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6pm binge

Dear Joe,

Hello! I am a 23 year old female and recently I decided I had started to get a bit out of shape and   I overhauled my diet and started doing more regular exercise. This has been pretty successful as I've lost two stone steadily over a three month period and am feeling much fitter again.

I really enjoy healthy foods and find it pretty easy to not eat junk but there's one major downfall in my diet...

I work long 12 hour shifts in a care home for people with advanced dementia. I love my job but it is tiring and stressful and by the time the evening meal trolley arrives for the residents I find that I am starving and craving stodgy, greasy foods.
All of the staff pick at whats left over after everyone has had their dinner and I find myself in there snacking on procesed meats, rich mayonaise sandwiches....junk! Our residents are on a fortified diet so there is never a healty option!

I never pick at breakfast, lunch or at the 3pm cakes but at 6pm I seem to loose contol!

A typical day of food....minus the 6pm junk fest would be:

- fruit, 0% greek youghurt, honey
- porridge with fruit and honey
and a cup of herbal tea

- chicken and salad wrap, fruit
- homemade spicy lentil soup, wholemeal seeded pitta bread, fruit
cup of herbal tea

3pm Snack
- Pressed fruit bar made from dates and nuts (no artifical syrups etc, just fruit and nuts)
- Handful of nuts
Cup of herbal tea

- Chicken/Lean Steak stir fry with rice noodles and veg
- Baked sweet potato, beans and salad

On the days when I'm not at work  stick to this so easily but at work by 6pm I am ravenous!
I would be so grateful for any advice you could give me regarding changes to or additions to my diet that might help me avoid this trap.

Also, sorry for such a long e-mail!


Sorry for the delay, with the holidays, I have been traveling all over the place.

I think that you're doing a great job with your health other than the binge and I also think that the solution is very simple, but will require a little preparation. I'm sorry that there isn't a much more elaborate answer to help you with the situation, but it is simply this and I will use an example to set it up.

All addicts, no matter what the addiction is, can only be addicted and use if they are either in the environment that allows them to repeat their addictive pattern or if they are in the presence of the substance they are addicted to.

In your case, you cannot remove the food from the equation as your residents must have it, so you must change your environment. What that involves is this: you eat at 6pm because you aren't eating your other foods. From your information provided, I would assume that you're bringing your lunch and snacks to work, so you are eating those instead of the "at work food," however, you are not bringing your dinner to work or at least a snack to tide you over and stop you from eating the "work food." I know that may seem overly simple, but if you bring some snack of some sort or actually bring your dinner to work with you, the chances are you will more than likely make the right choice and eat that rather than the poor food choices.

In my own life, I know that if I take my lunch to work with me or if I simply choose the restaurant we will eat at, that gives me the opportunity to make sure I don't slip up and eat something bad.

I hope that helps some and if you would like any further follow-up, feel free to keep in touch.

Best of luck!

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