How To Beat A Binge

So for those of you who don’t know me personally, my big brother got married this past weekend. And my boyfriend turned the big 2-5. And I got offered a job to be a wellness dietitian (Official Title: Health Enhancement Coordinator) for a school district of almost 1,000 employees, which is basically my dream job. 🙂 Needless to say, it was a weekend full of celebrations, which typically includes decadent foods, desserts, alcohol & the like. You could say my celebratory, indulgent weekend somewhat inspired this post.

Here’s just a few pics of the things I splurged on this weekend…

Rehearsal dinner at On The Border = all you can eat Mexican?! Oh man, pass the chips & salsa please.

I rarely allow myself to have huge frozen margs like this (for good reason), but this special occasion made me say TEQUILA!

FYI: these were not both mine. But the level of excitement I experienced when I realized that pumpkin bagels (slash pumpkin EVERYTHING) are back at Einstein’s for the fall was a little ridiculous. Couldn’t pass that up, obviously.

So. Much. Leftover. Cake. Get this stuff out of my house!!!

First of all, there’s a couple things you should know about me.

1) I absolutely love to eat. (Was it that obvious?)
2) I can eat A LOT at once for such a petite person. You’d probably be impressed.
3) I have a huge sweet tooth.

We have all been there before. You’re in your own little world eating away and you just. can’t. stop. And you don’t want to stop. I hate to admit that I’ve been there many times – even though I am a dietitian, I struggle with this just like many of you! (We are human too!) It can be really hard to resist when you’re in certain environments surrounded by so many temptations; you give in and take a delicious bite and just lose all control. Just think of all the tailgates, potlucks, Thanksgiving or Christmas Day family get-togethers. At events like these, there is so much food to choose from, so why stick to one thing? You must try it ALL!!!! (Or so you think…)

Maybe you don’t binge in public. Maybe you tend to go overboard when you’re home alone late at night. If no one sees you eat the entire pint of ice cream at once, did it really happen? Unfortunately, yes. There are a lot of different factors that may drive us to binge. It could be anger or sadness, boredom, “celebrating”, or many other reasons. But here are some tips that might help keep you from binging in the first place, or teach you how to pick yourself up after a binge.


OneDon’t beat yourself up about it. “You’re such an idiot. Why did you just do that? Ugh, I feel so fat now.” Cursing in your head and telling yourself you are a worthless human being isn’t going to help; it will only make you feel much worse than you probably already do. The binge already happened, so do your best to breathe, let it go, keep your head up and move on.

Two: Avoid the snowball effect. It’s way too easy to let one bad meal turn into three bad meals, or even a bad week. For instance, if you have a big, unhealthy breakfast (such as 5 monstrous syrup and whipped cream-covered pancakes from IHOP), that doesn’t automatically mean you have to eat like crap for the rest of the day. People do this all the time. They think, “Well, my diet is already shot today, so I’ll just pick back up tomorrow.” You can still eat well the rest of the day and maybe even get a workout in! Give yourself a chance to do better at the next meal.

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This is a prime example of a time I may be tempted to binge. And I actually did a little bit. There were so many flavors of cake pops – I wanted to try them all! When you’re in a situation like this, keep your goals in mind; treat yourself to ONE dessert so you feel satisfied, but not guilty.

I recently read an article about a study where six healthy men consumed 6,000 calories a day for a week with no exercise. Within the first 2 days, they became insulin resistant; insulin is that cool little hormone that allows the sugar from your bloodstream to transport into your cells to be used for energy or stored. Insulin resistance results in elevated blood sugars, which can lead to diabetes. The diet they followed was the “typical Western US diet”. The takeaway from this study is that eating an excessive amount of calories (an amount significantly beyond your needs) can have a very fast and large impact on your health. This just reinforces that you shouldn’t allow binging to go on for too long, or you could have serious consequences.

Three: Get back on track. Like I mentioned in #2, you don’t have to give up all hope for the day. At your next meal, make sure to have a healthy, well-balanced plate. Especially load up on foods such as fruits & vegetables that are low in calories, but high in nutrients to get you feeling fresh and re-energized. Whenever I’ve had a weekend full of fun and eating too much junk, I usually feel weighed down and exhausted; I’m always dying to eat some fresh, healthy foods to pick myself back up. I love getting back to my normal habits with a delicious fruit smoothie or some grilled chicken & veggies!

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Binge worthy food.

Recovery food.

One unhealthy meal won’t make you fat, just like one healthy meal won’t make you skinny. 


FourKeep your goals in mind. Having a specific goal to work towards will help motivate you to make healthier choices in the upcoming hours, days, weeks, and so on. This could be a certain amount of weight loss, going two weeks without soda or sweets, running a 5K – the possibilities are endless. It’s only natural to treat yourself every once in a while, but don’t make it a habit (like dessert every night), especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Some good ways to remind yourself of your goals? Set a motivating picture on the background of your phone. This is something you’ll see all the time, and just glancing at it when you’re feeling weak may be powerful enough to keep you from binging. But be careful – make sure it’s something that will motivate you, not make you feel guilty! (Positive vs. negative message.) 

FiveGet moving! Going to the gym or doing something active will most likely make you feel better about the excess calories you consumed before. Do not do this in a compensatory way and make it a recurring binge/purge type situation, but exercising will provide some relief. Not only does exercise release those feel-good endorphins, but it also burns calories. Duh. (Don’t do anything too strenuous RIGHT after you eat – your stomach does need a little time to empty first!) Even when I have a little bit too much to eat at dinner, it feels good to go on a long walk afterwards to settle my stomach, rather than sit on the couch in a food coma. Walking/moving around makes me feel less full and bloated and I also burn off some calories!
SixRemove the temptation. Was it a birthday cake you went overboard on? A pint of Ben and Jerry’s? A big bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Take whatever it was that caused you to lose control and get it outta there. It’s pretty hard to binge on junk when you don’t have any junk in the house! Keep healthy snacks around to munch on like fresh fruits, veggies and hummus, popcorn, or nuts.

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Seven: Portion control. Read the Nutrition Facts label and determine how much is in 1 serving of that food. If the box says “16 crackers per serving”, count out 16 crackers and put the box away. Or measure “3/4 cup of cereal”, etc. Measuring your food and pouring it into a small bowl or plate will help you stick to that portion size. Mindlessly eating straight out of the package leads to binging. Eating cake or ice cream straight out of the container with a fork = very dangerous territory. (Unfortunately, I can’t say I haven’t done this in the past week with wedding and birthday cake…) Cut yourself a small piece and put the rest away to keep yourself in line.

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EightEAT OFTEN!!! Seems backwards, right? I’m talking regular meals, all you meal skippers. Eat at least 3 meals a day (and incorporate healthy snacks as needed). Going long periods of time between “feedings” or meals may lead to binging. If you are absolutely ravenous when you sit down for dinner because you haven’t eaten all day, chances are you’re going to shovel in a whole plate of food and maybe go back for seconds and thirds before you even blink. Eat at normal meal times throughout the day to keep your hunger in check and your metabolism working as it should. Your body loves and NEEDS food to function, so don’t skip meals!

I have been a server at a Bar & Grill for about 5 years now, and I’ve been guilty of doing this while working dinner shifts in the past. You’ll be on your feet from 4-10 PM, running around like a chicken with your head cut off, and there really isn’t much time to take a break and eat a decent meal. I would come home after a long shift, sit down and eat 3 bowls of cereal and handfuls of other junk from the pantry at 11:30 pm and then go to bed with a super full belly. This is NOT the way to go! I have gotten better about this lately by making food/my hunger cues more of a priority. Packing healthy snacks (granola bars, nuts, yogurt) that I can easily eat during the shift when I have a second of downtime so I’m not dying of starvation when it’s over.

Hopefully these tips will help keep you from binging next time you’re home alone with a big box of cake, or help you recover after you accidentally give in. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. You are not a bad person because you binged. You’re only human! Just pick yourself up and mooooove on. : ) You got this!!!


Hummus is something I have been wanting to make for a while now, and a few weeks ago I finally did it! I bought myself a can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and spontaneously made it using the things I had on hand at the time. I looked at several different recipes and kinda mixed & matched some of them and created my own! It turned out deliciously! Here’s what I did:

Spicy Avocado Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado, cored and peeled
  • 1 can of no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice (or lime juice)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Red pepper flakes for topping

Instructions:

  • Combine chickpeas, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice, and garlic powder in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

  • Season with black pepper to taste, then add cumin, cayenne pepper and avocado and pulse until smooth and creamy.

  • Add remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp lemon juice gradually as needed. (You don’t want to add too much liquid at once and mess up the consistency.) However, I ended up adding 1 tbsp of water because mine was still a little dry.
  • Top with red pepper flakes as desired.

Since this was my first time making hummus and I kinda improvised using what I had on hand, I wouldn’t say this recipe is “perfect”, but I really liked it! It was delicious for dipping baby carrots and Wheat Thins! I want to make it again so I can get it down to a science and make the recipe even better for you all. 🙂 I did a lot of tasting along the way and added spices as I saw fit, which I recommend so you don’t make it too spicy or garlicky for your liking!

Also great as a topping for veggie burgers or spread for a wrap!

Since I didn’t do a blog post last week (#weddingweekproblems), I will share one more recipe that is very simple and so stinkin’ delicious. My favorite: spiralized veggie noodles. So far I have only used zucchini or squash for these dishes, but I know you can use many other veggies as well!

Creamy Spinach Mac & Cheese Zoodles 

Ingredients:

  • Approx. 1/2 cup frozen chopped baby spinach
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 wedge Laughing Cow Swiss cheese
  • 2-3 oz. grilled chicken (optional)

Instructions:

  • Using a Veggeti Pro (or other spiralizing tool), spiralize your zucchini into “noodles”. Set aside.

  • Spray large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and turn stove on medium-high heat.
  • Place frozen spinach into skillet and sauté until thawed.

  • Add spiralized zucchini to the pan and stir to combine.

  • Cut Laughing Cow wedge into small pieces and add to pan, stirring with a spatula to melt and combine.

  • Cook mixture until cheese is melted and noodles are tender.
  • Add previously cooked chicken to dish if desired.

ENJOY!

May your week be full of happiness and delicious, healthy food. ❤

eat well. live well. be happy.

Shanna, RD

#wellnessforthewin

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