Binge Eating

I speak from experience when I discuss out of control ice cream binges! Here are my tips for dealing with a severe ice cream tendency.

1. Choose better quality. Most ice cream you'll find in grocery stores is full of crappy ingredients like guar gum, fake flavors (often called natural flavors), and other ingredients you might be avoiding like gluten.

So, step number one: when you do choose to eat ice cream, choose the best quality food you can find. (This is my advice, btw for all food groups).

You might find an organic vanilla with a very simple, wholesome ingredient list. In that case, yes, it's a lot of sugar. Yes, dairy might not be something that agrees with you. But at least you're eating only real food ingredients. Ice cream really only should have ingredients like heavy cream, egg yolks, vanilla and sugar. Perhaps a few other ingredients like chocolate, strawberries, etc. for a particular flavor. Search for something simple and clean along these lines. 

If monetary cost typically guides your choices, and you go for the cheapest ice cream you can find, I'd recommend reconsidering this. Eat it less often, and when you do choose to buy ice cream, splurge on the better quality stuff, even though it may be a higher cost item. Learn to enjoy the good stuff and the cost will deter you from purchasing it as frequently. 

2. How Does Ice Cream Make You Feel? I was diagnosed with a lactose intolerance in 2nd grade. Milk has really never been something that feels good in my body and eating it debilitated me with terrible joint pain and asthma symptoms for years before I realized the root cause. Though I can get away with dairy on occasion and sometimes it's worth it, it does not make me feel good. If I eat a lot, it's much worse.

I never have just a little bit of ice cream. So let's just assume the serving size is an entire pint of Haagen Daz vanilla (hypothetically of course). I will feel a burst of energy and then soon after I will feel bloated and my stomach will hurt. I'll start to feel bad about myself. When I wake up the next day, my ankles will hurt as will my neck and back joints. My face will be puffy and my belly will ache. I will also be tired and perhaps depressed. 

Now I know that all of these symptoms are telling me I have done damage to my digestive system that I work so hard to repair. I have lit up my immune system which I have worked so hard to calm down. I am harming my joints and I probably won't be able to go for my walk that day because it will be too painful which will make me feel even cruddier for lack of movement. 

It's important to be clear with what the ice cream actually does to us, what harm we are causing, what symptoms we experience, and to make an honest assessment about cause and  effect. When we listen to the elegant language of symptoms we can learn so much about what our body is trying to tell us and what it needs. 

3. What Nutrients is Your Body Actually Craving? Next, think about what else could satisfy that craving? What you really need might be a big fat meal with lots of veggies, meat, fish, beans, whole grains, healthy fat... 

Remind yourself that eating is good. eating is great! Out of control cravings often mean we actually need to eat real food. I always recommend having real food first. At the first sign of a craving. Eat a balanced meal or snack first. 

4. Do You Need to Support Digestion? If you are consistently eating big plentiful real food meals, and still binging on ice cream, consider that your digestion might not be working fully and your food is not being digested. Actually digesting the food we eat makes a huuuuuge difference when we are trying to calm down ice cream binges. Our digestive system is delicate and requires specific care. If you haven't given much though to digestive system care, then consider that it might be time to move into that space.

5. Eating Sugar Creates More Sugar Binges: Often, when we have uncontrollable sugar binges, we have to dramatically lower the sugar and even carbs from our diet to reset our  system. For many people, even a little bit of sugar sets off a cascade of sugar desire. 

For the ice cream bingers amongst us, the body is usually deficient in certain nutrients required to regulate the sugar cravings and to digest your food. This is important to understand. Your ice cream binges are a matter of physiological - chemical - nutrient imbalance. It is not your fault. It is not that you are weak. It is that your actual body needs something desperately that it's not getting. It speaks to you in the language of cravings. Learn what those cravings actually mean, what your body actually needs and you will overcome this out of control binge eating. 

6. Promise me this - No Guilt. Guilt and shame are ways we sabotage ourselves. They sink us into a spiral of feeling like we are not worthy or capable of feeling good or being in control of our food decisions. I want you to recognize post binge shame and guilt as a symptom that your body and mind become depressed after that food that doesn't serve you. Shake this off and instead use an ice cream binge as an investigation into what's really going on in your body. 

Notice, I never once recommended to just have better willpower. We all know that doesn't work! I want to know that there are better strategies. Willpower results in restriction but not healing the underlying nutrient deficiencies or systemic imbalances causing the uncontrollable cravings in the first place. Willpower as the only strategy will just result in a lifetime of fighting yourself and that is so not fun! Willpower as the only strategy will just result in continued malnutrition. 

7. What is Your Vision for Feeling Good? When we want to make any kind of change in our food life, it's so helpful to have a vision about what will change in our lives once we figure this issue out. Spend some time writing down your vision for a healthy, happy, thriving you.

What if I could wake up completely without joint pain every single day? I'll tell you, I was very depressed when I couldn't enjoy walking. I thought it was just something I had to live with and then I learned I didn't. I learned I had control over how much pain I was in and that has made all the difference in both my physical and mental wellbeing. What if...

In conclusion, recognize that overcoming ice cream binges is a process and it's not a linear one. There are many interconnected factors at play. Learn to engage in your body and food choices by listening to what your body actually needs. Know that you can be a master of your own destiny. 

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