How to stop binge eating, according to nutritionist who did

Stop dieting

Rachel Hosie
Monday 23 April 2018 13:05
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An Australian nutritionist has revealed how she binge ate for years before finally setting herself free.

Jessica Sepel is a nutritionist and health influencer who has regularly spoken out about her history with dieting - from the age of 14, Sepel says she was caught in a cycle of binging and restricting herself.

But she now says she has developed a healthy relationship with food and her body and has shared her top tips to help other people do the same.

Sepel says her life used to consist of: “exercising twice a day (for two hours at a time), eating only skinny diet foods, weighing myself daily (and allowing the number to determine who I was), skipping meals, anxiously jotting down every diet rule into a notepad, trying every radical diet out there, punishing my body with food restriction, feeling terrible amounts of fear around food (especially at family/social gatherings), struggling with weekend binges and criticising my body all day long.”

Now, however, she says she’s “let go and found freedom” by only doing forms of exercise she actually enjoys (and embracing rest time), never weighing herself, eating whole foods because they make her feel good and focussing on health rather weight.

With this experience behind her, Sepel understands what many people go through: “A range of feelings can trigger emotional eating; whether we’re sad, lonely, happy or excited, we turn to food for comfort.

“But bingeing is triggered by deprivation, which leads to a vicious cycle,” she wrote on her blog.

Here are Sepel’s six tips for overcoming binge eating:

1. Stop dieting, restricting and depriving yourself

Cutting back on calories drastically results in your body going into what’s known as starvation mode, which can then often lead to a binge.

“Instead of depriving your body of food, it’s time to start nourishing yourself and healing your relationship with nutrition,” Sepel says.

2. Allow yourself to enjoy your food

Stop labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as this leads to food guilt and emotional eating. Instead, try and eat mindfully, being aware of what you’re eating.

“It’s so important to sit down, eat slowly and enjoy the eating experience,” Sepel stresses. “Enjoy each mouthful and practise positive affirmations at mealtimes.”

3. Listen to your body

So often we eat out of habit or boredom, but really we should be tuning into our appetite and what our body is really craving. Next time you feel hungry, ask yourself what you really need and want.

“Maybe you just need some water, a rest or a walk outside in the fresh air,” Sepel suggests. “When you’re feeling hungry, give yourself permission to eat – without guilt – and respect your body when you’re not hungry.”

4. Commit to a balanced diet

Remember there’s no such thing as a “perfect” diet, so don’t feel bad about not following one. But Sepel stresses the importance of eating real whole foods such as organic proteins, grains, leafy greens, colourful vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses.

Like many health experts, Sepel advocates the 80:20 approach - eating nourishing food 80 per cent of the time and allowing herself to indulge with joy the other 20 per cent.

5. De-stress

Stress often leads to comfort eating, so it’s important to consciously try and lower your stress levels. Sepel recommends: “deep belly breathing, switching off from social media, sleeping early and reducing stress when eating.”

She also suggests putting your phone down, turning the TV off and taking two deep breaths before your next meal.

6. Love yourself

Treat your body and yourself with something other than food - Sepel recommends doing one thing per day that’s pleasurable, whether it’s taking a bath or watching your favourite TV show.

“One of the most powerful ways to practise self-love is to accept yourself in this moment – just as you are,” Sepel says. “Release the need to judge, blame or criticise yourself and know that you are entitled to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.”

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