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What is making people in the UK binge eat?

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Young group on male friends eating pizza around a table
Around 25% of those affected by an eating disorder are male. Source: BEAT

An estimated 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder according to the UK charity BEAT; Binge eating is one of them.

What exactly is binge eating? Something that I used to struggle with was thinking that eating past fullness meant that I had binged. But the reality is that it’s perfectly normal to overeat at times. Everybody does it! We’ve all had holidays, birthdays, celebrations, social events and chilled movie nights, where we’ve eaten more than our fair share.

But binge eating disorder is much more extreme in nature than basic overeating:

  • The quantity of food consumed and frequency of episodes is much greater.
  • There’s a feeling of a loss of control
  • The food is consumed at a much more rapid pace
  • The food is often eaten in secrecy
  • There are feelings of guilt and shame in the aftermath.
  • There tends to be compensatory behaviours taken afterwards. For example, excessive calorie restriction, over-exercise and purging.
  • It has significant physical, emotional, and psychological consequences

 

Being a Personal Trainer and someone who takes a lot of pride (probably too much!) in how I look, little did I know that I was significantly increasing my risk factor for developing an eating disorder. I was far too preoccupied with how I looked and I placed way too much of my self-worth on it.

But luckily for me, I was able to realise what was going on before things became too serious. What had started out as my innocent fitness journey to look and feel better, very nearly slipped into something much more sinister. And this is something that I see happening with a lot of other people too. So many people are unintentionally dabbling and engaging in harmful practices around food. Awareness is key and that’s why we are going to look at the most common causes of binge eating disorder now.

 

Common causes of binge eating disorder

You’re not eating enough calories per day and excessive food restriction:

Calories provide the energy that your body needs to function. When you don’t eat enough of them, your brain will try to get you to eat more. When you do not eat enough calories per day, your body thinks that it is starving and the easiest way to compensate for this is by binge eating and consuming a large volume of food to make up for all of the calories missed out on.

From my personal experience as a Personal Trainer, I see this all too often; People who develop unrealistic body standards for themselves due to what they see on social media. People are increasingly concerned about how they look and as a result, “quick-fix” diets have become all too common unfortunately. These diets aren’t sustainable for more than a few weeks and they often result in binge eating.

I’ve been guilty of this too! In the past I have had episodes of binge eating in response to following a diet that was too restrictive. That’s why I now take a much more sustainable and patient approach and have moved completely away from modern diet culture.

 

You’re not managing your stress and emotions:

Binge eating provides a temporary quick fix for unmanaged stress and emotions. Stress, sadness, loneliness, guilt, boredom and negative emotions from a traumatic experience are amongst the most common ones that can lead to binge eating.

Over the years I have learned that the key is to better manage your stress and emotions in ways that don’t involve food. On a personal level, I make sure to ring fence at least 1 or 2 hours everyday to do stuff that I enjoy. For me, this usually involves putting my feet up and watching some TV. When I take the time to manage my stress levels and emotions I feel better in myself. And when I feel better in myself,  the urge to turn to food declines massively.

I won’t lie to you, being proactive can be hard because you won’t get the same instant relief that food can give you. But I truly believe that proactively managing your emotions is one of the best things that a person can do to avoid binge eating because it can stop you from getting the urge in the first place. It’s a more reliable strategy than getting the urge to binge and then having to always rely on willpower and discipline to say “no”.

 

Food labelling, forbidden foods and guilt:

Feeling guilty around certain food happens when you label foods as either “good” or “bad”. This is something that I’ve struggled with personally in the past – Always thinking that I need to be eating the healthiest, cleanest and lowest calorie option.

When I veered off plan and ate certain foods that I had labelled as bad, I felt guilty in myself.  And once you start to feel guilty, it’s very tempting to turn to food.

This is something that I’ve noticed with my clients too. I can remember a client saying: “What’s the point? I feel worthless after eating my banned foods, so I just keep on going and I can’t stop.”

What I’ve now come to realise is that no single food can make your overall diet either healthy or unhealthy. A balanced diet as a place for all foods in moderation.

 

Having a perfectionist mindset

Perfectionism and the “all-or-nothing” mindset are common thinking traps and cognitive distortions amongst people who suffer from binge eating disorder.

Personally speaking, I have struggled with having a perfectionist mindset in the past. There have been times where I slipped up even slightly on my plan and instead of accepting that I didn’t need to be perfect to make progress, I would completely throw in the towel and refuse to continue to put in any effort at all with my diet. I would rationalise my thoughts by telling myself “I’ve already messed up, so I might as well keep on eating now and I’ll start again tomorrow.”

 

Body image issues

When we are bombarded with images of perfect bodies online and how we should look, it’s easy to see why body image issues have become such a common phenomenon in modern society.

I once had a client tell me “I am already unhappy with how I look, so what difference does it make if I overeat now?”.

I’m no exception either! Even personal trainers have body image concerns. I think it’s just a fact of modern life that we are all probably insecure about some aspect of our physical appearance. For me, it was always telling myself “I’m not as lean and ripped as that coach that I see online”. When in reality this was completely irrelevant because my clients just wanted to look and feel a little bit better and to be able to play with their kids without being out of breath! They weren’t after ripped and chiselled look, in fact, most of them thought it was gross! Why am I saying all of this? Because I know first hand that social media can really mess with your perception of reality. You can end up caring about things that nobody else even notices.

 

Here are some action points that you can take right now to help:

  1. Keep on educating yourself and increasing your awareness about binge eating disorder.
  2. Find out how many calories you need to eat per day and don’t drop your calories more than 20% below this number. There’s a lot of online calculators like this one that can provide you with a relatively accurate estimate.
  3. Stop labelling it as “good” and “bad”.
  4. Find ways to better manage your stress and emotions that don’t involve food
  5. Ditch the perfectionist mindset. Be less perfect, but be consistent with it.
  6. Be more conscious about the content that you’re consuming online and the impact that it might be having on your body image.

 

By educating yourself on the causes of binge eating disorder, you now know what to look out for and you’re massively reducing your risk factor for ever developing it.

And for those of you out there who feel that you might already have binge eating disorder, it’s not too late. Please tell your loved ones and seek professional help. Dealing with binge eating disorder isn’t easy, but it’s more than possible.

I am a graduate lawyer with a passion for health & fitness. Whilst studying law at University College Dublin, I also qualified as a Personal Trainer and have worked with clients in Ireland and across the world via online coaching.

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Cannes opens with French comedy and honorary award for Meryl Streep

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Actress Juliette Binoche hands an award to Meryl Steep
Meryl Streep receives a honorary Palme D’Or from Juliette Binoche | Photo: Andrea Rentz

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially opened last night with Quentin Dupieux’s Le Deuxième Acte (The Second Act), and an honorary Palme d’Or awarded to American actress Meryl Streep.

Presented Out of Competition as a world premiere on the Croisette last night, May 14, this four-part comedy was also released in all French cinemas on the same day. The film stars Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard playing squabbling actors filming a movie produced and directed by artificial intelligence.

The opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes, hosted at the  Grand Théâtre Lumière, also had American actress Meryl Streep as a guest of honour.

Streep received the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or, 35 years after winning the Best Actress award for Evil Angels, her only appearance in Cannes until last night.

“My mother, who is usually right about everything, said to me: ’Meryl, my darling, you’ll see. It all goes so fast. So fast,″ added Streep. “And it has, and it does. Except for my speech, which is too long,” said the three time Oscar award-winning actress.

Last year French Film director Justine Triet won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for her murder mystery film “Anatomy of a Fall” becoming the third female filmmaker ever to win the prize, which was first awarded in 1955. 

The 77th Cannes Film Festival is set to run until May 25th, when the Palme d’Or winners will be revealed, 2024.

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films
The Science Behind Pixar can be seen at CaixaForum Madrid until 8 September.

CaixaForum Madrid is currently hosting The Science Behind Pixar exhibition, created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. The exhibition is divided into eight sections, corresponding to the steps in the process Pixar uses to transform an idea into a film. With specific examples from some of their most famous films, the public will be able to experiment with the techniques behind the modelling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering of animated films.

This is the third collaboration between the ”la Caixa” Foundation and Pixar Studios. In 2015, Pixar: 25 Years of Animation, represented a thorough review of this pioneering company’s work in computer animation in its 25 years of history. Subsequently, Pixar, Building Characters (which has travelled to five CaixaForums since 2020) focused on the visual design of the Pixar characters to best transmit the story and fit in with the other elements of the film. Now, the eight sections of The Science Behind Pixar will give visitors an insight into every stage of the technical process used by Pixar’s artists and computer scientists

The aim of the new exhibition is to peel away, layer by layer and in a way that is attractive for all audiences, the scientific, computer and mathematical concepts that lie behind our favourite Pixar characters. To do this, the exhibition is organised into eight sections, each of which explains in depth one specific step of Pixar’s technical process: Modelling, which allows characters to be created in 3D; Rigging, in which the virtual bones, muscles and joints are developed; design of Surfaces and Sets; Animation, which brings the story to life; Simulation, which provides automated movements; Lighting, which enhances the emotional impact, and Rendering, which turns 3D scenes into 2D images.

Throughout 815 square metres in CaixaForum Madrid, visitors will learn about all these steps that Pixar pays passionate attention to in order to bring its worlds and characters to life. Dozens of interactive and audiovisual elements will reveal what is hidden behind Pixar films, from the first-ever computer-animated feature film – Toy Story – which opened over two decades ago, to the release of Turning Red.

To better understand the science and maths that go into creating the worlds and characters of Pixar’s films, visitors will see audiovisuals and hear first-hand from members of the studios’ production teams. They will also be invited to experience different roles within the production pipeline, through screen-based activities and physical interactive elements.

In the Sets & Cameras section, for example, visitors will discover how camera placement and angles created a bug’s-eye view for A Bug’s Life; in Modelling, they will try their hand at creating a digital sculpture from an artist’s sketch and in Lighting they will use lights to solve challenges similar to ones Pixar faced in creating underwater scenes with virtual light in Finding Nemo. The exhibition route also includes human-size recreations of many Pixar film characters, such as Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Dory (Finding Nemo), Mike and Sulley (Monsters, Inc.), Edna Mode (The Incredibles) and WALL·E (from the film of the same name).

Throughout the months that the exhibition will remain at CaixaForum Madrid, the ”la Caixa” Foundation will be offering various activities to bring the art and science of Pixar closer to all audiences. In addition, the general public can take a guided tour and families can choose between the family tour and the animated stories workshop-tour, where visitors can make a short, animated clip to understand all the phases of the creative process after visiting the exhibition.

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Switzerland wins Eurovision song contest with non-binary singer

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Non-binary singer Nemo, winner of the Eurovision 2024
Singer Nemo performed ‘The Code’ for Switzerland | Photo: Alma Bengtsson

After the very last set of scores had come in, The Code, performed by rapper Neno, was announced as the clear champion of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 with a points tally of 591 and a lead of 44 points. 

Croatia finished in second place with Rim Tim Tagi Dim by Baby Lasagna on 547 points. The other spot on the podium finish went to Ukraine, ending up in third place thanks to alyona alyona & Jerry Heil with their song Teresa & Maria, on 453 points.

Scores on the night were awarded in two stages, as is traditional at the Eurovision Song Contest. The first results to come in were from the juries, followed by the reveal of the public vote.

Once the initial points from 37 juries had come in, Switzerland already had secured the lead on the scoreboard with 365 points.

Nemo is the first nonbinary artist to win Eurovision.

“I’m mostly just really grateful for this experience and all the friends I’ve made along the way. This was one of the most queer representations we’ve seen at Eurovision which was amazing, I want to shout out all the other queer artists this year,” said the artist who was born in Biel, a small bilingual town in Switzerland.

Nemo’s triumph in Malmö is Switzerland’s third win at the Eurovision Song Contest to date, following victory by Lys Assia in 1956 and Céline Dion in 1988.

Switzerland first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, winning the very first edition of the competition, which it also hosted. 

It has been a controversial year for the song contest festival launched in 1956. For weeks, the question of whether Israel should be allowed to compete or not while engaged in a military conflict in Gaza dominated the media surrounding the event and attracted pro-Palestine activists to the Swedish city of Malmö. Eden Golan, a 20-year old singer representing Israel, was booed during a dress rehearsal; It has been reported that she was confined to her hotel room, while in Malmo to perform at Eurovision, after a series of threats against the Israeli delegation. Hours before the grand final, on May 11th, Dutch rapper Joost Klein, who represented the Netherlands, was disqualified from Eurovision 2024 over what the organisers described as an “incident” involving a female member of the production crew.

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