge eating sugar

KATHERINE KIMBER, Registered Dietitian

14th November 2018

I am sure many of us know that intense desire to eat a specific food when you know you are just not hungry. Usually, it’s for something we consider “bad”, that we think we “shouldn’t be eating too much of”.

There are a number of reasons why this might be, and in this article, I am going to share with you eight top tips on how to stop binge eating sugar and to also help you overcome sugar cravings.

Note: many of my clients feel they are binge eating on sugar or other foods, when in fact they are eating a fairy normal amount of food. A binge can be very subjective. Binge eating is in fact the consumption of large quantities of food in a very short period of time. This could be more eating a higher volume of food than the average person would be able to consume in one day, in a very short space of time. It’s quite often planned and ritualised. 

1) Be specific and track patterns 

Can you pick up any specific patterns to when you binge eat on sugar? For example, if it’s chocolate, what type of chocolate? Naming a brand and flavour, and identifying the times of day that you find most difficult may come in handy over the next few paragraphs. If you’re not sure, you could try keeping a little journal to identify patterns.

2) Tune in with your hunger 

I quite often hear that cravings for particular foods or binge eating episodes occur at 3-4pm in the afternoon. When I hear a history of what a client’s eaten that day (perhaps cereal/porridge for breakfast, and a salad for lunch) they have often not eaten enough, and it’s no wonder they are simply just hungry. Check in with what you’ve eaten throughout the day and allow yourself a proper snack. That could be a couple of biscuits and a yoghurt perhaps, or a dash of Nutella on toast with a banana if you are looking for that sugar hit. Combining a little sugar with some more nutritious food can be a good balance. Forbidding yourself from eating the sugary food will only fuel cravings further.

3) Quit forbidding food and give yourself permission

It’s pretty hard to sell the idea of ‘eat what you want’ when you’re probably thinking – “that’s exactly what brought me here in the first place”. However, the alternative approach to restriction and deprivation probably hasn’t worked either. Bingeing is a natural reaction to deprivation/restriction. Foods are not good or bad. You are not a good person if you eat lettuce and a bad person if you eat chocolate. They are all just food. Neutralising the language can take the pressure off.

Write out a list of foods that you forbid yourself to eat and start experimenting with them. Take one at a time a few days apart. As you eating your forbidden food, slow down, savour it and tune into how much you need to feel satisfied.

“As you become more comfortable with this practice of eating your ‘forbidden’ food, the foods become more ordinary and truly allowed. It’s a process called habituation. The food no longer has any moral value and doesn’t have control over you.”

4) Identify emotional triggers 

Once you have ruled out hunger and restriction as reasons for cravings, quite often what is thought to be an emotional eating problem, disappears. If you still find yourself wanting to dive into a tub of ice-cream regularly when you know you’re pretty stuffed perhaps your body is trying to tell you it needs something else. 

For more on this, head to my most recent article on emotional eating. 

5) Rule out thirst

It’s really common to mistake hunger with thirst, so make sure you’re topped up throughout the day. Teas, coffees, herbal teas, sparkling water and pretty much any fluids except alcohol count towards out fluid intake.

 

6) Avoid leaving long gaps between eating 

Leaving long gaps between meals fuels the risk of getting too hungry. This is when cravings can be at their strongest and it’s likely you will want to eat any food in site regardless of what it is. Eating every 3-4 hours, with 3 meals and 2-3 snacks in a day is what many people find works for them. It’s important to recognise what works best for you and to tune into your own hunger cues.

7) Pack your snacks

Of course the office chocolates or vending machine look more appealing than the brown squashed banana or bruised apple at the bottom of your bag. Pack tasty and delicious snacks that you look forward to eating. This way may be less likely to crave other foods. One of my favourites is oat cakes with nut butter and squashed berries or banana, or cream cheese, tomatoes and black pepper on some delicious toasted bread!

8) Get on top of your sleep

Tiredness makes cravings more intense, especially for fatty and sugary food. Your body is less likely to be giving out accurate hunger signals, so stick to eating regularly, bite the bullet and get yourself into bed early!

And finally…

Cravings and bingeing on sugary foods can be a way of your body telling you that it needs something. It could be hungry, over-restricted, feeling intense emotion, not fed/watered or had enough sleep. Perhaps it needs a little self-love. Tune into your bodies signals, reflect and try to learn from them so you are able to give your body what it truly desires.

For more on how to stop binge eating sugar, how to stop food obsession, emotional eating, stress eating, yo-yo dieting, and how to start intuitive eating check out my FREE download. This will guide you through some of the first steps to support you through your food problems. You will learn how to stop food obsession, and how to start intuitive eating