Becoming a Food Anthropologist Helped End My Binge Eating

When I used to binge on peanut-butter chocolate-chunk cookies while hiding in my dark kitchen late at night, my internal dialogue afterward sounded something like this:

“I’m so disgusting. I have no self-control. My willpower sucks. I can’t be trusted to have cookies in the house. I should know better by now. Why can’t I eat like a normal person? Starting tomorrow, no more sugar; I'm addicted!”

These voices in my head were anything but helpful, especially since I would find myself back in the same place doing the same thing again just a few days later.

Unable to take this torturous binge-repent-repeat cycle anymore, I reached out for help. A very wise teacher taught me that I had a choice: I could either ban the cookies or ban the voices.

Since I loved the cookies and hated the voices, the decision was pretty easy—even though it seemed like an impossible feat considering how ingrained in my brain the voices were.

A Powerful Ally Voice
Making peace with food and your body requires silencing the voices in your head that are constantly critiquing, criticizing and condemning your eating.

Replacing these disempowering, unhelpful voices with empowering, supportive voices is key for reclaiming the Intuitive Eater within you.

One of the ally voices identified in Intuitive Eating that my clients and I really gravitate toward is the Food Anthropologist.

The Food Anthropologist is a neutral observer of your thoughts and actions.

It doesn’t make any judgments or emotionally react. Instead, it witnesses what’s going on from a place of pure objectivity.

Unlike your internal Food Police that dictate if you’re good or bad based on what or how you ate, the Food Anthropologist simply states the facts. It sounds like this:

  • I ate six cookies at 10:30 p.m. and experienced stomach pain and feelings of guilt, regret and shame.

  • I skipped lunch, which led to strong sugar cravings at 3 p.m.

  • My eating felt out of control with all the different food options at the party.

  • The uncomfortable pressure in my stomach indicated I was full, yet I continued eating. I was angry at myself for overeating.

  • When I felt anxious yesterday, I ate a pint of ice cream while watching TV.

Distant Perspective, Deeper Connection
The Food Anthropologist voice gives you much-needed distant perspective. Yet, it also helps you stay in touch with your physical and psychological cues by eliminating all the noise that typically disrupts this connection and clouds your thinking.

When coupled with curiosity, the Food Anthropologist helps you expand your self-awareness and empowers you to better understand and release beliefs and behaviors that are no longer serving you.

Not a Lack of Willpower
When I became an objective observer of my binge-repent-repeat cycle, I was able to see clearly what was driving my cookie binges. It didn’t have anything to do with a lack of discipline or willpower, a character flaw or a sugar addiction.

Instead, I discovered my binge eating was driven by multiple factors including a restrictive diet, rigid food rules, a false persona, perfectionism and a pleasure deficiency. By addressing the root causes of my behavior and amplifying my ally voices, my binge eating eventually stopped.

If the loudest voice in your head is a critical one, it can take time to shift to a neutral, nonjudgmental voice like the Food Anthropologist. If you would like help identifying and strengthening your ally voices, give me a shout.

5 Tips for Managing Your Afternoon Slump (Without Candy or Coffee)

Do you struggle with afternoon sugar cravings?

Many of my clients do.

Around 2:00-3:00 p.m., their eyelids grow heavy, their concentration nosedives, and cookies start calling to them.

Sugar is often their instant solution for boosting their energy. Yet, as most of us have discovered, this short-term fix quickly causes us to crash and crave more sugar.

Caving into your 3:00 p.m. cravings has nothing to do with a lack of willpower.

It’s completely natural to feel sleepy in the afternoon. And it’s completely understandable to seek a quick pick-me-up in the form of sugar—or caffeine, or both.

Programmed for Sleepiness
Your internal body clock produces circadian rhythms, including your sleep/wake cycle. This cycle rises and dips over a 24-hour period, with the strongest sleep drives occurring between 2:00-4:00 a.m. and 1:00-3:00 p.m.*

While there are many reasons why you might crave sugar in the afternoon (e.g., boredom, salt intake), this natural energy dip is certainly one of them.

How to Manage Your Slump
Here are five ways to manage your low energy and recharge without reaching for the candy bowl, cookie jar, cola can or coffee machine.

  1. Get enough sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, you will experience bigger swings of sleepiness and wakefulness—and bigger sugar and carb cravings.
     
  2. Take a catnap. A siesta is the best way to honor your body’s natural rhythm, so take a 15- to 20-minute nap if possible. Research shows that doing so can reduce stress, improve alertness and productivity, decrease blood pressure, and more.
     
  3. Eat a protein-rich lunch. If I eat a carb-heavy lunch (e.g., bread, pasta), I might as well take a sleeping pill.

    I perform best when my midday meal is composed of lean protein, healthy fats and unrefined fiber (e.g., wild salmon with avocado and veggies).

    Like me, you may find this combo gives you steady blood sugar levels, sharper mental focus, a stable mood and longer lasting energy. Experiment to discover what ratio works best for you.
     
  4. Get off your rump. Sitting and staring at a screen for hours on end is a surefire way to exacerbate your afternoon slump.

    To perk up, head outside for a 15-minute walk. The movement, sunshine and fresh air will help restore your energy.
    If a walk outdoors isn’t feasible, cruise around your office building, stand while talking on the phone, or do some stretches, jumping jacks or push-ups.
     
  5. Drink up. Your afternoon slump will feel more intense if you’re dehydrated. Instead of turning to an energy drink, go for a rejuvenating glass of water. 

Despite all these tips, sometimes a bit of sugar or hit of caffeine will be exactly what you need.

What's most important is that you listen to and honor your body's wisdom. Ask yourself: In this moment, what does my body truly need to feel restored at the deepest level?

*Source: National Sleep Foundation

Do You Struggle With Sugar Cravings? Try This...

Do you constantly crave chocolate, cookies or cupcakes?

There are many reasons why you might crave sugar, from a dietary imbalance, chronic dehydration and sleep deprivation, to stress overload, suppressed emotions and a pleasure deficiency.

Your cravings could be driven by one thing, or many things.

One way to tame your sweet tooth is by adding more bitter veggies to your diet, such as:

  • Arugula
  • Broccoli rabe (rapini)
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Mustard greens
  • Radicchio
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress

Consumption of bitter foods can help reduce sugar cravings and balance blood sugar.

They also have numerous other health benefits, such as improving digestion and nutrient absorption, detoxifying the liver, reducing cancer risk, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

For more tips on understanding and reducing your sugar cravings, check out this, this and this. Oh yes, and this, too.