Cravings and Binge Eating: Interview with Peggy Schirmer.

Cravings and Binge Eating: Interview with Peggy Schirmer.

I recently had the honour of being interviewed by Peggy Schirmer for her fabulous podcast on Youtube called, Gut Feelings. We talked about cravings and binge eating and how they are linked to dieting/food restriction and negative body image. If you haven’t heard of Peggy before, she is a certified naturopath (all the way from Panama) that specialises in helping people to heal their digestive issues and cultivate good gut health.

We talked about 

  • My personal battle and full recovery from chronic dieting and an eating disordered that inspired me to help other women have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.
  • The worst advice I’ve heard when it comes to cravings and stopping binge eating and what to do instead.
  • Why willpower does not work when it comes to cravings and how our microbiome also influences what we crave. 
  • The best advice I would give my friends and family members to stop binge eating.
  • How to manage your cravings so you’re not restricting and feeling deprived. 
  • The essence of the work I do is “stop punishing start nourishing” and what that actually means and how it can help you heal and transform your relationship with food, your body and by extension your whole life. 

We literally could have talked for hours! 

Watch the interview here



Cravings and binge eating have much in common with gut issues. 


Many people that struggle with chronic dieting, disordered eating and/or an eating disorder also experience some level of digestive upset. Some surveys show that up to 98% of people with an eating disorder also have concurrent digestion issues. I wanted to point this out to show how prevalent this relationship is!

And it makes SO much sense when you think about how dieting and disordered eating behaviors impact the amount and the variety of food consumed. Ultimately, that will affect the way our digestion works.


Disrupted gut/brain connection.


Communication between the brain and the gut is “disrupted” in a “functional gut disorder.” A functional gut disorder is a gut issue in which the symptoms cannot be explained by a structural or tissue abnormality. Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) falls into the category of a functional gut disorder, whereas Celiac Disease does not (that’s because in Celiac Disease, gluten triggers an autoimmune response in the body, which can cause damage to the small intestine).

How can this communication between the gut and brain become disrupted?

Typically by some type of stress response, which can either be physical or psychological. So yes, anxiety can cause a disruption in this communication. And it may result in things like acid reflux, bloating, gas and/or diarrhea.

Many people are then often prescribed an elimination diet, like FODMAPS. One major problem with these types of diets is that they are extremely restrictive, which means they are not appropriate for disordered eating and/or eating disorder clients.

Up-and-coming research suggests that gut-directed hypnotherapy may be just as effective as elimination diets. I thought that was fascinatin and I am looking forward to seeing the new research on this.

On the physical side of things, this connection could be disrupted by undereating, over-exercise, laxative use, or bingeing. And it goes both ways. Digestive symptoms often cause stress and anxiety via the same connection. Someone may be feeling really anxious about how/when/if their digestive system will play up. 

There’s so much to learn about our digestion and gut health and it’s a topic that science is only beginning to scratch the surface on. 

If you would like more information regarding how you can manage cravings, stop binge eating and improve your gut health, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me here.


kelly renee eating behaviour coach

You can eat sweet treats without losing control.

You can eat sweet treats without losing control.

Halloween is here and there are sweet treats EVERYWHERE! I know when I was in the midst of my overeating struggle, I’d try to control myself around sweets foods. But sooner or later I’d lose control and then tell myself… “I better finish it all now, because I’ll get back on track tomorrow.” The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way!


How to eat sweet treats without losing control


If you’re looking for support to have it easy with food through Halloween and any time in life, then I am here for you. I once felt totally out of control with food. I binged and purged almost on a daily basis for 15 years.

But here’s what I want you to know:

You can have sweet treats without losing control.

You can eat nourishing foods without fighting to say no to sweets.

You can have any food (yes any) in the house without fearing you’ll lose control.

This can all be second nature, and it can be a part of your life without you having to force it.



The first step

Allowing yourself to eat these foods unconditionally. 

Giving yourself permission to eat exactly what you’re craving and hungry for, enables you to take your power back from food. If you tell yourself you can’t have something, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that eventually builds into uncontrollable cravings.

What could have been one bar of chocolate enjoyed mindfully, ends up being a whole block of chocolate (plus more) later on.

I know you think you’re broken and a willpower weakling, however, it’s not you per se. It’s your avoidance and the subsequent deprivation of these foods that’s driving you cravings and constant thoughts about food, that result in you overeating.

Usually with overwhelming guilt and the promise to never eat these foods ever again. But we all know how that usually plays out, right?



I know allowing yourself to eat the foods you feel out of control with is really scary. I know you truly believe that if you let yourself eat what ever you wanted, you would sit on the couch all day and eat boxes of donuts.

I’m not setting you up to fail I promise. I’m setting you up to eventually win your fight against food.


How to do it?


It’s important to go slow. This does take practice and patience.

There will be a honeymoon phase where you may want to eat a lot of your previously forbidden foods. This is just a phase and it will pass in time. It’s a normal part of healing your relationship with food for good.

When you have permission to eat any food, you really get to ask yourself for the first time, do I really want it?  Do I really want this food now? It removes the “Last Supper” mentality, wherein you eat as much of the forbidden food as you can because tomorrow you will start another diet.

There’s an area of research called habituation, which describes what happens when you have access to foods. The more you are exposed to a particular food, it diminishes the desire to eat it. This has been shown for a variety of foods, including chocolate, pizza and potato chips. However, when someone is chronically on a diet, they don’t go through this normative habituation experience. 

And they continue to start their diet over every Monday. We can do better than that. 

You can say goodbye to diets and deprivation, for good. It is 100% possible to eat chocolate bars, a donut or a bowl of ice cream, and not feel guilty about it. Or feel the need to keep eating them all ~ with practice.

Building trust with your body and making peace with food is an important first step to not feeling out of control around sweets (or any other food).

If you keep thinking “I can’t control myself around sweets”, please don’t hesitate to read more about my food and body image coaching program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing here>> or get in touch with me here>>

kelly renee eating behaviour coach

In three months from now you will thank yourself.

In three months from now you will thank yourself.

I saw this quote today: “In three months from now, you will thank yourself.” It was an advertisement for a diet. And for the most part I agreed! A person who begins a diet will likely thank themselves in three(ish) months. Unfortunately, if you have dieted before, that high won’t last long. To stop dieting and bingeing completely you need a different approach. Read on while I explain why diets don’t work and how you can stop dieting and bingeing for good.


How to stop dieting and bingeing in three months from now


On a diet you:

Feel virtuous, on a high, in control.

You’ll think – “I’ve got it this time!”

People will comment on your weight loss and you’ll feel validated, accepted.

You may even think you’ve found the answer for your joint pain, insomnia, foggy head, skin rash and fat thighs.

You probably ARE thanking yourself.

But all that will change, eventually.


stop bingeing and dieting


A few months after that, when stress hormones skyrocket (because restrictive diets are stressful on the body).

Cortisol and fat stores increase.
Mood and energy plummet.
Metabolism slows down.
Adrenal glands get messed up.

The same diet that made you feel on top of the world, will inevitably make you feel like lousy.

And what’s more, you’ll end up blaming yourself, not the diet, for the subsequent changes to your body.
Because that’s how the diet industry makes its money.

It sells us plans designed to fail, watches us blame ourselves for the bad experience and then sells the flawed plan back to us – again and again and again…

Maybe in three months you’ll thank yourself. But in 6-12 (less if you’ve dieted before) you’ll be back at square one, blaming yourself.

That’s how diets work. Or that should that be, how they don’t work.
We want results and we want them now ~ I get that. I’ve been there too.

But if you really want a certain body shape, you have to be in it for the long haul. Because that’s what is sustainable.


There’s NO quick fix.


Otherwise, you’re going to continue wasting your time, energy and money on this diet/weight loss/weight regain merry-go-round.

Not only is this incredibly unhealthy physically and mentally, you also don’t have time for this. Life’s short.

Find what works to stop dieting and bingeing for YOU and stick to it.

My clients get results that stick in three months. They stop dieting and bingeing in roughly three months. No diets. No deprivation. No weight cycling.

And they do thank themselves after working with me for three months.

If this is something that you need help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me here>>

The science of binge eating and how you can stop it | Kelly Renee

The science of binge eating and how you can stop it | Kelly Renee

When you go on a diet and abstain from eating certain foods, you eventually feel physically and/or mentally deprived. This potentially results in you eating many (many) more of the off limits foods – no matter how much you try to stop yourself. The diet industry will tell you it’s a willpower problem. However, the science of eating behaviour shows us that the more we try not to eat something, the more likely we are to overeat it. So before you vow to never have potato chips in your house ever again or curse your lack of willpower, understand the science of binge eating – and make peace with all foods this year.


The Science of Binge Eating

Research in an area called food habituation shows that the more you are exposed to a food, the less your brain cares about it. As a result, your desire to eat it diminishes. This has been shown with a variety of foods including potato chips, mac and cheese, pizza and chocolate.

It makes sense: Say you were told you could eat fish and chips for dinner every night. While that might sound great on night one, by the fifth or sixth night, the fish and chips will have lost its allure and you’ll likely eat less than you did the first night. Just like people who live in the city adjust to street noise or stop being as bothered by bad smells, people get habituated to a food the more they eat it.

The opposite is also true. When you don’t have access to certain foods, the more your brain focuses on them.

The same thing happens when you label food “off limits.” As soon as you tell yourself that you can’t have, say, potato chips or chocolate, your brain will concentrate on those foods and cause you to crave them. Then, when you do get access to these foods, you’re more likely to overeat them since you don’t know when you’ll be “allowed” to eat them again.


How your body works with binge eating


If it’s physical deprivation in the sense that you go hungry or go into an energy deficit, your primal drive for food will kick in. Your brain will be on high alert for food. Sights, sounds and smells of food will be prominent and thoughts about food as I mentioned abover will be persistent.

There’s only so long that your willpower can last in the face of a biological drive for food. You can’t overcome your biology (ie; your brain and appetite hormone secretion).

If you’re not calorie restricting or cutting out food groups, but you still have the ‘Food Police’ in your head controlling what, when and how much you should eat in an attempt help you lose or maintain your weight, you will also experience deprivation. But it won’t be physical deprivation – it’s a mindset of deprivation.

If you believe you shouldn’t or can’t have something, of course you’ll want it! Your mind will fixate on it. Your brain won’t leave you in peace until you eat it! Know what I’m talking about?


Enter food

If you have been avoiding your favourite foods because once you start eating you can’t stop? This is called deprivation backlash or rebound eating. Doing further research and reading into the science of binge eating will help you understand it better.


How to prevent binge eating


Reading one post is unlikely to prevent binge eating. The best I can do here is point out a few tips for you to prioritise. There are lots of baby-steps in between to help you stop what is driving your compulsion to binge.

1. Put weight loss on the backburner – remember dieting is restrictive. Any restriction results in feelings of deprivation, which often results in overindulging or bingeing. Let weight loss happen if it’s meant to through creating new healthy habits with food, movement and self-care. Repair your relationship with food first and see what happens with your weight.
2. Stop negative self talk – when you blame yourself for your lack of self-control or willpower, remember the science of binge eating above. Remind yourself that diets and food rules set you up for failure.
3. Get professional support – allowing yourself permission to eat all foods is scary (but necessary) when you are trying to stop binge eating. Will you binge when you allow all foods? Probably, but that’s normal and expected in the beginning. Having specific strategies and support to guide you through this process will help you stay on track and stop binge eating much quicker.

If you’re tired of yo-yo dieting, feeling unhappy with your body and obsessing about what, when and how much to eat? I’ve got good news – it IS possible to be free from all of that.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me on the link below.

Book a discovery call here>>

kelly renee eating behaviour coach

The difference between binge eating and emotional eating.

The difference between binge eating and emotional eating.

Since you can’t solve a problem you don’t fully understand, let’s start by defining “binge eating” and “emotional eating”.

binge eating help


What is Binge-Eating? – (BE)

Binge eating is a reaction to deprivation around food. It is generally not a stand-alone behaviour—it is one part—the second part—of the diet-binge cycle. It’s eating half a loaf (+) of bread because you haven’t had a single slice of bread in 2 weeks and you can’t hold yourself back any longer (natural biological instinct to relieve yourself from food restriction).

This type of eating can also be triggered by unhealthy thoughts about food and weight (aka “Diet Mentality”). People who feel guilty or shameful about eating certain foods are much more likely to binge-eat or feel “out of control” around food because they criticise their choices with food.

What is Emotional Eating? – (EE)

Emotional eating is eating for emotional pleasure and/or to cope and soothe uncomfortable feelings. A “normal” eater may eat emotionally from time to time, but will likely do so much less often than dieters. The reality is…most people eat emotionally sometimes…(through good and bad times).

The difference between a person who has 1 small bar of chocolate after a stressful day, and the person who eats 2 family size blocks of chocolate after a stressful day, is whether or not they were trying to “control” their food and weight in the first place (aka dieting).

Are you seeing a trend here?

Engaging in restrictive or restrained eating to control your weight is the REAL reason you struggle with food. Think about it for a second. 



If you want help to stop feeling out of control around food, and feel carefree and comfortable in your body – now, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me>>

body confidence


How to stop your sugar cravings (in a surprising way).

How to stop your sugar cravings (in a surprising way).

Are you constantly craving chocolate, sweets or refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread or potato chips? Once you start eating is it hard stop? Read on and I’ll explain why you crave it and how to stop sugar cravings.

Stop sugar cravings (in a surprising way)

First of all, I know the struggle with sugar well. I was a compulsive sugar “addict” for over 15 years.

I battled with an eating disorder and other mental health issues such as Bulimia, depression, body dysmorphia, and Binge Eating Disorder (BED).

If you struggle with sugar cravings, it’s understandable that you would try to control it through willpower and abstinence. However, abstinence is not the answer.

Brute force detoxing simply does not work.

That type of approach only has short-term success and almost always triggers a relapse after 30 days (or less).

This creates more stress, anxiety, frustration, and self blame; which incidentally increases the cravings and how you respond to the cravings when they come on.

stop sugar cravings

I know so many of you FEEL addicted to sugar. However, just because you ‘feel’ addicted, doesn’t mean you are PHYSICALLY addicted.

When you are physically addicted to a substance it’s dangerous and potentially life-threatening to withdraw from. Alcohol withdraw can kill you. However, we don’t get life-threatening symptoms when we stop eating sugar.

So with that in mind it’s crucial to mention that sugar isn’t inherently “bad”. Like most things, the poison is in the dose.

Just about all the information out there on sugar suggests it’s addictive, disease-causing and should, therefore, be heavily restricted.

However, demonizing sugar (or any food) puts it on a pedalstool and gives it power.

We say it’s forbidden and it must be detoxed and cleansed from our bodies. Like it’s the devil or something…

But this is not neccessary. We need to find the middle ground.

So why do you crave it?

Restriction has been shown to be the number one cause of binge eating. Binge eating is not ‘caused’ by any addictive ingredients in foods, it’s caused by our body sending signals that it wants something that it has been denied, so it ‘goes all in’ for it when it does become available.

A classic example of all or nothing eating.

If you’re looking for help with sugar, here are some tips to begin your journey:

1. Keep blood sugar levels balanced by eating enough and regularly

2. Don’t restrict sugar. No sugar diets/detoxes or cleanses (these are the problem, not the solution).

3. Learn to eat sugar mindfully as part of a balaned diet

4. Find ways to move your body you enjoy

5. Don’t replace sugar with fake sugar (artificial sweeteners)

6. Take weight loss out of the equation

7. Observe your body and sensations when eating sugar

8. Be kind to yourself (no shame or guilt during or after eating)

9.Tomorrow is a new day to start fresh

This is a deeply nuanced concept and of course will require far more than one blog post to master it.

The point here is to help you see there can be freedom and peace around sugar. You’re are not addicted, but you could be responding to restriction.

Today I eat sweet foods, but not nearly as much as I used to eat when I was trying to restrict it and avoid it and eat less of it.

Believe it or not, sweet things can actually sit in my kitchen cupboard and I forget about them. When I was trying to restrict it they wouldn’t last a day.

The key is to eat something when you crave it and the craving will go away. It takes practice. But it is possible to eat something sweet and then move on. End of story. No binge. 

And you can do it too!

Be compassionate with yourself. Sugar can be a hard beast to slay, but when you remember it’s just sugar, you can win your power back, one day at a time and stop sugar cravings.

Struggling with sugar? Let’s chat. Book a call here and we’ll figure out a plan to get you back in control with it.


kelly renee eating behaviour coach