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:
- Keep on educating yourself and increasing your awareness about binge eating disorder.
- 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.
- Stop labelling it as “good” and “bad”.
- Find ways to better manage your stress and emotions that don’t involve food
- Ditch the perfectionist mindset. Be less perfect, but be consistent with it.
- 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.
London exhibition features evolution of Santa Claus through the centuries
From Saint to Santa is displaying with 32 artworks, including an original AI-generated one, tracking the history of Santa Claus and its influences. The photos are now available across light boxes in Wembley Park’s Arena Square, next to the Grade II listed OVO Arena Wembley.
The exhibition explores the emergence of the modern Santa Claus from roots that span Norse Yule celebrations, the Roman Saturnalia festival and Christianity’s Saint Nicholas. It travels through early spirituality and the Reformation to the jollier Santa figure we recognise today. The images also pay heed to some of Santa Claus’ less cheery companions, from the demon-like Krampus who seizes naughty children in central Europe to Knecht Ruprecht from German folklore who reprimands ill-behaved children with his staff or a bag of ashes.
Wending its way through history, the outdoor photography exhibition looks at how two distinct figures – Father Christmas and Santa Claus – merged into one and where characteristics such as the famous red suit, rosy cheeks, gift-giving and reindeer-pulled flying sleigh originated. It shows the impact that authors such as Washing Irving and Clement Clarke Moore, and artists such as Thomas Nast and Norman Rockwell, have had in turning a serious, saintly figure into someone altogether jollier.
“I am immensely proud to present this new exhibition in Wembley Park. The figure of Santa Claus carries a universal message of generosity and kindness that spans eras and cultures – and is today more resonant than ever. It’s a fascinating tapestry that blends traditions and local customs in ways one wouldn’t expect – from Northern European gods to ancient Rome, through the lenses of Christianity and modern-day advertising. This is a story for everyone, young and old, and I hope visitors leave with a better understanding of the enduring symbol of Santa Claus and the joy he brings to people around the world”, says Claudio Giambrone, Exhibition Curator and Producer at Wembley Park.
The evolution of Santa’s treatment in consumer culture goes under the microscope as part of the new exhibition as well, including the role that advertising and modern popular culture have played in shaping today’s Santa iconography.
For more information visit www.wembleypark.com/winter.
Millions of people in Britain admit to making costly car mistakes
As winter takes hold and temperatures start to drop, a recent research by Aviva reveals the most common mistakes drivers could be making when it comes to getting behind the wheel this winter.
The research, which surveyed 2,000 Brits, reveals that more than a quarter (28%) are leaving their cars running to de-ice screens, with older generations most likely to take the risk. Over a third of those aged 75+ (41%) and those aged 65-74 (34%) leave their car on to de-ice screens, compared to 17% of 18-24 year-olds and 24% of 25-34 year-olds.
By doing so, Brits may be unwittingly putting themselves at risk with most car insurance policies excluding thefts of vehicles while the engine is still running. This is also an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states that drivers cannot leave vehicles running and unattended while on a public highway, otherwise known as ‘quitting’.
When looking at visibility, the research reveals that almost half (45%) of Brits have driven without making sure that their screens and mirrors were properly clear. By doing so, motorists could also be risking a fine under Section 229 of the Highway Code, which states that all drivers ‘must be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all windows’.
The top 10 winter driving habits that could cause issues:
1. I have left my car running to de-ice the screen and warm it up: 28%
2. I have driven in gloves: 21%
3. I have driven in a big winter coat: 20%
4. I have driven even though there is snow on the top of my car: 19%
5. I have driven even though the screen was not fully de-iced or de-misted: 16%
6. I have driven without checking that my number plate was clear: 16%
7. I have driven even though the screen wasn’t clear: 15%
8. I have driven even though I was too tired: 14%
9. I have driven even though the mirrors weren’t fully clear: 14%
10. I have driven through floodwater or a ford: 13%
“While we all want to get to our next destination as quickly as possible, it pays to be safe, particularly as the risk of an accident typically increases during the winter months. Spending five or ten minutes to prepare your car means that not only are you more likely to avoid an accident, but also a hefty fine – which can be as much as £1,000 – points on your licence or even a driving ban in the worst case scenario”, says Martin Smith, Motor Claims Manager at Aviva.
Other British driving habits include leaving the car unlocked to quickly pop into somewhere (13%), pouring boiling water over a car windscreen to de-ice it (11%) as well as wearing inappropriate footwear such as heels (9%) or wellies/snowboots (7%). Those driving whilst wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear could also risk a fine under Rule 97 of the Highway code which states that you should ensure: ‘clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner’.
5 of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe this winter
Whether you are a seasoned skier or a first-timer, one thing that is for sure is that skiing can be a very expensive trip. Even if you don’t enrol for a celebrity-like skiing weekend, following on the footsteps of Kim Kardashian, Orlando Bloom, or Gwyneth Paltrow, the costs can pile up. as research shows Brits fork out between £500 and £750 per person on spending money for a ski trip.
If you are keen to hit the slopes but are being mindful of the pennies, here is a shortlist of five of the cheapest resorts you can visit in Europe, based on the average cost of a lift pass, accommodation, ski rental, and of course food and drinks.
“Skiing can be a very expensive holiday, especially for families. However, there are some fantastic resorts out there offering surprisingly reasonable prices, without compromising on those amazing views and fantastic ski runs”, says Laura Evans-Fisk, head of digital and engagement at eurochange. “Borovets in Bulgaria came out on top as the cheapest ski resort. It’s definitely an underrated destination, with unbelievably low prices for food and drink, and a whole week lift pass for less than £150.”
Topping the list is bargain-friendly Borovets, Bulgaria. The country is quickly becoming a cheap and cheerful favourite spot for skiers, and it’s easy to see why. Located in the Rila mountains, Borovets is an all-round resort providing luxury amenities at very reasonable prices. With fabulous nightlife as well as gentle slopes for beginners, it’s an ideal destination for adults and families alike. Ski passes start from just £29 per day, so you could really save some cash if you visit for just a few days.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): Лв370 (£143.75)
- Ski rental (6 days): Лв155 (£60.22)
- Accommodation (per night): From Лв135 (£52.45)
- Beer: Лв3 (£1.17)
- Wine: Лв6 (£2.33)
- 3-course meal: Лв15 (£5.83)
Lesser known than its Austrian and Italian neighbours, Slovenia’s Vogel resort is no less spectacular. Tucked away in the stunning Julian Alps, Vogel offers exceptional value alongside outstanding snow sports facilities and stunning views. The après is one of the cheapest around, with beer costing just €2, and a three-course meal setting you back just €17.
Les Houches, France
For a Mont Blanc ski holiday without the Chamonix prices, look no further than Les Houches. A top choice for families, this picturesque village is quiet at night, while the neighbouring high-altitude areas are perfect for advanced skiers. A six-day adult ski pass is less than £200 and equipment can be rented for less than £100 for the week.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): €197 (£158.46)
- Ski rental (6 days): from €114 (£91.70)
- Accommodation (per night): From €77 (£61.94)
- Beer: €2 (£1.61)
- Wine: €5 (£4.02)
- 3-course meal: €20 (£16.09)
Nestled in the heart of the Alps, Italy‘s Livigno offers sterling snowsport facilities for all skill levels, from absolute beginners to black slope aficionados. And thanks to its tax-exempt status, Livigno provides premium resort standards at budget prices, giving you far more for your euros than most other ski destinations on the continent.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): €223* (£179.38)
- Ski rental (6 days): from €74.00* (£59.52)
- Accommodation (per night): From €101 (£81.24)
- Beer: €3 (£2.41)
- Wine: €10 (£8.04)
- 3-course meal: €30 (£24.13)
While Switzerland tends to be an expensive country to visit, Grindelwald is one of the more affordable resorts for getting the Swiss ski holiday experience. Even if you’re not a keen skier, there are plenty of other activities to try out, including tobogganing and winter walking. Set in the beautiful Jungfrau mountains, Grindelwald provides a picture-perfect slice of the Alps for far less than you’d expect.
- Adult lift pass (6 days): SFr385 (£308.79)
- Ski rental (6 days): from SFr237 (£190.09)
- Accommodation (per night): From SFr57 (£45.72)
- Beer: SFr2 (£1.60)
- Wine: SFr13 (£10.43)
- 3-course meal: SFr24 (£19.25)
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