Updated: May 2, 2019
Join Nia in her in-depth discussion for easy tips and tricks to stop binge eating for good. The 8 following tips are not only researched-backed, but experience-based as well, meaning the author of this guest article has suffered with an eating disorder herself. Read Nia's biography at the end of this post and get in touch by commenting below, contacting Rose-Minded, or contacting Nia using her author biography. Don't forget to check out the binge eating disorder resources included at the end of the article!
- Kay, Head Writer at Rose-Minded.com
Just like 70 million other people worldwide, Nia suffers from an eating disorder: Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Her BED started off as Bulimia when she was a teenager and as she got older the purging grew less frequent.
Despite currently being in recovery, Nia still gets heart palpitations, awful acid reflux almost every day, and her digestive system is completely screwed in general. However, after making the decision that this had to stop, her health has begun to rebuild itself. She’s not 100% recovered, and she’s not sure she ever will be, but she’s definitely on her way.
So, how did she do it? How can you stop yourself from binge eating if, like Nia, it’s taken over your life?
8 Easy Ways to Stop Binge Eating For Good
1. Eat regular meals
This might sound counter-intuitive. Why would you eat more food if you’re trying to eat less? Binge eating can often be triggered by intense hunger and oftentimes, sufferers will punish themselves for a previous binge by restricting their food. This starves them of not only calories, but vital nutrients. So when they do eat, a switch flips in their brain and they go on autopilot. Their body wants as much food in as little time as possible.
Do you usually feel in a daze when you binge? Almost as if you’re drunk? Do you often feel as if you’ve ‘woken up’ from a binge? This is because your brain is prioritizing your health by "re-feeding" you with the calories it’s missed out on. This is also why we often reach for the most calorie-dense binge food.
Your brain wants to survive and it doesn’t trust you to feed it again anytime soon, so it overcompensates.
By eating regular, balanced meals that you genuinely enjoy throughout the day, you can prevent yourself from becoming starving, leaving you less prone to binging. Try cooking your meals from scratch and get back to basics. Don’t view any food as ‘bad’ for you – look at it as fuel. Pack out your meals with nutrient-dense fruit and vegetables.
Developing a healthier relationship with food is key to not considering it a vice or ‘drug’. If you don’t deprive yourself and ‘diet’, which I realize is difficult in today’s diet culture, particularly when you want to regain some control over your eating, you won’t feel the need to rebel or act out against it.
2. Drink lots of water
A lot of the time when people think they’re hungry, they’re actually thirsty.
Did you know that the UK only drinks 53% of their recommended water allowance? What’s more, the US only manages to consume 47%, Australia drinks 51%, and China only sips a measly 4% of the recommended daily amount.
The recommended amount is eight glasses a day – or just over two liters. Not only will meeting this help your skin, hair and nails, it’ll keep your digestive system in check. What’s more, not drinking enough water can negatively affect your cognitive ability. Try setting an alarm on your phone to drink a glass of water every two hours, starting from the moment you wake up.
While you obviously shouldn’t replace meals with drinking water, keeping hydrated is always a good move for your body and mind.
Oftentimes, binge eating has nothing to do with actual, genuine hunger. It’s an emotional void you’re trying to fill, not a physical one.
Therefore, you need a distraction when you feel like you’re going to binge. Something that has NOTHING to do with food.
For example, watch a movie, go for a walk, marathon a series on Netflix, journal, listen to music or peruse Pinterest. Anything to get your mind off binging. Usually, if you distract your mind for half an hour or so, you forget about binging and the urge subsides.
4. Give yourself permission
As previously mentioned, the urge to binge often subsides in around half an hour or so. Tell yourself that, in around 20 minutes, you can have something ‘bad’ (there aren’t really ‘bad’ foods but foods you personally consider to be ‘bad’ for you).
Sit with your feelings for a while and acknowledge that you want to binge. This time, don’t distract yourself, honor your emotions – perhaps note down what may have triggered this urge to binge and how you feel. Once that 20 minutes has passed, then ask yourself again, do you still want to binge?
If the answer is yes, allow yourself to have the treat you want. Try not to go on an all-out binge but enjoy whatever it is you’ve been craving. This is what Evelyn Tribole, co-author of Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works suggests.
“Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and often, binging. When you finally ‘give in’ to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt.”
Continue to practice this every time you want to binge.
Remember: recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, and it won’t happen overnight. It’s tough to unlearn habits. But I can guarantee that, after that 20 minutes, most of you will have thought better of it and moved on with your day.
5. Love yourself
This might sound weird but if you take the guilt and shame out of binge eating, it’s not really that exciting. Most binge eaters find the experience almost euphoric because they’re consuming all this naughty food that they aren’t supposed to.
It seems we’re addicted to hating ourselves and beating ourselves up for our perceived ‘mistakes’. But we’re only human – you need to cut yourself some slack.
Once you stop hating yourself for having an eating disorder and, like in the step above, give yourself permission to eat, you’ll want to binge eat less and less often. You’ll become more concerned with nourishing your body and less prepared to abuse it.
6. Avoid temptation
Don’t keep food you know you’re going to binge on in the house. It’s just setting yourself up to binge later on. While you probably have the capability of ordering food or going out to buy binge food whenever you want, just not having it in the house should act as an immediate deterrent. And, as I mentioned before, riding out that initial, impulsive urge is key.
It’s all well and good to stop yourself from binging but it’s just one hurdle when it comes to recovery. It’s still an eating disorder and having therapy, especially Cognitive Behavior Therapy, can drastically improve your mentality.
Food’s a difficult addiction to tackle because you HAVE to eat food to survive – you can’t just cut it out of your life. Therefore, treating the underlying reason behind your binge eating, such as stress or past bullying, can help you balance your mind before working to stop the urge altogether.
Healthy coping mechanisms are amazing because they can be applied to almost any situation. Whether you drink alcohol to cope with negative emotions, self-harm, or binge eat, learning new ways to let off some steam is totally liberating.
This is probably the most important step on your journey to recovery and definitely not one that should be overlooked. Believe in yourself, trust the process and don’t be ashamed. If you don’t think you’re ‘worthy’ of therapy – you ARE.
8. Get back on the horse
Relapses can and do happen. Perhaps you’ve remained binge free for a month but something happened at work, you’re unable to cope, and you turn to food for short-term comfort.
This doesn’t matter AT ALL.
Just make sure you drink plenty of water afterwards to help your digestive system cope, and take tomorrow as a new day.
Don’t listen to the urge to skip breakfast – or any meal for that matter – to compensate for your binge the day before because this will lead to another binge and then you’re trapped back in the cycle.
Identify why the binge happened, consider how you’ll deal with those emotions in the future – perhaps you’ll phone a friend, meditate, or journal – and move on. Don’t focus on that one ‘bad’ day, focus on the 30 good days before it and how far you’ve come.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on binge free.
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Binge Eating Disorder Resources
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care.
“Structured, easy, and positive. I actually want to log! It‘s a discrete way to log and has everything that you need on a daily basis.” - Eliyon, July 3rd, 2017
Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA)
Founded in 2008, the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is a national organization focused on providing leadership, recognition, prevention, and treatment of BED and associated weight stigma. Through outreach, education and advocacy, BEDA facilitates increased awareness, proper diagnosis, and treatment of BED.
BEDA promotes excellence in care for those who live with, and those who treat, binge eating disorder and its associated conditions. BEDA is committed to promoting cultural acceptance of, and respect for, the natural diversity of sizes, as well as promoting a goal of improved health, which may or may not include weight change.
and a few others...
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About the Author
Nia is owner of Seekingserotonin.com – a mental health, self-care and personal development blog aimed at helping young people come to terms with their mental illness. The 28-year-old, who lives in a small village just 30 miles outside of London, was diagnosed with Depression, Binge Eating Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder in her mid-20s. Ever since, with the aid of medication and therapy, she’s been working to rebuild her mental health. On her blog, she talks about what she’s learned along the way and how she’s overcome her mental illnesses.
Check out her blog at seekingserotonin.com or feel free to add her on social media: