Overeating on special occasions – a birthday dinner, holiday meal or during vacation – won’t derail you from reaching your health and weight loss goals. After all, indulging within reason is a key component to any healthy diet.
However, regular binge eating is extremely detrimental, even if you are “healthy” most of the time. So if you find yourself making your way through peanut butter jars, pints of ice cream, and boxes of cereal in just one sitting, it’s time to get a handle on this destructive habit and consider the following tips. (Take it from someone who’s been there!)
Recognize your triggers: First, you need to focus on when and why you binge. Is it when you’re sad or lonely? Stressed out? After a fight with your boyfriend? Or maybe you’re just bored? Whatever it is, make a mental note of when you get the urge to eat everything in your kitchen. By doing this, you’ll bring awareness to your actions and gain some self-control during a moment when you feel like you don’t have any at all. If you know the root cause of your binges, you’ll be able to practice some of the actionable steps I mention below to help stop it.
Slow down: Whether you plan a binge in advance or do it on impulse, it’s always a good idea to take a minute to slow down your thoughts and thinking about why you are making this decision. Just pause and have a little chat with yourself and ask these questions:
1.WHY am I doing this?
2. Is the food really worth it?
3. Will I feel depressed and frustrated (and bloated!) after I binge?
Remind yourself of the binge “aftermath” before you do it, and it will help you to remember why you are trying to stop this vicious habit in the first place. The temporary satisfaction a binge brings never seems worth it, right? Plus, a binge may spring you into the opposite direction: “Diet mode.” Jumping from one extreme to another—eating everything in sight to counting calories—will only cause the cycle to happen again. (Because dieting can be just as depressing as binging!)
Do something that makes you happy: I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but doing something you enjoy to take your mind off food really helps stop a binge from happening. I know it might sound cliché, but who doesn’t feel good after going out for a walk, watching a funny movie, reading a good book or catching up with a friend? (Warning: This is not the time to stalk your ex on Facebook!)
Once you distract yourself from thinking about food, the desire to eat most likely won’t be as strong. It may still be there, but if you can sit with those uncomfortable emotions and work through them without giving in, the satisfaction you’ll feel later will be more than worth it. Remember, the more you embrace the process of working through your food obstacles, the better off you’ll be.
You may still decide to snack or even binge after trying the distraction method, and that’s OK. Being able to wait 10, 15 or even 30 minutes before eating is an accomplishment, and at the very least, it might help you to eat a little less. Celebrate those small successes and keep building from there. There’s no such thing as failure when you’re genuinely trying!
Change your mindset: Ok, I’m about to share a little tip I recently discovered and practiced myself—it’s a good one. When you get the urge to binge or even snack for no reason, stop your mind from fantasizing about the food you want to eat and how good it will taste. That my friends, will only make you want it MORE.
Instead, turn your focus to your goals. How will over-eating set you back? And don’t tell yourself “just one more time” or “I’ll be good tomorrow.” I think we’re all educated enough to know by now that’s just not true. When you think about your goals, your desire to succeed becomes stronger. And eventually your desire to succeed will become stronger than your desire to eat. When you have a moment of triumph (ie. Not giving in when you want to binge), you’ll have that positive memory to reflect on the next time you want to binge, and it will help keep you from doing it.
Tell me: Who struggles with binge eating? Did any of my tips resonate with you?
- ELLEN COLLIS
Ellen Collis is a blogger at Wannabe Health Nut and Health Coach in NYC, who graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free health consultation to discuss how she can assist you with your nutrition and lifestyle goals. She would love nothing more than to help you have more energy, feel fabulous in your own skin and live a healthy life that doesn’t require giving up your favorite foods.