The Binge Switch
Do you have one? A binge switch? I do, and it’s the craziest thing!
For years, I struggled with food and controlling my *unruly urges* to overeat. I was constantly trying to rein myself in so that I wouldn’t overeat and I failed over and over again. Of course, I felt terrible about it…why, oh why, couldn’t I just discipline myself to eat a reasonable amount?
Fast forward to my late twenties when I tried the Atkins diet—for 17 days I pretty much ate only meat and dairy. I completely eliminated all processed carbohydrates and did not even eat vegetables. By week number two, I did *not* feel awesome and didn’t have enough energy to do my normal workouts.
BUT I did have an aha-holy cow-Eureka moment…my cravings for food had completely disappeared! I had just experienced normal hunger cues consistently for the first time since childhood. HUGE is an understatement.
There is a lot of back and forth over whether certain types of foods can be addictive. I think different people are affected differently, but for me, those highly processed carbs--especially the sweet stuff--are a crack equivalent.
Once my binge switch had been turned off, it was *firmly off*. Those urges that had created such a struggle for me around food and weight maintenance were gone. I felt, truly, like a different person.
I was never going to go back. I didn't figure it all out immediately, but I began to really experiment with a different way of eating—meals and snacks based on protein, healthy fats, and vegetables, vegetables, vegetables. I continue to evolve my approach to what works for me, but it is still basically the same.
Does this mean I *never* eat processed carbohydrates? No way! But I definitely have a threshold. That binge switch can be flipped if I’m not mindful of my personal tolerance for foods that set off that urge.
Not everyone who struggles with overeating finds highly processed carbohydrates to be a trigger. There are other physical, emotional, cognitive, and environmental circumstances that will flip the switch. And sometimes one potential trigger is manageable, but when multiple triggers are occurring simultaneously (e.g., you’re hungry, and you had a bad day at work, and your kids are making you crazy) the binge switch flips on.
If you struggle with overeating or binge eating, try to pause and check in with yourself. The thing that has helped me the most is to stay as non-judgmental as possible and ask with genuine curiosity “what is happening here?”