February 07, 2012

Kim Kardashian eats when she's stressed - How Can You Stop Binge Eating?

Stress eating is not uncommon and many of us have reached for a chocolate bar once or twice after a break up or a rough day at work. Kim Kardashian is reported to be suffering from emotional eating, which is no surprise when you consider the recent breakdown of her marriage plus the pressure of being in such an intense media spotlight.

NW magazine reported Kim fluctuates between 3000 calories or 1000 calories per day, which is typical binge behaviour, starving yourself to counteract overeating the day before. She loves sugary foods like pancakes and ice cream, and she can eat up to five cupcakes in one sitting. Kim feels she needs the sugar rush because she's been sleep deprived and stressed.

When your resources for coping are stretched thinly, you experience stress and this generally affects your well being. While sources of stress are different for everyone, it usually stems from interpersonal conflicts, unmet expectations, loss and disappointments in life.

'Emotional eating' alters your mood, much like a drug, stress eating can numb you to reality and provide an escape from painful self-awareness. Eating sugary foods and dense carbohydrates releases serotonin - the feel good chemical and will instantly put you on a high.

However, binge eating has many dangerous consequences and long-term health impacts. The fluctuating calorie intake affects energy levels and your metabolism, and causes rapid weight gain, cellulite and digestive problems. What's more, binge eating is merely a band-aid treatment for a real problem that you need to identify and address.

To overcome stress eating you need to address two main points.

1. Identify what is causing the stress in your life. Eg. Why are you wanting to eat in excess?

2. Learn to problem solve, rather than avoid the cause of your stress, and deal with the root problem.

True success in overcoming binge eating is more likely to happen if you identify the behaviour pattern causing overeating, including triggers and reinforces that follow afterwards. If you keep relying on binge eating as a stress management technique, you are doing it because deep down, your body thinks it works as a self soother. It provides you with relief from anger, anxiety and loneliness. But binging doesn't work. It is unhealthy for your body and your mind. Eating won't treat the cause of your stress, it will just distract you temporarily from the real problem.

I often find myself eating late at night if I can't sleep, and if I can't sleep, that is probably due to something making me anxious or worried. I can also start eating too much if I am overtired, physically exhausted, lonely or overwhelmed; these are my personal triggers.

To overcome stress eating, you need to teach yourself how to eat normally. Steps to normalise eating include:

* establish set times to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day.
* don't go longer than 2 or 3 hours without eating.
* don't skip meals.
* don't punish yourself if you slip up.
* avoid dieting or starving yourself on restrictive diets.

Remember that after you binge eat, your situation will still remain the same, you will just be feeling even worse physically and mentally.

Other tips for preventing binges include:

* never let yourself get overly hungry.
* legalise forbidden foods and treat yourself a few times a week.
* take time to nurture yourself by doing things you enjoy that are not food related, like going for a massage, getting your nails done, catching up with friends or watching TV.
* monitor your feelings and problem solve if you can - call a friend or family member for help.
* anticipate when you are at risk of binging (eg. being alone for long periods) minimise these times and have strategies in place to stop your habits.
* remind yourself you have a choice and consider the consequences of a binge.
* don't listen to those internal voices that criticise, worry or demand. You are worth more and deserve to take care of yourself the best you can.

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