How an Ex-Binge Eater Survives the Holidays

Hey I’m an reformed binge-eater!  Did you know that?  Now you do.  Want to know how I don’t binge during the holidays?  Well let me tell you a secret, I totally do binge.  Thanksgiving was last week.  The day before Thanksgiving I weighed the lowest I have since I rowed for UT.  Part of me was like “well, might as well not eat Thanksgiving dinner or I’ll ruin it”.  But the other part of me was like “NO, this is life and Thanksgiving only comes once a year and I’m going to enjoy it”.  So there’s that.  I went to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving with my cousins and handsome fella.  Not only did I eat a plate full of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, hashbrown casserole, creamed corn, and rolls, but I went back for seconds (and a little bit of thirds).  Oh and I had fudge, cupcakes, and cheesecake for dessert.  Did I feel heavy and stuffed afterwards?  You bet your bottom dollar I did.  Did I feel guilty afterwards?  Nope, not a lick.    And you know what?  I lived.

my cousins are finally taller than me.

my cousins are finally taller than me.

I left feeling oversatisfied.  Technically dinner was a binge because I basically ate way past satisfaction and I ate in an uncontrollable manner.  But there was no guilt there because I really felt Thanksgiving Day was a day to indulge.  I saw lots of people on Instagram posting “healthy” concoctions of their meals and I’m not knocking that at all since staying on track takes a lot of willpower but I just went big and didn’t even care.

Although I didn’t feel bad on Thanksgiving Day for what I ate (or even the day after), I still chose to eat poorly in the days following including a Friday outing to a Mexican restaurant and a Saturday night date starting with REAL hot cocoa at a friend’s house followed by dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.   123cheesecake

homemade cocoa in an oversized cup?  yes, please.

homemade cocoa in an oversized cup? yes, please.

But today is a new day and my Momma and I were up this morning hitting the gym for a class called Pure Muscle.   Hopefully I did work my muscles because my arms are still hurting.  I ran another timed mile like I have done for the past 2 Mondays and today’s was in 9:07 which makes it 20 seconds faster than the first one I did two weeks ago.  I’m loving that Monday mile.  Tonight I’m heading back to the gym for spin class with the Biggest Winner team.  I love watching them step out of their comfort zones and I love helping my Momma.

Pure Muscle class.

Pure Muscle class.

So, while I chose to “binge” on Thanksgiving Day and eat whatever I wanted in unlimited amounts, I did not feel guilty.  That is a huge step because I spent months in therapy focused on the emotion of guilt related to eating.  Not feeling guilty is a major step in recovery.  The only thing I failed at was continuing to eat poorly in the days following.  My body felt heavy, my clothes fit tighter, and a few tears may have been shed yesterday but recognizing that it’s okay and to move on is a good realization.  Christmas is around the corner and of course I will indulge in the usual holiday treats but I’m going to work extra hard to not take home leftovers and to make sure the “bad” eating stays at the party and that the next day I get right back on track.  I lived through one holiday and I know I can live through another.  Being mindful that it is a holiday (one day) and not a month-long or even week-long thing will really help me come Christmas.  Bring it on!

How do you deal with food during the holiday season?  What did your Thanksgiving meal consist of?

Alternatives and Substitutions

I am not a believer in diets.  While not true for all people, usually diets result in nothing but empty promises and gaining weight back.  I believe in a lifestyle.  I believe in replacing bad habits with better habits and doing a plan that is sustainable.  A lot of people in the running/healthy living blog world often use the term “clean eating”.  Clean eating can mean a lot of different things but I most often see it used to describe an eating plan that is primarily low in processed foods, high in fruits, veggies, and lean meats.

Two years ago when I shed 57 pounds, I was miserable.  I was eating a restricted calorie diet, I had no cheats, I ate all the fruits I could because I despised veggies, and I went to bed every night with  my tummy growling.  While I was able to maintain that for the four months of my weight loss program, as soon as it was over I was back to old ways and eating everything in sight.  My eating plan may have been ideal, but it was not sustainable.

Fast forward to here and now.  I am a binge eater.  No shock there.  I am also a college student so my budget is somewhat limited.  Oftentimes I will say that I am eating healthy.  The only kicker is that my healthy might be the farthest thing from healthy as someone else’s idea.  At this point in time, it is important for me to find foods that satisfy me and keep me full while also making me feel as though I’m eating something substantial.

Something I’ve discussed in therapy is substitutions.  What I eat may not be “healthy” by many people’s standards, but they are much healthier than what I would normally eat.  It is all about finding a substitution for what I once ate.  This is super helpful in me not binge eating.  If I eat a SkinnyCow ice cream, I genuinely feel like I’m eating ice cream so the urge to go binge on Ben and Jerry’s goes away.  Yes, the whole natural almonds might be what is best for you but I never feel satisfied and the feeling of deprivation could lead to a binge so I get the lightly salted ones instead.  Hopefully in the near future, I can make even healthier food options, but for right now I am focusing on making substitutions and finding alternatives.

Before I began to tackle my binge eating disorder, I could easily put down a whole pizza by myself.  I loved the taste, the smell, the warmth, everything about it.  But pizza isn’t obviously something that is great for you.  I substitute Lean Pocket pizzas for a regular pizza.  Yes, Lean Pockets are probably some people’s worst nightmares and is nothing but processed, but it works for me.  I can eat one Lean Pocket and feel completely satisfied and my mind is happy that I just ate pizza.  No binge in sight.

see the difference?

see the difference?

I also used to love toast slathered with butter and huge sandwiches.  Now, I just buy whole grain bread, but one slice in half and toast it then use Parkway No Butter Spray (basically flavored water) as my butter.  I come away with only one slice of bread and it feels like two, plus I have “butter” on it.  Oftentimes for lunch I will do the same thing with one piece of bread then I will add one serving size of reduced sodium turkey to it and slab some mustard on it.  Totally satisfies my taste buds.   sand

As a student, there are times when I’m out and about on campus all day and don’t have access for a fridge or a microwave.  So in times like these I pack a bunch of snacks.  I’ll pack a boiled egg and just eat the egg white.  Low fat/light string cheese is a great option too because it tastes like full flavored cheese but only packs about 2.5 grams of fat and 50 calories.  Sometimes I’ll eat a chocolate chip/granola fiber bar in lieu of a candy bar.  Of course it does not taste the exact same but definitely satisfies my sweet tooth.  I may pack sugar-free pudding snack packs, applesauce cups, or a tablespoon of peanut butter.  Anything to get me through my busy day when I don’t have time to go back to my apartment and prepare a meal.    snackpack fiber

My binge cravings are the worst after about 5pm.  Shortly after comes dinner so I have to make sure I eat something that will truly satisfy me or else the temptation to binge will become overwhelming.  Progresso just came out with a new Light soup and I’ve found two flavors that I really enjoy.  The Potato, Bacon, and Cheese soup is so great and so is the Zesty Chicken Tortilla.  They are both extremely low in fat and only pack 200 calories per can.  Yes, they are high in sodium, but I try to limit sodium throughout the day, so usually it doesn’t pose a huge problem.  Last week I even saw the Biggest Loser contestants eating it.  I also like to cook reduced sodium red kidney or pinto beans.  They fill me up great and make me feel like I’m eating real southern.  Again, they may not be the healthiest options in the world, but they are alternatives to what I could usually be eating.    soup

Then of course I do try to eat at least three fruits a day.  Usually I will enjoy an apple with my breakfast, a banana with my lunch, then some grapes as a snack.  Those may not be the best fruits on the food guide pyramid but a fruit is a fruit.    fruit

This is just a small taste (pun intended) of what I might eat on a weekly basis.  Of course I do actually eat prepared meals throughout the week like grilled chicken, steamed corn, grilled turkey, etc, but that’s all the stuff that I’m supposed to eat.  For me, it is all about balance.

Some of y’all may have your jaws on the floor right now thinking I’m crazy, unhealthy or even delusional. I may be one or all of those things.  But I’m finding what works for me and right now, using alternatives and making substitutions is what works for me and curbing a binge.  These foods are also something that is convenient and that I can have easy access to, making it sustainable for long-term purposes.  Change takes time, but this is just step one in changing my eating habits and patterns.