026. How to Conquer Binge Eating – what you NEED to know with Caitlin Mudd (@caitlinmuddnutrition)

@bingefree.nutritionist

Written By:

Category:

Ryann Nicole


Connect with Caitlin

📲 Instagram: @caitlinmuddnutrition

Episode Transcript

Ryann

Alright friends, I am so excited for today’s episode. I have Caitlin here, otherwise known as Binge Free Nutritionist on Instagram. Caitlin, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. I’m so excited to chat with you.

Caitlin

Thank you. I am so excited to finally get to chat with you and just share some little bits of wisdom today.

Ryann

Yes, all right. So for anybody who’s listening who hasn’t come across your amazing Instagram that we will direct them to at the end of this episode. Tell us a little bit about what your story is and then what prompted you to start your Instagram account kind of around supporting binge eating.

Caitlin

Yeah, so I’m honestly really open with kind of shows everyone that I have the education as well as the experience as well. And so for me, I’m very open about the fact that I was very aware of my own body image issues and kind of my struggle or bad relationship around food at a very young age. I remember, you know, fourth grade being the first time that I, you know, if we’re reflecting back, it’s the first, like, you know, little bit of insight that I had that I was struggling. And I remember just being very aware that I was a little bit heavier than the other girls in my grade. They were very, very thin. And I’ll give, you know, the disclaimer that I do have thin privilege, so I haven’t had the same experiences as someone who does live in a larger body.

However, I was just very aware that I was not thick thin, and so I was very much so concerned with everything that I was eating, comparing it to the other girls. And honestly, I struggled with that, and it progressively got worse throughout grade school, high school, all the way through college, and into my dietetic internship. And it looked very different at the start. It was more very restrictive. I was eating as little as I could, working out as much as I could. I played softball in high school. Never was really a runner, but whenever I had a friend who started running and I saw her, you know, weight loss with it. I decided that I wanted to become a runner and I really used that as a way to earn my food and make up for it. And eventually, you know, I hit the point of the binge side of it where I had restricted so much that I would fall into a binge episode.

And it went all the way, like I said, through my dietetic internship and, you know, hit rock bottom one time and just decided I can’t do this any longer. And that is when I found intuitive eating and started implementing those principles in my own life. And so I went into clinical dietetics as clinical dietician for about a year and a half and realized that I just was not passionate about it. I had this education, I had this experience that could help me help other women who really needed the help that I did not receive because I kind of flew under the radar with it. I tried to hide it. And so I wanted to be that, you know, support for those other women and also to shed light on it because, like I said, I flew under the radar. And so many other women fly under the radar and kind of think, oh, well, it’s my own personal struggle. Like I need to deal with it on my own.

And I want to shed light on that and show them that they should seek out help and that they can overcome it. That is where I started my binge-free nutritionist on Instagram. So that’s my back story.

Ryann

I love that. I think that you and I have very similar stories, which I feel like is why we connect so well. And I really love that you drew attention to the fact that there is this major piece of flying under the radar because there is that huge shame element, but also when we’re in it, it is so easy to feel so alone in it because it’s just something that not a lot of people talk about. And something that you just said that I’ve never really thought about is when I started my master’s for counseling, and when I was getting into therapy, I was still struggling with my binge eating as well. And so what was it like for you, like, because mine wasn’t focused on the food stuff, but like for you to kind of still be struggling with binge eating, but also be in this program for dietetics and like learning all this stuff about food and nutrition.

Caitlin

Yeah, honestly, and that’s kind of something that I joke about now that I have that healthy relationship with food. But I think a lot of dietitians get into this practice into, you know, the intuitive eating, you know, area. And, you know, they, they want to help women because of their own struggles. And so with that being said, even in my undergrad and in my dietetic internship, it was basically the norm to have that unhealthy relationship with food. And it’s very much framed as being healthy. So if you are eating a salad every single day for lunch, like that is deemed healthy and it’s not deemed as restrictive at all. And with the people that I was around and the classes that we were taking, that was very diet centered, very much so, like morbidities based on, and like the weight centric, it was very, very triggering for me.

And I think that it really fed into my disordered eating. I think that, like I said, I was deeming it as being healthy. And it, and I use that term that we’ll probably talk about today, but the, you know, lack of willpower, I thought it was my own personal problem and that no one else was struggling with it, that they were just being healthy. And so I think that, you know, the, the program in itself and being very diet and weight centered really fed into my problem.

Ryann

Yeah. Okay. One more question about your own experience and then we’ll dive into the good stuff. So do you feel like for you, like as you were learning more about dietetics and nutrition and just different food groups and all of that kind of stuff, it almost made it harder to let go of the diet culture? Because I feel like so many people who struggle with this fall into this trap of like thinking it’s because I don’t know enough about food. And like I always feel like it’s almost like you know too much and like the more that you learn the harder it is to unlearn and let go of.

Caitlin

Yeah absolutely. I think that honestly and I say this as well if I wasn’t so like if I didn’t have such an unhealthy relationship with food and didn’t obsess over it and, you know, do all of the research, I probably wouldn’t have went into dietetics. And I’m thankful for it now, but like they say, the starved brain is like an obsessed brain. And so it just made sense for me to go into nutrition and made sense for me to go into dietetics because that’s all I thought about. That’s all I knew. I was constantly looking up nutrition. And so I see that with my clients a lot too. You know, there’s half and half.

There’s the clients that feel like they don’t know much about nutrition and that’s why, you know, they have no control with it. But then I also have clients that, you know, know so much about nutrition. And, you know, that’s why they have become restrictive, which has led them to binging. And for me specifically, as I was trying to heal my relationship with food, it was very hard to break through some of that nutrition knowledge that I had. Because of course, eating healthy foods is good for your health, but mental health plays a big part in it as well. And so I had to do a lot of back and forth in my own brain with the intuitive eating process. Honestly, I had to do a lot of research and there are so many studies out there that do prove that intuitive eating is beneficial.

But for me, whenever I was breaking free from that mindset, when I was trying to shift my mindset from a very restrictive mindset, it was really difficult because I did have so much knowledge on what nutrition can do for you. And, you know, I was having a really hard time to believe that I could allow all foods to fit and be in control with them.

Ryann

Yeah, I’ve always wondered that. Honestly, I was in a similar boat in the sense that I really wanted to go into nutrition and dietetics because I was so obsessed with food, but my school didn’t have that. So I went into psych and sometimes I’m like, oh my gosh, like, I can’t even imagine like, if that would have actually happened, like, and I had all of that knowledge where I would have gone or what I mean, I think it was for the best for me. But I – I’ve always been so curious, because I feel like if I even knew more about nutrition than I already did like

Caitlin

Yeah, and and honestly, you know, it’s not it’s not very funny. But looking back at it now, I’m like, oh my gosh I can’t believe that’s how my brain worked at that point in time But I remember sitting in medical nutrition therapy M&T for short and every single time we would go through like a new Diagnosis, I would be like, oh my gosh. I have all of those symptoms. You know what I mean? Like with diabetes, I was like, oh my gosh, I have all of those symptoms. And I would like, you know, then go and try to imitate a diabetic diet. And I’m like, what is going on with my brain?

Like every single thing I thought that I had and I felt like I needed to, you know, grasp onto, you know, how to eat like that to prevent that from happening. And it just continued to spiral. So it’s funny looking back at it now but at that time it’s like oh my gosh I can’t believe my brain was wired like that to think you know so so badly about every every food every diagnosis out there and to think that you know I was destined to get that as well.

Ryann

Right. All right so for this before we dive in I really kind of want to differentiate between binge eating and emotional eating because for this episode, I really want to focus on binge eating. So could you just clarify for us like how you differentiate between binge eating and emotional eating and what binge eating really is?

Caitlin

Yes, definitely. So I think emotional eating can definitely be part of binge eating. I think that a lot of people can use food as a way to cope with with emotions or kind of mask them or, you know, cloud their thoughts around them. However, binge eating specifically is that loss of control eating and to kind of differentiate it from overeating as well. Overeating can be perceived very, very differently. So, you know, for someone, overeating can look like eating three cookies instead of the recommended two. And binge eating is much vastly, vastly different. So it’s eating a large amount that anyone would think is, you know, a large amount. And it’s a loss of control. You cannot stop eating, and it’s very rapid. And you eat until you’re very uncomfortable or just very uncomfortably full.

And you typically, you know, do it whenever you’re alone and it’s really associated with feelings of guilt and shame and you typically try to hide whenever you’re doing it. And overeating or emotional eating is basically whenever you’re, you know, emotional eating is basically whenever you’re trying to cope with that emotion and it can lead to binge eating, but it’s typically to numb out. And so that’s how I kind of differentiate it, is you’re vastly aware whenever you’re emotionally eating that you are probably overeating. But when you’re binge eating, it’s kind of like that loss of control and you’re doing it very rapidly and you can’t really stop yourself.

Ryann

Yeah, I remember when I was going through this, I don’t know, it was like 10 years ago and it was before social media was really a thing. So it wasn’t something that people talked about. So I never really heard about binge eating or knew that it was a thing. And so I just kind of classified it as emotional eating, but I was like, I don’t understand why my emotional eating is different than what I see on movies or what other people do because when I emotionally eat it’s not just like eating a pint of ice cream while crying in front of the TV it’s like I’m in my pantry and I am like like head deep in a bag of pretzels while also like scooping ice cream into my mouth so fast but like I literally can’t taste anything and it’s like somebody else is in control of my body. And I was like, I don’t understand what is going on.

Caitlin

Yeah. Yeah. And that’s another phrase that I use for it is kind of that out of body experience. Somebody else has taken over your body. And I do agree with you that media has played a lot into emotional eating as well, because sometimes it’s framed as the norm, like when you get broken up with, you go and you have some ice cream or some frosting, and you see this really pretty girl doing it, and it’s vastly different from whenever you emotionally eat whenever you are a binge eater. And so the two can be connected. However, binge eating is kind of that step further where you do have that out of body experience. It’s very rapid, very, just not yourself.

Ryann

Totally. And so obviously there are a ton of different reasons that could be contributing to the binge eating, but with your own experience or the clients that you’ve worked with, what have you found to be the most common kind of triggers of binge eating?

Caitlin

Yes. So number one is restriction. And I know people probably hear that all the time, but restriction can look very different. It can be the, you know, typical physical restriction from a diet or from calorie counting, macro counting, or, you know, just a meal plan that you get off the internet, but it also can look like mental restrictions. So, you know, telling yourself that you can only have a certain amount of something or, you know, portioning out or telling yourself that one food is bad and that if you do eat it, you know, that you’re, you’re a failure.

So number one is always that restriction, whether it be physical or mental, then that emotional part does come into play a lot with my clients as well. So previous family members having a lot of diet talk around them or body talk. So a lot of that comes into play too. Because I feel like when we’re young, we’re very impressionable and kind of similar to my own story. saw someone having success with losing weight or, you know, healthy, I’m air quoting here, like healthy patterns or habits, you know, I would try to mimic those and the same goes for anybody else. If your mom is constantly talking about her body or looking at her body in the mirror and saying that she’s going to start, you know, a new diet and, you know, she needs to lose X amount of weight, then that becomes the norm for you as well. And so that kind of sets you up to, to have that cycle throughout life as well. And so I think that those are the two main ones, body image and restriction that I see the most.

Ryann

Yeah. And I so appreciate that you bring up the mental restriction piece, because I feel like that’s kind of a piece that oftentimes gets looked over in the sense that I know a lot of my clients or people that I chat with just on Instagram are like, I don’t understand, like I’m allowing all foods to eat and I’m being more lenient with my food and I’m not counting calories anymore and I’m trying to eat more, but I’m still binge eating what is going on. And we can take away that physical restriction piece where yeah, okay, we’re no longer counting calories and we’re allowing more foods to fit or all foods to fit, but if while you’re eating those foods, you’re still having those thoughts like, I’m being bad right now, this is so bad, like shaming yourself as you’re eating it, that is still kind of mental, mental restriction there in the sense that yes, you’re eating it, but you’re not experiencing the food, you’re not really allowing yourself to have the food, even though you kind of are. And I know it like doesn’t cut like completely make sense, but like it does in this in the way that our brain is like, so powerful over our whole, I mean, this is a mindset thing.

Caitlin

Yeah, yeah, I just had a conversation with a client and she just wrapped up with her about a week ago. O asked her – I said, what has been the biggest shift for you? What was the biggest barrier that you think was holding you back from overcoming binge eating? And she said, mindset. She said, if I honestly would have continued to just allow myself to eat certain foods, my previously forbidden foods, I still would have been binging. It was the mindset piece that I really had to work on. It was the all or nothing mindset. It was the mental restriction. It was the food rules that I had around these certain foods that was causing me to binge on them.

So she’s like, I could have given myself permission to eat all of these foods, but I wasn’t giving myself that unconditional permission. And something that you brought up too was kind of like the satisfaction of eating. So whenever you’re constantly in your head thinking about what you’re eating and how bad you are for eating it and that food rule is popping up, then you’re not really enjoying what you’re eating like you said, and then when you finish the meal, like it’s kind of that out of body thing. Like you didn’t even pay attention to what you were eating, you didn’t enjoy it. So then you end up thinking, okay, what’s next, what’s next? And that can lead into a binge as well.

Ryann

Yeah, and it’s so interesting because I don’t binge anymore, but I definitely find myself sometimes when I am not mindfully eating, because I’m human and life is life, but I’ll be either really hungry and eat really fast, or I just, you know, will have a lot to do and I’ll eat really fast, and I’ll, you know, after the meal, take a moment and be like, Oh my, like, I don’t even remember eating that. And then it’s like, I don’t feel like I just ate that even though I’m not as hungry. It doesn’t feel like I, I ate that. And it’s amazing how we can be putting the food in her body literally, but without that mindful piece, it’s almost like we’re not connected to what we’re actually doing and it’s hard for our body to register that we actually had the food.

Caitlin

Exactly. Yeah, exactly and that happened to me just yesterday I mean I’m still have my moments where I mindlessly eat some and I was just kind of chilling in front of the TV and eating some popcorn and then I ate a pop-tart and You know I just found that I was kind of grazing and just continuously eating and I had to talk to myself for a second. I was like, look, you’re sitting in front of the TV, not paying attention to what you’re eating. Maybe step away from the TV for a minute, go sit at the table, make yourself a little meal or a little snack and really pay attention to what you’re eating and then you can move on from it. You can go back to the TV and just really pay attention and not continuously keep finding snack after snack after snack. And it’s really that simple.

Ryann

Yes, and I love that you bring that up because I feel like, and I know I thought this, that when I got over binge eating, or I thought that when I was going through recovery and I was gonna get over binge eating, I would never have those days. I would never have those days where I would mindlessly eat anymore. I would go snack after snack. I would have it all figured out. But no, we’re human. I still have my days where I overeat or I’m snacking, you know, quote unquote, too much where I should probably just eat a normal meal, but it doesn’t lead to a full blown binge anymore because my mind is different. So with that said, is binge eating a willpower issue or how does willpower come into play or not come into play with binge eating?

Caitlin

Yeah, so I honestly love this question and I get it all the time. I hear clients, you know, come to me and say like, oh my gosh, I have no willpower around food, I have no self-control around food, and this is totally a diet culture mentality. This is what diet culture has convinced you that you are the issue, you are the problem. And kind of similar to what I was saying earlier, like that’s why I never sought out help for it for myself was because I thought that it was me. I thought that everyone else was having success with it. No one else was binge eating. It was only me, it was my willpower around those foods.

And I just had to get those foods away from me because I knew that I couldn’t control myself. And it’s kind of similar, I always give this analogy, it’s kind of similar to like if you were to go buy a car. And the car works for you, it starts for two weeks, and this is a brand new car. And then you go out one day and you try to start the ignition and it just doesn’t start. And you call the manufacturer and you’re like, hey, my car is not starting, I just bought it from you. And they are like, oh, well, that’s strange, it’s working for everybody else. We’ll give you, you bring that one back and we’ll bring you a new car and we’ll just, it’s the same exact car, just in a different color. And you’re like, okay, okay, that’s fine.

And then you go and it works for about two weeks and then you go back out and it doesn’t start. And every single time they make it seem like it’s your problem and then they come out and sell you a whole new diet with the same exact thing. And so that’s what diet culture is. You know, they convince you that if the diet’s not working for you, that it’s your fault and they’ll just sell you a new one. Same exact thing, just a different name or a different color. So that convinces you that it’s me, it’s working for everybody else, why is it not working for me? And so you just keep searching and you keep searching and you keep searching, when in all reality everybody is searching. It may work for you for two weeks, it may work for you for six months, but eventually you hit that wall, you hit that diet bottom, and you have that overeating or binge eating episode and you quote unquote fall off the wagon, you lose control and you eventually search out a new diet.

Ryann

Diet for tomorrow.

Caitlin

Yep, yep, or diet starts on Monday. I hear that all the time and it’s, you know, they convince you that it’s your willpower and that if it’s not working, just try this new diet out. Just try this cleanse out, just try this out. And as they continue, as you continue on, you just start feeling worse and worse about yourself. You’re just like, why is this working for Sally, but it’s not working for me. But in all reality, you know, three months from now, Sally’s gonna be in the same situation as you. And so that’s, I mean, honestly, that’s what I like shedding light on the most is where diet culture comes in and and teaches you that you know you’re the one in the wrong.

When we need to be fighting back we need to be challenging diet culture and saying look like you can’t keep selling us the same thing over and over again with a new name. Like it’s clearly not working. You’re making you know I think it’s like 80 billion dollars now that diet culture industry is worth and it’s like, wow, like, you know, clearly they have a good marketing scheme there, you know?

Ryann

Right, and I think too, like, you know, when I think of willpower, I think of energy, like in the sense of like, willpower is like resisting, which requires energy on your part to do. And eventually the energy runs out, we’re exhausted. We have a day where it’s like, I had a really long day or I had a lot of things to do and I just don’t have the energy anymore to keep this up. And then it’s like, you know, F it, everything goes out the window. And then it’s like, oh my gosh, what do I do?

And I think that like, for me, like I had to realize like, I don’t want to use my energy energy that I could spend on so many other things in life on resisting food and focusing on food. Like I want it to feel effortless and I think that that’s the biggest thing with willpower is willpower is energy and eventually that energy runs out like the goal is to make this effortless like and with willpower it’s never gonna be that way.

Caitlin

Yeah, honestly, the two words that I hear the most from followers, from clients, from just people that I talk to on the street is frustrated by the diet and exhausted. And the joke that I always make is, you know, that diet bottom, when you hit diet bottom and you kind of go to that F it, like, I can’t choke down another piece of, you know, baked chicken and steamed broccoli and, you know, one third cup of rice, you know what I mean? Like, that’s, that’s, that’s what I see whenever I say, you know, screw it, I can’t do this anymore is, you know, that typical dinner that I was having every single night and I was exhausted by it. I was exhausted by meal prepping.

I was exhausted by counting calories. I was exhausted by having to shove this food down my throat that was just not satisfying and thinking about it all the time, thinking about, oh, well, if I would have eaten half as less of rice, I probably would have lost X amount of pounds this week. It’s exhausting to constantly think about that in your head when, like you said, you could be focusing on so much more.

Ryann

So I just thought of this and I have to ask, when you began your intuitive eating journey, was there any foods when you hit that diet bottom, when you were like, I’m done, that you could like physically no longer stomach? Like I remember for me, there were certain salad dressings. Like I used to like always have like the grossest fat-free dressings for salads. And there was this, I couldn’t eat Italian dressing or anything flavored with Italian dressing or any, I couldn’t eat iceberg lettuce or carrots for, I wanna say at least six months after I finally was like, I can’t do this anymore.

Caitlin

I love that, I love that you brought that up because I feel like so many people can relate to that. And yes, so mine specifically, and I still struggle with this, is eggs, and especially scrambled eggs, because that used to be something that I would eat. Like, I remember there was one summer that like, literally every single day I woke up and I made scrambled eggs. And honestly, you know, even now, like, I can only eat like one scrambled egg if I make like two for myself or anything more than that, like I literally get sick to my stomach eating it. Like I, like, I’m like, okay, like I have to stop eating this.

And, you know, another one was, um, like hummus, because I remember there was one summer that every single day for lunch, I was bringing like carrots and hummus or like crackers and hummus. And for the longest time I could not eat that and like honestly just now I’m starting to like reintroduce those foods because I was like I Literally get sick to my stomach Thinking about eating them because I ate so much of them

Ryann

Yeah, you just made me think of egg whites do that was another thing that I use always do and now I’m like Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. Oh my gosh, okay.

So, something that you brought up, like, in that whole willpower talk that I kind of want to draw attention to, kind of like along the lines of that, but when you are helping people with binge eating and kind of overcome this, do you recommend that they take binge foods out of the house? Why or why not?

Caitlin

I don’t, no. So honestly, my, cause typically they don’t have those binge foods in the house already is my experience with it. Like, typically they’re like, I need to avoid eating these altogether. I can’t buy them if they’re there, like I’m going to binge on them. Um, and so typically what I have them do is kind of, you know, write down all of those foods that they enjoy. Uh, but they feel out of control with and working on them one by one, bringing them back into the house. I have had clients that are overachievers and they’re like, you know, I brought, you know, I went to the store and I bought, you know, all of these foods, but then they feel very like out of control with them because they’re like, Oh my gosh, there’s like so much everywhere. And I just feel like extremely like out of control right now. And so I’m like, okay, let’s scale it back. Let’s just do one at a time.

Um, and really work on feeling comfortable with that one first and then adding more. But I recommend them actually bringing them into the house because it kind of challenges that uncomfortability. I don’t even think that’s a word, but like they’re like uncomfortable feelings about it and getting over that hump of feeling out of control with it. So one thing at a time, just slowly bringing them back in. So that way you can have them in the house and then eventually, you know, kind of forget that they’re even there. I make the joke with clients now, like I have like this like frostbitten, you know, thing of dark chocolate up in my freezer right now. I like putting chocolate in my freezer, but that used to be one of my binge foods. Like I used to binge on chocolate all the time.

And so I just had to keep bringing it in the house and keep showing myself that like, hey, it’s right there. If you want it, you can have it. And now it doesn’t have that like, you know, temptation. It doesn’t have that power over me. And it’s been sitting in there for so long, I don’t even remember when I bought it. And that’s kind of how how I help them with that, like breaking through and really getting comfortable with those binge foods.

Ryann

I’m on very much the same page with that. And I totally agree in the sense of like bringing it in the house to like normalize it in a sense and making it not seem like this big scary thing. But I also really appreciate the comment that you made about like, you know, it’s always there. And I know for me, like one of the biggest mindset switches that helped me to let go of the binge eating. And then I use this even when overeating, when food tastes really good, because again, I’m human, is that, you know, these foods are here whenever I want them. They’re never going away.

Now I understand sometimes at restaurants, you can’t always have that food. So it’s a little bit harder to put the fork down. But for the most part, it’s like when we allow ourselves to embrace all foods and have all foods fit, it’s like, I can have this whenever I want. I don’t need to have it all now. And so like, for me, it was crackers, pretzels, like snacky foods. And like, those were always the hardest things for me to stop. And so like, telling myself as I was having them, like, okay, like, I feel good. Like, if I keep eating these, I might feel a little bit more uncomfortable, so I’m just gonna pause for the moment and remind myself, if I want them again in an hour, I can have them again in an hour, and kind of just normalizing that they’re there.

And then two, for me, I could binge on literally anything in the house. So just getting rid of quote unquote trigger foods was not enough for me. And so if anybody listening is like, okay, I got rid of the trigger foods and I’m still binging that, that didn’t help me at all. So no, that like, that’s not the answer.

Caitlin

Yeah. Yeah. And I say that all the time too. I’m like, I, I used to binge on healthy foods. I think I had a post about this the other day, you know, like no salt, no butter, popcorn, like it doesn’t matter what the food is. I had that binging aspect because like what we said earlier, it’s that mindset around food, it’s that restriction. And you know, if I was like, screw it, like I’m so tired of, you know, counting calories or screw it, like I’m so tired of, you know, no longer, you know, keeping myself from eating this, like I’m just gonna eat whatever I want.

And if I didn’t have those quote unquote binge foods in the house, if I didn’t have chocolate or chips or anything like that, I was still binging on whatever was there. Like, I was just literally forking in whatever I could put in my mouth. And so it doesn’t matter if it’s a binge food or not, or like a forbidden food or not, if you are restricting yourself, you’re going to binge on whatever is available. And so I love that you bring up, I can have it in an hour. When you start bringing those foods in and showing yourself, I can literally, if I’m hungry in an hour, if I’m craving this in an hour, and I’m really desiring it, it’s right there. I can have it.

Ryann

And that was huge for me. And it’s still huge when I’m eating delicious things to remind myself, like, hey, right, chill out. Like, you can have this whenever you want.

Caitlin

Yeah, and honestly, I love that you brought up the, you know, the restaurant thing, because it definitely, you know, there is always going to be a little bit of, like, scarcity or, like, all-or-nothing mindset around stuff like that. And so being able to show yourself grace whenever you do have that circumstance around holidays or you do, you know, go to a nice restaurant that you don’t typically go to. Um, if you do overeat a little bit, like showing yourself grace and being like, well, you know, sometimes that happens. I’m human.

Ryann

Totally. And also trusting, like your body is going to take care of that. Like your body is going to tell you what to do next to like make yourself feel good again. Like, and that’s what happens when we’re aligned with our bodies.

Okay, so I wanna ask, why do you feel like binge eating occurs so often at night?

Caitlin

Yeah, so it’s the typical, like you wake up and I’m sure you probably experienced this as well. Like, you know, if you have a binge at night and then you go to bed, you’re like already in your head thinking like, okay, what am I going to eat tomorrow morning for breakfast to make up for that? Am I going to go for a run? Am I going to work out? You know, just already like pre-planning your next day. And so of course, the next morning you wake up motivated to start restricting yourself again to, you know, have the green smoothie for breakfast and then have a salad for lunch and then you get home from work and you’re so hungry and you know maybe work was a little bit stressful there’s multiple factors at play right there and you’re just like screw it like I I cannot do this and so that’s typically what I see is that you have restricted yourself all morning all day and you quote-unquote have been doing well all all day and you know then you come home and you’re just like screw it, like I cannot do this.

And another one is just kind of that mindless eating, like you get home from work and you’re like, you know, I’m gonna have a small snack while I get ready to cook dinner, or I’m gonna sit down in front of the TV for a few minutes and just kind of unwind, and then you end up not really paying attention to what you’re eating and you’re so hungry that you just like, you know, binge on that, and then you continue all through the night. Another one is just the guilt after overeating like maybe you were so hungry from restricting all day that you ate a little bit too much at dinner and then you’re like, oh, well, you know, I already messed up today. Screw it.

Like I’m just gonna go ahead and you know start over tomorrow and then you end up binging like right before bed. So those are typically what I see from it. Again, it falls back on that restriction, but there’s also that, you know, like, you know, all or nothing mindset that comes where you’re just like, screw it, like I already messed up. I might as well just eat whatever I want.

Ryann

Right, and I think that is like the huge thing that so many people relate to is that mindset of, okay, I already messed up. I’m already quote-unquote bad, right? That is linking your morality to your food, which we gotta separate. And then it’s like, okay, diet starts tomorrow, diet starts Monday, gotta get it all in now. And so like, of course, it almost leads into a binge when you’re in that headspace of, okay, tomorrow, I’m going to be good. Tomorrow, it’s going to be different. Tomorrow, I’m going to figure it out. Tomorrow, I’m not going to have these things anymore. So it’s kind of like a free for all.

Caitlin

It’s like a pre-planned restriction. Like you’re planning on restricting yourself so it’s that last supper eating. It’s like, okay, I’m gonna, you know, eat all these foods now that, you know, I know that I’m not gonna have them for, you know, I’m never gonna have them again is basically what your mind’s saying. Like, I need to eat them now because I’m never gonna allow myself to eat them again.

Ryann

Yes, oh my gosh, so well said, so well said. So going off of that, that how do you recommend people recover from a binge or what are some things that are helpful to do after binge eating?

Caitlin

Yeah, so what I tell clients is that, you know, binges happen, we’re human. And as you’re trying to overcome that, if you are to have a binge, if you are to bring, you know, those forbidden, you know, quote unquote, forbidden foods into the house and you feel a little bit out of control with them and you binge on them, then, you know, show yourself some grace and use that binge as a lesson, as something to learn from and grow from. And so what I typically tell my clients is to, you know, when it happens, you know, maybe go make yourself a cup of tea, go get into some comfy clothes, go take a hot shower or a bubble bath, and then come back.

And once you can kind of have a more clear mind, journal it out. Write down what happened before the binge, after the binge, during the binge. Really think about what happened, and that way you can kind of causes it. So you know, specifically for me, one of my jobs was very stressful. And so I was coming home, I was frustrated with my job, I had been restricting all day, and I sat down after taking a hot shower, I had my mug of tea and I journaled it out and I was like, okay, so two things, two trends that keep happening every single time I binge. One is I start the day restricting. I start the day telling myself that I can only eat this amount of calories.

And then, second thing is I go to work, I come home frustrated. And the first thing I run to is food because I’m starving and frustrated. And so what do I need to work on that is going to get to the root of the problem, which is the stressful job and the restriction, that’s going to help me overcome or break through that binge so that that doesn’t happen again. And so using those binges as a way to learn and grow from them and really reflect on what the root cause is.

Ryann

Totally, and I love that journal piece and that is something I highly recommend as well to look at patterns but also kind of look at what is going through your mind and where do the thoughts shift and when do they change. And then I also love the bringing in the self-care piece and the self-compassion which all of the things that you just recommended are very much aligned with you know when we finish that binge That is what we need the most self-care and compassionate love that we can give ourselves because restricting and Rejecting our bodies aren’t gonna do anything or isn’t gonna do anything But make us feel worse and then it just starts the worst cycle, the worst cycle. So what advice would you have for those currently struggling with binge eating? Like, what are the first steps that you recommend to kind of begin breaking through the cycle?

Caitlin

Yeah, I would say first and foremost is going to be that mindset that we talked about working on the mindset. And so you know, the social media accounts that you follow that, you know, make you feel inferior or make you feel like you need to restrict yourself or that you compare yourself to, I’m following those because those in themselves can be so triggering. And then, you know, working on breaking free from your own internal, you know, diet mindset.

So, you know, stepping away from the scale, removing the, you know, fitness bands and anything that you use as an indicator for success, that if it doesn’t show success, causes you to, you know, feel shame or causes you to feel guilt and therefore leads you to binging. And then moving into the making peace with food. So starting to break through those food rules. But number one is always the mindset. You have to start working on that mindset first. So that way when you do start allowing yourself unconditional permission to eat, it’s much easier to deal with that guilt that comes after.

Ryann

So good. So good. So the last thing I love to go into a speed round question round for people to get to know you a little bit more than maybe just what you post on Instagram. So with this first thing that comes to your mind, are you ready?

Caitlin

Yes.

Ryann

What is your nut butter of choice?

Caitlin

Peanut butter.

Ryann

What is the worst fashion or hair decision you’ve ever made?

Caitlin

Oh gosh, bangs.

Ryann

Front bangs or side bangs?

Caitlin

I tried to do front bangs but I have like a little cowlick and it was not good. They stuck straight up.

Ryann

What popular trend currently bothers you or has bothered you in the past?

Caitlin

Oh goodness, that’s a hard one. I feel like, I don’t know, the low rise jeans that have like two inch, or not even two inch like inseams.

Ryann

Yes! What is up with those? I’m so glad those are out.

Caitlin

So uncomfortable.

Ryann

Would you rather be stuck on a broken ski lift or in a broken elevator?

Caitlin

Oh, ski lift for sure. I have major flight claustrophobia.

Ryann

Yeah. What did you have for dinner last night?

Caitlin

My boyfriend made fried chicken bites, mashed potatoes, and roasted broccoli.

Ryann

Oh, that sounds so good.

Caitlin

It was so good.

Ryann

Would you rather be able to copy and paste in real life or undo in real life?

Caitlin

Copy and paste. I think I would. No regrets. I would say.

Ryann

What is the craziest or most out of character thing you’ve ever done?

Caitlin

Oh, goodness. I feel like in college when I had my party girl phase, that was so not me. I am such a homebody and I tried to not be a homebody for so long but it was so uncomfortable.

Ryann

It’s funny that you say that because I was just talking to a girlfriend about that last night that I was like looking through some old photos and I was like I feel like that wasn’t even my life slash I don’t know how I ever did that.

Caitlin

It was so exhausting I am such like a introverted extrovert. Like I can talk to anybody, but I’m like exhausted by it by the end.

Ryann

Yes.

Caitlin

And so like, I totally think that’s why I was so exhausted all throughout college. I mean, there’s more obviously reasons why, but I mean, it’s college, but I was just so exhausted all throughout college by like trying to be like the, you know, outgoing person that I am totally not.

Ryann

Yeah, I feel that. I feel, yeah. Are you the type of person who likes to hear the good news or the bad news first?

Caitlin

Bad news. Rip the band-aid off.

Ryann

Yeah. What is a food combination that you love but somebody else would think is weird?

Caitlin

Oh, goodness. That is so hard. I don’t know because I feel like all of mine are… I would say the first thing that came to my mind is like pizza rolls and ranch, but I feel like everybody loves that. So, oh, I know. Cheese on top of popcorn. I put like sharp cheddar cheese on top of popcorn. I put that on my Instagram story once and people were like totally grossed out.

Ryann

Isn’t it so funny the random things that people like really react?

Caitlin

Yeah, they’re like, ew, how could you do that? I’m like, I swear if you try it, it’s so good.

Ryann

Oh my gosh. Last but not least, if you were a coffee drink, what would you be and why? This one’s a hard one. I would say like the chocolate chip Frappuccino because I feel like I’m like way too much. Too much flavor.

Ryann

I love that.

Caitlin

Too many flavors.

Ryann

I love that so much. So, Caitlin, where can everybody find you, connect with you, all that good stuff?

Caitlin

Yeah, you can find me on Instagram at at bingefree.nutritionist and I also have a free Facebook community on Facebook obviously, it’s called the Food Freedom for Binge Eaters Community.

Ryann

Love it, and I’ll have all of those linked in the show notes. Caitlin, thank you so much for coming on, sharing all of that with us, sharing your story and dropping all that knowledge. That was so helpful and I know that this is something that I wish that I had to listen to when I was struggling through this. So thank you so much again.

Caitlin

Thank you for having me. I had so much fun.

Ryann Nicole

Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach

Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.

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Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.