This month I have a noticed a theme in the people I counsel. The feast and famine that occurs from the weekend to the week. The “I’m so good during the week” touting. Then the wonder of why they go hog wild on the weekend with their food intake (plus or minus alcohol). Come Monday, I see and hear a lot of the “What to do after a weekend of binge eating?”, the aftermath from the weekend wildness. So I decided this would be a great topic to unpack.
Firstly, I’d like to disclaim this article is not about binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a formally recognized eating disorder and needs to be treated by specialized health care professionals. A binge eating episode is just that – an episode of overeating but doesn’t meet the psychiatric diagnosis.
Most of us have episodes of overeating from time to time, but what I would like to help out with is the consistent overeating and wondering why this is going on. So, let’s talk about the effects of the binge restrict cycle.
Are you stuck in diet mentality?
Having a dieting mindset for the week and having “cheat days” on the weekend probably leaves you feeling out of control and low energy. The fix to this is to allow yourself more foods (and foods you restrict) during the week, and not just saved up for the weekend. This is called “unconditional permission” to eat. You have that right. Pay attention to those hunger and fullness cues, and you will be heading on a more balanced and peaceful path.
And if you’re worried about gaining weight – do the math. You end up eating more during the weekend wildness than you would have if you had just spread the food out during the week. Right? So please get rid of that “cheat day” thang.
Are you getting your needs met?
So many times in our life – in the day, quite frankly – our needs are not being met, and if we aren’t aware, this cry from the body manifests in other ways. Like eating when we’re not hungry…
Getting that palate and brain pleasure temporarily distracts us from really dealing with what we are not getting. An example is going buck wild on the weekends after a stressful week at work. If you aren’t at a job where you feel aligned with, or you feel disempowered or overworked, you rebalance this for your soul on the weekends. A way to fix this is to either find a new gig (if need be or able), or increase your self-care activities. Start creating stronger boundaries at work and home (i.e. blocking out your calendar for a lunchtime workout or meditation session, or delegating or saying no more). Sometimes it’s not getting enough affection from your partner, so get some hugs and touch from your friends, dogs, and children. Or maybe it’s simply nature you need; step outside each day and get away from cars and people and be alone with mother earth. Bottom line – check in with yourself and ask, “what do I need right now?”. If you are in fact hungry, EAT!
Alcohol lowers blood sugar
If you are over-indulging in some spirits (or whatever alcohol you delight in) and see that your food intake increases dramatically, there are several reasons this might be going on. First, it’s important to note that alcohol can interfere with the liver’s release of glucose, and can result in low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for up to 12 hours after you have a drink. This triggers us to eat more, especially if you are drinking on an empty stomach. You will really go to town on that food tray. Sooooo… if you notice you have more binge episodes on the weekend and they just so happen to be after you drink, try this: 1. Eat a well balanced meal or snack before you consume alcohol (fat/protein/complex carb) 2. Drink plenty of water 3. Don’t diet during the week 4. Be moderate with your alcohol intake. If this is an issue, you might have an issue and you need to get support for this.
With all that being said… if you still decide to binge:
Be compassionate with yourself and try really really hard not to judge and be harsh with precious you. It’s OK and you’re OK. Just breath and know your body will process the food and you will feel better soon. You are just that miraculous. Something you can do after you find your center is to ask yourself (in a very loving way), “what preceded this binge episode?”. Take a look at those 3 reasons above and see if you fall into those. Or perhaps it’s something else. You are worth diving in to find out. Right?
Studio SWEAT Dietitian