As I get into the 7 ways to help you identify problem areas surrounded by binging, I want you to answer some questions. I’d also recommend you keep track of what you’re eating, why you’re eating if you aren’t hungry, your level of hungriness, and any circumstances that triggered a binge (e.g. trigger foods, thoughts, feelings). This article will show you if you tend to overeat due to emotional stressors or restrictive eating patterns.
1. What was your hunger factor when a binge took place?
Our hunger cues were given to us for a reason. It’s very important to listen to our body and pay close attention to its signals telling us when we’re getting hungry. Letting our blood sugar dip too low, sets us up to make poor choices when it comes to eating our next snack or meal. Skipping meals is probably the single most worse thing we can do to slow our metabolism down. It keeps us from losing weight by holding onto everything we consume, not knowing when it’s going to get fed again. On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being completely stuffed and 10 being starved, try to consciously make more of an effort to start thinking about what you’re going to eat once you start feeling hungry (around 3-5). By restricting your eating, you’re more likely to set yourself up for a binge, so start getting into the mindset of eating every 3-4 hours. Write out a daily food journal the night before, jotting down all planned meals and snacks. Do your best staying on track, only consuming what’s planned out.
2. Are you more likely to be hungry, or more likely to not be hungry at all when binge eating begins?
If you’re more likely to be hungry when a binge takes place, it’s probably because you waited too long to eat or you’re restricting your calories too much. You’re physically too hungry and your body wants nourishment now. If you’re not that hungry when a binge happens, you might be eating out of boredom, loneliness, anger, grief etc, which can be linked to emotional eating or mindlessly eating. You might’ve also reached for a forbidden food, a item that’s usually off limits to you, like sweets or carbs. Paying close attention to your hunger cues and emotions is the first step in controlling your binges more often.
3. What thoughts did you have when you allowed yourself to binge?
Does the voice in your head sometimes get filled with excuses and rationalizations like “I deserve just a bit”. “One slice isn’t going to hurt anything”. Does that little voice clutter your head with negative thoughts of self-blame, self-doubt, shame or failure? Have you tried endless amounts of time to grab every ounce of will power to not give into temptation and tell that voice to go take a hike, only to be disappointed and eat more than you told yourself you were going to? We can’t change anything in life if we don’t realize we’re doing it and for what reason. What’s your deepest underlying issue? Resolving this could make all the difference between success and failure.
4. What feelings did you experience prior to or during the binge?
Before reaching out for something, ask yourself how you’re feeling, if you’re emotionally hungry and how are you going to feel immediately after eating. If you realize you’re going to eat because you need to redirect your attention for the moment, stop, distract yourself, give yourself five minutes of positive self talk, then see how you feel. If you realize you’re eating emotionally and you stop yourself, that’s a huge step and it will only get easier.
5. What circumstances led to the binge?
There’s no circumstance too great to start binging. Learning how to cope with whatever life throws your way is crucial in overcoming binging. Whether it’s marital issues, work issues, stressors from your kids or self criticism about your weight, just know that just about everything in life is in your control and you can do more about certain circumstances than you think.
6. What type(s) of food do you usually end up binging on (e.g. sugar, carbs)?
For a vast majority of us, we have a certain food that we know isn’t good for us and we know every time we’re in the same room with it, we tend to overeat it. For me it’s carbs and sweets. I know once I start eating a piece of cake, chips or even whole grain carbs, no matter how much I plan on having, I’m more likely to exceed it by double, especially if I deprived myself completely from these foods for too long. We’re all human. To think we’ll never go another day without eating another cookie is so unrealistic and crazy. By allowing yourself a treat of your choice every so often, you’re doing yourself a favor by not depriving yourself, making it less likely for a binge to occur next time you have it.
7. Is there usually a certain time of day you usually get the urge to binge? Why?
I think for most of us, including myself, late at night after dinner, just as my day’s unwinding, is when I was most likely to scarf down all those extra calories. There were plenty of times where I ate if not a whole days worth of calories, close to half in one sitting. Half the time out of boredom and the other half because I just had so much on my mind. Zoning out to food just seemed like the most uplifting thing to do. Whatever your time of day is, early morning, afternoon, or late at night, recognizing this and changing your routine up by doing something productive can really get you out of the habit. A bubble bath, a walk around the block, a drive by the beach or a phone call to a friend can really help.
Listening to our body and thoughts is essential in fighting the war on binge eating and can bring us back in balance. Making some healthy, productive decisions during weak times can reconnect us with the people and things we love the most. Instead of picking up that box of donuts, pick up the phone and call a friend or loved one you haven’t heard from in a month. Instead of zoning out on the couch with a family size bag of chips, grab that favorite book you haven’t been able to read and take a soothing bubble bath. Choose to do things that will help you love yourself and other people a little bit more.