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Binge Eating

How to Avoid Binge Eating

by Kathleen Renner, L.C.S.W.

What is binge eating?

Binge eating is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort) It is a feeling of a loss of control during the binge.

It’s not uncommon for people to overeat to the point of discomfort at one time or another, especially on a special occasion, but the binge eater habitually consumes large quantities of food, often very quickly, feels full and continues eating to where they feel out of control of how much food they are putting in their mouth with the result of feeling sickened and ashamed of their behavior.

Usually binge eating takes place secretly to avoid being judged insensitively by others. Interestingly however, binge eaters tend to be their own harshest critic.  Although, most people binge on unhealthy junk foods, binging on healthy foods is still a problem for some.   

What motivates binge eating?

Numerous clients, in the Food Addiction Recovery program report a binge typically takes place when the person is feeling intense uncomfortable emotions. . Compulsive overeating is used as a way to escape and not deal with the underlying situation.  It complicates and enhances the stress and is never a solution. 

Strategies to stop binging:

  • Make your home a safe harbor.   Remove temptation by getting rid of all the foods you tend to binge on.  If there are others in the home, nicely ask if they wouldn’t mind, for the first month or two, while you are working on overcoming compulsive eating, removing those foods out of the home. If that is not possible, use separate cabinets or ask family members to conceal the foods you usually binge on.
  • Identify and make a list of trigger events. Think back to your past binges and what set them off.  Is it a certain time, interaction with a particular person, lack of sleep, fight with your spouse, etc.?  Once you make this list, you will be aware of when you are more vulnerable, and look for kind and creative solutions to minimize stress and conflict.
  • Take care of your needs on a daily basis. This will help you to avoid feeling neglected and out of control. Make a list of non-negotiables.  These are things you need to do every day to maintain physical/emotional health. These things include: exercising, getting at least seven hours of sleep, talking with supportive others, meditation, keeping up with responsibilities such as taking your supplements, caring for children, etc.

Immediate coping to stop a binge in its tracks

If you feel the urge to binge, REACH OUT! Do not struggle alone.  You can reach out to a supportive friend or family member, a professional counselor or coach. Cravings and urges to binge are your signal that something is going on emotionally that you do not want to deal with. Get into a safe space where food is unavailable and figure out what’s going on emotionally and begin to come up with a plan to deal with it.  Keep in mind, food will never solve the issue. A binge will only worsen or compound the issue.

Refrain from black or white thoughts

An example is: “I already ate badly for lunch, so I might as well just continue my bad eating the rest of the day”. Just because you “fall off the wagon”, doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel for the rest of the day. You can prevent much more damage by reaching out for support and getting right back on track. These instances can be key for learning how to fix negative behavior and change for the future. If you do binge, it is best to seek support and tell someone. Pick yourself up and stop dwelling on the episode.

Most important: Remember you are not alone. If you feel like your bingeing is out of control and unmanageable seek the support of a professional who is experienced in binge eating disorders.  Dr. Hesselberg has designed a unique program to help you combat your food addictions, for more information call us today.

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