I was recently lucky enough to have a question answered by one of the health and fitness industry's most well known and respected nutrition experts, Ben Coomber. As part of the newly launched #AskSFNShow I asked Ben for his tips on dealing with binge eating. You can watch the full video here. I was surprised by his answer and how relevant it was to me. Admitting this is not his expertise, Ben focused not so much on tips to stop, but actually a few thoughts on how binge eating can even start. One of the first things he mentioned was clean eating, which got me thinking... Clean eating
When I was first introduced to clean eating, it was like a lightbulb moment. I was exercising regularly and eating reasonably well but I'd hit a plateau with my weight loss and had been stuck there for a long time. My diet wasn't exactly horrific - I'd already cut down on takeaways, fry ups and pizzas! Some days dinner would be wholewheat pasta dishes with homemade tomato sauces, but with half a garlic baguette. Other days it was breaded chicken fillets with rice and a jar of Uncle Ben's sweet and sour sauce... granted not the healthiest, but these had been an improvement on my previous diet and had helped me go from a size 16 to size 10, but I was still always unhappy with my podgy little belly.
So the day I learned about the concept of clean eating, suddenly everything made sense. I'd been consuming processed meats and sugar filled sauces, cereals and yoghurts all this time! Cutting them out initially made a huge difference to my body. I started fitting into size 8 clothes and was the leanest I'd ever been! A few months into this great new "lifestyle", I went to Amsterdam for a weekend, where I wore pencil skirts and crop tops with confidence. I was feeling great but over indulged (like you do on holiday!) and came back feeling bloated and annoyed at myself for eating rubbish. Of course I got straight back to clean eating in an effort to undo the damage, and that I reckon, was the beginning of my long and exhausting battle between my love of food and my fear of getting fat.
The beginning of my binge eating.
I don't remember having such strong feelings of guilt and shame about food before then. I ate what I wanted to, when I wanted to, and didn't care. I just enjoyed it! These days my whole life revolves around food and trying to lose fat. I'm a comfort eater and always have been, but it's only over the last couple of years that I've spent evenings eating so much food I feel sick, and then continuing to stuff more and more chocolate into my mouth, until my belly is so swollen and painful that I can't even find a comfortable position to lie in bed! I wake up the next day full of guilt and regret and vowing to get back to eating well.
I've always prided myself on the fact that I've never been on an actual "diet" throughout my entire weight loss journey. However, lately I realise I've been lying to myself! According to the Oxford dictionary this is the definition of a diet:
a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.
Clean eating restricts you to particular foods - nothing processed, no refined sugars or grains, everything in as natural a state as possible. For some people this kind of restriction may lead to orthorexia - an obssession with eating foods one considers to be healthy - and ending up underweight and malnourished. For me, it lead to binge eating. I'd eat "good" for so long and then "fail" by eating a bar of chocolate. Well now I've ruined it, I might as well make the most of it and eat every bad thing ever before I get back on the clean eating wagon tomorrow, right? I'd go on to eat a tub of ice cream, a packet of biscuits, 4 slices of nutella toast and half a jar of peanut butter. Not even exaggerating.
Food should be enjoyed!
Nobody can argue that meat, fruit and veg aren't good for you, with their many nutritional benefits, but restricting yourself to them? Not so healthy. The weeks that I promise not a single naughty treat shall pass my lips, are the weeks that end in a 1000+ calorie binge. Some foods might not be great for your health or your body composition, but they are good for your soul!
I couldn't disagree more with this meme and it pisses me off every time I see it on social media. If you don't enjoy something, you're not going to stick to it so you're not going to reach your goals! Yes, I am on a pre wedding diet, I am trying to eat healthy and I am counting macros. I may not be eating my soul foods every day, but I am definitely not cutting them out! Food is a wonderful thing that brings people together and it should be enjoyed. Don't deprive yourself. Don't punish yourself for eating the odd burger. You're only human! You wouldn't watch a tv show you don't like, so why should you force yourself to eat things that don't bring you joy? If you don't enjoy running, don't do it! If you don't enjoy salad, don't eat it! If you do enjoy a chocolate chip cookie...? Go ahead and bloody well have one every now and then. Eat it, enjoy it, and carry on with your life. Never think about the cookie again - except to remember how much you enjoyed it!
I'm slowly working on changing my mind set and feelings towards food. I am done with clean eating. There should be no "good" or "bad" foods. No guilt or self hatred. Scott Baptie did a very interesting talk on this subject at last year's SFN Expo, pulling the whole idea of clean eating apart by forcing you to look at it from other perspectives and making the whole damn thing seem ridiculous in the process. Yes some foods do have more health benefits and I still believe they should make up the majority of your daily food intake, but a little bit of what you fancy does not make you a terrible failure of a human being!
Life is short. Stay fit and healthy but do what makes you happy, spend time with the people you love & eat the foods that bring you joy!
So what do you do when you finally get round to sitting your driving test and somehow miraculously pass first time...?
Drive to Aberdeen for burgers to celebrate, of course!
Technically we were through for an all important ring purchase, but I can always make time for a good burger. Angus and Ale has been on my radar for a while, and seeing as the new Oliver Bonas store has opened right across the road, it was the perfect time to visit.
Angus & Ale does exactly what it says on the tin... burgers and beer. They do them so well that Gordon has officially proclaimed it the best burger in Aberdeen! (Full round up feature coming soon!) Most burger joints these days are going for the old school American diner feel but Angus & Ale has more of a clean and sleek looking interior. There's a touch of class with the stylish bar, spotlights and exposed granite feature wall.
The menu is simple - beef burgers, non beef burgers, sides, sauces and ice cream. All their burgers are made with the highest quality produce - 100% Angus beef, dry aged on the bone for no less than 28 days. Gordon chose the jalapeno option from their specials board and was presented with this gigantic tower of brioche bun, salad, onion rings, burger, jalapenos and cheese. It's the most impressive and instagramable burger I've ever seen and he assures me it tasted just as impressive! As I'm still on a mission to lose a little fat before my wedding day, I opted for the healthiest choice - a chicken burger topped with gherkin and smothered in a delicious mustard mayonnaise, along with a generous side salad instead of the salted rosemary chips. The chicken breast was satisfyingly filling and cooked to perfection - not dry in the slightest!
Situated on Schoolhill between the two shopping centres, its the perfect place for a casual lunch date in the city centre. A relaxed atmosphere and friendly service, along with the chilled reggae sounds of Bob Marley, makes for good vibes all round but the burgers are 100% the star of the show!
Where's your favourite place to go for a decent burger?
My second day in the life vlog is live on Youtube!
A look at my pull day workout, shopping at the new Oliver Bonas store in Aberdeen, a lunch date at Angus & Ale and the rest of my food intake for the day. Plus I get ripped off in Coast and Gordon tortures me with pizza... enjoy!
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What would you like to see on my vlogs in the future?