Last year when competing for my first bikini competition, I had a lot of issues with binge-eating. I would sneak food in the car. I would stuff myself full of peanut butter then cry and refuse dinner. I would go to Whole Foods and eat cookies and sweets, then rationalize it because I was doing yoga and needed the calories. I hated every single thing about the last time around competing because of what my relationship with food became – I had NEVER been one to struggle with disordered eating. I felt tired, cranky, hungry, nauseous and guilty on a regular basis.
Since I started preparing for Fitness Atlantic on January 2nd, I do not feel as though I am struggling. I feel happy, determined, focused, strong and all of those happy emotions. Here are my Top Six Steps to Help You Stay Binge Free whether you are competing or are just trying to clean up your diet:
1. EAT!!! Yes, it’s that simple. If you keep your body fueled with the right foods you will not go hungry. For me, I need to eat every 2 – 3 hours. This is always recommended because that is how long it takes the human body to digest small portions like 3 ounces of protein and a cup of vegetables. However, if you meal is immediately after a grueling cardiovascular workout like HIIT Sprints, then your food will most likely digest quicker, which means eating a meal again after 2 hours is probably a good idea. The bottom line is that if you stay fed you won’t go through your cabinets like a racoon in the trash.
2. CHEAT!!! Plan a cheat meal or cheat treat. A great time to have a cheat meal (notice I did not say feast?) would be the night before a long run the next morning. That way you will use those extra calories as fuel. But don’t go overboard!! An appropriate cheat would be a sushi roll with some spicy mayo, a grilled Kobe beef burger or a splitting a piece of cheesecake with your lover.
3. HAVE A PLAN!!! Knowing what obstacles are ahead of you will help you develop a good plan. If you know that on Wednesday afternoon you have a board meeting and there will be sandwiches and chips there for lunch, don’t be scared to bust out your BYO Chicken Salad!! Or if you are at a dinner, ask the waiter politely to help you find something on the menu as you have “dietary restrictions.” Better yet, look up the menu online and find something that you know will satisfy your dietary needs. If you go in with that plan, you are far more likely to stick to it.
4. DRINK UP!!! I drink a gallon of water each day, if not more, but you know what, sometimes I get sick of water. So at some point in the mid-afternoon I need something else so rather than explore my cabinets looking for something naughty to nosh on while staring for hours at my computer screen, I brew a cup of coffee and use a bit of unsweetened coconut creamer or Stevia. Or perhaps you could try a vitamin or electrolyte packet in your water. Mentally, it gives you a break and it gives your pallette a new taste that water alone does not solve.
5. DON’T FREAK OUT!!! So what you had an extra tablespoon of nut butter? It is not the end of the world and certainly not a reason to cry yourself to sleep. We all know each morning is the start of a new day. But guess what, every hour is a new beginning. Every 60 seconds is the beginning of a new minute. Just reset. Throw the food away or place it back in the cabinet, brush your teeth and start over.
6. AVOID TRIGGER FOODS!!! I have two triggers: Nut butters and Sweets. I had to set a rule last year that I try to hold on to 99.9% of the time, and that is to NOT go to the bakery at Whole Foods after yoga. Even if I can make it out of there without buying anything I will obsess over baked goods the rest of the day. Our Clean Eating goddess Tosca Reno makes reference to refined sugar being like cocaine because it’s incredibly addictive, so for me, now that my system is cleansed of refined sugars, I keep it that way. And as for nut butters, I sometimes ask Ryan to hide it from me if I know I’m feeling weak. If you know that you can’t stop yourself from eating vanilla wafers for example, then why do you keep them in your house at all?! These are tricks that help me. What are some tricks that help you remain binge-free?