I've had “food issues” my entire life up until the last 2 years, when I finally learned how to stop restricting and prevent binge eating at the same time. I never thought that would be possible for me, but I finally stepped off the dieting roller coaster and onto the path to wellness. I finally learned it wasn’t a matter of just eating or just having willpower or strength. My body wasn’t nourished the way it needed to be. When I found out certain nutrients can actually prevent binge eating and other forms of disordered eating, I was sold. I implemented these 7 essential nutrients to prevent binge eating and finally healed my body from the inside out. There’s no temptation or struggle anymore and the depression and anxiety around food is gone thanks to my body being properly nourished. When the brain and body are nourished, a true balance occurs that you can’t achieve through willpower, diets or your own strength. Consult your health professional if you wish, and implement these into your routine, and feel the difference.
Protein is one of the most crucial nutrients to prevent binge eating and also depression. Amino acids make up protein molecules, so start by seeking out foods rich in quality amino acids. Cheap protein powders and inorganic meats are not what I’m talking about here. Seek out the best protein sources from humanely raised eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, raw and vegan protein powders which are less processed than animal ones, and foods like hemp seeds, which are rich in all essential amino acids. If you eat meat, try to buy organic and humanely raised chicken and turkey to prevent eating pesticides, hormones and anti-biotics, which can all contribute to poor nutrient absorption, among other health concerns. Protein not only keeps you satiated, but it aids in blood sugar regulation, prevents depression, and keeps your metabolism stoked. Aim for 10-15 grams every time you eat and when you have a snack, try to include about the same amount.
2. Healthy Fats
It is nearly impossible to eat a fat-free diet and be sane, happy, skinny and not feel the urge to binge. Your body will crave fat in every type of way when you don’t eat it. Don’t eat around fat; just eat a little fat! You know what I mean. The fat-free cookies, ice cream, bars, etc. The great thing about the right type of fat is that it tells us we are full. It also keeps us happy by preventing depression and mood swings, which lead to unhealthy bingeing and eating habits. Eat a little healthy fat at each meal (around 1-2 tbsp). You don’t need a ton, and a little goes a long way. Seek out quality fats from raw nuts and seeds, coconut oil, flax oil, olive oil and hemp oil, avocados, coconut, nut milks and fish. By eating these fats your metabolism is stoked, your brain is happy and your tummy tells you it is full. Fat also aids in digestion, which can help your body absorb nutrients and assimilate them throughout your body better. This aids in everything from appetite regulation to digestion and elimination. Don’t fear fat because it loves you, my dear!
While most of you have heard of fat and protein, I probably stumped you here on this one. Adapt-a-what? Adaptogens, my friends, are going to be your BFF when it comes to being more balanced to prevent binge eating and restricting. Adapatogens basically help you, well, adapt! They are specific herbs and foods with powerful abilities to regulate hormones in your body and stress levels. They either give you energy, or calm your nerves, depending on how your body is imbalanced. My favorite adaptogens are maca root powder, schisandra berry powder or tablets, ashwagandha root powder or tea, eleuthero root tea, holy basil tea, ginseng, and rhodiola as a supplement or tea. While I don’t personally use all of these myself, I have tried them and found each one to be extremely effective. I use maca root powder on a daily basis in smoothies because it has a lovely caramel flavor to it. It is rich in amino acids too, which I love for extra protein. I have noticed a tremendous difference in my stress levels, hormone levels, energy levels and have had no signs of disordered eating since using this. One of my patterns around disordered eating was that I binged or restricted when I was stressed and out of balance, depending on the situation. I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement and almost always feel balanced most of the time now. Try these adaptogens and see how you respond. They aren’t a cure-all, but they might make a huge difference.
4. Nutrients in Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are one of nature’s best gifts to us. In my opinion, there is no better food on the planet besides leafy greens. This comes from a girl who used to HATE vegetables, and wouldn’t even think of buying all that “green lettuce stuff” at the store, as I used to call the fresh greens in the produce section. My extent of eating vegetables consisted of carrot sticks, canned peas and corn as my veggie intake. Now, I buy tons of leafy greens on a weekly basis, sometimes twice a week. Why? Leafy greens are one of the best plant sources for calcium, magnesium, iron, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, folate, B vitamins, Vitamin K and Vitamin C. All of these nutrients are critical for keeping your body nourished. These greens clean out your cells and give you a very calming sensation when you eat them due to their nutrient composition. They have helped aid my depression, cure my acne and helped my thyroid. I used to have terribly low iron levels, and leafy greens like spinach and kale have helped to change that. If you’re new to leafy greens, I highly suggest starting with the milder, sweeter tasting ones such as romaine and spinach. They are incredibly tasty and great to use in a salad, or if you’re up to it, blend them with a banana and some strawberries and make a green smoothie. I love shredding kale with a little flax oil, lemon juice, and pepper to make a delicious salad as well. Kale is incredibly tasty, and would be the next green I recommend you to try. It has probably made the most difference in my health as I far as I can tell. Kale is also great in green smoothies if you’re up to it! Green is just a color so put that aside and get blending if you’re brave enough. You’ll probably never look back once you try a green smoothie. They’re a fast delivery system to get the nutrients from greens directly into your system, and help balance the body, which is key to preventing binge eating. Greens are also rich in fiber, which means they digest slower, and keep you full and satisfied longer. Work up to 2-3 cups or more a day.
Magnesium is one of the most critical nutrients you need in terms of health, and preventing binge eating. Why? Well, for starters, magnesium is responsible for regulating and maintaining tons of processes in your body. It aids in proper nervous system functioning and has the ability to increases your energy levels while also calming you down. It also helps maintain good joint health, blood sugar levels, and can even knock out headaches. For me, magnesium has been a great tool to combat anxiety, which I used to suffer from greatly. My anxiety led to bingeing and obsessing about food and calories. Most women are actually magnesium deficient, according to various studies, since magnesium competes with calcium in the body for absorption. Magnesium deficiency can cause Restless Leg Syndrome, depression, agitation, anxiety, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, heart arrhythmias and more. If you think you may need some extra magnesium, most sources recommend starting with 200-400 mg. of magnesium. Buy a reputable brand if you choose to use this mineral. Always consult your trusted health professional first. Magnesium can also be found in foods if you choose to go the natural route. Leafy greens, nuts, seeds, beans, dark chocolate, raw cacao, and whole grains are all great sources of magnesium.
6. Vitamin D
This vitamin is also known as “the sunshine vitamin” by many people. Vitamin D is a critical part of women’s health in today’s society. We naturally manufacture Vitamin D in our bodies by retaining natural sunlight. Unfortunately, due to climate changes, wacky weather and with many of the world being stuck in cubicles most of the day for their jobs, we don’t receive even a good percentage of the Vitamin D that we need. Vitamin D aids in preventing depression, colon health, calcium absorption and many different processes in the body. In terms of helping to prevent binge eating, I have found it useful in not only lifting my depression, but also aiding my digestive system, helping me to retain nutrients easier. Most doctors recommend taking a Vitamin D3 supplement, which is the highest bioavailable form of the nutrient. The recommended maximum dose is usually 5,000 I.U. (international units). Always check with your trusted health professional before purchasing or using any supplements.
I’ve saved possibly one of my favorite nutrients for last. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live inside your gut. Not only do these healthy bacteria aid in keeping your immune system and digestive system working properly, they also aid in depression. Did you know that 95% of the serotonin in your body, which is the "happy” hormone chemical, is made in your gut? If your gut isn't working top notch, you may be blue, depressed, anxious and not be absorbing nutrients from your food. All of these things can lead to binge eating. Some people also suffer from intestinal yeast overload from eating too many processed foods and sugary foods, even natural ones. This not only feeds yeast in the body, which can make you very sick, but also destroys your natural good bacteria, contributing to a host of health issues. This is where probiotics come in. Probiotics can be bought as a supplement, but really, you can get all the probiotics you need through the food you eat. My favorite sources are organic Greek yogurt (unless you’re vegan or don’t eat dairy for other reasons), homemade sauerkraut or kimchi (fermented veggies, that taste much like pickles), traditional dairy kefir, and homemade almond kefir. All of these foods are naturally delicious and rich in probiotics that serve your gut well. Probiotics greatly help to reduce depression, aid in nutrient absorption, regulate hunger levels and more. I recommend checking out Body Ecology’s website for a thorough explanation of how these work. You can also find the link to my almond kefir recipe below as well.
If you’re struggling with binge eating, know you aren’t alone. I’ve been in your shoes before, and overcame it all through making sure my body received the right nutrients. This reduced my stress levels, helped me absorb nutrients from healthy foods more efficiently so I felt full and satisfied, and also aided in depression that caused my binge eating. Have you ever struggled with binge eating?