Recently I had a client reach out to say she had struggled the night before with her food and had succumbed to a binge. She was dealing with it and moving forward but wondered if she should eat breakfast that morning or skip it to offset the binge.
I realized that this was probably a common thought many of you might have after a binge – skip the next meal or eat as usual? – so I thought I would address this in the blog this week.
I know that I often felt this way after a binge. I thought, “ugh, I just ate way too much food so I MUST skip the next meal to compensate!” which would then inevitably start a crazy cycle of deprivation and punishment.
The first thing to do when this happens is be kind.
Yeah, you binged.
You ate when you weren’t hungry and didn’t listen to your body or your soul (because overeating is our soul trying to tell us something is not quite right in our world).
But it’s over now, and time to move on.
You can’t do anything to change what happened in the past, but you can start to put your tools into place that will hopefully help you the next time that urge to overeat arises.
Every time this happens is a new opportunity to learn more about yourself and your soul.
Isn’t THAT exciting? I think so. 🙂
So just first be kind and comfort the hurting one inside that felt the need to binge. Give her a hug because she definitely doesn’t need any more beating up.
Now let’s get back to the original question, “should you eat or skip the next meal?”
I ALWAYS recommend taking this opportunity to check in with your body. It may not be feeling so great after this overeating episode but take the time to check in with it when the next meal time comes around.
Ask your body if it is actually hungry for food or not.
In fact, I recommend that EVERY TIME you are about to put food in your mouth, check in first with your body to see if it is actually hungry for food or if you are eating for other reasons.
We so often neglect to wait until we are actually hungry for food before we eat.
We let time of day, habit, availability, etc. dictate when and what we eat vs. letting our bodies give us that information (and if you listen, it WILL give you all of that information).
This is one of the first things I have my clients work on – True Hunger (and satiety) cues. If you do this EVERY TIME you are about to put something in your mouth, you really start to see when you are eating for other reasons besides True Hunger. And it will make you conscious of the fact that you actually are choosing to eat (or not).
How do you know when you are truly hungry or not? That’s a good question because as overeaters, we have over-ridden these cues for so long that it’s a rare day that we are actually ever truly hungry.
One of the first clues I use is this:
When I think about what I am going to eat, if eating something nourishing (like my favorite salad, vegetable, etc) sounds good, then I am hungry for food. If it doesn’t and what I want to eat is something less nourishing (name favorite junk food or not so health promoting food) then, more than likely, your body is NOT hungry, your soul is.
If my response comes back with the True Hunger signal (I want a salad, etc), THEN, the next step is to check in with the Hunger Scale.
Many of you may have heard of a mindful eating and using a “Hunger Scale”.
And you are probably thinking, “that’s tedious and no fun!” And you may be right. But I want to challenge you on that one. Let’s change our mind about our healing journey. I decided to start looking at every piece of the puzzle around my turbulent relationship to food and every tool I was creating or using as the next step in getting me closer to stopping this madness around food, so it became more of a game and I was excited about it. (I wrote more about this my blog about Embracing the Struggle)
I WANTED to heal and no longer struggle with this. And I knew that if I kept at it, eventually I would move on from this destructive behavior but I also knew that healing isn’t done through self flagellation or hatred so I had to learn to love the struggle and love the process of healing.
What’s a “Hunger Scale” and how to use it?
When you are about to eat, stop and ask yourself, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how hungry am I?” Ideally, we eat when we are at about a 3 – “I’m hungry and ready to eat now.” Waiting any longer leads to overeating, eating too quickly, and sometimes even feelings of panic. We want to avoid that!
When to stop eating? Ideally, when we reach a 6 on this scale – “I could eat more but I am actually satisfied and still feel somewhat light in my body.”
This takes practice! You will have to SLOW DOWN and pay attention – 2 things not usually part of our vocabulary around food.
But if we do it EVERY TIME we are about to put food in our mouths, we will really begin to understand when we are hungry for food or if our soul is crying out to us.
When we eat only when hungry and stop when satisfied, we will naturally begin to release any extra weight we may be carrying.
We begin to hear the cry of our soul so we can start to ask it what is REALLY is hungry for (because it isn’t food and no amount of food will make it feel better).
This is a beautiful thing. Not always EASY to do but practice, practice, practice. Everyday. Write this hunger scale down in a ‘Hunger Journal’ and keep it with you AT ALL TIMES and pull it out when you feel the urge to eat or put something in your mouth.
EVERY TIME! Even if it’s just that piece of candy on the counter in the office.
Write it down.
Truly hungry? Eat a meal. Not hungry? Don’t eat it.
Want some support with this? Join my PRIVATE Facebook group and post when you have questions, when you triumph, when you are struggling. We are there to help and we have all been through it. Feel free to post your score every time you are about to eat if you want. It’s a great way to be accountable. 🙂
You CAN do this!
The Hunger Scale
- Starving – Ravenous – Weak – Irritable!
- Uncomfortably Hungry
- Very Hungry – “I’m ready to eat now.”
- A Little Hungry
- Not Full But Not That Hungry – “My mind is on things other than food.”
- Satisfied and Light – “I could eat more but…”
- Comfortable But Slightly Too Full
- Very Full – “I ate more than I needed.”
- Too Full – Feeling Heavy and Uncomfortable
- Thanksgiving Dinner Full – In A Food Coma!