Has binge eating become a normal part of your life? Has disappointment and frustration become an everyday feeling as you watch the scale continue to rise because you cannot get your binge episodes under control? Are you afraid to start eating because you feel you won’t be able to stop? I’m here to tell you that there are support systems out there, and I’m one of them. Admitting that you binge eat can be embarrassing and a shameful feeling, but it is a necessary first step. We think that those that don’t struggle with it or have never struggled with it won’t understand us. Maybe they won’t completely, but unless you bring your issue to light and ask for help and support, no one can help you.
I’ve struggled with this addiction, craving, disorder – whatever you call it, for years. I was almost afraid for the sun to go down because that’s when I felt most alone, bored, anxious, etc. – all the things that would bring on my binge eating. Not to mention the fact that I was somewhat on the “restrictive eating” side too, cutting my carbs and calories as low as I could – which was a huge trigger for binge eating. There’s nobody better to talk to, have listen to you and teach you how to get through this than someone who has lived it. I feel like that’s me. I want to help and would love to share with you every tool that I’ve learned, tried and had work for me that I’m confident can work for you IF you put in the effort. Are you on board?
Characteristics of Binge Eating
- Rapid Eating
- Eating when not physically hungry
- Eating until uncomfortably full
- Eating alone to avoid embarrassment
- Feeling disgusted with yourself (angry, depressed, guilty) after binging
If this is the one thing holding you back from your dreams and goals, get ready, because we are going to make this year the best year you’ve had in a long time! 🙂
Find Out What Triggers Your Binges!
If you find that you’re most likely to binge at a certain time, find something to keep you occupied at that time or get out of the house. Find something more productive to do like organize something you’ve been meaning to get to for some time, paint your nails, call someone, take a bath, read a book or take a walk. The last thing you’ll want to do is step one foot in your kitchen unless it’s for water. If your urge is too strong in the very beginning, reach for healthy alternatives like a handful of nuts, low fat/low sugar yogurt, protein, cottage cheese, etc. Do not grab for carbohydrates or sugar! These are the two most common trigger foods that send us overboard. Sugar floods our brain like a drug and sends our cravings into high gear. You must absolutely stay away from sugar. If a person or place is the trigger, if you can, try to avoid. Being around someone who makes you feel bad, or going somewhere where you know you’re likely to binge is going to be off limits until you can get your issue under control.
Feeling overwhelmed, unappreciated and worn thin can make anyone feel a little on edge. For some people, eating is a solution to another problem. If you’re unable to put into words what the problem is, you probably reach for food instead of expressing yourself. Binge eating can help you cope better with stress by shutting off your feelings, providing an escape from emotional pain, distracting your attention away from problems and blocking out negative thoughts. How a person reacts to and copes with stress depends in part on her temperament, coping style, way of thinking, and interpersonal skills. Exercising, yoga, swimming and meditating are a few healthy ways to manage and cope with stress – and they won’t cost you a penny!
Seek Support From Someone You Trust!
Getting the courage to tell someone you know, love or trust can feel a little overwhelming at first. The thought that they won’t take you seriously or that they won’t understand can make you feel (understandably) hesitant. Telling someone and asking for their support should make them feel honored that you have the trust and faith in them to share one of your biggest struggles. If you haven’t done this yet, muster up the courage, figure out what you want to say and let someone you love know this week.
Do Not Diet – Eat balanced Meals!
Diets do not work. If they did, there would be nothing but skinny, fit people all around. Cutting out certain foods (like carbs and sugar) and cutting down your calories too much will only make you feel sluggish and moody. Our brain runs off of glucose and needs two times more energy than any other cells in our body. Cutting off that supply not only lowers your blood sugar, it leads you to opt for a quick (usually sugary or fatty) fix. Eat every few hours, snack smart, stay within your caloric needs and drink plenty of water. The entire idea of becoming more healthy is to change your lifestyle. Eat only when you are physically hungry and eat slow. Keep a journal, and I suggest filling it out first thing in the morning with everything you plan on eating. This way you know what you’re eating, when and how much. A solid strategy that worked for me was to keep anything unhealthy (sweets, salty snacks, low nutritional foods/drinks, and fatty foods) out of the house. If it’s not within reach, you can’t eat it. Out of sight – out of mind.
Just because you went five or six days without binging and you slipped once, does not make you a failure, and it does not mean you can’t do it. You can do it and you will! No matter how long you’ve been binging, it is a very hard habit to stop. Taking it day by day is the best way to set yourself up for success. Get the “all or nothings” mentality out of your head, and don’t try to be perfect. You might tell yourself something like, “it could happen tonight, but I’m going to try everything in my power to avoid it and stop it before it starts.” Then tell yourself, “it will not happen tonight.“
A few other general pointers:
- Eat more fiber rich foods. They have more water content and will leave you fuller, longer.
- Have a cheat meal every week. Note that I said meal, not cheat day. 😉
- Get more sleep.
- Learn relaxation methods to reduce stress.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Try not to eat 3 hours before bed.
- Get rid of “food rules” if you’re trying to get over binge eating, unless working personally with a weight loss specialist who understands eating disorders.
- Learn self-love.
To recap, here are your action steps (write these down and hang it up):
- Understand Characteristics of a Binge Eating
- Identify What Triggers Your Binge Eating
- Reduce Stress by Exercising, Meditating and Eating Healthy
- Seek Support – Tell a Loved One!
- Do Not Diet – Eat Balanced Meals as Part of a Lifestyle Change
- Be Persistent – Do Not Give Up or Give In
- Have 1 Cheat Meal Every Week
- Get More Sleep and Drink More Water
Above everything, you need to know that you have help. This is a step-by-step plan and will require dedication and a true desire to change and succeed. The Oprah Magazine itself quoted an effective Binge Eating Disorder treatment is, “working with a weight loss specialist to get on a structured, healthy eating plan.” And here you are… congratulations on taking the first step. Put the above strategies into play, and ask any questions you have in a comment below.