If you’ve ever overdone it at the altar of food– and who among us hasn’t – you know how sluggish you feel afterward. Instead of feeling energized, you feel ready for a nap. Your get up and go just got up and went as you were polishing off that second helping. That’s probably okay on rare occasions – think Thanksgiving. But what happens when binge eating becomes the norm? Here’s the scoop.

woman craving sugar sweet cookies but worried about weight gainThe heavy consequences of heavy eating

In an article for the Visual MD titled, Four Weeks of Overeating Impacts Metabolism for at Least Two Years, registered dietitian Bonnie Modugno mentions a study outlining the impact of binge eating on body fat. It turns out that study participants gained an average of 14 pounds over the four weeks. Six months later they had lost an average of ten pounds, and twelve months later they were about three pounds heavier than at the start of the study. All of that was determined to be fat weight, not muscle. Conversely, the control group showed no material changes in weight.

Why binge eating means you’ll have to work harder

  • A higher composition of body fat to lean muscle generally means a lower metabolic rate. Having more muscle mass helps you burn more calories, even at rest.
  • Repeated cycles of binge eating will lead to cumulative weight gain over the years.
  • Binge eating reduces your energy level and consequently your motivation to exercise and be active.

What to do to make a differenceMetabolism

  • Start with small steps. If taking things away from your diet feels too hard, don’t worry. Start with just adding. Add fruits and vegetables to every meal and snack (for example eat an apple, and then eat the chips). Increase your water and fiber intake. The goal here is to boost energy so that you can commit to a regular exercise plan.
  • Walk at least 10 minutes each day to start. Build up to 30 minutes at least 5 days each week. As you build stamina, introduce brief periods of running or jogging.
  • Start a food and mood journal. Notice when you are overeating and try to understand why. Name the feelings associated with the desire to binge. For example are you angry, lonely, bored, anxious?
    • Make a list of other things you can do that feel good.
    • Set a timer for 10 minutes and sit with the feeling. Investigate it, be curious about it; take deep breaths. Be with the feeling without trying to get away from it or push it away. Remind yourself that you are having a normal feeling that everyone experiences – you are okay.
  • Recommit to your plan every Sunday. Write out what you intend to do each week to reduce binge eating and continue your healthy eating plan.

Be patient with your progress. Step by step you will get where you need to go.