Category: Blog

Getting started with intuitive eating in 4 easy steps

Intuitive eating basics

Intuitive eating is a flexible, non-diet approach to health and nutrition. The concept was developed by two registered dietitians (Evelyn Tribole and Elise Resch), who were fed up with the traditional style of giving their clients diets / meal plans to follow – as this approach often results in yo-yo dieting, weight cycling, food obsessions and disordered eating behaviours.

Essentially, intuitive eating focuses on developing healthy eating behaviours, such as listening to your body, stopping when you are full / satisfied, and coping with stress / emotions without using food. The principles of intuitive eating teaches you how to heal your relationship with food, and to honor your health without dieting.

More than 100 studies have now demonstrated some of the evidence-based benefits associated with intuitive eating. Intuitive eating is associated with improved cholesterol levels, lower BMI, greater satisfaction with life, more optimism, and lower rates of chronic disease. All of this without needing to follow a restrictive, unsustainable diet!

Listening to your body does not mean eating cupcakes and fries all day...

Where dieting teaches you to listen to food rules and meal plans, intuitive eating teaches you to self-regulate by listening to your body. Self-regulation is a skill that we were all born with, but that we tend to lose touch with as we allow food rules to tell us when / what / how to eat.

But listening to your body is not as simple as eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It’s also not eating whatever you want, when you want. Listening to your body means considering your hunger, fullness & satisfaction levels, while choosing to eat foods that leave you feeling your best. Of course, you are allowed to incorporate health values as well. For example, maybe you want to go more plant-based for moral / health reasons, or maybe you want to improve your gut health. It’s a holistic way to take care of your health, while being in tune with your physical needs.

The 4 steps that you need to take to get started

Ready to heal your relationship with food and reconnect to your intuitive eater? Let’s go! Here are four highly effective, easy steps that you can take right away.

Step 1: Create a diet-free bubble for yourself.

The very first thing that you need to do, is to recognize the damage that dieting has done in your life. What damage has dieting done to your relationship with food? E.g. do you struggle with cravings, emotional eating, overeating / bingeing on a regular basis? How many times have you lost weight on a diet, only to regain every last gram (plus some)? Take stock of this damage, and make a firm decision to never diet again.

Then, remove the environmental triggers that may tempt you to turn to dieting again in the future. Start by doing a social media detox: unfollow all of the accounts that promote dieting in any form. Next, throw out any dieting tools: dieting books, magazines, meal plans, shakes / powders, etc. 

Yes, this is scary. But it’s also immensely liberating. By rejecting diet culture, you are giving yourself permission to trust your own body again. You are saying YES to healthy self-regulation and NO to unsustainable, inflexible food rules that mess up your relationship with food.

Step 2: Rebuild trust with your body by eating regular, balanced meals.

BEFORE you learn to listen to your body, you need to rebuild trust. After months (or years!) of dieting, your hunger & fullness cues likely won’t be reliable. Your body has essentially been through a famine, and it doesn’t know when the next famine will strike. You need to prove to your body that the food scarcity is over, and that it will never happen again.

The most effective way to do this, is to consistently eat regular, balanced meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND snacks. By “balanced” I mean ensuring that meals include protein, carbs, fat and some colour (fruit / veg). Your body needs all of these food groups to function optimally. 

Once you’ve done this for at least 2 weeks, you can move to the next step: learning to listen to your body by using the hunger and fullness scale. This is where you can start deviating from your usual eating routine based on the cues that you get from your body.

Step 3: Use the hunger & fullness scale to guide your intake.

The hunger and fullness scale is a useful intuitive eating tool that can help you to reconnect to your biological cues. 

 

On the scale, 0 is totally empty. It is an urgent, primal hunger. 3 represents mild to moderate hunger – a great place to start eating. 5 is neutral; 7 is comfortably full – a great place to stop eating. 10 is completely stuffed (e.g. after a binge).

When your hunger rating drops below 3, hunger becomes too urgent. This is where you are likely to experience cravings, and to overeat. It’s best to eat before your hunger drops below a 3.

Use this scale each time that you eat, rating your hunger / fullness before, during and after the meal.

Start making some gentle changes to your eating routine based on your ratings. The goal is to stay between a comfortable 3 – 7 on the scale.

Step 4: Build effective coping mechanisms to deal with emotions and stress, without using food.

Do your emotions control you? Do you turn to food when you are stressed? Well guess what – this is a normal side effect of dieting. The good news is that you overcome emotional eating by following the above steps, and by building alternative coping mechanisms.

The key to overcoming emotional eating, is asking yourself 2 questions when you feel an urge to eat: 

  1. “What am I feeling right now?”
  2. “What is the outcome that I am seeking, by turning to food?”

Once you have the answer to these two questions, try to come up with an alternative activity that achieves the same outcome. For example, if you need pleasure, maybe you could try watching your favourite movie. If you need comfort, a warm shower might do the trick.

Keep exploring, being patient with yourself. It will take time to find alternative coping mechanisms that really do the trick for you.

BONUS TIP – get support. 

The road to a healthy relationship with food can be long and bumpy, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are ready to kiss dieting and binge / emotional eating good-bey, and to become an intuitive eater, I would love to help you with this.

You can book a free game-plan call with me here, where I’ll help you to come up with a plan that works for you. This call will also be an opportunity for us to decide whether we are a good fit to work together.

Marna Oettle; RD, MSc (BSc Med Hons Nutrition & Dietetics; BSc Hons Psychology; MSc Physiology)

Looking forward to hearing from you very soon!

Overcome overeating and find your healthiest, set point weight

Can't stop eating until all of the delicious food is gone?

This is something that most of my clients struggle with on a daily basis – and I used to struggle with this myself. 

I would eat way past the point of fullness every night, and I simply could not get myself to stop. Plus when I ate something “naughty” – all hell broke loose. I would think to myself: “Heck, I’ve already cheated, I might as well just go all out and restart tomorrow.”

To compensate for all of this night-time bingeing, I would eat as restrictively as I could throughout the day. Coffee took the place of snacks when I felt hungry, and I skipped the carbs & fat at lunch time. 

Pretty soon I found myself trapped in a vicious cycle of restrict-binge-repeat…and even though it felt like I was restricting 80% of the time, my weight kept creeping up. 

The bingeing was out-weighing the restricting, and I felt completely out of control with food.

Thankfully, after many years of trial and error, I figured out a way to break this vicious cycle. Naturally, my weight adjusted too – and I found my set point

These experiences inspired me to start the Empowered Eating Academy – where I teach women how to heal from chronic dieting & overeating / binge eating.

P.S. you can book a free 30 minute Game-Plan call if you are interested in learning more about the Empowered Eating Academy online program! Click the button below!

Your healthiest, set point weight

Before I share my top tips with you, let’s first talk about what you set point weight actually is. 

Your set point weight is essentially your body’s “natural”, genetically predetermined weight. This weight is determined by various factors, such as age, gender, metabolic rate, etc. It’s the weight that you naturally achieve when you have a healthy relationship with food, when you truly listen to your hunger and fullness cues and when you eat foods that leave you feeling your best. 

Best of all, your set point weight is a weight that you can maintain with ease – WITHOUT depending on rigid food rules or diets. You can read more about finding your set point weight here.

Steps that you can take to overcome overeating and find your set point weight

Overcoming overeating / binge eating can be really tough, because there are often multiple factors contributing to the problem. For example, emotions, stress, lack of sleep, and body image issues are all common underlying factors. For this reason, a multi-factorial, individualized approach is often required. 

That being said, one of the BIGGEST overeating driving forces is dietary restriction (or dieting). Addressing this one factor can go a long way to helping you to escape the urge to binge on that bag of cookies in your kitchen cupboard. 

So here are a few strategies that I recommend you put into place to help you to ditch that restrictive dieting mindset – and the urge to overeat – so that you can find your set point weight:

1. Eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day

So many of my clients under-eat throughout the day. They suppress their hunger, skip meals, or fill up on low-calorie foods (such as diet drinks / foods, salad without dressing, etc.). The consequence is that by the time late afternoon / evening comes, they are ravenous. They head straight to the kitchen and snack on anything that they can find. Dinner time becomes an overeating frenzy, and then the whole cycle repeats the next day.

My top tip is to aim to eat every 3 – 4 hours (as this aligns with your digestive rhythms). Keep your body nourished and the urge to overeat will be much less intense. 

Aim to include some carbs, protein and fats with your main meals. Choose snacks that are filling, such as fruit paired with yogurt and / or a handful of nuts. 

2. Learn to listen to your hunger & fullness cues

Once you’ve gotten your body into a routine of eating regular meals, start tuning in to your hunger and fullness cues. This can be challenging at first – especially if you’ve been dieting for many years. But hang in there, and keep listening. Those cues will eventually come back. Start making some gentle changes to your meal timings, based on those cues. For example, maybe you notice that you aren’t really hungry at lunch time yet, so you delay for another hour. Or maybe you notice that you are full half-way through your meal, so you decide to store the rest for later.

The beauty of listening to your body, is that your body will adapt your  hunger and fullness cues based on external factors. For example, if you start exercising, you may start feeling hungrier than usual. If you spend the day on the couch, you will likely feel less hungry.

Learn to listen to the wisdom of your own body. It’s a wonderful, flexible way to honour your health without dieting.

3. Bring mindfulness & conscious awareness to your meals. 

Mindfulness is a powerful strategy that can help you to stop overeating / bingeing AND get more enjoyment out of your meals. When you enjoy your food, you feel more satisfied at the end of a meal. And when you feel more satisfied, you are less likely to keep snacking and grazing.

My favourite mindfulness tip is to simply ask yourself: “How does the food taste?”. You can also try to slow down by putting your knife and fork down between bites. We often eat on autopilot – shoving in one bite after another, and we forget to taste & enjoy our meal. The consequence is that we overeat, because it takes roughly 20 minutes for satiety signals to reach the brain.  

4. Eat foods that leave you feeling your best.

This is so important – especially when it comes to finding your set point weight. When you eat foods that nourish your body, you feel amazing. Start tuning in to how eating a specific food makes you feel – without passing judgement. If you notice that a particular food leaves you feeling unwell or bloated, start experimenting with some alternatives that may leave you feeling better (while still satisfying you). For example, maybe you notice that eating a bar of chocolate every day isn’t leaving you feeling your best. You decide to experiment with a handful of trail mix, including some choc-chips, and find that this leaves your body feeling great. 

Ready to take bold action to heal your relationship with food?

You might be a great fit for the Empowered Eating Academy – a 10-week online program where I can help you to implement all of this (and honestly, so much more).

If you are interested in joining, click the button below to book a free call with me. This call will give us an opportunity to decide whether we are a great fit to work together. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Marna Oettle, RD (BSc Med Hons Nutrition & Dietetics; BSc Psychology; MSc Physiology)
Kiss rebound weight gain good-bey and find your set point weight with 4 steps

Kiss rebound weight gain good-bey and find your set point weight with 4 steps

Are you sick and tired of rebound weight gain?

Honestly, I don’t blame you. It truly sucks when you’ve put in blood, sweat and tears to lose weight, only to find yourself gaining back every last gram until you are back to square one. What’s worse, is that 9/10 times we gain back a little more than we lost in the first place!

My new clients often tell me that they are now at their heaviest, after years of dieting / restricting. They feel like they have failed at their health, like there simply is no hope for them. Can you relate to this?

Well, let me tell you a little secret my friend. You did not fail – diet culture has failed you (as it has done for countless other women). You see, dieting / restricting food does work temporarily – but it’s never a long term solution. 95% of those who lose weight on a diet end up gaining the weight back in less than 5 years…and most of those people gain back more than what they lost in the first place.

Why is it so easy to gain back everything that you've lost (plus some) after a diet?

Well, because dieting sucks. It messes up your relationship with food, resulting in cravings, food obsessions, emotional eating and bingeing (to name a few). The more we diet, the more “out of control” we feel around food, and the deeper we get stuck into the restrict-binge cycle.

Plus, according to the Set Point Theory, dieting raises your set point weight. This is your body’s “natural” weight – determined by factors such as genetics, age, gender, etc. It’s the weight that your body “wants” to be at, and that it fights to maintain.

The more you diet, the more you damage your metabolism. After each subsequent diet, your set point weight increases slightly (see the figure below)…

…which elegantly explains why rebound weight gain happens in the blink of an eye. Your body fights to get you to your new set point weight by increasing your desire to binge on high energy foods.

Essentially, this is a survival mechanism. Your body does not know the difference between a diet and a famine, and it’s doing everything it can to protect you against a future famine. 

Thankfully, you can break this cycle and find your healthiest, set point weight.

When you reach your set point, you will feel your best (both mentally and physically). Plus you will be able to maintain this weight WITHOUT needing to follow restrictive food rules, detoxes, or crazy diets.  

If you’ve been trapped in the diet-binge cycle, you may currently be above your set point (meaning that you will lose weight to get to your set point). If you’ve been restricting severely (without bingeing), you may currently be below your set point (meaning you would need to gain some weight to be healthy). What’s going to happen to your weight will depend on where you are coming from. But what matters most is that the yo-yo effect stops, so that you can work on accepting your “now” body and get on with your life.

P.S. If you feel trapped in the restrict-binge cycle, and you are ready to break free, you can book a complimentary Game-Plan call here. I’ll help you to come up with a strategy that will work for YOU – for free.

The 4 steps that you need to take to find your set point weight

STEP 1: Ditch those restrictive food & dieting rules.

I’m talking about cutting out carbs, eating only in a specific window, having lists of foods to avoid, etc. These rules keep you from listening to your body, and trigger black-and-white thinking: “I’ve already cheated, might as well go all in and restart tomorrow.” Plus they keep you stuck in a food scarcity mindset, which triggers overeating. 

I know it’s scary to let go. Maybe you worry that you will be out of control without these rules, that you will eat pizza and chocolate all day. In the Empowered Eating Academy, I help my clients to work through their food rules systematically – one at a time. We start by merely re-framing rules to make them more flexible.

And believe me, it is 100% possible to learn how to TRUST yourself to make good choices, without needing a dozen inflexible food rules. YOU get to choose what, when and how you eat. YOU have the power, and your body has more wisdom to guide you than you may realize.

STEP 2: Take a break from the scale. 

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but here me out. The scale has several serious limitations – including the fact that it does not account for fluid shifts in the body, muscle mass, poop, water weight, etc. It naturally fluctuates from day-to-day, and this can falsely lead you to believe that you have gained / lost weight. When you step on the scale and see that the number is up, you may feel frustrated. This can easily lead you to self-sabotaging behaviours (such as emotional  / binge eating). 

Plus as long as you keep focusing on your body weight, you are essentially still dieting. The scale will influence your food choices and stop you from learning to self-regulate with food.

As your eating habits normalize, your weight will normalize too. You will feel / see the change – I promise. But jumping on the scale obsessively will only hinder the process.

STEP 3: Learn intuitive eating skills.

Intuitive eating is a non-diet approach that can teach you how to self-regulate with food. In other words, intuitive eating teaches you how to listen to – and respect – your body’s biological cues (hunger, fullness, satisfaction, etc.).

But listening to your body is not just about eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It’s also about eating foods that satisfy you and leave you feeling your best. No matter how delicious a food is, it’s impossible to enjoy it fully if it leaves you feeling sluggish and bloated.

When you learn to listen to the wisdom of your body, your body will naturally gravitate towards it’s set point weight.

Step 4: Build permanent, lasting habits that support your health.

This last step can only happen once you have improved your relationship with food (through the previous 3 steps). That’s because it is virtually impossible to build healthy habits when you are struggling with constant cravings, obsessive food thoughts, and an urge to binge.

When you have a healthy relationship with food and your body, everything else comes easily; eating veggies, exercising, drinking enough water, portion control, etc.

In the Empowered Eating Academy, I help my clients to build a lifestyle that is flexible, fun and sustainable through permanent habit change – focusing on building just one habit at a time. 

The end result? An empowered women who naturally eats healthily, exercises AND feels wonderful about herself – WITHOUT needing to diet.

Ready to take bold action to improve your relationship with food?

Book a complimentary Game-Plan call with me, and I’ll help you to come up with a plan that will work for you. This call will also be an opportunity for you to join the Empowered Eating Academy, if you wish (no pressure!).

Looking forward to hearing from you very soon,

Marna (RD, MSc)

How to stop yo-yo dieting and find your healthy balance

How to stop yo-yo dieting and find your healthy balance

Have you ever lost weight on a diet, only to end up spiraling out of control & gaining it all back…plus some?

If the answer is “yes” – then I’m guessing you feel pretty frustrated, ashamed, and generally angry with yourself. Deep down, you might even feel like you’ve failed at your health….especially if this cycle has repeated itself multiple times.

See, I know this because I’ve been there too. I’ve also worked with hundreds of women who have been through the exact same thing.

 So here’s what I want you to know, right off the bat: you did not fail at your health. Dieting has failed you – miserably. And this is the sad truth for billions of women.

Truth is, dieting simply does not work long-term, for several reasons:

  • It seriously damages your metabolism. This is why it becomes harder and harder to lose weight and keep it off with each subsequent diet.
  • It alters your neurobiology – leading to more cravings, food obsessions, and feelings of powerlessness around food (AKA the food scarcity mindset).
  • It messes up your relationship with food, and your ability to trust your own body. It’s no surprise that women who struggle with overeating, binge or emotional eating almost always have a history of restrictive dieting.

Now, I don’t want you to feel bad about your dieting history, or to focus on the damage that it might have done. Instead, start asking yourself: “how can I end the food and body struggles for good?”

And I’m about to give you four powerful steps that you can take ASAP, so that you be FREE from weight cycling and yo-yo dieting, and so that you can start making lasting progress with your health goals.

P.S. these steps form an important part of the Empowered Eating Academy. If you are interested in learning more, you can book a complimentary Game Plan call with me here.

The four essential steps you need to take to break the diet-binge cycle:

STEP 1: Get rid of the food scarcity mindset that drives overeating.

A history of limited access to food, whether due to actual food scarcity (e.g. famine) or voluntary restriction (e.g. dieting), is the number one driving force behind the urge to binge. This is because your body is incredibly intelligent – by overeating, you are only trying to “stock up” before the next famine / diet starts.

The food scarcity mindset is characterized by obsessive food thoughts; cravings; emotional eating; overeating & binge eating. These behaviors are driven by complex biological and psychological mechanisms that are intended to protect you from starvation. As such, no amount of willpower can withstand the urge to overeat when you have a food scarcity mindset.

The only way to get rid of this mindset, is to consistently and intentionally nourish your body with regular, balanced & satisfying meals. By doing this, you are rebuilding trust with your body – one meal at a time. You are essentially proving to your body that food will be available whenever you need it, so there is no need to overeat.

STEP 2: Relearn healthy self-regulation with food.

Have you ever noticed how babies cry when they are hungry, and stop feeding when they are full? Or how kids tend to eat more on some days, and less on other days? Maybe you even have a friend or family member who has the ability to leave delicious food on their plate, simply because they are satisfied?

This is called self-regulation, and it’s a skill that we have all been born with. The trouble is, we lose touch with this skill as we let diets / food rules dictate our intake. We become so disconnected from our body’s cues, that we forget what hunger & fullness feel like. We ignore our hunger, then eat way past comfortable fullness; or we eat for reasons completely unrelated to hunger on a daily basis.

The good news is that you can relearn this powerful skill. You don’t need a calorie counter or food scale to tell you how much to eat; you just need to learn to listen to your own body again.

Start by bringing conscious awareness to your hunger / fullness levels before meals, half-way through and after. Start noticing what comfortable hunger / fullness feels like for you. Once you feel more confident about your ability to identify your cues, you can start to make a few gentle changes. For example, you might decide to add an extra mid-afternoon snack of you notice that you are ravenous by the time dinner rolls by.

STEP 3: Reflect and learn from negative food experiences.

One of the reasons why it can be so tricky to stop overeating / bingeing, is because there are typically multiple factors that feed the fire. These include emotions & stress, sleep, self-care habits, and body image – to name a few. Identifying your unique triggers is crucial, as it will allow you to address the problem holistically and to find a permanent solution.

Start by reflecting after you’ve had a negative food experience, such as a binge. Think back a few hours, and try to identify the chain of events that led up to the binge.

For example:

I slept badly –> I skipped breakfast; my boss shouted at me at work –> I felt disappointed in myself –> I didn’t take time to enjoy my lunch –> I got home feeling deflated –> I saw cookies on the counter –> I binged.

After doing this a few times, you will have a better idea of what your roadblocks are. We can then address these one by one.

STEP 4: Rebuild healthy eating and exercising habits that are flexible and that do not consume your life.

This step has got to come last, because it’s virtually impossible to build permanent healthy habits when you have an unhealthy relationship with food. But on the flip side, lifestyle change becomes SO MUCH EASIER when you are free from obsessive food thoughts, cravings, and the urge to eat everything in sight.

When my clients reach this stage, we start the exciting process of building permanent healthy habits that support their goals. Here’s what I recommend:

Visualize what habits your healthiest version of self might have, and then create a step-wise action plan to tackle these habits one at a time. Focus on what you want to eat more of, rather than on what you want to cut down on. This way, you are avoiding that food scarcity mindset that triggers overeating.

The beauty of this approach, is that it requires minimal willpower. Plus when you treat habit building like a game with different levels of difficulty, it can be super fun and totally achievable.

Need some help implementing these steps?

If you are tired of struggling on your own, and you want to speed up your healing journey – then I would highly recommend that you consider getting professional support.

I would love to invite you to jump on a complimentary Game Plan call with me, so that I can help you to come up with a real solution that will work for you. 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Marna Oettle, RD & Food Freedom Expert
Addicted to food? Here’s what to do about it.

Addicted to food? Here’s what to do about it.

If you struggle with overeating, binge or emotional eating…

…then you have probably wondered whether you might be addicted to food.

Not only have I seen the term “food addiction” countless times on social media; I hear it almost daily from clients or women who approach me for help.

I’ve seen the hopelessness on their faces when they put their food struggles down to addiction, because they fear that this will be a lifelong struggle (as is the case with alcohol / drug addiction).

But here’s the deal. 9/10 times, binge & overeating are not signs of food addiction. They are symptoms of a complex biological and psychological process that occurs in response to food scarcity, among other things.

In this post, I want to explain why what you are experiencing is probably not food addiction, and what you can do to break the overeating / binge eating habit for good.

First, let’s take a closer look at what addiction actually is.

Addiction can be physical and / or psychological. Being physically addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal. Let’s take drugs, for example. Drug addicts typically experience extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they stop using a substance.

And yes, you may experience some withdrawal-like symptoms if you cut down on e.g. carbs. You might have a headache and battle to concentrate. But here’s the difference: your body needs those carbs to function optimally. What you are experiencing is not withdrawal; it’s your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.

Food is essential to our survival, just like sleep, water, warmth, etc. Imagine you decided to restrict your sleep to two hours per day. You would probably fight the urge to sleep all day, but this does not mean you are addicted to sleep.

Psychological addiction, on the other hand, means that having / doing something helps you to feel better / cope. We become dependent on certain behaviours, such as turning to food when we need comfort or exercising to relieve stress. Psychological addiction is not necessarily always a bad thing. Plus, it’s usually easier to overcome than physical addiction, because we merely need to find an alternative behaviour that achieves the same outcome. For example, you might find that cuddling up with your partner gives you as much comfort as eating a tub of ice-cream.

Binge eating is a survival mechanism on overdrive.

We need food to survive, and an urge to overeat / binge is often a biological & psychological response to dietary restriction. Your body does not know the difference between voluntary restriction and famine, so it makes perfect sense to eat as much as possible while food is available – before the next famine starts.

Plus, food becomes immensely pleasurable when you have limited access to it. As a result, eating becomes a highly effective coping mechanism for dealing with life’s stressors. You might be “addicted” to the behaviour of overeating / bingeing to soothe, but not to the food itself.

So what can you do to end the food struggles for good?

Let me start of with an important disclaimer: binge & emotional eating are typically multifactorial, complex processes that require an individualized approach. If you want a more individualized plan, you can book a complimentary Binge-Free Game Plan call here.

That being said, here are four of the most effective strategies to help you to escape the urge to overeat / binge.

Tip number 1: Keep your body nourished by eating regular meals.

I’ve seen this time and time again with my clients in the Empowered Eating Academy: women who struggle with food tend to eat in a chaotic and unstructured way. They often skip meals (especially breakfast) or go for long hours without food. This then has a boomerang effect, where they find themselves overeating or snacking non-stop to compensate.

By eating at least 3 meals per day (plus optional snacks), you are giving your body a very important message: food is available; there is no need to binge. You are also preventing primal (urgent) hunger – a key overeating driving force.

Tip number 2. Get rid of restrictive food rules.

Do you live with internalized rules about what, when and how much you should be eating? Well, here’s the deal: food rules perpetuate the scarcity mindset that drives overeating. That’s because living with food rules is a form of restriction… even if you are providing your body with regular meals. This restriction usually triggers deprivation, resulting in overeating when your willpower runs out. Typically, once you break a food rule, you are likely to eat as much as possible before the restriction starts again.

Now, I know that ditching your food rules can be seriously scary. Plus, if you do this too aggressively, you could end up bingeing…and trusting yourself even less around food. This is why I recommend that you start by simply taking stock of your food rules, and then reframing them to be less absolute / rigid. Then challenge these rules one by one, in a controlled and relaxing environment.

Tip number 3. Use emotional coping tools.

Overeating and binge eating are almost always linked to an emotional state – be it stress, anxiety, sadness, or just feeling “meh”. The trick to not letting your emotional state affect your eating habits, is to identify what your emotional eating triggers are. Then, once you have done this, you can brainstorm alternative coping mechanisms for each emotional eating trigger. For example, if you tend to eat when you feel stressed, you might decide to try a stress-ball or some breathing exercises.

Finding coping mechanisms that really work for you takes a fair amount of trial and error, and sometimes these coping mechanisms just won’t do the trick. In this case, you might still choose to eat. But guess what? That is OK – as long as you stay present and avoid eating on autopilot.

Tip number 4. Re-frame negative food experiences in the context of learning.

Most people respond to a binge by beating themselves up and then trying to compensate with restriction or exercise. However, this response is ultimately going to keep the scarcity mindset going…and keep you stuck. How you respond to your binges can have a profound effect on how successful you are going to be in breaking free.

So instead of responding with guilt and compensation, respond with compassion and curiosity. Grab your journal and reflect on what events led up to the binge; on what you could have done differently; and on how effective the binge was in helping you to feel better. Reframe your binge in the context of the situation. In this way, you are learning from your binge and reducing the odds of it happening again in a similar situation. You are using your binge to your own advantage.

BONUS TIP – get support.

The journey to a healthy relationship with food can be lengthy and challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to accelerate your food freedom journey, so that you can be binge-free and feel confident about your health ASAP, then you may benefit from individualized professional support.

Apply for a complimentary call, where we can chat about your unique roadblocks and come up with an actionable plan for you. This will also give you a chance to decide whether you would like to join the Empowered Eating Academy.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Marna Oettle, RD & Food Freedom Expert