Binge eating episodes can be awful. They start with an innocent first, delicious bite and before you know it you’re knee deep in wrappers, containers and guilt, shame and regret. Is this scenario all too common for you?
The first thing to know is binge eating is incredibly common! So don’t ever feel alone. These 10 steps are some of the strategies I work through with my clients to help them beat binge eating once and for all, and YES it is possible!
- Eat regular meals
Hunger (or restriction) is one of the most frequent triggers of binge eating. Start by writing down what you eat and drink in a day and at what times and take note of when binges occur. Are they most often occurring after long periods with small amounts of food? If so start preparing meals and snacks in advance and make sure you never skip meals.
The vicious cycle of binge eating:
Restrict -> Binge -> Guilt -> Restrict -> Binge
- Identify your triggers
Sometimes hunger isn’t the trigger. Binge eating can be trigged by either activities or emotions. Stress, anxiety, loneliness and sadness have all been known to trigger binge eating. Get in the habit of writing down what you are feeling before, during and after a binge to identify the exact emotions or activities that trigger your binges.
Once you know what are triggering binges it is much easier to put alternative strategies in place. To give you an example, if stress is the trigger for your binge eating, take some time out, have a bath, cup of tea and put some zen music on. If loneliness is the trigger, call a friend, invite someone over for a movie.
- Remove the food rules
Everything in moderation. Once we tell ourselves we can’t have something our brains are wired to crave it more! Stop telling yourself you aren’t ‘allowed’ certain types of food. Anything and everything is allowed, you just choose foods that make you FEEL good more frequently.
- Don’t dwell on minor set backs
Seriously! Don’t beat yourself up if you eat unhealthy foods! If you gain a little weight, don’t dwell on it. There are bigger things in life.
- It is okay to enjoy food too
Food is fuel yes, but it is also f*cking delicious! Recognize that it is absolutely okay to have some delicious but not as healthy foods from time to time. You don’t need rigid food rules in place to avoid these always.
- Stop dieting
Ditch the fad diet, another diet is not the answer, I PROMISE you! Focus on eating healthy whole foods most of the time and eating your favourite foods from time to time.
- Be kind to yourself
Stop calling yourself nasty names! You will slip up. It is part of the process. No one is perfect and that is okay. You aren’t a failure. When you eat too much just knowledge it and move on.
- Listen to your body
Start to understand what it feels like to be hungry and what it feels like to be satisfied. Understand how your body feels when you eat healthy nourishing foods versus high sugar or processed foods. Really tune into what your body is telling you.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
Ever had a binge and barely even noticed you were binging until you were so full you were sick? Mindfulness helps to bring awareness to your intention, you begin to catch yourself before you act. You can begin to recognize what it is that you are actually feeling and how to best solve that problem. Meditation also leads to a generally more relaxed state and considering many bingers use food to relax meditation can reduce the frequency of binges. You don’t have to become a full blown yogi to meditate just download a guided meditation app, find a quiet spot to sit, close your eyes and away you go.
- Seek professional help
Our relationship with food can sometimes be incredibly complicated and can take into account so much more of our emotions than we may think. For those who truly do struggle with binge eating seeing a trained psychologist will absolutely help you effectively manage your emotions which may have previously led to overeating. My biggest tip with seeing a psychologist is to shop around until you find someone who you really do ‘click’ with. You are going to share intimate details of your life with this person, you want to feel comfortable with them.
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