Binge eating is one of the most common disordered eating issues I hear about from friends and family. It always always comes up when I tell people I am a Nutrition Coach. It is a common problem…but one that is hard to stop…most of all once you’ve started. There are strategies to employ though!
Diet culture teaches us that some foods are “Good” and some foods are “Bad” . Putting these kinds of moral labels on foods will only increase the likelihood of binge eating. Any kind of restrictive diet plan is going to increase the chances of binging the food that you have eliminated.
Clean Out Your Kitchen:
If the food is in the house, chances are that you or someone that you love is going to eventually find and eat it, no matter how high of a shelf you’ve put it on. Keeping processed, easy to grab foods in your kitchen makes it too easy to grab that food and eat it fast. It’s unlikely that you are going to start binging on veggies or something that you have to cook. Now, this might sound like the opposite of what I said in the “Stop dieting” but its not. You are allowed to have a treat but it should be planned and deliberate.
Treat yo’ self:
Allow yourself to enjoy your favorite foods every once in a while. A Lot of binging comes from being or feeling deprived. When you know that you cant have your favorite foods again, you’re more likely to eat to much of them when you start. If you do decide it’s time to have your treat, make sure that you savor and enjoy the portion that you have. Don’t shove Oreo’s down at your desk. Sit and really savor it. Make it an occasion.
Eat Enough During the Day:
A lot of the reason why people eat too much at night is because they don’t eat enough during the day to satisfy themselves. Eat 3/4 of your calories before 4 pm so that when you do have dinner you aren’t stuffing yourself because you were “Good” all day.
Watch the Sugar:
Reducing over all sugar intake during the day is something that can help stop cravings and binge eating of sugary foods. Processed sugar is addictive and in order to stop craving it, you need to break the cycle. It might be uncomfortable. Actually it will be. But when you do break the cycle and start eating more real foods, your sugar craving and binge eating will decrease.
A lot of binge eating takes place because by the end of the day you are starving! When you get hungry you get the fastest to make and often times most processed thing in your kitchen. Meal prepping makes sure that the thing that you are eating is a convient but also healthy and not something that you are are going to regret and beat yourself up about later.
Understand Your Triggers:
Are you bored? Are you stressed out? Do you feel bad about something? Binge eating is not really about being hungry. It’s a cooping mechanism for mental factors; something that we do instead of dealing with them. If you can understand your triggers, you can plan on how to deal with them instead of going straight for Ben and Jerry. Understand that by the time a trigger hits, you are not making rational decisions.
Keep a Food Journal:
I recommend to my clients that you use the 80% rule. That means that you eat until you are 80% full. Keeping a journal slows you down, makes you accountable/pay attention, helps you learn what you are going for you and what you are feeling when you are eating it. Don’t just write what and how much you are eating. Write down what you are feeling when you are eating. This helps understanding emotional eating. This will also help you understand what you like to eat so when you do your meal prepping, you know what you eat, how much and how much to make.
Take Up Some Physical Activity:
Even if you have never done much before, starting some light physical activity will help relief some of the negative emotions that cause binge eating and emotional eating to start with. If you start feeling your cravings spark up, go for a walk and get some fresh air. If it’s dark or you cant get outside, do some stretching or yoga instead of giving into stress, bordem or sadness. Take note that this is not INSTEAD of eating if you are hungry.
We want to beat ourself up after a binge, deprive ourselves over again. It gets us stuck in a cycle of physically unhealthy behaviors and even worse, mentally unhealthy behaviors. Instead of dwelling on the problems and leading yourself into another binge, forgive yourself and work towards making healthier mental and physical eating habits.
Take note that I am not a medical doctor and only speak from the place of a certified nutrition coach and my own experience with eating and food behaviors.
If you have more questions about nutritional coaching please shoot me an email.