When it comes to binge eating, consider me a pro.
Between scarfing down a pre-dinner snack while cooking dinner or simply eating whenever I'm not happy, binge eating plagues many of us.
Related - Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The great thing about binge eating is that it can be stopped. You don't have to binge eat. Binging and overeating is something most of us have to work on, but it's possible to stop.
Ask yourself why you binge eat. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down on paper why you binge eat.
Do you do it because you are sad? Nervous? Maybe you just have binged so long that it seems "normal" to you.
Whatever it is, write it down.
Now that it's on paper, do you see how binge eating doesn't make sense? You binge eat because you are fat and you are fat because you binge.
It's a never-ending cycle.
6 Strategies That Can Help the Binge Eater
While there are many strategies out there to combat binge eating, there aren't too many ideas from people who actually suffer from binge eating. So below are 5 ways that I've personally been winning the war against binge eating.
#1 - Stop Rationalizing
When you go to eat something you know you shouldn't, quit rationalizing that it's okay.
Many nights I would tell myself that it's okay to eat this because of whatever reason I could come up with. It could go either way - "I had a great day, let's celebrate!" or "I had a bad day, let's feel better!"
Regardless of your situation, there's a point where you will hit that anxiety level that triggers you to binge. Make a mental note when it happens, why it happens, and what exactly caused it. Don't associate any type of emotion to it. You did it, now let's move on.
Once you start catching yourself getting into that state of mind, you can see that habit and your subconscious is controlling you.
Using this technique will take some work, but what's taking two to three months to address the mental aspect of why you binge eat? Once you can catch yourself putting yourself into the binge mindset, you can just as easily stop it.
So stop rationalizing eating the amount and type of foods that trigger you to eat too much. A smart alcoholic who is trying to quit drinking doesn't keep alcohol at home.
#2 - Try Intermittent Fasting
One of the easiest ways to combat binge eating is to intermittent fast. I picked up this tip from another person who has tackled and beat binge eating... It does help.
What is intermittent fasting? In the most general terms, you have a window of time that you can eat, and a window of time you can't eat.
For most people this is to stop eating around 8 pm, skipping breakfast, and eating somewhere around noon for lunch. This gives you a 16-hour non-eating window and an 8-hour eating window.
For the first couple of weeks, you will have some hunger pains and that's normal. Once your body is acclimated to the new feeding schedule, you'll notice an increase of energy, more clarity, and an overall feeling of health.
How does this help binge eating?
You're probably wondering how this helps binge eating, so stick with me here. If you stick to the "three square meals per day" idea, you basically get to eat more in a shorter amount of time.
For me, it was more the same feeling of binge eating. I get to maintain that full feeling throughout my day and I get to eat more frequently.
It takes a bit of time to get used to this, you'll probably cheat, and you'll wonder if this is actually helping... But it is. The idea of fasting has been around for centuries, I invite you to read more on how fasting affects our bodies.
The idea of fasting has been around for centuries, I invite you to read more on how fasting affects our bodies.
#3 - Cook at Home
Cooking at home has given me much more freedom with my eating. I'm able to eat more (healthy) foods and I know that it is okay.
Did you know one piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake can pack as many calories in as three pounds of chicken?
How do I get started cooking at home? If you've never cooked food other than in the microwave, cooking can be overwhelming. Just like anything, cooking has certain basic ideas that you build on.
One of the easiest things to start cooking is ground beef. Open a chub of hamburger, put it into a preheated pan, and break it up until the meat is browned.
Season the meat while it cooks and when it's done, put a little hot sauce and some sour cream in there and you have a tasty meal.
It's simple, flavorful, and will give you the confidence to cook something else. Chicken and fish are both easy to cook, especially when it is boneless.
#4 - Use Smaller Plates
Now that you've started cooking at home, you need to start using smaller plates.
When you put a "serving" of food on a dinner plate, it looks sad. Let's be honest, a piece of chicken breast with brown rice and green beans don't look like much on a plate that is three times bigger than how much food there is.
Put that same meal on a smaller plate that barely holds it all, and it looks like you have a mountain of awesome food.
#5 - Utilize the "One Plate Rule"
Another great tip I picked up from a friend is the one plate rule. This rule is simple: Eat your meal and don't go back for seconds. Wait an hour and assess if you really need more. Most of the time you will already be satisfied - it's habit and unconscious eating that makes you feel that you need more.
You don't need it, you just feel like you do. Make a note in your journal when you feel that urge creeping up on you.
#6 - Don't Be Afraid of Fats
Every day I hear someone discouraging someone else for eating nutritious fats. Fats help us regulate hormones and other functions, make us feel fuller longer, and they taste good.
Eggs, for example, are loaded with fats; the best kind. Many times I hear someone say "eggs aren't healthy" which is a lie.
Some nutritious fat sources include:
- Sour cream
- Olive oil
- Fatty fish
While fats need to be used with caution due to them being calorie dense, they improve the taste of our food and make us feel satisfied after we eat. So now that you are cooking, don't be afraid to account for the calories and use these nutritious fat sources.
Another small tip is to eat more fiber - fiber keeps us regular, fuller longer, and when eaten along with nutritious fats, you won't have cravings for bad food.
Bonus: Write Your Goals Down
Without getting philosophical, writing down your specific goals and reviewing them daily will help keep you grounded. When you get that urge to binge, thinking about your goals helps you decide whether binging is the best option.
It takes a long time to start making progress in stopping your binge eating, but it's possible.
Wrapping It Up
This article is written by someone who used to binge. I even used to try purging after, but I couldn't.
I know the pains, I know the stress and anxiety that comes before and after binging.
The reason I say this is because these tips have worked for me and I invite you to try them for yourself.