A #badashbabe recently messaged me that she was struggling with emotional eating after completing a recent bikini competition. She said
This facebook message turned into an email conversation that revealed more serious issues that she had developed after completing her show.
Here was my response:
Stress eating is caused by two things:
– carbohydrates (especially sweets) trigger the production of feel good brain chemicals (dopamine and serotonin). When we get stressed out, our brain sends emergency signals to screaming “hey help me!! I want to feel better”. Our body knows that in the past we have eaten carbohydrates and gotten a neurochemical “fix” so we begin to crave sweets to extinguish stress. (this is why you may have heard that “sugar lights up the same areas in the brain as cocaine” thus sugar is addictive…I don’t agree that sugar is as physically harmful as cocaine, but it is definitely addictive).
How to get the same physiological brain change WITHOUT SUGAR
-meditation is wonderful for creating feel good brain chemicals, as is sun light, walking, sex and hugs.
Re-train your brain to understand that sugar is not the only way to get a chemical fix, you can get the job done calorie and side effect free with the aforementioned substitutes.
2. Emotional attachment to food/ “comfort”
– Many of our cravings are deeply rooted as symbols of comfort in our subconscious mind.
For example: birthday cake and ice cream
When you were a kid, your friends and family gathered every year to celebrate your life. One of the center pieces of the event was birthday cake. A big, colorful, sweet treat that literally had your name on it. The cake symbolized how much people love you. Thus, you make the connection that cake = love.
Fast forward to today- you get dumped by a boyfriend, you feel like s@$#, you go to baskin robbins and order ice cream with birthday sprinkles.
We have MANY food attachments and they are not all bad. There is nothing wrong with connecting a box of chocolates to validation on valentines day.
Emotional attachment to food only becomes an issue when food is used as a coping strategy for stress or a means of feeling love, validation, or significance.
If you have many food attachments that are out of hand, we call that an eating disorder.
Dormant eating disorders can be triggered up when certain foods that hold emotional value are off limits for a period of time (i.e., prepping for a comp, dieting…this is why i meal plan based on my client’s current eating habits rather than telling them to eat chicken and asparagus for breakfast lunch and dinner. as you see, it can be harmful)
As for your IBS
You have developed this likely because you removed many foods from your diet during your comp prep which cased your body to cease the production of certain digestive enzymes. This causes food to enter into your large intestine partially digested which in turn causes gas (from gut bacteria fermenting the food) then diarrhea (the bodies reaction to fermentation)
The answer to this:
Slowly increase your fat intake and pay attention to what bothers you most.
In some circumstances it’s not all bad to have a negative reactant to a food that may trigger binge eating (i.e. chocolate). if the reaction is bad enough you may create a negative emotional attachment to the food which will keep from eating it all together. Some foods we are better off without 🙂
The Bottom Line
I don’t necessarily think that competing in a bikini competition itself is bad. I do think that the way you diet to get that physique can be harmful depending on how you structure your diet….
I believe if you demonize certain foods that you once had a strong emotional attachment with, you can trigger an eating disorder.
If you can prepare for a competition realizing that you will one day return to eating the foods you ate before and that there is not “good” or “bad” food, then you’ll be fine.
And I believe when you remove all variety from your diet (especially drastically reducing fat intake) then you will need some time to reintroduce foods back into your diet once you return to eating normally.
It’s defiantly not good to deprive yourself for 12 weeks and then go on a crazy pizza, cookie and ice cream binge….but unfortunately this is the norm for most competitors.
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