Alright lady loves! and Fellas if you are reading 🙂
Today we are going to be talking about one of my favorite topics. Breaking the binge cycle with nutrition.
My girlfriend Tristan From Honest To Goodness Health helps me break it down in the video and throughout this post she will be quoted. In the video we dive into a Q&A with the audience since this is from a n Instagram and Facebook LIVE, but the bulk of the information is in the first 20 minutes.
As a health coach and holistic nutritionist I look at not only the nutritional element and what we are eating, but also the emotional connection to food and the beliefs and ways of being that get us stuck in food prison.
But today we are just going to be focusing on the nutritional side.
If you know that binging for you is not massively emotional, or rooted in an eating disorder then it is likely due to the way you are eating. What, when and how we eat effects our biology and trying to fight our biology is often a losing battle.
Our biology wants to keep us alive. Its our body’s job. And if you are not eating balanced meals your biology gets a little twisted.
So just to be clear since I write a lot about eating disorders and emotional eating, this video and post is specifically for someone who is trying to eat a healthier diet or lose weight but finds they are overeating at night.
Overeating at night is not always related to emotional eating, so we wanted to offer support to individuals who are struggling to manage their appetite and hunger throughout the day.
If you do struggle with emotional eating, you very well may find value in this discussion, however we want to be clear that this is directed at individuals who struggle to stay energized and focused during the day due to poorly managed blood sugar and hunger hormones.
Hormones and Blood Sugar
Let’s say you skip breakfast for whatever reason or it consists of only coffee or a sweetened almond milk latte. It’s likely that you arrive at lunch pretty dang hungry. Your blood sugar is low, you might be light headed, a little irritable and ready to eat every damn thing in site. You are energy (calorie) deficient.
You might even feel stressed.
This is because when our blood sugar gets too low our adrenal glands will release cortisol and adrenaline, our stress hormones, to signal to the liver to release stored glucose, which is our cells and brains main form of fuel.
When our blood sugar gets too low our hormones become unbalanced. We have excess stress hormones and hunger hormones, including neuropeptide y, cholecystokinin and ghrelin that are waiting to be released. Certain foods activate or deactivate them to tell the brain we are full. If they are not released then the body makes us crave our fastest form of fuel to help keep us moving.
Any guesses as to what the fastest form of fuel is for us?
White bread, sugar, soda, cookies. This is why we crave them so intensely sometimes. Our biology is just trying to keep our cells and brain working. It’s why we often make bad decisions by the time lunch roles around.
It’s not that our biology is out to get us. It just doesn’t know that you are restricting calories or forgot to eat or are not making time for breakfast, whatever it is.
Lets say though that you manage to still eat a somewhat healthy lunch but it does not have enough calories in it, or its not balanced from a macronutrient standpoint: protien, fat, fiber and carbohydrates.
Lets say its simple carb heavy meal of pizza, french fries, PB&J, noodles of some kind and you get a soda or a sugary coffee drink. You might get an instant burst of energy because it raises your blood sugar, but your blood sugar gets too high too fast so it plumets. It takes a noise dive and so does your energy and mood.
You are tired, sluggish and horomonally hungry.
Balance Baby Balance
If we do not eat a balanced meal with enough protien, fat, fiber and carbohydrates from vegetables we do not feel satisfied for long. We do not have a steady stream of conversion of the food into energy resulting in a blood sugar spike, hormones going cray and we are left obsessing about food and dealing with our cravings.
As humans we are hardwired to eat, it’s how we survive so when our body is not getting the nutrtion it needs we crave food.
By the time you get home after a day much like the one above your body is so nutritionally deficient and hormonally hungry (maybe not physcially hungry becuase you did eat something) that you eat everything in your pantry.
You vow to not do it again, yet you wake up tomorrow and don’t eat breakfast, are probably not that hungry because you ate so late and so much and the cycle continues.
Plus, not eating proper balanced meals slows your metabolism so you are likely gaining weight from this cycle too.
Our biology and metabolism will adjust to the amount of energy it is getting and when we start our day without food over and over again, arriving at lunch starving day in and day out, spiking our blood sugar, our body goes into fight or flight mode. Feast and famine. It does not know that you are restricting or forgetting breakfast, it thinks there is not enough food and so the metabolism slows down so that it can stay alive on the amount of food you are giving it.
“Eat less, and you will lose weight. Thats what we’ve been told, right? But again, eating at too great of a caloric deficit throughout the day can cause the hormones that control your appetite to go haywire. Your body adjusts to the amount of food you consume, so dramatically reducing your calories during the day when your metabolism is most active ultimately sets you up for overeating at night and a slower metabolism overtime.”
Calories restriction is VERY OLD science and does not work. We now know this.
So how do we use nutrition to help decreases our chances of binging and making poor decisions throughout the day?
Eat balanced meals 3 times a day.
“Hunger should never be an emergency, it should be a gradual sensation of a readiness to eat. Whenever you experience moments of being “hangry” this is a good indication that your blood sugar is not being very well-managed. This is not an error or mistake on your part, but a good indication that your body did not get enough healthy fats, protein, and fiber. To prevent this from happening again, set an intention to make your next meal well-balanced.”
Essentially the amount of food you eat for breakfast should resemeble that at lunch and at dinner.
Many peoples days are shaped like a cone. The tiny, narrow part in the morning and the wider base at the bottom. The goal is to get our day looking like a tube or pipe. Each meal containing similar quality sources of cabohydrates, fat, protien and fiber. If one meal is too be larger then the others make it lunch, that is when our metabolism is at its best.
“Monitor how much food you need to eat at breakfast to stay satiated until lunch – for example, try varying amounts of food at breakfast and monitor how long it takes you to feel hungry for lunch. If you feel hungry an hour after breakfast, you most likely did not eat enough!”
“Meals should keep you energized and satiated until your next opportunity to eat. If you feel unsatisfied an hour or two after eating breakfast, try adding more healthy fats, protien, and fiberous carbohydrates from vegetables.
Below is an example of what a balanced day of food looks like.
Coffee with brain octain, collagen peptides, almond creamer
2 eggs, 2 pieces of toast, avocado, spinach
smoothies with 1/2 banana, spinach, almond milk, protein powder, chia seeds, almond butter
WATER WATER WATER
buddah bowl: mixed greens, sweet potato, roasted veggies, beans or chicken, tahini dressing
taco salad: lettuce, tomatoes, grilled peppers and onions, guac, salmon or black beans, salsa, and some brown rice OR a small handful or chips
Snack or pick me up 3 pm:
piece of fruit, green juice or a kombucha
WATER WATER WATER
chicken or tofu with roasted veggies, almond butter sauce and mixed greens
lettuce tacos with mushrooms and tofu (or shrimp), coconut aminos, zuchinni, cilantro,
dessert / maybe a glass of wine, small piece of chocolate or turmeric tonic
WATER WATER WATER
Each meal has a similar amount of food, macronutrients and suffiecient calories so your blood sugar isnt all over the place, you are not having intense cravings and your body is not in famine mode storing everything you eat as fat.
In short. One of the best ways to cut out the late night binges (assuming its not an emotional binge) is to make sure we eat sufficient meals throughout the day.
That might sound easier said than done which is why both Tristan and I help create system and actions plans with our clients so they can learn how to adjust what they are eating, and figure out how to adopt a healthy sustainable lifestyle.
Contact either of us for a free consultation/discovery call to learn about health coaching and how it might