If you are reading this, you are interested in improving your nutritional intake. Hopefully, by now, you know that flexible dieting works and you can earn the body composition you want and still eat every single food that you love, AS LONG AS IT FITS YOUR CALORIE & MACRO GOALS! One thing that can hinder progress, even with a flexible diet, is binge triggers that cause you to overeat and miss your goals for the day.
Some people, myself included, love flexible dieting. It’s not restrictive and it creates a healthier mindset than constant restriction of the foods you love. That restriction usually leads to an all out binge session on your designated cheat meals/days. However, binge eating can still be a problem with flexible dieting. For this reason, I do restrict my clients, and myself, a little bit with their food intake.
The thing(s) that needs to be identified and managed is what causes you to binge in the first place. Everybody has different binge triggers. Lets examine what we can do about them!
Hunger Binge Triggers
The first trigger that most people identify is that they tend to binge if they are very hungry. Flexible dieting can lead to lower food volume intake, since the foods you love are probably much more calorie dense than typical “clean” foods. The side effect of this is that you have less food in your stomach at any given time. This can lead to hunger pains and, eventually, a binge. So, what can we do about the Hunger Binge Trigger?
The first step is to add in more foods that aren’t as calorie-dense. This means you should be eating your fruits and vegetables! The easiest way to find out if a food is calorie dense is find the calories in 100g of the food. For example, 100g of broccoli is only 34 calories, while 100g of Oreo’s is roughly 480 calories. It’s obvious that the Oreo’s are more calorie dense, and can lead to a lower food volume intake overall. If you don’t particularly like fruits and veggies by themselves, find a while to get them into your meals. Almost every meal can have more veggies added, without much affect on the flavor/deliciousness! You can even throw some extra veggies on your favorite pizza for a higher food volume.
Increasing your food volume will reduce your feelings of hunger. This reduces your risk of the Hunger Binge Trigger. While most people who are maintaining, recomping, or bulking will not experience this trigger, those who are cutting can definitely experience it often! It is important to up your food volume to avoid this binge trigger.
Sweet Binge Triggers
To make this clear, this trigger doesn’t necessarily have to be from a sweet treat. It’s just that this trigger is caused by the “sweet” tooth for the majority of my clients (and myself 🙁 ). Most people have a certain food item that just causes them to lose control and eat way more than they should, invoking the “Fuck It” clause of their diet plan. For me, it happens to be chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts. If there is a surplus of either around me, I tend to overeat them throughout the day and completely ruin my calorie and macro intake for that day.
The first thing you need to do is to jot down every food item that tends to trigger a binge for you. This might take a few minutes, but most people can think of a couple right off the top of their head. Now that you have the list of foods that can cause a Sweets Binge Trigger, what can we do to manage them?
Managing Your Sweet Tooth
The first step that I like my clients to do is to completely remove the item from their house. For the first 30 days of the process, I don’t want them eating this food. The same goes for you! If you want to kick this binge trigger, you will have to avoid the food for a little bit to get a healthier approach ready for it.
Once you have went 30 days without it, you can start reintroducing this item into your diet. Make sure that this is still done sparingly. Start by having single servings available, and no extras laying around to call your name. So, lets use my triggers as an example. After 30 days of not eating choco-chip cookies and doughnuts, I will go and buy 1-2 doughnuts for the day and eat them. No more will be available to me immediately, unless I choose to go buy some more, which is an easy temptation to throw away. Maybe the next week, I will make a tiny batch of cookie dough and cook a couple cookies. I won’t be making a dozen, or even half dozen. You should become more accustomed to limited intake of the Sweets Binge Trigger foods.
Eventually, you may or may not get to the point that you can have a surplus of the trigger foods in your house without you ever having a binge incident. I actually got to this point with Oreo’s and Pop Tarts, which used to be major trigger for me. Slow and steady wins the race here. I don’t want you to have to give up your favorite foods forever. I just want you to be able to have a healthier relationship with those foods and still stay the course towards your goals. Your favorite foods should help you achieve your body composition goals, not hurt your progress!
External Binge Triggers
This is the last type of binge trigger that I’ll talk about today. This is more of a situational binge trigger. For example, do you eat a lot when you are sad, or mad? Most people have some sort of external binge trigger than can derail their progress.
This trigger also happens to be a little tougher to beat. Most of these triggers are emotionally heated. When we are emotional, we tend to avoid rational thinking, especially your dietary intake. The best thing that I can say to do is avoid any of your favorite foods when you encounter your External Binge Trigger. Instead, reach for some raw vegetables, like broccoli, carrots, celery, etc. You should quickly realize that this food intake helps you resolve the need for other foods that have the ability to hurt your progress. Even if you binge on vegetables, you probably won’t ruin your dietary goals for the day.
There are other ways to deal with this issue, like avoiding External Binge Triggers whenever possible. However, I find that the vegetable snacking is the easiest for the majority of my clients and it helps them reduce emotional eating in general. To learn more about emotional binge triggers, you can read this.
Hopefully this article helped you identify all of the possible/probably Binge Triggers in your life. Also, you are now armed with the information needed to manage these triggers. Fixing your triggers will improve your dietary intake, and results. If you happen to be just starting with your diet, or have never had success with dieting in the past, fixing your Binge Triggers could be the answer to your problems.
Most people don’t fail on their diet because they are lazy, or unmotivated. Most of the time, binges and too much restriction just causes a internal meltdown that leads to bad eating habits and less results. With a flexible dieting plan that manages your trigger properly, you won’t encounter this problem. Now, you are set up for dietary success!