It’s not something we like to admit to, but binge eating is extremely common among men who are trying to lose weight. It doesn’t matter how much weight you lose or how healthy your diet is, it’s likely there’ll come a time where you think ‘why did I eat all that?!’ as you bin the evidence of last night’s biscuit-fest. Going by the number of messages we get from men asking how they can get back on track after a binge, we’re not the only ones that struggle to get back on the wagon after overeating, so here’s 5 ways to bounce back from a binge.
Don’t: try and ‘make up for it’
After a spell of overeating, it can seem only natural to want to rein it in a bit by restricting what you eat to minimise the damage. But that’s not really how it works – if you go too far the other way and deprive yourself of food you’re more likely to experience another binge eating episode when you get so hungry that you eat whatever junk you can get your hands on. And then you’ll feel guilty and disappointed in yourself again, then like you need to cut back to compensate for it and it’ll all become a vicious circle that is extremely difficult to break out of. So don’t try and make up for it – instead, accept that it has happened and move on.
Do: get back to normal as soon as possible
How many times have you fallen off the wagon and thought ‘screw it, I may as well keep eating shit and start again on Monday’? We get it – there’s something very appealing about starting fresh on a shiny new week, but what’s the point? Take control now. Make your next meal the one where you get back to your normal healthy habits. You’re not going to be any happier if you’ve got another weekend of excess eating (quite literally) under your belt – you’re just going to feel even more sluggish and it’ll be even more difficult to get back to normal and then you’ll be even further away from your goals.
In the wise words of Unknown, if you had one flat tire you wouldn’t slash the other three (unless…would you? Weirdo) and so you shouldn’t give up on your goal because of one setback.
Do: drink water
Although you shouldn’t fall for the idea of ‘detoxing’ your body (spoiler: your body is pretty good at ‘detoxing’ itself without special smoothies and juices), you should definitely up your water intake. Drinking water will stop you from getting dehydrated from all the sodium you’ve likely just consumed and it will also help with digestion, making it less likely that you’ll become constipated.
Do: get moving
When you’re feeling lethargic and full after binge eating, you’re probably going to want to just lie on the sofa doing nothing except possibly clutching your belly and wailing, but although it’ll feel like the last thing you want, the best thing you can do is to get active. We’re not talking taking on a round of Insanity or heading straight to a spin class after polishing off a family-sized bag of crisps, but get yourself up and moving. Go for a walk and blow off the cobwebs – it doesn’t need to be an especially long walk, but getting yourself out of the house will take your mind off that uncomfortable full feeling and will help your body start to process all the excess food.
Do: cut yourself some slack
Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about it. Changing a lifetime’s worth of unhealthy eating habits is a monumental task and it’s not always going to be smooth sailing. Instead of berating yourself, try and see it as something to learn from. This is how you’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again, although let’s be honest, it probably will happen again purely because it’s such a hard habit to break. It can take a lot of time and effort to overcome.
If you think about the whys and hows of this binge eating episode, hopefully you’ll be able to identify what triggered it so you’ll be better prepared for the next time you come across the same feelings. Had a long and stressful day at work which made you seek comfort in a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s? Next time you start to feel frazzled, go for a walk, do some yoga or fire up a mindfulness app (here are 7 to get you started) to destress instead of turning to food.
But if you’re finding that you’re really struggling with frequent binge eating episodes and it’s affecting your mental and physical wellbeing, it’s worth going to see your GP or contacting the eating disorder charity Beat as getting help can make a world of difference. Don’t struggle in silence.