Binge eating is something so many people deal with! It’s a vicious cycle that makes you feel physically and mentally bad. I know this isn’t something a lot of people talk about, but I think it’s important because it’s something so many people struggle with, it’s something I struggled with and now work on with so many of my clients. There are a lot of different reasons people binge, but here are some of the big ones:
🔸trying to sustain a calorie deficit that is just too big
🔸ignoring cravings over and over
🔸mentally having a list of good foods and bad foods
🔸having a list of foods that are off limits
🔸having trigger foods at home #justgetfittriggerfoods
🔸overall feeling of restriction
When people feel deprived or hungry for long periods of time they often struggle with self-control and portion sizes a lot more. And the problem is it’s a vicious cycle.
You feel deprived.
You feel ashamed.
For many people this goes on for long periods of time. Even years. To break the cycle, you need to make lifestyle changes. Changes that remove the fear and shame of eating foods you love. I had a client this week tell me she was really craving chocolate and asked what she should do. I told her, she should have a square or two and move on. I tell my clients I’d rather you have 2 small pieces of dark chocolate every day than binge on 2 full size bars on the weekend. And it’s not just because it’s a lot of calories and moderation is better, blah, blah…but because of the feelings we have after binging. Feelings of failure, or ones that involve needing to be even more stringent in our approach.
Below are some strategies that may help:
🔸Take time to reflect on the feelings you have before and after a binge. Were you stressed? Were you hungry? Did you have a craving? Identifying your WHY is essential in breaking the cycle.
🔸Remove all, or as many possible binge foods from your home. If you stock your fridge and pantry full of foods you’d never binge on, it makes it a lot harder. Most people don’t binge on fresh fruit and veggies. Clean out your cupboards and donate any unopened ones to your local food bank.
🔸Stop dieting. Some people only binge when feeling restricted. While a diet may start with good intentions, a lot of people make lists of “Do’s and Don’ts” for what they can do/eat on a diet. This can cause feelings of anxiety, yearning and strong desire to eat foods you “can’t”.
🔸When you feel a binge coming on, set a timer for 15-30 minutes and stay out of the kitchen for at least that amount of time. Commit to doing something physical or “busy” for that time period. Vacuum, do your laundry, go for a walk, call a friend, leave the house. You can even make a list of activities you can do and stick them in a jar. When you aren’t sure, reach in the jar and pull out an activity to do. JUST KEEP BUSY. Distract yourself and your mind by focusing on something else.
🔸Check in with your stress levels more regularly. A lot of us are super busy and lead very stressful lives. Stress comes out in a lot of different ways and it can be challenging to cope with. What can you realistically do to relieve your stress? Go to the gym, do some yoga, breathing exercises (my fav!), meditate, take a bath, listen to some music, journal on what you’re stressed about and decide if you can actually do anything about those stresses. If you can, make a plan. If you can’t, it’s time to move on.
🔸Make an effort to cook healthful versions of food you love! If you love what you’re eating regularly, you aren’t going to be feeling deprived about what you aren’t eating. And if you are craving something…even if you think it’s not great nutritionally, have it, enjoy it and move on. The problem with trying to fulfill a craving with other foods sometimes is that you end up eating 6 other things totaling more calories than the actual ice cream or doughnut you were going to eat. Eat it and move on! It’s what you do on average that adds up. If you’re making good choices 80% of the time those will add up in a really positive way!
🔸Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. When you aren’t well rested it’s a lot harder to demonstrate self-control of your hunger and emotions.
🔸Ask yourself if you’re hungry! If you aren’t hungry the reason you’re about to eat has more to do with boredom, stress or anxiety. I know this is tough, but taking a moment to ask yourself this question will help you identify potential moments you may binge.
Please note there are many aspects of binging and it can be quite complicated. If you have been struggling with this long term, or been struggling to stop binging and purging I highly recommend you seek out help. There is no shame in asking for help. Consult your doctor, physiologist, therapist, a nurse’s helpline or even tell a friend you trust and can confide in. Opening up and addressing the issue is the first step.