How to Overcome Binge Eating: Start with These Strategies
Stop dieting. Stop counting calories and stop forbidding any foods. Binging is caused by psychological and biological forces. Psychologically, you want the things you forbid more. Biologically, your body gets so hungry that your “animalistic” mode takes over and causes you to eat out of control.
Make sure you’re eating enough balanced foods. Eat when you’re hungry. Make sure you’re eating enough. Make sure you have enough protein, fiber, carbohydrates and vegetables. If you’re not eating enough, you’re more likely to binge eat at night.
Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat. This is not to count calories- this is to become more aware of why you’re eating. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being absolutely famished and 10 being stuffed to the point of nausea, write down where you were at when you started vs. where you were at when you finished. Be honest and nonjudgmental with yourself.
Journal feelings surrounding food. Write down how you felt before you ate. Were you hungry? Did you eat to suppress negative emotions? What were those emotions? How can you deal with them without food? How did the food make you feel during your binge? After? If you have an urge to eat when you’re not hungry and you’re level-headed enough to journal, write down why you have an urge to eat. Face your emotions.
Stop judging yourself. If you’ve been dieting, it is a natural and unavoidable response to dieting/starving yourself. If you’ve been trying to bury unwanted feelings, just know that you have been unconsciously trying to take care of yourself, but it hasn’t been working. There is nothing inherently “wrong” about binge eating, it’s just not helpful. Forgive yourself, because guilt only makes you more likely to binge next time.
Eat mindfully. Eat slowly and savor your food. notice the taste, texture, and smell. notice how your body reacts to the food. Watch as you go from hungry to full. Notice any anxiety you might be feeling while eating. Notice your urge to eat quickly. Why is that so? Are you afraid you won’t be able to eat again later? Do you feel like you’re doing something wrong?
Make sure your pantry is stocked. Yes, even with “junk” food. Eat your fear foods. Foods are meant to be enjoyed, not feared. The more you allow yourself to eat ice cream, chips, and cookies, the less likely you are to binge on them.
Practice self-love. Issues around food are usually caused by a fear of gaining weight. Try to be more unconditionally accepting of yourself at any weight. Try to be more accepting of your feelings. Be accepting of your hunger. Hunger is probably the most natural thing in the world.
Be patient. If you’ve been binge eating pretty regularly, know that you probably won’t stop binge eating forever overnight. It will most likely decrease slowly. That’s okay, that’s natural, and it’s normal. You’re only human.
Stop weighing yourself. At least for now. It will greatly hinder your progress and make your relationship with food even worse.
Read self-help books on binge eating. Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth, and Mindful Eating by Jon Kabat-Zinn are some recommendations.
Get help. Find a therapist or a nutritionist. There is no shame in getting help.
How is binge eating affecting your life? Learn the skills you need to cope and thrive. Give us a call at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. You can also contact us to find out more about binge eating disorder treatments in Houston.
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