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“I just wanted one cookie but couldn’t stop until I’d finished the whole box”
“My lunch was huge and unhealthy so I didn’t stop eating afterward, my day was already ruined anyway.”
“I was out of control, I just ate anything that I could get my hands on— even things I don’t even like!”
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
Binge eating affects so many people and is incredibly difficult to get rid of. Experiencing a binge eating episode causes people to eat abnormally large amounts of food, regardless of hunger or pleasure.
This often results in feelings of guilt or shame. Sometimes, it comes with an urge to compensate for the excessive food intake by vomiting.
Thankfully, there are some strategies you can put in place to reduce these episodes.
I do want to point out that if you are experiencing frequent and severe binge-eating episodes with compensation, it is crucial that you seek out professional medical help.
That being said…
Here are some ways to overcome binge-eating.
First off, eat full, healthy meals.
It’s a well-known cycle. You restrict what you eat, and you don’t get the necessary nutrients for your body. Then, your body desperately wants energy, so you find yourself binge-eating anything you can get your hands on. Later on, you start feeling guilty for ingesting that food and decide to restrict your next meals even more to compensate. And it never stops.
You need to break the cycle by starting to eat full, healthy meals that properly nourish your body. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Limit processed foods as much as possible. When a binge eating episode occurs, you’re more likely to eat high sugar, high fat, processed foods than fruit and vegetables. If you minimize how many highly processed foods you keep in your house, the temptation won’t be as big.
Stick to a schedule.
You should also stick to an eating schedule as much as possible. If you skip meals, you’re likely going to lack energy and nutrients and this deprivation will lead to binge eating to compensate.
A small study showed that having a set eating pattern of 3 meals and 2-3 daily snacks each day was associated with a lower binge frequency. Therefore, you should try to set an eating pattern that works for you and really commit to it.
Forget the diet mentality.
If you feel the need to restrict food, which then causes you to binge-eat, it’s probably because you’re engrained in the diet mentality. Sometimes, this is the case even if you don’t realize it.
You may eat healthy, balanced meals and still binge eat. This might be because of emotional issues, in which case seeing a professional to address these issues will likely stop the binges as well.
However, it might also be because you’re scared of gaining weight, or wish to lose weight.
Now you might be thinking that this doesn’t make sense. If you’re eating full healthy meals, and wish to lose weight, why would you binge?
Well, it’s because the constant control is exhausting for your body. Every single time you eat, you’re (sometimes subconsciously) thinking about your weight.
You don’t want to overeat, you want everything to be perfectly healthy and balanced, you don’t want to gain weight, you’d even like to lose weight, and when you have a treat, you try to justify it to yourself… It’s extenuating.
Some days, you just can’t handle all the pressure and all the control, so you just lose it…and binge.
Don’t see weight gain as the end of the world.
In order to stop that, you need to accept that gaining a bit of weight is not a big deal.
Not losing your few extra pounds is not the end of the world.
You need to realize that diet culture is pushing us to think that weight gain is the worst possible thing in the world. It’s making completely healthy people think that there is something wrong with them and start restricting their food intake.
Here’s what you need to be doing. Eating healthy, balanced meals with plenty of whole foods. Not excessively consuming calories. Staying active. Making sure you are healthy on a physical and emotional scale.
This will get you to your healthy weight that is right for your body. If this means losing some weight, it’s fine, and if it means gaining some, it’s fine too!
When you really start accepting this and loving your body the way it is, you will let go of the constant control and the binge eating will very likely stop.
So many people are terrified to stop dieting and start listening to their hunger cues. They think that they will never be able to stop eating and that they’ll gain weight endlessly.
This is a sign that they have been dieting for too long. But truthfully, once you stop constantly depriving yourself of food, your hunger and satiety hormones will be able to do their job and you will experience fullness.
A good way to start doing this is by eating mindfully.
Mindful eating is a technique used to regain control over your eating habits. Its goal is to focus on the present experience, to be fully aware of your own thoughts, actions, and motivations. The goal is to create a connexion between body and mind while eating. This can enable you to listen to what your body needs, to know when you are hungry and when you are full.
It involves listening to your hunger cues, eating slowly, taking the time to chew, and noticing the different textures and flavors of your food. You should eat without any distractions, focused on appreciating your food. Click HERE if you want to learn more about the benefits of mindful eating and how to practice it.
An aspect of mindful eating involves journaling. Write down your mood and emotions before, during, and after meals. Write what you ate, and how it made you feel.
Journaling your thoughts will help you become more mindful about food. It will help you recognize the triggers that can lead to binge-eating. Once you become aware of them, it will be easier to deal with them.
I also want to note that although I strongly believe in mindful and intuitive eating, I don’t think that this type of eating can be applied to anyone AT FIRST.
People who carry very excessive amounts of fat can be resistant to their satiety hormone and therefore won’t be able to eat until fullness.
People who have no notion of portion size or food composition and don’t know what a healthy or balanced meal truly means will not find success with solely intuitive eating.
If this is your case, you need to start by learning about different aspects of nutrition, calories, portion size, composition, etc. You need to set some guidelines and follow them. (Get help from a professional!) Then, you can start implementing mindful and intuitive eating.
How to stop binge-eating in conclusion
If you binge-eat, you are not alone.
Thankfully, there are ways to overcome these bingeing episodes.
Eat full, healthy meals during set periods of time, ditch the diet culture, and practice mindful eating. You can also get some more tips from Healthline.
Furthermore, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Different methods exist to say good-bye to binge-eating forever!
If you’re interested in nutrition, its impact on our health, and the science behind it, you should definitely read How Not to Die. In this book, Doctor Michael Greger, founder of Nutrition Facts, examines the top causes of death in America and explains how your diet can prevent— and in some cases even reverse— them. His advice is all backed by science and he writes in a very clear and entertaining way. This book isn’t a list of what you already know. It will teach you the keys to living a long healthy life, in a simple and practical way, and without spending fortunes on supplements and pills!
PLUS if you want to take it a step further, you can check out the How Not to Die Cookbook to implement the advice easily!
It can be hard to find the right balance between healthy eating and dieting without becoming obsessed with food.
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