5 Nutrition Experiments to Prevent Binging

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged! I know I am supposed to do one every week, and I feel bad that I've been slacking.

Today's subject is some nutrition ideas I'm implementing which I hope will stave off any binging or compulsive eating. I've thought a lot about what kind of events or behaviors tend to lead to this guilt-ridden habit, and hopefully if I plan ahead and rectify some of these things, I should kick the habit for good.

In no particular order...

1. Up my carbs. I tend to eat pretty low (under my ranges) on carbs -- though I still get plenty of fiber. I'm not talking low-carb diet here, but in the low 100's (which is overall, not net). Since most of the foods that I binge on are carb-heavy, I'm guessing sometimes its a reaction to being low on carbs. So I need to learn to not be afraid of them. However, the carbs I incorporate, I'd prefer them to be grains and whatnot, as opposed to something sweet. While I do get my fruits in, they are sweet and too many sweet tastes may lead to consuming something less healthy and sweet. So I don't want to pack on lots of extra fruits (since I already get enough) and instead should concentrate on grains and veggies.

2. Add more "munchy" or "snacky" type foods to my plan. I always feel guilty if I'm at home and I don't make something fresh to eat. I consider snacky type foods (like trail mix or granola bars) to be more of a convenience food when I'm on the run, something to throw in my purse in case I get peckish later. However, these are the type of foods I tend to compulsively eat, so I think if I plan one of my snacks to be something along these lines, I won't feel the need to binge on them, since I won't be depriving myself.

3. Pre-portion. Whenever I buy "loose" snacks (like trail mix or nuts), I need to automatically portion it out into little plastic bags. Otherwise I will keep munching straight of the bag without any idea how many calories I'm consuming (and somehow manage to convince myself that these calories don't count simply because I don't know how many there were). Plus the bags make it easy to grab and go, and they also mean that if I do get the urge to munch off-plan, I won't be able to lie to myself - I'll know exactly how much I ate by weighing what's left over.

4. Eat more earlier in the day. Partly this involves planning my meals ahead of time as much as possible. That way I know exactly what fits into my calories and ranges and I can eat ration out each snack at various points in the day. When I'm eating as I go along, I tend to err too much on the side of caution and undereat or restrict myself during the earlier part of the day. Party I'm not good at judging how many calories I have left, and partly I'm worried that I'll binge later, or even get hungry later when I have no calories left, and thus I'll go over. But what I have to remember is I'm more likely to binge if I was undereating during the earlier part of the day. I have to trust that if I eat more during the day, I will avoid this binging at night. And if I do get legitimately hungry later, then I should just eat, even if it means going over my calories (which usually isn't even the case). If I am hungry, that means my metabolism wants food.

5. Deal with random goodies accordingly. There are a lot of times when sweets pop up that I didn't expect, especially since pretty much every time my mom passes a coffee shop/bakery/grocery store/etc she has to buy a jumbo chocolate chip cookie or sometimes even something more decadent like cake. And of course that can be heard to resist. So here's the plan. First of all, don't even bother with hard cookies (as opposed to chewy/soft or any other dessert that I don't even like that much (overeating foods you hardly even like is the worst!). Try to think about clean eating and nutrition as much as possible - most of the things she picks out are made with white flours and sugars -- if they were more wholesome it might be a different story. If that doesn't deter me, then have one bite to see if it really tastes amazing. If it actually is the most incredible thing I've ever tasted, then that's worth indulging perhaps -- I don't want to completely deprive myself. In that case, though, chew slowly and really savor. If it's not (more likely), think clearly and rationally before taking another bite (think: How did I do today on food? Do I have room for this? How will this make me feel afterward? Will this negatively effect my mood or blood sugar? Am I willing to do extra exercise to offset some of the calories?). Before I can take another bite, I must consciously say to myself, "I know I am planning to take another bite. I am willing to deal with whatever consequences and am making a conscious decision to do this because of _____ despite the fact that I usually feel guilty about this." One caveat: No matter what, do not compensate with changing the rest of my food for the day. Do not undereat later or the next day. This leads to a vicious cycle. If I want to eat that goodie, then I have to deal with the consequences rather than trying to find a shortcut like cutting out the foods that actually are nutritious.

Of course I'll let everyone know how these things work out for me!
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