I'm the World's Top Binge Eater!
Or at least I used to be. It's funny because people look at me and assume I always eat perfectly, that I'm like a robot eating only for function not pleasure. Quite the contrary, my friends.
I'm the guy who once gained 27 pounds in six hours (measured for posterity), an event that led me to learn the pain of childbirth the next morning. I'd also routinely wake up in the middle of the night and eat all the good stuff in the house. Heck, a lot of times my wife would wake up without anything to eat for breakfast because I ate it all at night!
To reduce food intake without really thinking about it, and to facilitate fat loss, here are ten strategies I've used. Not all of them will be practical for everybody, but I'm telling you what works for me.
1. Do something physical for 7-15 minutes before you eat.
This will both blunt hunger and make you think twice about adding a non-planned meal.
2. Drink a protein shake before meals.
Ideally, use a protein powder that makes a thick shake like Metabolic Drive® Protein 10-15 minutes before your main meals. This will decrease hunger and make you satiated more easily, plus it gives you some extra muscle-building protein. Protein is extremely hard to convert to fat, so don't worry about that.
3. Don't eat carbs on the days you don't train.
This pretty much ensures that you'll have a caloric deficit on these days... unless you're stupid enough to compensate by eating a whole brick of butter! Skipping carbs on non-training days will allow you to lose fat without thinking too much about it, even if you eat more on the training days.
4. The most obvious one: don't buy crap.
If there's no junk food in the house I'm a lot less likely to eat it. Simple, yet few people do it. They might buy a pack of cookies thinking, "I'm only gonna have one." Newsflash: If the cookies are in your house, they will get eaten!
5. Only buy your groceries one day at a time.
I go to the grocery store every day at 9 AM and only buy my food for the next day. That way I make sure I can't eat more than planned. Now, going to the grocery store at 9 AM might not be practical for you, but you can go after work (or even better, after your evening meal).
The key principle is going to the store often to avoid having a lot of food available at your house. When I was preparing for a bodybuilding contest I even went to the store twice per day, buying half a day's worth of food each time. That's a bit extreme and you don't need to do that, but you get the idea.
6. Don't do anything else when you eat.
This is my biggest nemesis, so when I diet down I make sure never to do it. See, when you read, watch TV, or look at social media while eating, your brain gets two pleasure signals. You get twice the dopamine release as you would from only the meal.
Your brain doesn't dissociate the two sources of pleasure, and you start to associate food with a greater pleasure which reinforces your desire to have more of it. Plus, if you're doing something when eating you're not paying attention to satiety signals and you'll eat more.
7. It's better to eat with someone.
First, you're less likely to overeat when another person is present, especially if you're someone who needs approval from others or hates to look bad in front of other people. I'm always a lot more conservative with my eating when I'm around people. Of course this doesn't apply if you're with a competitive friend and challenging one another to an eating contest.
Another benefit of eating with someone is what I call the "French phenomenon." Despite a richer diet, the French are a lot leaner on average than North Americans. Why? Because the French do a lot of talking during meals!
Each meal is a social event. This greatly slows down the pace and by extension, food intake. Yes, you get an enhanced pleasure response, but you reduce food intake and take your time, which allows your satiety mechanisms to kick in. Eating slowly will get you satiated without eating as much.
8. Eat cheat meals in front of your significant other.
When I was a binge eater I'd always cheat when I was alone. Nobody around, no shame. And I'd just go crazy. I once asked my wife to wait outside the house while I was binging. Sometimes I'd ask her to go to her parents. That's how bad I was! Now, when I have a cheat meal I always do it when she's around. I don't want her to think I'm a pig.
9. If you're someone who wakes up in the middle of the night to eat, get dogs!
One thing that really helped me stop eating at night was getting three pugs. When I go to the kitchen they follow me because they know they're gonna get some food. So if I wake up and go to the kitchen they'll jump out of the bed, step on my wife, wake her up, and get her pissed off. So I stopped going to the kitchen at night. Okay, that might not be practical for everybody...
10. Go spend a week at an all-inclusive resort.
Seriously. These resorts have great buffets, but in the middle of the night you can't find any food. And there are no supermarkets on the resort so you can't store food in the room. You'll be spending seven days without eating at night. This will program you to stop that habit. But the buffet? Yeah, that can be an issue. But if you're in good shape then you probably don't like to look like a bloated whale on the beach, so you probably won't overindulge.
Some of these tricks might seem weird to you. And no, I didn't come up with them to be funny. I actually did all these things. And today, what I considered to be an eating disorder (binging) is fixed. I rarely overeat, I don't eat crap, and I don't feel deprived. You need to find a strategy that works for you.
There are a lot of cool tricks here; maybe only one will work for you. But it might be the difference between being lean or fat, and between feeling deprived or being happy.