Overcoming Binge Eating
Binge eating is a problem for many people who are trying to live
healthy. It was a problem for me until I figured out ways to keep it
under control. If you suffer from binge eating, hopefully you will be
able to benefit from these top strategies that have worked for me,
someone who has lived it.
Strategy #1: Keep a Journal
Binge eating has a close relationship with feelings and emotions. Writing
them down helps you to take responsibility for those feelings. Getting them
out onto paper helps you deal with them.
Exercise: Write down how you feel when you have a binge episode, think
about why you feel that way, then come up with ideas on how you can overcome
Strategy #2: Keep Yourself Busy
Boredom is a major factor when it comes to food. I work a 10 hour a day
sit-down job. I am tethered to my desk with a headset, and sometimes all
I think about is food. This happens to many people at home as well, most of
the time we don't eat because we are hungry, we eat because it is something
Exercise: The next time you get a "craving", think about why you want to eat.
Are you hungry? Are you bored? If you are bored, find something else to do.
Try to find something that will make you feel more productive and get your
mind off of the food.
Strategy #3: Keep an Eating Schedule
I eat a small meal every 2-4 hours. This gives me 7 meals a day, so if I
feel like I want to eat, I know that I will get to in a fairly short amount
of time. This isn't always practical for everyone, but it has helped me
Exercise: Make an effort to plan out a meal schedule to keep you eating less
food, but more frequently, to take place of the time that you might eat something
bad for you.
Strategy #4: Get Enough Sleep
Sleep cycles can regulate your mood and your willpower. Getting enough can
leave you well rested, and ready for any challenge headed your way.
Exercise: Get to bed at a decent time, make your sleeping are as comfortable
as possible. Try to avoid anything that will make you wake up during the night,
such as too much water too late in the evening. It usually helps to minimize
any distractions like a cell phone and to keep it dark and cool.
Strategy #5: Hold Yourself to a Higher Standard
Most people are ok with not ever having a drop of alcohol or any type
of drug, because they know what it will do to them, they know it is
bad for their body. Sugary sweets and high glycemic foods are bad for
your body as well. They are socially acceptable because they don't
cause the same kind of harm as illegal substances outright. (You're
probably not going to cause a major car accident from being intoxicated
Exercise: This one comes down to just doing it. Don't make it hard, don't
think about making it a task. Don't think of it as being hard to do, just
something that you do because it is your standard.
Strategy #6: Ask For Help
Don't be afraid to let friends or family members know what you're going
through and what your goals are. They will most likely be eager to help you.
They can offer much needed support and even keep tabs on you to keep you
Exercise: Ask a friend or family member to make sure you report to them
each week, make it a fun get together to talk about your successes and setbacks
and see what advice they can offer.
Strategy #7: Ask For Professional Help if Needed
There are many resources available for people who need help. Many resources
offer free and confidential services
Exercise: Type binge eating or emotional eating into a search engine and
look at what different organizations have to offer. You are not alone.
Strategy #8: Don't be so Ashamed
It is very hard to admit that you have a problem, especially when it is
about something that other people may think isn't that big of a deal. Food
related disorders are often down-played in society, unless they are at
an extreme. It is harder to live with knowing that you are too ashamed to
get help, than it is to come out and say "I have a problem, and it is a very
serious problem, please help me."
Exercise: Do whatever you can to realize that you're not the only one with
this problem. Join an online forum and relate to others that deal with it.
Strategy #9: Get Inspired
Find inspiration every day whether it is in a picture of your ideal
physique, or through a motivational quote. It can even help to find
pictures of what you don't want to look like
Exercise: Find images and print them out so you can post them somewhere
that you can see them every day. Write down motivational quotes, again,
somewhere you can read them every day. If it is a particular person in
your life that inspires you to be healthy, spend as much time with them
and thinking about them as possible.
Strategy #10: Remember the Guilt
Every time you go to put something in your mouth that you know you
don't really want to eat, remember how you'll feel afterwards. Think
about the long term goal. Just a moment of pleasure on your taste buds
can come with a month of guilt, loss of motivation, feeling of
helplessness, and even weeks of setbacks in the fitness department.
Exercise: Plan out what you are going to do when the situation comes
and you are tempted. Will you stop, breathe, think about the guilt?
Write it down, and after it happens, come back to your plan and see
how well you followed it. If you weren't able to, that's ok, you found
one thing that doesn't work. Just think of another and try that next time.
Strategy #11: Make the Food You Eat More Enjoyable
Healthy foods don't have to be bland and boring. Make your meals
taste awesome so that you look forward to eating them, instead of
feeling like you're making a terrible sacrifice.
Exercise: Try using low/no calorie sweeteners (Splenda, Truvia, Xylitol,
even Kroger has an inexpensive alternative to sugar). Be careful
not to overdo it as they will cause you to hold water and
sometimes cause slight discomfort in the digestive tract.
Season your food well. Try for low sodium seasonings to keep your
blood pressure in check and to retain less water.
Come up with new creations to keep things interesting. I make
a nutrient dense smoothie with banana, greek yogurt, berries,
spinach, cinnamon, almond milk, and vanilla. It tastes great!
I've also come up with interesting recipes for healthy, protein
packed brownies that sound a little odd until you try them. They
are made with dark cocoa powder, black beans, bananas, protein
powder, fat free cream cheese, and a few other things. Don't be
afraid to jump right in and try new things! It keeps things fun!
Strategy #12: Treat Yourself Once in a While, but Maintain Control
Finding a good balance of making un-enjoyable food more enjoyable, and
still enjoying the foods you've always enjoyed, is another way to
deal with and overcome binge eating.
Exercise: Don't have a "cheat" day or even "cheat" meal. Just plan a
meal into your diet that fits in with your calorie goals and nutrient
allotments. Know that you have properly compensated for it and move on.
Only allow yourself this kind of treat once in a while or else you might
start thinking you can eat as much bad food as you want as long as it fits
into your diet. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite work that way.
Strategy #13: When You Have an Episode, Don't let it Cripple You
Try not to get depressed. Just pick up where you left off like it never
happened. if you allow yourself to stay depressed you're more likely to
turn a 1 day binge into a weeks worth of unhealthy eating habits The sooner
you pick yourself back up and get going, the sooner you can get over it
and feel more confident to handle it next time it happens
Exercise: When it happens, follow your plan from earlier, and get right
back on track.
You may have noticed that I haven't included one of the most popular strategies:
drink a lot of water. I do believe in drinking a good gallon of water a day, but
drinking water when I was craving something, to fill up my stomach, which was apparently
trying to fool me into thinking I was hungry when I was actually thirsty, didn't help
me with binge eating. It just made me feel waterlogged and bloated. I still wanted to eat.
If it works for you, go for it!
Overcoming binge eating is all about trial and error. You're going to make mistakes,
you have to make them in order to find out what works best for you. Hopefully this list has
helped you to become the person you deserve to be and live binge free!