Do you struggle with binge eating or other bad eating habits?

These days, the pressure to be slim and healthy can feel overwhelming at times. Whether you find yourself staring longingly at idealised images of celebrities in glossy magazines or on social media, it can feel like a battle sometimes to eat properly. This isn’t helped by the general busyness of our day-to-day lives. Have you ever rushed around a supermarket after work, picking up convenience meals only to find yourself feeling guilty at the check-out aisle? Not only can the gaze of others make us feel self-conscious, it can also increase the negative impact on our eating habits as we start feeling despondent – “I just can’t be bothered anymore”. If you’re always on a diet, obsessed with your bathroom scales, then it’s likely you may also worry about fitting into your clothes. Whether it’s a tight-fitting pair of work trousers or a reluctance to buy new clothes in larger sizes – “I’ll treat myself to some new clothes once I lose some weight” – you never quite seem to lose the weight you want. And yet we easily part with money to buy the latest technology, bag or pair of shoes, but we don’t seem to place the same value on our own health.

Binge eating and overeating

Everyone tends to binge or overeat at times, especially as the nights get darker and the colder weather sets in over the winter months. However, it becomes an issue when a person’s relationship with food is unhealthy e.g. when they come to depend on food to feel a certain way. This could be the type of food you choose, e.g. comfort food like chocolate when you’re feeling down, or choosing larger or multiple portions of food because it just makes you feel good. Unfortunately, overeating becomes a bad habit and a hard one to break. As you increase your level of food over time, your stomach will stretch, which means you will need to keep eating at this level to feel full. Have you ever asked yourself why you eat so much or so badly?

Your relationship with food

Therefore, if you binge or comfort eat, snack excessively, struggle with portion size or otherwise eat in a problematic way, there could be an underlying emotional cause. Your relationship with food may relate to issues that aren’t even food-related. For example, you may have taken comfort in food after a bad relationship break-up. This became a problem for one of our clients:

“Many years back, I had been in a difficult relationship and as part of my attempts to leave itI saw Mark as a counsellor. I went back to see Mark about two years later to help me deal with my binge eating, which had started during the relationship. Looking at my eating patterns I came to realise that food, like my ex, could bribe me into doing things that I didn’t want to do. I felt emotionally blackmailed by food as I had been by my ex. Mark helped me to see that because I had left my ex I could also change my relationship with food. The strength and determination that I drew upon to leave my relationship I used to manage my binge eating.” 
Ms T

There doesn’t HAVE to be a serious emotional issue, of course. We have seen many people who are just plain bored in life and who overeat simply to fill the time. You may have decided, even on a sub-conscious level, that eating less will make you feel happier. However, when you restrict yourself from your source of comfort, you will inevitably feel worse. Therefore, the root cause of your bad eating habits needs to be tackled before you can make any progress.

Support for bad eating habits

Throughout the years, we have seen various underlying issues that either cause or contribute to mild and moderate eating problems. Negative eating habits can form over many years and are characterised by the repetition of certain behaviours. If these habits are to be broken, then it is vital that a new set of eating behaviours are firstly developed and then repeated. We support people to overcome binge eating and bad eating habits by changing negative eating patterns into positive behaviours.

“When I first met Mark, it didn’t take long for him to discover that I had tried many times to eat sensibly. My attempts were always completely unrealistic fantasies – losing a stone in a week, that type of thing. It was hard to set more realistic goals because they felt so small and insignificant, but I came to understand that to sustain sensible eating I had to do it slowly.” 
Ms K

So, if you would like a new, more positive relationship with food, please get in touch for advice and support on how you can approach your issues. At CWI, we provide 1-2-1 therapy and coaching services and we will soon be running courses focused on managing the mild to moderate eating problems discussed in this article. More information on this subject can be found here.