Let's get it out of the way first: I was a bing eater, too. I won't judge you, because I know how it feels.
Binge eating disorder is an illness based on frequently eating large quantities of food - far more calories than your body needs - on a regular basis. It can affect a person physically and mentally, and should therefore not be taken lightly.
Signs of binge eating disorder include:
- Eating much faster than normal during a binge
- Eating until you feel uncomfortably full
- Eating a large amount of food when you're not hungry
- Eating alone or secretly because you're embarrassed of the amount of food you're consuming
- Having feelings of guilt, shame or disgust after the binge
We've all been there. I know, those cravings can hit you like a rock from nowhere. But even when you think you can't overcome those cravings, you can! Here are some simple tricks, that should help you.
How to stop a binge before it happens
Remind yourself that you can always have it later
Stop justifying your binges. Don't eat shit because it's Eastern, someone's birthday or Friday. These events aren't the last time you can have cake, cookies or ice cream. You can have it whenever you really want it and not when your mind wants to tell you that you need it.
Stop with the all-or-nothing approach and black-and-white thinking. Remind yourself that you can have ice cream tomorrow and think about what your body needs right now.
Remember that no hyped food trend should eliminate whole food groups from your diet. And why not eat a very wholesome and nutritious diet and enjoy a chocolate bar every now and then? You don't have to feel guilty if you crave something sweet.
Realise that it's just your mind telling you, you need all the food - not your body. You're stronger than that! You can beat this, you probably did it before. Stay strong and just get over it. You will be so proud of yourself!
Meditation can be an effective tool to shut your mind off for a while. You don't have to do it every day (but you can) to get the benefits. Use it as an escape for a few minutes to calm your mind and sort out your thoughts.
The constant fight against the urge to binge combined with a restricted diet is stressful and exhausting, not only for your body. Meditation can teach you to create happiness from within and helps to relieve daily stress.
The urge will pass
Acknowledge the urge and remind yourself that it will pass. Maybe it helps you to envision the urges as clouds, which are temporary on the sky of your mind. The wind blows them further and further away, and soon they will be gone.
Stay strong, you can do it! I believe in you.
Keep yourself busy
Most people start to binge when they have nothing else to do, such as in the evening when they come home from work. If you feel that the urge strikes again, go out for a walk or call a friend to get a coffee. The right support is very important.
Don't give in easily! It really can help to talk to somebody or to enjoy some fresh air. When I felt like I needed to binge, I went to the gym for a run. Distract your mind!
You're not on a restricted diet, so ask yourself if you really, really need the food now
Your body tells you what it really needs. Did you eat recently? Wait till you have a rumbling stomach for your next meal. Give the cravings time to pass. Our bodies are designed to last for days without food. Our DNA doesn't know yet, that we have fridges and supermarkets. So no, you won't die if you don't eat for 8 hours.
If you really think you need those cookies now, then go ahead and eat them. But enjoy them without feeling guilty or ashamed. Enjoy them mindfully and get back on track right after.
Accept the urge to binge
You have no control over your binge urges. But you do have control over how you react to them. Instead of being ashamed of yourself and feeling guilty, accept it's presence. Remind yourself that it's just a feeling. Accepting it makes it much less dangerous. There's no need to judge yourself. It's just your brain that reacts automatically because of instinct and habit.
Remind yourself that you don't want and don't need to binge now. Allow those feelings to be there, but be stronger than they're.
We tend to feel powerless and overwhelmed as a response to strong feelings. The truth is, the urge to binge is just an aspect of your experience and you'll feel so much stronger, once you overcome it.
Turn off the autopilot
When you start to binge, it doesn't have to continue. Maybe it sounds odd, but you can stop. Just turn off the autopilot and realise what you're doing.
Think about it. Do you really need all this food now? Do you actually enjoy it? How will you feel after you've binged? Is it worth it? You won't feel comfortable after all that food!
It's no problem to stop after ten bites or so. Mind over matter, remember?
Try a healthier version of your "cheats"
You can satisfy your cravings and choose healthier options. With them, you won't feel too depressed afterwards.
However, if you go nuts, stick to no alcohol, as many carbs, and as little fat as possible. This will minimise fat gain. Carbs will also increase leptin levels, which will make you feel more satiated the following days. Bagels and crumpets (jam instead of butter) are superb options here in the UK.
What if I wasn't strong enough?
You slipped and overate last night? Well, get over it! We're all human, life happens, it's all part of the game! Nobody is going to judge you.
Stop beating yourself up. We all made mistakes in the past, and you know what?! You can't change what happened yesterday! Move on and make healthier food choices today.
Please, don't even think about an overly restricted diet for the next few days as damage control. It's actually the worst you can do, because you'll most likely continue the cycle of deprivation dieting and binge eating. You want to break free from this cycle! Don't go back to that. Just stick to the plan as if the binge never happened. Own your previous decision to binge.
Focus on being the best version you can be and make healthier choices step by step. You can do it!
The bottom line
The ultimate goal is to seek balance. A healthy lifestyle is not defined by a super restrictive diet, that only allows you to eat certain foods at certain times of the day.
It's a combination of your choices day after day, which will lead to a healthier and happier life.
What do you do, when you feel that the urge to binge strikes again? Please let me know in the comment section below!