How to Stop Binge Eating

ways-to-stop-binge-eating-disorder

Binge eating (also known as Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Eating Behaviour, and Emotional Eating) is the most common eating disorder according to a recent study from McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Their finds are shocking, making it a major public health problem.

For someone with Binge Eating Disorder, the urge to overeat can be overwhelming. And while the first few bites can sometimes feel good, shame, guilt, and regret can quickly follow. But it’s possible to stop a binge before it starts, or even once it’s begun.

Keep a journal. In your journal, record all binges and what feelings were present during the binge. Record all details including the time, day, what you ate, how much you ate, and how you felt before and after the binge. Journaling is a great tool because it will provide insight to you as to why you turn to food like you do. This will help to narrow down your binges so that you will be able to see any similarities that happen when you binge eat.

Listen to your body. Take the time to connect your mind and your body. If you know what your body is really telling you, it will be easier to understand what leads to your binge eating episodes and to manage your eating. Take the time to listen to your body throughout the day to have a better sense of what your body really needs or wants.

  • Ask if you’re eating just because you’re bored. Are you peering into the fridge just because you’re looking for something to do? If so, drink a glass of water, and find a way to stay active.
  • Ask yourself if you’re feeling hunger or a craving. If you’re feeling hunger, then you should eat something before your craving gets worse. If you’re just feeling a powerful craving though you’re full, then you should find a way to cope with the feeling, such as taking a walk or doing something else to distract yourself from the craving.
  • Follow the ten-minute rule before snacking. If you have a craving, don’t give into it instantly, but give yourself ten minutes to step back and reflect on what’s really happening.
  • Let yourself indulge once in a while. If you’re having an all-powerful craving for peanut butter, just have a spoonful of peanut butter with a banana. This will keep you from reaching your breaking point five days later and eating an entire jar of peanut butter.

Talk about the problem. Talk to a friend or anyone else that you can trust about how you are feeling. If you are upset, vent your frustrations out to them. Just having someone listen will be very helpful to you. You will feel that a weight has been lifted from you after you get everything off of your chest.

Find a way to relax. Relaxation is very important in clearing your mind and turning away from the binge. Listen to music, take a warm bath, pamper yourself, go for awalk on a nice day, meditate, or picture yourself somewhere else where binge eating isn’t a part of your life. Another thing that you can do for relaxation is to go for a nice drive. Perhaps you live by the ocean or a lake. Maybe you have some great scenicroads. Just remember not to take any money with you and try not to drive by fast foodrestaurants, or any places that sell food for that matter. You want to make the binge go away – you don’t want to be tempted and give in.

Find an exercise routine you love. Exercising will not only make you feel healthier, but it will improve your mental health and will make you feel more in control of your body. The trick to exercising is doing something you really love instead of feeling you’re exercising to compensate for your binges. Exercise should feel like fun, not torture.

  • Don’t do anything you hate. If you absolutely hate running, go walking or hiking instead.
  • Try a new activity, such as salsa dancing, Pilates, or volleyball. You’ll have fun doing something you really love, and will get healthier in the process.
  • Have a gym or exercise buddy. Having a friend to work out with will make your workout more fun and will make you feel more motivated.

Eat three healthy meals a day. This is the easiest way to prevent binges. If you go for half a day without eating, you will be much more likely to indulge in a binge. The key is finding a way to eat healthy foods that you do love, so your meals are nourishing and delicious, instead of feeling like you’re just making your way through a boring tasteless meal instead of eating what you really want. Keep healthy snacks around the house to eat in between meals.

  • Give yourself at least 20-25 minutes to eat each meal. This may seem like a long time, but it will prevent you from not feeling when your body’s truly full.
  • Eat your meals and snacks on smaller plates with smaller forks or spoons.
  • Each meal should have a distinct start and stop. Don’t graze for twenty minutes while you’re cooking your dinner, or snack while you’re cleaning up.
  • Don’t skip meals! This is very important. Skipping meals and snacks can cause you to overeat at the next meal, and eating just one (or two) big meal per day can wreak havoc on your blood sugars and hinder weight loss.

Stay present while eating. Be aware of what you are eating and how much. Focus on your food and minimize any other distractions. By eating more mindfully, you will enjoy your meals more, notices fullness, flavor and satisfaction better than ever before, and feel less of a desire to overeat.

  • Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer.
  • Clear off the kitchen table.
  • Don’t read, study, write or talk on the phone while you eat.

Avoid temptation. Another way to avoid binging is to keep yourself away from situations that could lead to a binge. Taking measures to prevent binges in and out of your home will have a big impact on how you address your cravings. Avoiding temptation means recognizing a high-risk situation and creating a game plan to deal with it.

  • Remove unhealthy snacks from your house, or keep only a few small portions of unhealthy snacks if you need to indulge.
  • Bring your own snacks to places with tempting snacks. If you know you’ll be tempted by the popcorn at your local theatre, sneak in your own bag of low-cal popcorn, or bring a bag of grapes or trail mix instead.
  • If you’re going to a family party or a pot luck that you know will be filled with delicious foods and desserts, bring a low-cal or healthier option so you have something to eat.
  • Try to position yourself away from unhealthy foods when you’re out at a party.
  • Try to spend more of your social time doing activities that don’t involve food. Take a friend for a hike or a walk, or meet your friends at a bar that you know doesn’t serve food.

Manage your social eating. When you’re eating out or a party, it’s natural for your tendency to binge to increase because you will feel less in control of your environment and your eating options. Still, being out shouldn’t be an excuse to indulge in a binge, and you can still find ways to avoid binging even if you’re in a social setting or surrounded by delicious food.

  • Snack before you go out. Just having a piece of fruit or half a bowl of chicken soup will help curb your appetite once you’re surrounded by foods.
  • If you’re at a restaurant, scan the menu for healthy but filling options and order first so you’re not swayed by what your friends order.
  • If you’re in a place with unlimited snacks, keep your hands full. Hold a cup or a small plate of veggies to avoid picking at food you don’t really want.

How to Cope After a Binge

Reflect after the binge. Instead of punishing yourself or feeling like you’re the worst person in the world after a binge, you should take the time to reflect on why it happened to prevent it from happening again. Once you feel back in control a few hours after a binge, or even the day after a binge, you should step back and think about the feelings and actions that led to the binge. You can jot down notes or write in a journal or food diary. Here are some things to ask yourself:

  • What had you eaten before the binge? Had you been hungry for hours, or just bored with the meal you had a few hours before? If you were truly hungry, it’s important to recognize when you’re hungry and to have a healthy meal or a snack when you are. If you were bored with the meal, find a way to spice up your food.
  • What were you feeling before the binge? Were you stressed out over work or a personal relationship, or were you just bored and looking for something to do? If you were stressed, ask what you can do to manage your stress better. If you were just bored, learn how to recognize a “boredom craving” and find a way to stay active to fight it.
  • Were you finally overindulging on a food you had been craving all week? If you had been craving chocolate for days, it would have been better to have a small piece of a chocolate bar for dessert after a meal instead of craving it so badly that you ate a pound of chocolate chip cookies.

Put things into perspective! You ate food… that is all. It is not a crime. Yes, you overate and you may feel very sick at the moment, but all you did was eat. Drink some water, forgive yourself, move on and move forward.

Realize that one binge won’t make you gain weight. So you did it, big deal. Move on and promise yourself not to do it again.

Set goals. Make plans for what to do when you feel a binge coming on. Write down your motivation to lose weight or not binge, post reminders around that inspire you to moderate your food intake, make weight loss or weight management plans. Doing these things will not only take your mind off of the situation but will help you work towards not doing it again and give you a sense of accomplishment.

Wash your mouth. Brush your teeth, floss, and rinse. This will help you to get the taste of food out of your mouth and make you feel clean and off to a fresh start.

Excercise. If you have digested the food well already it is good to exercise. You will burn some of the excess calories off which will make you feel better also exercise naturally releases feel good hormones which should improve your mood and with a good enough work out you can boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours meaning that you will burn off those calories just by sitting around! How great is that!

Sleep it off. You stop thinking about how bad you feel and when you wake up you will no longer be full. It is also a great chance to start again with a new day/afternoon/evening ahead of you.

Make note of why you overate, when, where, etc. Make sure you try to avoid these situations in the future so you don’t end up in the same position. For example “Mia binges in the afternoon when no one is home, when she is bored and has nothing to do”, in this situation, Mia should go for a walk instead of being at home alone in the afternoon. She might also want to keep a bottle of water near her to curb her appetite and have a bigger lunch with lots of protein.

Return to your normal routine. Don’t try to overcompensate for your binge, or you will only make yourself feel worse. Though you may be tempted to skip the next meal or two, or to spend hours at the gym after the meal, this will make you feel more unbalanced and more likely to have another binge. You can spend a bit more time focusing on making healthy choices after the binge, but you shouldn’t dramatically change your routine.

  • Instead of spending an extra hour at the gym and overworking yourself, take a walk.
  • Don’t say, “I’ve been bad, but I’ll be good for the next week.” This will make you feel trapped.
  • Continue to eat three meals a day, and when you get another craving, have a healthy snack instead of staying hungry to punish yourself.

Get support. Develop a buddy system with friends or family. Ask people whom you can trust to be your buddy, to help you when you feel the urge to binge by being available to talk things through and to help counteract any negative feelings.

Be patient. Changing a poor habit takes time and you will need to substitute food with other treats, such as watching a DVD, doing a hobby, going for a walk with a digital camera, etc. Find diversions that take you away from food to help you kick the habit.

Be happy with yourself and learn to love yourself as you are. Accept your flaws. No one is perfect, and no one deserves to hate themselves… especially if all they did was eat!


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