I’m so excited to be writing about how to stop binge eating. Binge Eating is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because it has been an issue that I have struggled on and off with since third grade and I see come up a lot from other fitness professionals or fitness oriented people. In the past I had issues with Bulimia, but Binge Eating is what has really stuck with me throughout my life. I had always just kind of ignored it because I could exercise the calories away (not healthy!) and because I wasn’t purging. I always viewed it as a mild eating disorder and not one that was serious because I had never gotten to the point where I was underweight or it was life-threatening, but it was serious.
Why was it serious even though it wasn’t life-threatening? It was serious because it determined whether or not I would go to a party because I was afraid of eating a ton of food due to social anxiety or miss out on a workout. I was working out six days a week with an active rest day or some weeks all seven days. Your body needs real rest days to rebuild your muscles and heal. I was not giving it that and ended up with adrenal fatigue, digestive issues and muscle overuse issues all over my body. I would work out hard everyday, eat lightly all day and then eat a ton of food in the evening.
It wasn’t until I looked up Binge Eating online that I realized that saving all your calories for the evening is considered disordered eating. I was so surprised that they had an actual name for what I was doing. I have since been able to successfully address my over exercising issues (yay!), but I still struggle with Binge Eating and after realizing that I fit the description of disordered eating I decided to work on this issue.
The hard thing about eating disorders is that you can’t just avoid it. You can’t avoid food or exercise because both are part of a healthy life. So the question is how do you life a healthy life full of healthy physical activity and nourishing food without it going into unhealthy territory? I’m using the lessons I learned on how to heal from my exercise addition to address my binge eating.
Talk to those you are close to about your issue with food and let them in on your plan. By telling other people they can help hold you accountable and it has been proven that by telling others of your plans you are more likely to stick to it.
Also, find a notebook you can keep a food journal in. Personally, I don’t keep count of my calories or macros right now because that’s a trigger for me and I feel like it’s not a healthy thing to do when you’re trying to change your perspective on food. I simply fill in the journal with what I ate and the quantity for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I wrote notes about how I think the day went, stress I was facing or anything else that may have impacted my food intake that day. Make sure you’re counting everything, even that little nibble you had while making dinner.
Being accountable to yourself and to others can really help you be successful in meeting your goal.
Change your perspective on food
I stick to the 80/20 diet which is 80% of the time I eat healthy food that is nourishing to my body and the other 20% I eat food that isn’t as healthy. Thinking of food as something that helps keep your body strong and in working order can help you make healthier choices when you’re looking for a snack, surfing the menu at a restaurant or at the grocery store.
Find your triggers
Are there certain foods that you tend to binge eat? Some people literally only binge eat certain foods and have no problems with other foods. I suggest keeping those out of where you live and not eating them for 40 days. It helps you break the habit of overeating this food and takes away the temptation. After the 40 days you can bring it back in with moderation.
There can also be emotional triggers. I know if I’ve had a stressful day that eating a giant chocolate bar sounds like the perfect way to deal. The problem with that is that it only helps temporarily AND it will lead me to gaining excess weight or feeling bad about myself which is going to be way worse for me in the long run than whatever stress I was dealing with in the first place. So when you go to grab a snack ask yourself if you’re eating because of an emotional reason. If the answer is yes then put that snack back down and go and journal your feelings out. Sometimes the urge to snack will pass if you address the underlying issue of why you want to snack in the first place.
Practice urge surfing
Allow yourself to feel the urge. Just because you have the urge to binge doesn’t mean you have to give into it. So allow yourself to feel those feelings, however uncomfortable, and move onto something else. The longer you can distract yourself or hold off from a binge the better because it allows a chance for the urge to go away.
Keep your hands busy
I snack a lot when I watch movies or tv shows. In order to break that habit I started keeping my hands busy while watching with coloring or drawing. Replacing times when you turn to food out of boredom with other activities can be extremely helpful.
Have set times for eating
This can help some, but for me it just makes me anxious. A lot of people like to have structured times during their day that they will eat and that works really well for them. What works for some won’t work for everyone so the only way I use this tip in my life is I try not to eat after 9 PM. I have trained myself to go to bed on a full stomach which is bad because I don’t need those calories right before bed and I won’t wake up hungry which leads me to skipping breakfast. You can see why the cycle of eating very little during the day would go on and of without intervention.
Plan your meals
I’ve had good success with this one and is probably why I eat pretty well during the day, albeit not enough. My boyfriend and I pretty much cook all our own food so my breakfast and lunch are typically leftovers from dinners or out of the big batch of the stirfry we make each week. Check it out here!
Dinner is usually one of our recipes as well, but it’s the snacking where I go astray. So I started to plan my snacks and adding a salad or more veggies to dinner to increase my fullness. Also, ending the night with some mint tea has been helpful because it signals my body now that food time is done. Others do the same thing by brushing their teeth.
This brings me back to the determination of what your triggers are. If you tend to be a stress eater or eat food as comfort try meditating 15 minutes a day or before you eat. Check out my meditation posts here and here to help get you going. Also, try eating more slowly by putting your fork down in between each bite. It helps you enjoy your meal more fully and by making you eat more slowly it gives your brain time to get the signals from your stomach that you are pleasantly full.
Eat protein with your meals
Protein helps you feel fuller longer and helps to limit cravings. I’m not saying to eat a high-protein diet, but in the land where carbs are king making sure to fit protein into each meal will be extremely helpful.
The reasoning is the same as protein…it’ll help keep you fuller longer. Bonus is that it will also help you your bowel movements regular (yeah, this is a website where we can talk about poop freely).
Your body often mistakes being thirsty for hunger. I know that if I’m drinking the amount of water I should each day I snack a heck of a lot less. Also, for those who are afraid of gaining water weight….don’t be. Water weight typically happens when you drink too little water and your body begins to hold onto it for fear of not having enough.
Fasting can be great for some people, but if you have an issue with Binge Eating it probably isn’t the right choice for you. People who fast and suffer from Binge Eating often have the feeling of food scarcity whether it’s subconscious or they’re fully aware of it. Somewhere along the line I gained this belief and it’s been a very hard one for me to break.
Don’t beat yourself up
Negative self-talk will just perpetuate a strained relationship with food and the idea here is to cultivate a good, healthy relationship with food. If you overeat one day after doing really well for the last week don’t beat yourself up. Just get right back on the wagon. This is about creating a lifestyle which is done over the long-term and one day of eating too much won’t change all the hard work you’ve put in if you don’t let it.
Focus on why you want to change your eating habits
Do you want to break the chains that food holds on you? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to stop feeling sluggish every morning because you’re still so full from last night? Whenever you feel like binging think of those reasons and even write them down somewhere. If you write it down each time you’re more likely to think of those reasons instead of going into a feeding frenzy.
Remember that you can binge on healthy food too
While it does matter what you’re eating the fact is that it’s still binging even if you eat too much of a healthier food. If you’re overeating a ton of broccoli that is still overeating because you’re training your body to expect that level of fullness. Overeating lower calorie foods or healthy foods is just another way to continue to same behavior with less physical side effects….except maybe gas if you’re eating that much broccoli! In order to help your relationship with food you need to break the hold it has over you.
Seek medical help.
I am not a doctor or dietician. These are just tips and tricks that helped me build a healthier relationship with food. If you keep trying and failing to break your Binge Eating cycle please consult a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. There may be underlying issues that you can’t see. I also highly suggest having blood tests done to make sure everything is within normal levels.
If food controls what activities you attend, how much you exercise or makes you feel out of control then please address these issues. It is never too late to change this behavior. For years I couldn’t imagine any woman ever having a healthy issue with food, unless they had a naturally fast metabolism, so I didn’t think it was possible for me. Having food control my life had been going on for so long it was just my norm. I WAS SO WRONG.
Food does not have to control you. Do I still have an eating disorder? Yes. Just like anxiety and depression, it’s something that typically never goes away and rears its ugly head whenever something in life triggers it. However, I’ve learned how to recognize it, I’ve learned coping mechanisms and I’ve learned it’s not normal to feel that way about food so I’m in a much better place to deal with it whenever it decides to pop up. I hope these tips on how to stop binge eating was helpful.
Do you have a similar issue or another tip on what has helped you have a healthy relationship with food in your life? Sound out below because I want to hear all about it!
Disclaimer: This is not meant to be medical advice and should not be taken as such. This is just what has helped me on my journey to build a healthier relationship with food.