Weight Loss Diary: Binge eating and cheat meals

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

If there’s one problem hindering my weight loss progress, it has to be the issue of my self-discipline and self-control when it comes to food. I am a total junk foodie (or is it food junkie?) and I rather snack than eat proper meals.

When I was just 12 years old, I could eat six pieces of roti prata with egg and two Milo Dinosaurs. That was just for breakfast. I love all kinds of snacks – potato chips, chocolates, sweets, biscuits, whatever that comes in packages. Once I open them, I will definitely finish them. Rationing and portion control just doesn’t seem to exist in my dictionary.

The past few months I’ve embarked on a new Eat Clean, Train Mean, Get Lean regime and it has been really tough trying to stay away from all these snacks. Look, I can easily eat two huge packets of Lay’s and three tubes of Tim Tams in one sitting – and still go on. Get the ones in smaller packets you say? Doesn’t work for me either – I would just open one small packet after another.

Screenshot_2013-03-16-06-35-35-1I have managed to avoid these snacks relatively well, but then I ran into the issue of binge eating. Binge eating is defined as a person eating a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time than he or she normally would. During binge eating, you also feel a loss of control and just keep eating and eating.

Binge eating is a problem and it can hamper weight loss efforts. You might either not lose weight or worse, end up gaining weight. This all depends on how often you binge eat and how much you eat during the binge. If you have been restricting calories the whole week, then you may not gain weight but it will then be hard to achieve any weight loss.

I notice that my binges are usually at night, especially after restricting calories for the whole day. I would be doing good all day, keeping to my clean meals and then suddenly my eyes would rest on that box of Ferrero Rochers and poof, in 15 minutes I cleaned out the 36 pieces. While I’m wolfing these down, there is a small voice at the back of my head trying to scream at me but I would suppress it and just stuff my face even quicker.

By the time I’m done and I stare at all the empty gold foil wrappers in the dustbin, the guilt sets in big time. Rushing out for a run after that is not a solution; neither is starving yourself the next two to three days. It really makes me feel horrible because I would recall how I pushed so hard in the gym, only to throw it all away in that 15 minutes of over-indulgence. Foolish.

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Don’t kill yourself with guilt – if you do burst and binge, so be it. Just make sure you get back on track the next day. Try to determine the reason behind the binge and prevent it moving forward. It could be too much exercise, not enough protein or fat, not enough sleep or taking certain medication that induces appetite.

Some people say, it’s alright, just treat it as a cheat meal. What are cheat meals? A cheat meal is when you deliberate cheat on your diet by eating junk food or whatever you want or are craving for. Some people’s definition of a cheat meal is one hamburger or having two steaks instead of one or having a plate of fried noodles. My definition? Probably a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, a tin of butter cookies or a huge brownie with ice cream.

Cheat meals are actually encouraged for a diet plan – here are some reasons:

• To prevent binging
Pre-scheduling a cheat meal would mean allowing that indulgence so you won’t keep resisting your cravings until you burst. By planning ahead, it means keeping to your ‘Eat Clean’ diet plan until it’s time for your cheat meal and not spontaneously binging and then calling it your cheat meal.

• Good for metabolism
If you are eating clean all the time, throwing in a cheat meal will help to keep your body guessing so it doesn’t get used to how you burn calories. That way, the body will keep working hard so you won’t hit a plateau. It’s similar to how you should vary your workout routine to ‘shock’ your body so it doesn’t get used to it and require less effort than before. Do the same for your diet.

But hey, a cheat meal doesn’t mean going crazy and just whacking five times the calories of your diet plan. It just means giving yourself that little treat so that you don’t end up bursting after holding in all the cravings. For example, it can be as simple as adding a cup of ice cream to your dinner one day a week. Go ahead and set one cheat meal a week, while eating clean the rest of the week.

For me, I have not intentionally set any cheat meals or cheat days into my diet plan because I know that I can’t just stop at one cup of ice cream or two pieces of Tim Tams. I will definitely end up eating the entire tube. It’s an unhealthy problem and one that can kill my diet plan. It’s a psychological thing I know, and I will try my best to overcome it.

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Actually my problem doesn’t just apply to snacks – it’s just me and my lack of self-control. Once I eat something I like, I can’t (or won’t) stop and will just end up losing control suddenly. For example, I was allowed to eat wholemeal bread as part of my diet plan and then one day something hit me and I polished off an entire loaf of wholemeal bread at one go. I’m a huge lover of bread by the way (read about my addiction to bread here).

The funny thing is, when it comes to proper food like say, grilled chicken or noodles, I am able to stop halfway and not finish the entire plate or bowl. I need to overcome this monster in me. If you also have this problem, let’s work on it together ok? Just keep telling yourself that the snacks won’t run away, they will always be there, you will always be able to get them so there’s no hurry to eat them now or eat them all up.

Read the rest of my Weight Loss Diary entries here.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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