For someone with binge-eating disorder, the urge to overeat can be overwhelming. And while the first few bites can sometimes feel good, shame, guilt, and regret can quickly follow. But it’s possible to stop a binge before it starts, or even once it’s begun.
1. Follow a regular meal plan. ”The most important thing to do is to get on a regular pattern of eating.” Dietary restriction and under-eating — often in an attempt to lose weight or “make up for” a binge — drive people to feel hungry, then overeat or binge. DON’T skip meals! This is very important. Skipping meals and snacks can cause you to overeat at the next meal, and eating just one (or two) big meal per day can wreak havoc on your blood sugars and hinder weight loss. Aim for three meals per day plus one or two (based on your calorie needs) healthy snacks.
2. Stay present while eating. Be aware of what you are eating and how much. Focus on your food and minimize any other distractions: Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer. Clear off the kitchen table. Don’t read, study, write or talk on the phone while you eat. By eating more mindfully, you will enjoy your meals more, notice fullness, flavor and satisfaction better than ever before, and feel less of a desire to overeat.
3. Focus on health, not weight. The desire to lose weight can actually keep someone stuck in a bingeing cycle. Focus on overall fitness and health rather than pounds.
Learn your triggers.
4. Learn what feelings, moods, interactions, and relationships drive your urge to binge. Once you do, “you want to reframe the problem from being one of ‘I’m hungry’ to one of ‘I’m feeling ignored or unimportant’ or whatever it might be, and line up the solutions for that.”
5. Know how you respond to trigger foods. You’ll hear differing opinions about whether people prone to binge eating should keep their trigger foods in the house or far, far away. I think this depends on the person. Only YOU know your own limits. If you are the type of person that simply cannot stop at just one cookie or one serving of ice cream, it might be best to keep these foods out of the house for a while. However, I think the goal would be to work towards enjoying a small serving of a trigger food whenever a craving strikes in order to avoid the inevitable binge that usually follows bouts of restriction. For some, allowing a small serving of a trigger food throughout the week can prevent binges—because you allow it versus labeling it off-limits. Others have a harder time staying in control.
And remember, it’s okay to enjoy a sweet treat or a hearty side item every now and then. Depriving yourself is usually worse in the long run and can lead to out-of-control eating episodes that add up to far more calories than the food you initially wanted to eat. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures in small amounts a few times per week.
6. Look for other ways to feel good. People with binge-eating disorder often have underlying depression. Look for other non-food pleasures. When a craving for a specific food strikes, have an answer for it: Go for a walk, read a good book, take a hot bath, whatever you have to do to get your mind off of the craving
When the Urge Strikes
7. Recognize you’re in the danger zone. “The first step is that you actually have to notice the urge” before you find yourself in front of a plate of food. Becoming very aware of your own moods and anxieties will help.
8. Change your mindset. Once you are good at noticing the urge, come up with ways to change gears. Keep a list of your top goals and values on the fridge, and ask yourself whether bingeing would be consistent with them.
9. Distract to delay. “People often feel like they go from 0 to 60, right from urge to behavior. “Try to stretch out the time a little bit.” If you can delay bingeing long enough, you may be able to avoid it. Count your breaths, do yoga, take a walk, listen to music, or call a friend.
10. Learn to differentiate between hunger and cravings. Cravings are usually for something e.g sweets, cake. However, if you are truly hungry, you will most likely eat anything, including raw vegetable. The lines between hunger and cravings are often blurred. Listen to your body and learn to decipher between cravings and hunger.