My most recent chapter of my “Book In A Blog” series was very positive and uplifting. I have definitely experienced a TON of progress and multiple steps in the right direction over the past few months. BUT, I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking I’m magically “cured” or that I’m just “all better now!” It’s not that simple with binge eating disorder. I eat food every day. I have constantly changing emotions and feelings every day. I am human. Therefore, I will probably struggle with this disorder in some way or another for potentially the rest of my life. Now, I’m not saying that it will be something that effects me in a negative way for forever. My goal with working so hard with my recovery is to get to a point of balance, self awareness, and overall wellness, but changing your relationship with food is tough when you have a history like I do. So I’m just being real with myself. I know this is a long road. I know I will go through phases, good and bad, and I know that as long as I continue to learn and grow from my choices, I am making progress. That is always the goal.
All that being said, although I feel like my progress has been HUGE recently, I still have moments and days to learn from. I still binge, and each time, it’s a reminder that I have to focus on the positive and become stronger in my times of struggle. What have I done well recently? What have I accomplished this month? Even though I binged yesterday, how was it different from the last time and what can I take from the experience to work on this week? And then of course the most important questions that I now ask myself each time… Why did I binge? What emotion was I trying to avoid? And what thought or belief was the tipping point that led me to that first bite?
These days, my binges look very different than a few months ago. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. Because of Whole30, I have been able to detox my body of refined sugar, figure out which foods make me feel my best, find control in my choices, and learn so much about my emotional relationship with food. It’s amazing how much better I feel on a daily basis because of my food choices, even after a binge. The positive progress isn’t hard to see when I look back at a year ago today.
A year ago I was eating entire packages of cookies, pints of ice cream, giant cinnamon rolls, huge soft baked pretzels, candy bars, and bags of chips. Probably amounting to around 7,000-9,000 calories in one sitting.
Yesterday, I ate a 6 serving package of almonds, a bag of Jackson’s Honest sweet potato chips, an apple, a container of watermelon, and 4 RX bars. That amounted to around 3000 calories.
Big difference there! Focusing on the progress is really hard sometimes. This morning when I woke up, I felt terrible, I hadn’t slept, and I was upset because I had gone so long without a binge recently and was on a really good streak. I had this deflated feeling like “Ugh. I guess I haven’t changed much still.” But that is SO not true at all. I have changed. Like really majorly changed. And for my own mental health but also for you to see too, I will list 5 reasons I have made so much progress in the past year.
- I never even consider eating refined foods or processed crap anymore during a binge. It doesn’t even cross my mind.
- My quantities of binges are reduced by more than half.
- My frequency of binges has been cut in half.
- My understanding behind the binges is becoming more and more clear each day.
- My mindfulness and self love/awareness is more present than ever in my daily life.
Ok, I’ve really gone further off topic than I planned, but this blog is partially a form of therapy for me, because #broke, so I gotta let it all out sometimes.
So the whole reason I bring all this up is to discuss some surprising foods that cause my binge urges, even still today when I’m rocking the Whole30 lifestyle. Yes, I am eating much healthier foods now that I’m sticking to Whole30, but like I always say, sugar is sugar, and you can still majorly over do it on the healthier choices too.
Just because you eat healthy doesn’t mean the cravings go away. I was bummed to find that out. But I’m still learning which foods I respond well too and which ones I need to continue working on my relationship with. Below are my 4 “healthy” foods that ALWAYS cause binge urges, and how I choose to handle them with my Whole30 plan.
1.Fruit- Fruit has always been an issue for me, ever since I was a child. I never understood it until about a year ago, but I can remember fruit always causing me to want to eat more sugar and salt. I never was able to just have an apple or a banana. I immediately want something crunchy and salty afterwards, and the cravings are always loud. It’s especially apparent with high sugar fruits like pineapple, watermelon, and grapes. It makes perfect sense though now that I know about the science behind it. Fruits have a ton of sugar, and my brain doesn’t know or care that it’s an apple. It just knows that it just got over 20 grams of sugar and that it wants more. Not everyone’s brain responds the same to certain foods, but for me, fruit is a big trigger that always causes cravings and binge urges.
2. Nuts- I always read stuff saying “eat a handful of nuts to curb your cravings in the afternoons.” For someone like me, that makes no sense at all. Eating a handful of nuts causes major cravings for me, because of the crunch and the salt. It’s the feeling of eating multiples of something in a snacky manner that causes my binge urges. I eat a bunch of nuts and I get that same feeling in my brain that I would eating a bag of chips. And nuts are fatty, but fat does not raise your insulin at all or cause obvious fullness, so I never get the expected “high” from the food, and I just want to keep eating and eating until I get that feeling.
3. Potatoes- It doesn’t matter if they are mashed, baked, shredded, or fries. They can be white, sweet, purple, or gold. All potatoes cause cravings and urges for me. This is for a similar reason as the fruit. Did you know that potatoes have a higher glycemic index than sugar? This means they raise your blood sugar and insulin rapidly when consumed. The starch in potatoes is also immediately converted to sugar once you eat it. That causes cravings for more carbs and sugar, which then causes my binge urges. I love potatoes. And my brain has a hard time differentiating between a baked potato and a bag of chips in those less mindful times. I usually just immediately go into the thought “potatoes! carbs! yum! I need more!”
4. “Health” Bars- Any protein, fruit, nut, or other “healthy” bars are dangerous for me. I can never have just one. It doesn’t matter what they are made of. If they taste sweet and salty, I get the binge urge. I have actually been wanting to write a blog post about all the “healthier” new snack choices in the stores lately. You would think I would be excited to have all these new “paleo treats”, but actually, they are my worst nightmare. An example is RX bars. RX bars are made with dates, nuts, egg whites, salt, and natural flavor. They are completely Whole30, and completely impossible for me to eat just one. I love them. They are a huge trigger food for me. It sucks because since they are compliant with Whole30, I don’t feel as guilty eating them.
Same with Jackson’s Honest sweet potato chips. They are made with sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and salt. That’s it! The ingredients are technically Whole30, and although any form of chips are not allowed on Whole30, they are still in that grey area of being compliant. These new healthier foods are so hard for me to deal with because I know they are doing me no good when it comes to working on changing my relationship with food. An RX bar is no different than a snickers to my brain. But there is that other side of me that says “It’s ok! It’s Whole30!” The only reason I am happy these foods have come around is because they taught me that my relationship with food and my addiction to sugar was not just about junk food. I now realize it’s about ALL food. I have learned that my emotional eating is so much deeper than I once perceived, and I am thankful that Whole30 and these new healthier snack options have helped me figure that out… but seriously, life would be a lot easier for me without these options in the store.
The way I handle these foods and “healthier” binges has evolved over time. I don’t let myself say I “failed” Whole30 because I ate the sweet potato chips. Maybe some people would, but for me, if the ingredients are compliant, I’m still doing great. For someone with an eating disorder, this is already hard enough. I have to do this in baby steps, so I try to set my expectations at a point where I know I can succeed and then I inch along every month adding new goals each time. Sometimes I get a little over zealous and realize I’ve set the bar a little too high, and other times I realize I’m being too easy on myself and need to challenge myself a little more. It’s always a learning process.
This past 3 months of Whole30, I’ve been taking baby steps with working on my bingeing/relationship with these 4 trigger foods. I have gotten to the point where I have a much healthier relationship with some types of potatoes, but the chips are still a major issue. Fruit depends on the type and the way I am eating it. I can’t just have an apple, but I could cut a small amount of an apple into pieces and put it in a chicken salad. Same with nuts. I can’t just eat a handful of nuts, but I could have them sprinkled on a salad.
This month has shown my most obvious progress, and it is because of my increased mindfulness and my reduction in carbs. I have been really trying hard to eat very low carb all month to see how my body and mind respond, and I have noticed HUGE improvements in my cravings, hunger/fullness signals, mood, sleep, and energy. I haven’t been quite Keto, but definitely very close to it. I’m learning that this way of eating seems really healthy for my mind and body right now, and I am excited to continue trying it to see where it takes me. I am done with my final round of Whole30 in 5 days, so I will be reintroducing some foods, but my intent is to continue staying very low carb through next month. I’ve done TONS of research on all this, so I know the health benefits, the arguments against it, my reasons behind it, and why it’s an ideal lifestyle to maintain long term. This may not work for everyone, and I realize for some people with binge eating disorder, my recovery plan and way I’m working through this might be the complete opposite of what others would recommend, but this is what is working for me. I am seeing huge positive shifts in my mental state, my mindfulness and mood are at an all time high, and my bingeing is significantly improved recently. I have no reason to stop doing what I’m doing when I’m feeling the best I’ve felt maybe EVER.
So there’s my rant for today. A bit scatter brained, but hopefully insightful for some. I remember when I finally realized that fruit was a huge trigger food for me and it kinda rocked my world. Just hoping I can help others consider some possibilities that they may not have thought of in their own journey.