- How to stop binge eating, according to nutritionist who did
- Shape Created with Sketch. Six healthy breakfast recipes to try
- 1. Stop dieting, restricting and depriving yourself
- 2. Allow yourself to enjoy your food
- 3. Listen to your body
- 4. Commit to a balanced diet
- 5. De-stress
- 6. Love yourself
- The permanent and instant way to stop binge eating
- How to Stop Binge Eating Without Professional Help and Still Succeed
- Can I Really Stop Binge Eating On My Own? How?
- The Two Biggest Pitfalls to Avoid If You Want to Learn How to Stop Binge Eating without Professional Help…
- So How Do You Become Addiction-Free?
- Secrets to Stop Binge Eating
- 1. Plan out your meals
- 2. Keep a food journal
- 3. Increase your protein intake
- 4. Get plenty of sleep
- 5. Exercise regularly
- 6. Stay hydrated
- 7. Don’t skip meals
- 8. Avoid restrictive diets
- 9. Don’t count calories
- 10. Fight boredom
- 11. Focus on what you’re eating
- 12. Eat smaller meals more often
- 13. Remove temptation
- 14. Talk to someone
- What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
- Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
- Signs & Symptoms of BED
- Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
- Webinar: Understanding the Facts About Binge Eating Disorder
- Articles on Binge Eating Disorder
- Am I Overeating or Do I Have a Binge Eating Disorder
- Renegotiating Binge Foods in BED Recovery
- Losing Your Job to a Binge Eating Disorder? It Can Happen
- Mindful Eating and BED
- Medical Nutrition Therapy for BED
- Learning How to Eat Out in Binge Eating Disorder Recovery
- Depression and Binge Eating Disorder
- The Black and White of Eating Disorders
- Binge Eating Disorder: When Comfort Eating Crosses the Line
- Using the Non-Diet Approach for Treating Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
- Children Binge Eating: Different Stories but Similar Storylines
- Elevated Status for Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM-5
- Binge Eating Disorder: How College Can Make It Worse
- BED research: What Do We Know?
- How to Avoid Falling into Using Food to Replace Tobacco
- Dispelling the Myths of BED
- BED & Co-morbid Health Concerns of Obesity
- Binge-Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating: Are They the Same Thing?
- Breaking 5 Myths of Binge Eating
- Correlation Between BED and Trauma
- BED and Anxiety
- Binge Eating Disorder and the DSM-5: What the Changes Mean
- BED, Holistic Health and Weight Loss
- Interview with Carolyn Costin
- Adolescent Depression and Binge Eating Often Go Hand-in-Hand
- Reasonable Exercise Plans for Someone Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder
- BED and Mindfulness/DBT
- BED: Celebrate Your Recovery by Committing to You
- BED & Bariatric Surgery or the Sleeve
- Kids Binge Eating and the Rise in Obesity in American Children
- Binge Eating Disorder and Family Patterns of Self-Soothing
- BED: Impulse Control and a Recovery Coach
- Night Eating Syndrome: So Much More Than Just A Bedtime Snack
- Research on BED and Medication
- How to Stop Binge Eating in Three Unusual Steps
- STEP ONE: Understand and Confront the Forces and Myths in Our Culture That Keep People Fat.
- STEP TWO: Make At Least One Clear Food Rule.
- STEP THREE: Separate Your Constructive vs. Destructive Thoughts About Food
- How to Stop Binge Eating at Night
- How to Stop Binge Eating After Work
- How to Stop Binge Eating Sweets
- How to Stop Binge Eating Sugar
- How to Stop Binge Eating When Stressed
- How to Stop Binge Eating Forever
- What Causes Binge Eating?
- What is Considered Binge Eating?
- Stuck In A Cycle of Yo-Yo Dieting
- How I Finally Stopped Binge Eating
- Can you stop binge eating AND lose weight?
- Get Rid of the “All or Nothing” Mentality
How to stop binge eating, according to nutritionist who did
An Australian nutritionist has revealed how she binge ate for years before finally setting herself free.
Jessica Sepel is a nutritionist and health influencer who has regularly spoken out about her history with dieting – from the age of 14, Sepel says she was caught in a cycle of binging and restricting herself.
But she now says she has developed a healthy relationship with food and her body and has shared her top tips to help other people do the same.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines
Sepel says her life used to consist of: “exercising twice a day (for two hours at a time), eating only skinny diet foods, weighing myself daily (and allowing the number to determine who I was), skipping meals, anxiously jotting down every diet rule into a notepad, trying every radical diet out there, punishing my body with food restriction, feeling terrible amounts of fear around food (especially at family/social gatherings), struggling with weekend binges and criticising my body all day long.”
Now, however, she says she’s “let go and found freedom” by only doing forms of exercise she actually enjoys (and embracing rest time), never weighing herself, eating whole foods because they make her feel good and focussing on health rather weight.
With this experience behind her, Sepel understands what many people go through: “A range of feelings can trigger emotional eating; whether we’re sad, lonely, happy or excited, we turn to food for comfort.
“But bingeing is triggered by deprivation, which leads to a vicious cycle,” she wrote on her blog.
Shape Created with Sketch. Six healthy breakfast recipes to try
Show all 6 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. You will need: 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 1 stick of celery, 1 cup of mushrooms, 4 to 6 eggs, 1 habanero chilli (optional), 1 tablespoon of oil, 25g of grated low-fat cheese, 150 ml of skimmed milk, 50g of turkey breast. Add some spinach for an extra boost.
1) Cook your turkey breast so that it’s ready to add to the mix later on. Best to grill it and then chop it up as it’s healthier than shallow frying. 2) Meanwhile, heat the oil and add your onion, pepper, chilli, mushrooms and celery to your pan. Cook these for around five minutes until your veg is nice and soft. 3) Whisk your eggs and milk together in a separate bowl, seasoning with salt and pepper. 4) Add the egg mixture, veg, cooked turkey and cheese to a high-sided baking pan or tin and cook in your oven for around 15 minutes at 170C. DW Fitness Clubs
Be careful when you buy your porridge, as some brands will cram a lot of sugar in there. Porridge is a good breakfast option as it is renowned for releasing energy slowly, which means you can get to lunch without suffering from a lull. A great source of fibre, potassium and vitamins, bananas are always a good accompaniment to your morning oats. DW Fitness Clubs
Ingredients: 2 full eggs, 3 egg whites, asparagus, peppers, 50g of smoked salmon
1) Boil your asparagus in water for around five minutes. 2) Meanwhile, mix your eggs and egg whites in a jug, and add a splash of skimmed milk. Chop some peppers up and throw them in too. 3) Once your asparagus is cooked, drain it and chop into smaller chunks. Add these to your egg mixture. 4) Whisk your mixture and season with salt and pepper. 5) Pour the mix into a hot pan with a small knob of butter or a teaspoon of quality olive oil. 6) Cook the omelette for around 90 seconds to two minutes. 7) Once the bottom is cooked, take the pan off the hob and place under the grill for another 30 seconds to a minute in order to cook the top. 8) Serve with your smoked salmon. DW Fitness
Greek yoghurt has vast nutritional benefits. Regardless of where you stand on the superfood debate, Greek yoghurt’s credentials speak for themselves. A good source of potassium, protein, calcium and essential vitamins, this food forms an ideal base for a healthy breakfast, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. DW Fitness
Eggs Florentine is not only a tasty breakfast, it also carries a hefty nutritional punch, particularly when you throw some spinach into the equation. DW Fitness
So fast and easy to make, yet so effective. Wholemeal toast can be a good breakfast choice, as long as you are sensible with your toppings. Peanut butter is perfect. A good source of “healthy fats”, as well as protein and Vitamin E among other nutrients, a liberal spreading of peanut butter can set you up for the day. DW Fitness Eggs Florentine is not only a tasty breakfast, it also carries a hefty nutritional punch, particularly when you throw some spinach into the equation. DW Fitness
1. Stop dieting, restricting and depriving yourself
Cutting back on calories drastically results in your body going into what’s known as starvation mode, which can then often lead to a binge.
“Instead of depriving your body of food, it’s time to start nourishing yourself and healing your relationship with nutrition,” Sepel says.
2. Allow yourself to enjoy your food
Stop labelling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as this leads to food guilt and emotional eating. Instead, try and eat mindfully, being aware of what you’re eating.
“It’s so important to sit down, eat slowly and enjoy the eating experience,” Sepel stresses. “Enjoy each mouthful and practise positive affirmations at mealtimes.”
3. Listen to your body
So often we eat out of habit or boredom, but really we should be tuning into our appetite and what our body is really craving. Next time you feel hungry, ask yourself what you really need and want.
“Maybe you just need some water, a rest or a walk outside in the fresh air,” Sepel suggests. “When you’re feeling hungry, give yourself permission to eat – without guilt – and respect your body when you’re not hungry.”
4. Commit to a balanced diet
Remember there’s no such thing as a “perfect” diet, so don’t feel bad about not following one. But Sepel stresses the importance of eating real whole foods such as organic proteins, grains, leafy greens, colourful vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses.
Like many health experts, Sepel advocates the 80:20 approach – eating nourishing food 80 per cent of the time and allowing herself to indulge with joy the other 20 per cent.
Stress often leads to comfort eating, so it’s important to consciously try and lower your stress levels. Sepel recommends: “deep belly breathing, switching off from social media, sleeping early and reducing stress when eating.”
She also suggests putting your phone down, turning the TV off and taking two deep breaths before your next meal.
6. Love yourself
Treat your body and yourself with something other than food – Sepel recommends doing one thing per day that’s pleasurable, whether it’s taking a bath or watching your favourite TV show.
“One of the most powerful ways to practise self-love is to accept yourself in this moment – just as you are,” Sepel says. “Release the need to judge, blame or criticise yourself and know that you are entitled to live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life.”
Last Updated on April 4, 2019
This website outlines the strategy that I used to stop binge eating and lose weight. It communicates a theory that I’ve been working on for decades: a story of misguided love, and of freedom.
I have a long history of chronic dieting. I was a compulsive eater with severe episodes of binge eating disorder for fifteen years. At thirty-five, I feared that this would be something I was stuck with for life; that I would be endlessly recovering and relapsing, never cured. But after years of searching (while starving, binge eating, gaining and losing weight and everything in between) I worked out how to stop. I escaped dieting-roller-coaster-hell and returned, slowly, to a normal, healthy weight. I am free of the urge to binge and the desire to compulsively overeat – and I accomplished this ridiculous feat with minimal concerted effort.
I want to scream it from the rooftops, but I’ve chosen an anonymous internet platform instead: wildly pouring thoughts onto a computer screen. I’m whispering via the keyboard so that you, too, can hear. Binge eating is not something we want to talk about with friends. It’s something that we hide in humiliation: bury inside ourselves, like endless sticky wrappers shoved away in rubbish bins.
If you arrived at this website as the result of typing ‘I can’t stop eating junk food’ or other such desperate phrases into Google…Welcome. I’m so glad that you’ve found your way here.
Immediate binge eating help exists – whether you binge eat at night, in your car, every weekend, on rare occasions, or throughout each and every day in a mindless, endless trance. ‘Emotional eating’, ‘compulsive eating’ and ‘binge eating disorder’ can and does get cured. Excessive overeating is NOT the result of a character flaw, genetic malfunction or a heinous messed-up intrinsic part of your psyche. It is a behavior that was cultivated by accident: a craving for deceptive meals (foods devoid of satiating qualities) that has a mild physical basis but is sustained and perpetuated by one thing only: the false belief that you have lost control of your behavior – that the thing has control over you. These behaviors occurred, in many cases, after consuming deceptive food after a restrictive diet.
Disclaimer: If you are suicidal, severely depressed, or in need of medical attention, please see a doctor. This website does not substitute for medical advice.
A cure for binge eating disorder
Let’s begin with a quote from Dr. John Sarno, author of Healing Back Pain (available from Amazon) and an expert on chronic pain:
I have been successful because we have made the right diagnosis, not because we have found the right treatment. We do not have an “approach” to the problems of acute and chronic pain – we have the diagnosis.
In other words, a cure arises out of the correct diagnosis of a condition. When you understand exactly how and why something arises – you have the cure.
If a problem can be solved at all, to understand it and to know what to do about it are the same thing. – Alan Watts
‘Binge eating disorder’ can be cured instantly by grasping a few simple concepts and realizing that not only is escape possible but that it can be rapid and easy. Knowledge is all that is needed to change your behavior and for an eating disorder to cease.
Jack Trimpey, the author of Rational Recovery (available from Amazon), says this:
Recovery is not a process, but an event.
He is right. Physical transformation takes days, weeks or years, but escape comes instantly: via an illuminating mental shift. The acquisition of new information leads to a change in desire and behavior, terminating the problem at its core.
So let us start with a definition.
What is binge eating disorder?
According to the experts, binge eating disorder is the act of regularly consuming large quantities of food (far more calories than your body needs), feeling a lack of control while doing so and not purging this food from your body afterwards. This may involve eating a lot in a short period of time (at night, alone or in the car, for example) or grazing all day, picking constantly at food (also known as compulsive eating). Binge eaters feel over-full and eat when not physically hungry. They gorge upon food, sometimes to the point where they feel sick or in pain, as if their stomach is bursting. Binge eaters may have a wildly fluctuating or escalating weight, with 10kg (22lb)+ gains per month not uncommon. Unsurprisingly, the behavior is prevalent in many of the super-obese. It is also common in those you might never suspect, such as bodybuilders and fitness professionals. Bodybuilder and coach Scott Abel, in his latest book, the Cycle Diet (available from Amazon), describes how he lost 50lbs over 12 weeks, in preparation for his first bodybuilding contest and, then, after winning, gained it all back in less than one week.
Binge eaters feel compelled to consume vast quantities of junk food (and sometimes nourishing foods) despite knowing that the excessive intake harms their health or life. They are often terrified of the effect that binge eating has upon their body and are desperate to stop. Binge eaters feel fall into a downward spiral as binge eating escalates; overeating, feeling awful and then binge eating to restore the illusion of relief again. Binge eaters are trapped: wanting desperately to change, but not knowing how.
I was caught in this trap for 15 years. This quote by recovered bulimic Julie Kerr sums up how I felt:
I was absolutely terrified that that there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t understand how something I had done occasionally and had seemingly been under my control, had become something that now had a mind of its own.
I alternated from extreme dietary control to the opposite. I succeeded and failed at diets so many times that I sometimes reminded myself of the Edison quote to keep myself sane:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas Edison
Even while experiencing all of the hideous consequences first-hand, and desperate to change, I kept doing it. In the face of mounting evidence, rebukes from those who loved me and my ever-expanding figure, I continued to damage my health, my happiness, and my future.
But I have found a way out.
To communicate this to you, I need first to explain how binge eating arises.
The cause of binge eating disorder
While experts seem able to offer a clear binge eating definition and describe it in great detail, when it comes to causes, they are less certain. Descriptions make broad, all-encompassing statements (which neither exclude nor explain anything), such as:
Like other eating disorders, binge eating disorder seems to result from a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. – WebMD
Correlations are made with poor mental health, a history of depression and other psychological problems, however, it is difficult to tell whether these are the cause of binge eating disorder or the result. Binge eating disorder also seems to run in families, as do many other food traditions and non-genetic behaviors.
Without a clear understanding of what causes binge eating disorder, we struggle for a cure.
The hypothesis: The real cause of your binge eating disorder is that you once ate large quantities of deceptive food, leading to an intermittent relationship between flavor and nutrition. This causes your body to desire more and resist eating normal amounts. Repeated dieting failure then leads you to believe that something is wrong with you and that you are unable to change.
It is likely that you started eating large quantities of deceptive food for one of two reasons:
1. You were fed a nutritionally inferior or inadequate diet as a child, for example, you ate exclusively processed food and/or were restricted nutritionally by parents who were worried about your weight (this is more prevalent in this day and age, as fears about the obesity epidemic grow). Eating a nutritionally inferior or inadequate diet results in increased hunger and a tendency to overconsume deceptive food when encountered.
From the feeding dynamic’s perspective and from my own clinical practice and from my reading of the research, the biggest cause is restrained feeding, is restricting the child’s food intake. Many times restrained feeding is based on a misinterpretation of a child’s normal growth…When you restrict a child’s food intake they’re going to become food preoccupied and prone to overeat when they get the chance. – Ellyn Satter
2. You went on a self-initiated diet that failed to meet your nutrient and/or caloric needs. As with above, your hunger never abated and the food you ate during the diet was never enough. If you encounter deceptive food while starving, you are more likely to be fooled by this and eat a lot.
Both of these scenarios follow the same pattern and the same cure; the only difference is that the latter example is self-imposed. In my experience, this is the most common path to overeating, so we will dwell on this for a moment.
Dieting precedes binge eating disorder
Dr. Halmi, who is also a professor of psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York, said she had found dieting a frequent “proximal trigger” among people with binge-eating disorder. – New York Times
When we are born, we eat like all normal healthy living creatures: consuming food when hungry and stopping when full. Hunger exists to ensure that we swallow an optimal quantity of energy and nutrients. We eat until these two needs are met and then our hunger abates (food loses its appeal). This is a handy and reliable system that has evolved over eons. You might think that such a system has malfunctioned in the face of modern food, but it is precisely because this system works so well that we are in this situation at all. If your body could be fooled into thinking that fake food was food, you would never overeat it. It is only because the amazing regulatory system that is your body quickly ascertains that an inadequate level of fats, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients has been consumed, that your hunger switch remains firmly on until this need for nourishment has been met.
Think about the young children that you know (or perhaps your own childhood). Kids who are fed ordinary nutritious meals (i.e. a combination of carbohydrates, meat and animal fat, dairy, fruit, and vegetables) almost always end up a normal healthy weight, with genetic and behavioral differences resulting in small variations in muscular and body fat distribution. A child who is fed a greater quantity of junk food must consume more calories in order to gain the necessary nourishment. In this environment, a child is a fraction plumper than he or she who is fed a more nutritious, wholesome diet, but their weight does not wildly escalate out of control or balloon upwards to infinity. It just sits a few kilograms or pounds higher. That is, of course, until the child decides to go on a diet. (The sad thing is, most people, after decades of futile yo-yo dieting and increasing weight gain, would give anything to return to this ‘unsatisfactory’ starting point).
When someone first decides that they are too fat, they learn the misleading notion that to lose weight you must restrict energy intake and/or increase energy expenditure through exercise. Depending on the level of motivation, initial weight loss attempts usually involve one or both of these strategies. This requires that you summon the willpower to ignore the natural hunger signals of your body and eat less, often while moving more.
If you give up on this insane approach after a day or so and accept your pre-existing physique, your eating normalizes and you will return to or maintain your initial weight. For many people, however, this is unacceptable. If you prioritise a desirable appearance (as most young humans do) because you understand, either consciously or subconsciously, that attracting a mate is a crucial requirement of procreation and the survival of your genes, you may summons a very strong dose of willpower to achieve this goal. This is especially the case if you are a high-achieving individual, who is capable of delaying short term gratification for long term gain (many of those who develop eating disorders fit into this category). I should note here that the desire to be physically appealing is a normal healthy goal (although the level of thinness desired is often unrealistically low, due to Photoshopped and starving models, actresses and singers distorting our perception of what is normal – more on this soon). The problem, however, is not that you desire to achieve an optimal body weight, but that the approach used to do so is wrong.
At this point in our dieting adventures, however (and even, often, decades later) we hold faith to the idea that a forced reduction in calories is the answer…because it seems so logical, from a mathematical perspective (we don’t realize that the simplicity of this premise excludes other crucial variables involved in this equation) and because, initially, it seems to work. If you are able to summons a superhuman effort and restrict your food intake for an extended period of time, you see results. At the same time as you lose weight, however, you initiate a cascade of consequences that spiral out of control. Your body realizes that you are doing something crazy (eating less than it needs to survive) and it tries to save you, by issuing tremendous urges to eat. It does this relentlessly until you oblige (or die from anorexia). In most people, this urge is eventually met with an unplanned consumption of ‘allowed’ food (an extra spoonful of peanut butter, an additional bowl of cereal, or a larger than ideal serving of grapes or meat at a meal) and this small deviation triggers the seed of doubt that, somehow, the diet has been broken. Once broken, of course, the floodgates open. This gives a small window of opportunity (usually until tomorrow) when your rational brain must accept that you are not on a diet, and that you have temporary permission to eat all of the previously ‘forbidden’ foods. In the words of Geneen Roth, author of Breaking Free From Compulsive Eating (available on Amazon):
The fourth law of the universe is that for every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge.
Rather than binge eating nourishing foods that would heal your starving body, you charge full-throttle for those that deliver a fast and immediate hit of energy and enhanced flavor. In contrast to the gnawing pain of hunger, vast quantities of easily digested junk food deliver an immediate illusory high. This high is fake and fleeting, with few of the nutritional benefits promised, thus satiation does not arrive and it is never, ever enough. We eat and eat, until at the exploding brink of capacity. In addition to a swollen belly of artificially enhanced foods, we now drown in failure; terror at the impending fatness; despair that we lost control again. Despite an exploding stomach, we have often obtained very little of the nourishment we desperately need. We make a misguided attempt to alleviate the hunger and misery of a diet with the most addictive substance in the world. (You don’t believe that junk food is addictive? Do you think you are alone in this trap? LOOK AROUND).
If you are lucky, after your first few diets and reactive binge eating episodes, you realize the futility of the situation, get a grip of yourself and stop. In ‘diet recovery’ food intake normalizes after a few months or years and you settle close to your original weight, as happened to the men in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. This only occurs if you have not dysregulated your sensory receptors due to prolonged consumption of deceptive food (which is why many people progress from anorexia to ongoing binge eating, continuing years after weight restoration is complete). However, at this point in your dieting war, the futility of the situation rarely sets in. If you believe that you are FAT – and, worse, that your original starting point was unattractive – it is irrational to accept a period of lavish overeating in order to arrive at a slightly plump set point that may or may not eventuate in several years. This leaves us with a terrible dilemma. When we find ourselves consuming ludicrous quantities of deceptive food, again, we begin to consider more dramatic alternatives. Those who are able to self-induce vomiting may turn to bulimia as a way to rid themselves of the excess calories (a method that exacerbates hunger, rapidly depletes nutrient levels and may end in death). Those who cannot vomit may initiate periods of fasting, diet pills, restricted intake and/or increased exercise as they try in vain to succeed at weight loss using the ‘restrict calorie’ method (a method that has a spectacular failure rate of over 98%). Instead of acknowledging that forced calorie restriction is an absurd approach to weight loss, we vow to increase our willpower and try harder tomorrow. A cycle of dieting, binge eating, purging, and more dieting becomes entrenched.
As time passes, the diets become more obscure, restrictive and deliberate, eliminating whole food groups, or types of food. These are appealing, as they rely on less willpower – a rule to never eat wheat, for example, is easier to uphold than weighing food every meal, counting calories or tallying points. We veer towards orthorexia (a new term to describe those who pursue obsessively ‘clean’ eating and adhere to extreme dietary rules).
As the pattern continues, the gap between diets often widens and the out-of-control periods sometimes extend to days, weeks or years. As the number of failed diets increases, your faith in your ability to succeed diminishes and the effort required to restart a new one becomes greater.
At some point despair sets in. You fear that you have lost all motivation and self-control: that you cannot summons the willpower to ever diet again. Part of you abhors all forms of restriction, exercise, and dieting, while another part idolizes it and festers a growing hatred and disgust towards your own body. You believe, deep down, that you must regain ‘control’, and, perhaps (as in my case) constantly tell yourself that you will, but there is always an excuse as to why the time to do so is never now. We enact tens or hundreds or even thousands of ‘final feasts’: enormous junk food meals that are never final, before a ‘perfect diet’ that never takes hold. This journey is often accompanied by endless research and obsessive reading of diet books, websites or any other damn thing. It is here that obesity begins to rear its head, yo-yo dieting gets out of hand and panic and depression take hold.
At a certain point, a quiet sorrow edges into your soul. When you’ve battled with your weight for an extended period of time, a sludgy, brain-thick misery envelops you and you cannot tell if it is the result of your weight or if the misery was there all along.
Richard Kerr, author of The Bulimia Help Method (available from Amazon) describes this as the 9th stage: believing you are mentally ill:
Progressively declining health, constant anxiety, disgust and slavery to food, not to mention mood swings, body dissatisfaction, food obsession and feeling like you’re going mad, all take their toll. Your self esteem plummets. Your confidence shatters and you worry for your health and your life.
Let’s be clear: it is normal to be filled with despair when weight loss efforts continually fail. It is normal for binge eating to rip holes in your self-esteem. This is the reaction of a normal human being; not someone who is flawed and ruined beyond repair.
It is possible to escape junk food addiction and take back your power.
The permanent and instant way to stop binge eating
The first part of my escape came when reading a book called Brain over Binge, by Kathryn Hansen (it is a little known self-published book, with phenomenal reviews – read on Amazon). This book is one of the best I have read on the subject and I highly recommend it. I was not able to stop binge eating as a result (many readers quit instantly and I was distraught, yet somehow unsurprised that I did not) however, I knew that it contained some of the best truths about the subject. Stopping is not only possible but instantly achievable. You don’t need to wait for the stars to align or for willpower appear. The cravings are created by the very act of engaging in the addictive behavior, combined with a misunderstanding about where the problem lies: they are not a piece of YOU. When you understand this, and when you see that you can stop (the penny drops and you suddenly understand that it is completely within your grasp), you eliminate the problem. As addiction studies indicate, quitting instantly, on your own is not only possible, but is the most effective strategy that exists. According to Scientific American:
…many if not most addicts successfully recover without professional help. A survey by Gene Heyman, a research psychologist at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, found that between 60 to 80 percent of people who were addicted in their teens and 20s were substance-free by their 30s, and they avoided addiction in subsequent decades. Other studies on Vietnam War veterans suggest that the majority of soldiers who became addicted to narcotics overseas later stopped using them without therapy.
Although I did not stop binge eating after reading Brain over Binge, it provided the first real insight that was needed: it was possible.
Allen Carr, author of the most successful stop smoking book of all time, made people realise that addiction is almost entirely brainwashing, coupled with minor physical withdrawal. Once the brainwashing is peeled away, ending an addiction is easy. In the case of deceptive food, physical withdrawal is almost non-existent. There are rarely headaches. No shivering, cold sweats or convulsions. Withdrawal is a quiet, lethargic, restless feeling, combined with reduced taste sensitivy, that you interpret as the urge to consume more of the deceptive food that made you feel this way in the first place.
Binge eating disorder is an addiction, but the good news is that it can be stopped easily. Nowhere in your body is there an instruction to eat crap until you die. Your body wants to thrive. If you starve yourself, you will create hunger. If you ignore it, your body takes control and nags you until you binge. The only problem is that you binge ate chocolate or sweets or cake or some other deceptive, manmade concoction that felt good but gave you nothing…and after months of suffering this humiliating cycle, you lost all faith in your own body’s ability to know what to eat, how much to eat, and – god forbid – how to stop.
You’re here, right now, just as you have spent countless hours scouring other websites, blogs, books, vlogs and whatever else you can find, sucking away your time and your life, trying to work out how to stop something that is devastatingly simple.
Your eating disorder is an ordinary response to intermittent flavor, caused by eating deceptive food, and triggered by the ridiculous modern theory that somehow eating less than your body needs to maintain a healthy weight is the way to return you to optimal health; combined with mild withdrawals, and a misunderstanding about where the culprit lies (despite common logic, for example, refined carbohydrates are not the enemy; nor is saturated fat, processed food or animal products). Food addiction is caused by swallowing deceptive meals that do not deliver what they promise…combined with the insane, crazy idea that somehow you have lost your self-control to be or do any different; that you are permanently flawed – disordered – unable to return to normal.
It can end like this:
- Understand what precisely makes some food addictive, so that you can diminish the onslaught of addictive meals and give your body a chance to absorb the nutrients it so strongly desires, reset sensory mechanisms, and heal. (No, this does not mean consuming 100% blended green smoothies or abiding by any other ridiculous regime).
- Understand that addictive substances are a thief and a con: they provide a temporary illusion; pleasure that leaves you with pain. They leave you worse off than you were before, and prompt you to seek the same deceptive agent again, creating a downward cycle.
- Understand that cravings are caused by an incorrect understanding of the situation and that if you no longer desire something, the addiction is gone.
- Understand that addiction is sustained entirely by the false belief that you have something wrong with you. Failing at diets, over and over again, drummed a false idea into your brain: that you had lost your willpower: when really, you had acquired the knowledge that subjecting yourself to a restrictive diet is ludicrous, painful and absolutely insane. You have lost the ability to willfully starve because you are a survivor, born to thrive. This does not mean you have no willpower. Chances are that you have more willpower than most people you know. In many cases, it is your extreme willpower that got you into this mess. Don’t worry. This false belief can be undone instantly through contrary proof. That’s where the magic of the Allen Carr method lies, and that’s how I escaped too.
Once you understand these things – and a few other minor ideas to help cement this knowledge – you can quit binge eating immediately (even if this seems scary and impossible at the outset), and return to eating a diet rich in honest, authentic food.
Your body is born to seek health; it longs to acquire a normal, healthy physique, with the bouncing energy of a child.
You conquer the urge to binge, not by charging it down with willpower, but by dissolving it at the source. With the right information, you can leap out of the maze and land with both feet in the sun.
Once you see addiction for what it is – escape is easy. The best thing is that it fills you with joy. You realize, if you can beat this thing, you can do anything. 🙂
Want more? Start here.
How to Stop Binge Eating Without Professional Help and Still Succeed
Can I Really Stop Binge Eating On My Own? How?
If you’ve been eating out of control for months, you’re probably desperate to change by now, but you’re wondering how. Maybe you’ve tried joining a support group, reading a book or journaling while eating mindfully, but haven’t seen signs of major improvement. These techniques can help, but they usually take forever to produce the results you’re seeking.
If you don’t have a huge budget to spend on therapy or coaching, your question by now is probably: “How do I stop binge eating without therapy, fast?” Maybe you just can’t take it anymore: You hate yourself for eating so much, but just can’t find the way out. That’s why I’m so excited to share with the method that has helped me quick any addiction on my own.
I must warn you: Stopping compulsive eating without help can be difficult. Nonetheless, I know it can be done. In order to stop, you need to develop certain skills, as well as change the way you think. You’ll need to devote a little bit of time and energy to fix the problem, but, more importantly, you’ll also need commitment, desire and persistence, as well as a healthy way to handle relapses.
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I believe kindness, proactive self-love, and forgiveness are much more powerful than a strong will and discipline. They are key to your binge eating recovery.
Below are the exact steps you must follow to gain full control of the way you eat.
Step One: Accept and Welcome Your Situation
As long as you are denying that you’re addicted, you cannot evolve. Accept your addiction but do not identify with it.
You want to see yourself as a perfectly lovable and acceptable person with a temporary issue. So from now on, make it a practice to repeat “Even though I sometimes eat out of control, I’m a perfectly lovable person and I accept all of me.” Repeat this sentence every time you reject, belittle or criticize yourself. Most often, the root cause of addiction is the idea that you’re some mix of flawed, bad to the core, not good enough, unacceptable or rejected, or that you cannot cope on your own. You will have to be persistent in facing and gently shifting your beliefs.
You’ll also have to accept that it will take a little time. There will be steps forward and maybe a few relapses, and that’s perfectly OK.
Step Two: Create a Daily Routine
Over time, you have created a belief system that acts like a magnetic field, which pulls you towards addiction. Your beliefs and repeated behaviors have created pathways in your brain that are ready to create a binge at any trigger.
To change permanently, you’ll have to rewire those pathways and create a “magnetic field” that pulls you towards healthier habits. In order to succeed, you must work at creating that field daily. Otherwise, the pull of the old field will take over, and you’ll end up binging again.
If you binge emotionally, at some point, you decided it was better to eat than to feel or address your stress, conflicts, and difficult situations. You then started obsessing over food to avoid experiencing negative emotions like the fear of rejection, or feelings of unworthiness, anxiety, guilt or shame. Each time you did, you “imprinted” your mind and brain with this reaction. Now, it may happen so quickly that you cannot even feel it happening within you. You just know you want to binge.
If you’re serious about learning how to control binging, you have to create an efficient daily routine to start imprinting new reactions to external and internal triggers.
Your worst enemy is self-sabotage. Your second worst enemy is your exceedingly high self-expectations and perfectionism. I’ll tell you more about both below, but for now, remember that you’ll have to work at this daily, probably for weeks. I don’t like the word “work,” because it doesn’t have to be a lot of effort. Instead, expect to spend consistent attention, presence, choices, and action on the issue.
In your daily routine, you’ll have to learn to be present to yourself, to stop and listen for what you feel and need, and to create a new set of beliefs. You’ll also need to take action to nurture yourself. For example, if you feel the need to be alone, you’ll have to cancel unnecessary engagements.
In other words, you have to commit yourself to your well-being without binging. Until now, you have been deriving your pleasure from your food addiction. Now you want to do so by nurturing yourself and taking full responsibility for your well being, all without using foods.
Some of my clients achieve results almost instantly after I help them experience that kind of self-nurturing and self-dedication in our sessions. They are then able to reproduce this new behavior and thinking in their lives. And then, binge eating is gone. Relapses just don’t matter so much: These individuals know how to make them go away easily and quickly enough so that the addiction doesn’t take over. In other words, they know how to avoid binges.
Sara Stopped Binge Eating In Five Days After Months Of Failed Attempts. .
It will take a bit longer to develop that level of self-control on your own, but it’s possible. What matters is that you build new skills that will help you relieve stress, let go of self-doubt and self-blame, and keep yourself motivated and focused on what you want. This way, you’re able to make the right food choices and stop eating whenever you want to.
Learning EFT and other stress and emotional-releasing techniques like I teach in my program is a must. I wouldn’t have become the person I am today without learning how to control my stress levels, release negative emotions, traumas, be present with myself, set healthy boundaries and mentally create the future I want.
I never impose a particular technique. But you must find one that works for you. And, then, you must create a daily routine, combining as many powerful techniques as possible — all presented in the right order — if you want to permanently remove the magnetic pull towards your old habits. If you want to know how to overcome binge-eating habits, that’s key.
Even today, as I’m trying to change new aspects of my life and myself, I have a daily routine. This process has evolved to accommodate my new goals, and it seems I can’t succeed without this routine. Without it, fear takes over and I procrastinate. Before I know it, I’ve lost track of who I wanted to become and what I want to accomplish. I get pulled back to my old self. I then have to pick myself back up and start over. It’s OK, but I have lost momentum. So if you want to succeed, try and be extremely consistent.
“The only way to really change permanently is to adopt a new behavior and thought pattern for long enough that it becomes automatic or “non-conscious.”
There is no way you can accomplish this without persistence, consistency, faith, and patience. Your daily routine may take only 30 minutes, which is spread out throughout the day in 10-minute chunks. This time may seem really short, but without it, you will get pulled back to your old ways with it your imagination is the limit.
Now you see how commitment and persistence are vital to your success. A coach will push you and keep you on your toes when you fall off the wagon. Without help, you have to do that yourself. The only way is by never skipping your routine for more than 48 hours. If you can do that, you will succeed.
If you don’t, it will be very hard. The daily routine I recommend has very little to do with foods and nothing to do with food charts, scales or journals. These are not really helpful. You want to retrain your non-conscious self, because that’s the part of you who is driving your addiction. That’s why you need a routine that will help you to access that self, then retrain it.
Also, you want to be impartial with yourself. Denial is your worst enemy. Look at your behavior with honesty and, if you don’t like it, then acknowledge it and change it. Denial can be really sneaky, so learn to identify and acknowledge its tricks.
The Two Biggest Pitfalls to Avoid If You Want to Learn How to Stop Binge Eating without Professional Help…
Step 3: Prevent Self-Sabotage
Change can be relatively easy, but, somehow, we tend to fall back to a familiar, but unpleasant, comfort zone. For binge eating, that means eating out of control or obsessing on food or dieting. That’s your comfort zone.
If you want to take full control of your life, you’ll have to accept feeling really uncomfortable for a while. Maybe you have already read or heard this quote:
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ― Neale Donald Walsch
Always remind yourself that it’s OK to experience fear, or feel very uneasy each time you want to stop binging. Accept it. It’s normal. Tell yourself regularly: “Hey, it’s OK to have fear. I’m here for you.”
As a former love addict, when I started looking for a new relationship after being so emotionally abused for so many years, I was petrified. The idea of falling in love was terrifying. To me the idea of falling in love meant losing myself, giving my power and my life over to someone else. Therefore, I had to change my concept of love to be able to welcome it into my life. You will have to change your thoughts on what food is to you in the same way.
I had to build the belief that I could love, remain myself, keep my personal power, and achieve my dream life, all at the same time. It took a little time, but until I had this positive vision to pull me away from my fear, all I had when I felt love for someone else was a kind of frantic panic. I would then sabotage my chances to get what I wanted: a happy, committed relationship.
To feel comfortable letting go of your food addiction, you’ll have to create the belief that you can enjoy life, be strong and happy, all while eating normally.
As long as your old set of beliefs is active, you will a have the tendency to sabotage your progress. A part of you believes you can’t cope without binging or that it’s not safe or it’s the only pleasure you can have in life. To that part of you, it is almost vital that you binge in some way. That part is wrong and you have to teach her the truth: it’s safe, good and pleasurable to eat normally
If you stop binging without changing your beliefs, you may create a new addiction. I remember how Karl Dawson, who trained me in EFT and Matrix reimprinting, described AA meetings. He felt that people at these meetings were all addicted to coffee as much as they had been to alcohol.
My purpose is not to help you shift addictions, but rather to let go of addiction permanently. I don’t feel that my job is done if I haven’t.
So How Do You Become Addiction-Free?
One way is to expect resistance and fear: Welcome it, observe it and accept it. I have covered how to handle the fear of change in “Conquer Your Fear and Stop Eating So Much Food in Four Easy Steps.” Please study, and use that advice. It will help you let go out of self-sabotaging yourself.
You also need to observe your thinking as if it was someone else’s. In other words,
“Don’t take your beliefs personally. They have nothing to do with you.”
If you haven’t taken the time to do an inventory of your beliefs, now is the time. Sit down and write what you think about food, about eating, and about you. Think about what you deserve, what you can do. Just write without thinking. The first thing that comes to mind is right, because it’s your unfiltered self-talk. Keep performing that inventory every day, for 30 days.
Practice noticing the beliefs behind your thoughts. You will then understand why you’re eating compulsively: You’re trying to protect yourself from dangers and fears you perpetuate.
You can change, but at first, the best way to avoid sabotaging yourself is to observe and accept what you think, feel and do. Once you have, you want to claim your birthright — believing you’re absolutely fabulous and deserve the best in life — and then start treating yourself with love and respect.
So the obvious second step is to consciously pick a new set of beliefs that will serve your purpose (i.e., eating normally). I’ve covered this in depth in “How to Stop Emotional Eating: The 3 Most Important Skills You Must Know to End It Once and for All.”
Consciously choosing your new set of beliefs is an extremely empowering experience. The most exciting part, though, is when you start making it your new reality.
Step 4: Eliminate Self-Hate, Fear, Shame and Perfectionism
The last thing I want to mention that can block your progress is perfectionism. Perfectionism feeds your non-conscious self that’s it’s unacceptable to be a binge eater or to have relapses. It tells you that you’re bad and inadequate to the core, that you don’t belong.
I say: “Perfectionism is not acceptable.” It’s OK to be human and to have difficulties. Perfectionism unnecessarily blows your failures out of proportion. One thing I know about successful people is that they remember their successes and forget their failed attempts. That’s the mental habit I want you to master.
First, practice forgiveness. Forgive yourself for not being there for you and not knowing how to do better. Then, send yourself love and attention. That’s the only way you can become addiction-free and peaceful. Beating yourself up only reinforces the idea that you are not acceptable. Give up that pattern, once and for all right, right now!
Now is the time to obsess on your progress — no matter how small — and congratulate yourself. Practice gratitude towards yourself for all the things you’ve done for you. Remind yourself how much you have already accomplished, and take a moment to feel good about it.
Then, forgive those people who have taught you perfectionism. They just didn’t know better, but now you do. You know.
“Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear.
That is why it is such a powerful weapon.”
—Nelson Mandela, in “Invictus”
Now you have everything you need to get started. Make it your goal to become happy and self-confident, to look and feel good, and to have an exciting life.
Small goals, like “I just want to stop binging,” are not motivating enough, so think big. Learning how to stop binge eating on your own is just the first step. Just imagine what else you’ll be able to do once you have learned this. You’ll be unstoppable, and your happiness will shine in this world. You’ll become a source of inspiration for others. I hope this perspective excites you.
If you haven’t done so already, grab Sara’s case-study. It will show you how she was able to stop binge eating in 5 days.
You will be blown away by how easy and fun it was for her. She couldn’t believe it herself.
There are many things, I didn’t have time to cover here… like what causes the diet-binge cycle and how to break free from it… But I don’t want to turn this blog post into a book. So, I have given you enough to get started. And,…
I would love to hear which are the key takeaways you have gathered in this article to help you stop binge eating without professional help, and, what is the one strategy you’re going to implement today. Let me know in the comments below.
Secrets to Stop Binge Eating
Don’t sabotage your workout routines with unhealthy binge eating. Instead, find out what you need to do to stop the binging.
Eating so you’re full and satisfied, rather than giving in to emotional overeating to fill a void or simply because the food is there, takes some planning-and a few good strategies. Here they are:
Healthy eating tips # 1. Identify high-risk situations.
Few people overeat in every situation, so determine the circumstances that are likely to trigger a binge. Once you’ve identified which situations are most likely to spark emotional overeating, come up with a game plan for each one. For example, if eating at relatives’ always involves plentiful gooey desserts, plan to make or buy a low-fat dessert, and bring it with you for everyone to share. If you can’t go to the movies without snacking on something, sneak in your own bag of air-popped popcorn or some low-cal candy.
Healthy eating tips # 2. Keep a record of what you put in your mouth in a food diary.
In a study at the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Chicago, researchers asked 38 people who were trying to lose weight to keep a food diary; doing so not only helped them control their weight during high-risk holidays, but even helped them peel off unwanted pounds. Keep it simple-it doesn’t have to include total calories or fat grams-but don’t forget to jot down snacks or drinks, which can add up. You need to maintain a record at least 75 percent of the time for a food diary to be effective.
Healthy eating tips # 3. Explore food-free ways to socialize.
In social situations, everybody eats more if they see everybody else doing so. If this sounds familiar, get in the habit of bonding with friends over activities that don’t center around food: a walk at the park, an afternoon at a paint-your-own-pottery shop, a long bike ride or hike, or trying a new class at the gym.
To conquer binge eating, keep reading our healthy eating tips, # 4, 5 and 6!
Use these healthy eating tips to fill you up without binging: maintain portion control, choose low calorie foods and avoid temptation.
Healthy eating tips # 4. Dine smart and use portion control.
Research-and common sense-tells us we eat much more when we dine out. Do damage control at restaurants by speed-reading the menu: Skip past “appetizers” and head straight for “salads” for a safe starter, and look for any mention of plate-sharing charges, a sure sign that the restaurant’s meals are enormous and that you and your dining companion may want to split one. (Note some restaurants will honor requests for half-size portion control, or if it’s a low-key establishment, ask the waiter to serve just half and box the rest for you to take home.) Once you pick a healthy option from the menu, order before anyone else at the table. That way, you make the commitment and you won’t be persuaded by other people’s orders.
Healthy eating tips # 5. Eat thin before fat, choosing low calorie foods – or at least lower – first.
People tend to overeat the more-delicious, more-palatable foods, which have a higher fat content. The solution: Fill up on low calorie foods first-fruits, vegetables and grains-and you’ll be less likely to overindulge in the high-calorie stuff.
Healthy eating tips # 6. Keep temptation out of your path.
Get rid of junk food and replace it with better choices-rice cakes or pretzels for your pantry; low-fat frozen yogurt, pre-made fruit salad and baby carrots for your fridge; and reduced-fat popcorn or dried fruit for your desk drawer. It’s going to be easier for you to avoid overeating if you control your external environment. Shape shares even more terrific healthy eating tips, so keep reading.
Shape presents six more terrific tips on how to tackle binge eating and enjoy a healthy balanced diet.
Healthy eating tips # 7. Don’t eat meals just anywhere.
Make a point of always sitting down at a table to eat, rather than dining by the light of your computer screen or TV set. Focus on what you’re eating-including how it looks, smells, and tastes-and you’ll be less likely to continue eating after you’re full.
Healthy eating tips # 8. Eat small meals more often.
Eating frequent small meals during the day not only keeps your blood sugar stable and your energy high, but it can help you avoid excessive hunger. People who get into night eating generally follow a typical pattern where they don’t eat much during the day, then binge at night.
Healthy eating tips # 9. Don’t diet.
Being too rigid about your eating is likely to make you feel deprived. A study from Louisiana State University found that calorie counting and consciously dieting were associated with overeating, especially while alone.
Healthy eating tips # 10. Buy single-serving-size snacks.
Get rid of big bags of food since people tend to graze until they’ve eaten the whole thing. While food shopping, think small: packages of several single-serving-size cereals, boxes of animal crackers and individually wrapped string cheese.
Healthy eating tips # 11. Use the 10-minute rule before indulging.
When the vending machine or kitchen beckons, stop and ask yourself if you’re truly hungry, and not just bored or using food to procrastinate from something. Get involved in another activity for 10 minutes, then see if you still want what you were craving. Sometimes we get hunger pangs and they’re more mouth hunger-a desire to taste or chew-than stomach hunger.
Healthy eating tips # 12. Have an hor d’oeuvre before the party.
It’s easy to lose control when you go to a party or dinner hungry. Eating a piece of fruit (half a banana, an apple, or some dried fruits with a glass of water) or having a glass of milk or tomato juice and some whole-grain crackers before going out will act as an appetite suppressant.
From committing to regular workout routines to polishing your nails, Shape shares a final set of tips for your well balanced diet.
From regular workout routines to finding stress relief, Shape shares bonus tips to conquer binge eating, once and for all.
Healthy eating tips # 13. Buffer against buffets.
To avoid overeating at a party, hold a non-caloric drink in your dominant hand. It’ll interfere with the likelihood of reaching for problem foods. Take the focus off food: Identify people you want to talk to-and keep your distance from buffet tables.
Healthy eating tips # 14. Lick TV temptations.
While watching television, polish your nails, knit, do a puzzle-anything that occupies idle fingers. You want to keep your hands busy so you’re less likely to eat.
Healthy eating tips # 15. Turn down food pushers (politely).
When people push food, you need to be clear and say, “No, thank you.” Choose your words carefully: Saying you’re on a healthy eating program is more persuasive than saying you’re trying to lose weight.
Healthy eating tips # 16. Keep it up with your workout routines.
Workout routines do more than help counteract the excess calories that come from overeating. People who exercise regularly are less susceptible to overeating, most likely because their mood is elevated, so they don’t need food to make them feel better. Exercising most days of the week also reinforces your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, which is likely to make you more mindful of when, where and how much you eat.
Healthy eating tips # 17. Seek alternate stress relief.
You can learn to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food. Find another outlet for frustration-whether it’s taking a long bath, meditating, getting in a workout, chatting with a friend or another form of healthy stress relief. If you can distract yourself from upsetting feelings or learn to sit with them for a while, you’ll probably find they pass more quickly than you’d thought. And, you’ll feel better afterward because you’ll have avoided another potential source of distress: losing control of your eating.
By The Recovery Village Editor Renee Deveney Reviewer Trisha Sippel Updated on09/19/19
Someone with binge eating disorder will compulsively eat excessive amounts of food past the point at which they feel full. This usually occurs in a short amount of time and the person typically feels guilty afterward.
There are many reasons as to why a person binge eats, such as coping with a negative body image, underlying emotional stress, out of boredom or simply because the food is there. People with binge eating disorder struggle to control their eating and feel powerless in terms of how to stop. They may think about food all the time and feel guilty or depressed after eating.
There are a variety of methods that can be used to stop cravings and unhealthy eating habits. Here is a list of tips for preventing binge eating.
1. Plan out your meals
One of the best ways to address binge eating disorder is to create a meal plan. Planning out your meals ahead of time can be a great way to control what you are eating. Not only can it help to control portions, but you can make sure to keep meals nutritionally balanced.
Meal planning isn’t just about what you are going to eat; it’s also about determining when you are going to eat. Having a plan for what you are going to eat and when can help with cravings. Instead of wondering what you will eat when a craving comes up, you will know exactly what to eat and how long you have to wait to have it.
Planning your meals also gives you something to look forward to. You can make sure to plan meals with the foods you like. It also prevents you from skipping a meal, which can be detrimental to your food cravings later on.
2. Keep a food journal
A food journal can be useful for keeping track of what and how much you’ve eaten. It can also be a good place to reflect and record how you were feeling before, during and after you ate. This can help you identify emotional patterns that might be linked to binge eating. Once you are aware of these patterns, you can identify things that might be triggering your eating and be better prepared to deal with them in the future.
There is evidence that people who self-monitor their food intake by keeping a record are more likely to lose weight than those who don’t.
3. Increase your protein intake
Binge eating can result from feeling hungry and eating impulsively in response to hunger. One way to combat this is to change your diet so that you feel satisfied for longer. A diet that is high in protein can help you achieve this.
Studies have shown that people who eat high amounts of protein feel more satisfaction after a meal compared to people with low protein in their diets. In other words, protein makes you feel full. If you feel full and satisfied, you are more likely to be able to wait until your next planned meal time to eat.
4. Get plenty of sleep
People with binge eating disorder may benefit from getting more sleep. When you don’t sleep enough and wake up tired, your body might crave foods that are high in sugar to help give you a boost of energy. Getting plenty of sleep can not only help with these cravings but can also improve your mood and help with appetite control.
A study on sleep and appetite regulation found that sleep affects the level of leptin, the hormone which regulates appetite. Leptin levels were 19% lower in people who get less sleep versus those who got a full 8-12 hours of sleep each night. Since leptin signals to the brain that there is an energy balance in the body and that food is not needed, having higher levels of leptin can help control appetite.
5. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can improve your mood and energy levels. It can also help to relieve stress. If you feel more relaxed and have higher energy levels, you may be able to avoid emotional eating and have the energy to do other things to distract yourself from binge eating.
Exercise is an important activity that has also been shown to help with food cravings that may lead to binge eating. Exercise can also alter hunger-triggering hormones, increasing hormones associated with suppressing hunger and decreasing hormones that stimulate eating.
These combined effects of exercise can help stop binge eating. It can also help promote a healthy lifestyle, which may empower a person to improve their eating habits.
6. Stay hydrated
Like a protein-rich diet, water can curb appetite. Staying hydrated can help to avoid cravings and keep you feeling satisfied until your next planned meal time.
Drinking water before meals can help you feel more full and satisfied, decrease hunger cravings and help you eat less. With the extra volume in your stomach, it can help you feel full faster.
Water can also help overcome cravings as they are happening. Many times, when people think they are hungry, they are actually thirsty. If you are feeling hungry and it’s making you want to binge eat, try drinking water instead. This may satisfy your craving and keep you from binge eating.
7. Don’t skip meals
People with binge eating disorder may take extreme measures to keep themselves from eating, in an attempt to prevent binging. Some people may skip meals in order to eat less. Skipping a meal may seem like a good idea, as you are eating less, but it can also lead to hunger that can trigger binge eating later in the day.
There are many consequences of skipping meals, including lowering metabolism, impairing mental focus, dizziness, weight gain and increased risk of diabetes. These consequences affect people regardless of whether or not they have a binge eating disorder, demonstrating that skipping a meal is not healthy behavior.
8. Avoid restrictive diets
In order to control eating habits, people with binge eating disorder may also try restrictive diets. Restrictive diets can be stressful and deprivation of food can actually trigger cravings and binge eating in of itself. A study of people on restrictive diets, versus those who had flexible dieting strategies, found that flexible dieting correlated with less overeating and lower levels of depression and anxiety.
9. Don’t count calories
Another form of dieting involves participating in programs that require you to count calories to keep track of how much you’ve eaten in a day. Theoretically, by staying within a certain calorie count, you restrict yourself from eating too much. However, in many cases, this does not work. In fact, the opposite can happen. By restricting your food choices, you may trigger binge eating.
The same study that found a positive correlation between flexible dieting and not overeating also showed a strong correlation between calorie counting and overeating. People who counted calories as part of their restrictive diet were more likely to overeat, especially while eating alone.
10. Fight boredom
Many people with binge eating disorder find themselves eating out of boredom. Instead of reaching for a snack when you are bored, try distracting yourself. You can distract yourself from binge eating by taking a walk, calling a friend, listening to music, taking a bath or reading. You could also find a hobby like gardening, painting, learning to play a musical instrument or learning to sew.
Keeping yourself busy will give you less time to think about food and you will be less likely to binge eat.
11. Focus on what you’re eating
Many times, binge eating episodes can occur in a state of mindlessness, without focusing on what you are eating. Paying attention to what you are eating can help you control how much you are eating. It also helps you to slow down and enjoy what you are eating, and recognize when you are full.
Even if you have started binge eating, you don’t have to continue. If you stop to focus on what you are eating and make each bite a decision, instead of a compulsive choice to binge eat, you may be able to stop after a few bites.
12. Eat smaller meals more often
It may be counterintuitive to eat more often during the day, but eating smaller meals more often may help you curb food cravings between meals. By keeping the amount you eat small, you can distribute the same amount of food you would normally eat in three meals into six meals.
When you eat, your body digests the food and sends signals to the brain that it is full. After eating, these signals will gradually decrease until they hit low levels, which tells the body it’s time to eat again. Eating every 2-4 hours can help keep your “full” signals at a steady level instead of fluctuating between meals. This will prevent you from having overwhelming feelings of hunger that can lead to binge eating.
13. Remove temptation
Binge eating can be triggered by certain foods. A trigger food is one that will cause you to go into an episode of binge eating and then regret it later. To avoid this situation, don’t buy your trigger foods and do not keep them in the house. If you do not have direct access to them, you are less likely to be triggered into a binge eating episode.
You can replace your binge eating trigger foods with healthier options. Find healthier foods that you enjoy the taste of, and keep them around for when cravings might occur. By having healthy options available, you may be able to satisfy your hunger cravings without engaging in binge eating.
14. Talk to someone
When you feel the urge to binge eat, it may be helpful to talk to someone you trust about the cravings you are having. By sharing with them what you are going through, it may help you overcome the urge. In addition to friends or family, you may find it beneficial to reach out to a binge eating hotline or support group, such as:
- National Eating Disorders Association 1-800-931-2237
- Overeaters Anonymous 505-891-2664
- Eating Disorders Anonymous
- Compulsive Eaters Anonymous 323-660-4333
The best way to get over a binge eating disorder is to address the underlying reasons as to why a person is binge eating. This can be done by speaking to an eating disorder therapist and getting treatment for binge eating disorder.
Binge eating can go hand in hand with substance abuse disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with binge eating and are turning to substance use to cope, The Recovery Village can help. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment plans, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative.
What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is commonly known by compulsive overeating or consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop and a loss of control. Binge eating episodes are typically classified as occurring on average a minimum of twice per week for a duration of six months.
BED was first explained in 1959 by Albert Stunkard, a psychiatrist, and researcher, as Night Eating Syndrome (NES). The term Binge Eating Disorder was created to define similar binge eating behavior without the nocturnal aspect.
Though BED can occur in men and women of normal weight, it often leads to the development of unwanted weight gain or obesity, which can indirectly reinforce further compulsive eating.
Men and women suffering from BED struggle with emotions of disgust and guilt and often have a related co-morbidity, such as depression or anxiety.
The negative feelings that usually accompany binge eating often lead him or her to continue to use food to cope; thus creating a vicious cycle. Managed eating disorder treatments are extremely important.
Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
While the exact cause of BED is unknown, there are a variety of factors that are thought to influence the development of this disorder. These factors are:
- Biological: Biological abnormalities, such as hormonal irregularities or genetic mutations, may be associated with compulsive eating and food addiction.
- Psychological: A strong correlation has been established between depression and binge eating. Body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and difficulty coping with feelings can also contribute to binge eating disorder.
- Social and Cultural: Traumatic situations, such as a history of sexual abuse, can increase the risk of binge eating. Social pressures to be thin, which are typically influenced through media, can trigger emotional eating. Persons subject to critical comments about their bodies or weight may be especially vulnerable to binge eating disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of BED
As individuals suffering from binge eating disorder experience embarrassment or shame about their eating habits, symptoms may often be hidden.
The following are some behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of BED:
- Continually eating even when full
- Inability to stop eating or control what is eaten
- Stockpiling food to consume secretly at a later time
- Eating normally in the presence of others but gorging when isolated
- Experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating
- Feelings of numbness or lack of sensation while bingeing
- Never experiencing satiation: the state of being satisfied, no matter the amount of food consumed
The consequences of BED involve many physical, social, and emotional difficulties.
Some of these complications are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Insomnia or sleep apnea
- Gallbladder disease
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Gastrointestinal difficulties
- Depression and/or anxiety
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Professional support and treatment from health professionals specializing in the treatment of binge eating disorders, including psychiatrists, nutritionists, and therapists, can be the most effective way to address BED.
Such a treatment program would address the underlying issues associated with destructive eating habits, focusing on the central cause of the problem.
It is necessary to concentrate on healing from the emotional triggers that may be causing binge eating, having proper guidance in establishing healthier coping mechanisms to deal with stress, depression, anxiety, etc.
Webinar: Understanding the Facts About Binge Eating Disorder
Presented by: Allan S Kaplan MD MSc FRCP(C) is currently a Senior Clinician/Scientist, Chief of Research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and Vice Chair for Research and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. He is also Director of the Institute of Medical Science, School of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Medicine. He was the inaugural Loretta Anne Rogers Chair in Eating Disorders at Toronto General Hospital and is currently Senior Scientist, Toronto General Research Institute. He received his medical, psychiatric and graduate school training at the University of Toronto. He has worked in the field of eating disorders for 30 years, has lectured widely on various topics in the field, published 150 peer reviewed articles, two books, 50 book chapters and over 200 abstracts. He is the Past President of both the Academy for Eating Disorders, the largest organization of eating disorder professionals in the world, and the International Eating Disorder Research Society. He has been a continuously funded peer reviewed investigator since 1992, and has received grant support from the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research in Canada.
There are also three types of therapy that can be especially helpful in the treatment of BED. These therapies are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): A type of therapy aimed at helping individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence their behaviors.
- Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT): A form of therapy in which the focus is on an individual’s relationships with family members and peers and the way they see themselves
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): A type of therapy that focuses on teaching individuals skills to cope with stress and regulate emotions
In addition to these methods, group therapy sessions led by a trained eating disorder therapist, as well as eating disorder support groups, may also be effective methods of establishing recovery from BED.
Articles on Binge Eating Disorder
Am I Overeating or Do I Have a Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder is an eating disorder that masks itself as basic overeating. It can easily go undetected and it affects more men and women than Anorexia or Bulimia. But, do you have BED or are simply overeating like so many other people?
Renegotiating Binge Foods in BED Recovery
Many individuals who struggle with binge eating also may have particular foods that trigger binge episodes. Foods that are higher in carbohydrates and fats can cause the release of the hormone serotonin in the brain, which can induce pleasurable feelings. For this reason, people who are dealing with binge eating disorder often gravitate towards foods with these components, either for comfort or as a means of escaping from difficult situations.
Losing Your Job to a Binge Eating Disorder? It Can Happen
You spend about half of your life at your job. It is a big part of your social interaction and provides a platform to boost (or deflate) your self-esteem. So what does a binge eating disorder (BED) have to do with your job? Lots of people struggle with BEDs. Studies show as many as 2.6% of our adult population binge eat. Can it really put your job at risk? The answer is yes, and in more ways than you think.
Mindful Eating and BED
When it comes to eating, binge eating disorder may appear to be a food-related problem only. However, mindfulness teaches the practice or state of conscious awareness of oneself, the present moment, thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Integrating mindfulness techniques in binge eating disorder treatment has been shown to reduce binge eating, improve nutritional outcomes, improve weight management, as well as enhance diabetes management.
Medical Nutrition Therapy for BED
Professional treatment for binge eating disorder will involve the collaboration of multiple professionals, including a therapist/counselor, medical doctor, psychiatrist, and registered dietitian. Each of these professionals works in their area of specialty to help address a concern that a person with binge eating disorder is facing.
Learning How to Eat Out in Binge Eating Disorder Recovery
Eating out at restaurants can also be a challenging experience for the person recovering from binge eating disorder. The combination of being in a restaurant environment coupled with the overwhelming food choices and portions can lead to a catastrophe.
Depression and Binge Eating Disorder
Depression is commonly associated with eating disorders, and it is often co-occurring with Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Trying to address Binge Eating Disorder can become more difficult if clinical depression is a key component or trigger for binge eating. This begs the question of “Did binge eating begin because of depression or did depression begin because of binge eating?”
The Black and White of Eating Disorders
The perception is that eating disorders normally affect Caucasian women, but eating disorders are color blind and will affect African American women as well. However, there needs to be more research conducted on African American women as most research is directed toward white women.
Binge Eating Disorder: When Comfort Eating Crosses the Line
Eating for comfort or emotional reasons is not necessarily a bad thing. That is as long as the food does not become the main source of comfort or method for dealing with life’s stress and challenges. Using food to consistently soothe emotional upheaval can quickly become Binge Eating Disorder, and this can result in some serious health consequences.
Using the Non-Diet Approach for Treating Binge Eating Disorder (BED)
While not as familiar as Anorexia or Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder is a severe illness that requires equal attention and professional treatment in order to establish recovery. An important approach in addressing BED is the implementation of the˜Non-Diet’ method. This approach essentially teaches sufferers to respond to physical hunger as well as how to regulate feelings associated with food and eating. Use of this method along with other proven therapies can help in healing from BED. Read this article to learn more about the Non-Diet Approach for binge eating disorder.
Children Binge Eating: Different Stories but Similar Storylines
Binge eating is not only a concern for adults. Many children and adolescents have secret memories of having engaged in binge eating. These patterns are occurring ever more frequently in today’s image-focused, diet-obsessed world. Read two stories about young adolescents who engaged in binge eating disorder behavior.
Elevated Status for Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM-5
The diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder has been added to the new DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistics Manual) as it’s own separate diagnosis. This disease of BED, that troubles so many, is now more likely to be treated with the care and respect that binge eating disorder sufferers deserve. Learn about BED and the DSM-V in this article.
Binge Eating Disorder: How College Can Make It Worse
With anorexia having the highest mortality rate among any other psychiatric illness, the focus and attention given towards prevention and treatment is absolutely essential. However, sometimes overshadowed is the equally devastating Binge Eating Disorder, also classified as a major eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in May of 2013. Learn more about the devastating effects of BED while at college here.
BED research: What Do We Know?
Since Binge Eating Disorder (BED) was first mentioned in the second edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1987, research on BED has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. In fact, in 2013, BED was added to the latest, fifth edition, of the DSM as its own diagnosis.
How to Avoid Falling into Using Food to Replace Tobacco
The evidence suggests that you don’t. You are likely to eat more when you first quit smoking, but that increased eating is healthy. It might feel like you are binge eating at first because you are eating more than you did when you smoked, but this isn’t necessarily binge eating.
Dispelling the Myths of BED
Given that overeating from time to time is normal behavior and binge eating is not, it can be hard to understand the difference. I hope to illustrate the differences and to dispel the myth that people with BED “just need more self-control” or “just does not care about themselves enough”.
BED & Co-morbid Health Concerns of Obesity
A very important development in BED is the fact that it is now listed as an official eating disorder diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which will increase awareness and help make it easier for patients to get treatment.
Binge-Eating Disorder and Compulsive Overeating: Are They the Same Thing?
When I work with someone struggling with compulsive overeating issues, not only will I be attentive to the details they express to me about the nature of these “binge” episodes, but also to the thoughts and feelings that may be at the root of this difficulty with food and emotions.
Breaking 5 Myths of Binge Eating
Binge Eating Disorder is the most common of all the eating disorders but incongruently, with the least treatment options for the sufferers. Until recently, BED was not even recognized as an actual disorder and could not be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) published by The American Psychiatric Association.
Correlation Between BED and Trauma
Studies have shown that patients who have experienced a trauma related event have been more likely to engage in self-destructive behavior. One form of self-harm is binge eating, which has been proven to be linked with traumatic events.
BED and Anxiety
Binge eating disorder (BED) and anxiety are deeply intertwined and often co-occur. In fact, approximately 37% of those who are diagnosed with BED are also diagnosed with a full-fledged anxiety disorder. Rather than a linear relationship model (i.e., that anxiety leads to binge eating behaviors or binge eating behaviors lead to anxiety), BED and anxiety are much more transactional and are comprised of biological, psychological, and social factors.
Binge Eating Disorder and the DSM-5: What the Changes Mean
Perhaps the most significant improvement with the DSM-5 is that Binge Eating Disorder (BED) has been moved from the obscurity of an appendix in the DSM-IV to being designated in the DSM-5 as a full-fledged diagnosis that parallels the other main eating disorders of Anorexia Nervosa (AN) and Bulimia Nervosa (BN).
BED, Holistic Health and Weight Loss
Overweight binge eaters represent a collision of two traditional treatment worlds: eating disorders and weight control. 30-40% of those seeking weight loss treatment meet the criteria for BED. In a residential weight control treatment setting, this link between overweight/obesity and binge eating is striking. Our mean BMI is 43.3 and data suggest that 43.7 % of our participants have BED. A host of co-morbidities results from this combination of eating pathology and obesity.
Interview with Carolyn Costin
Interview with Carolyn Costin: “I had been recovered from anorexia nervosa for a while and my friends knew this so when a young girl with anorexia needed help people sought me out. When I saw this person it was like I knew the inside of her mind. She felt understood and she got better. Then I got another referral and she got better too. Soon people all around my town and the surrounding cities started referring to me. It was only then, that I knew I had to do this work.”
Adolescent Depression and Binge Eating Often Go Hand-in-Hand
You feel depressed because you have eaten too much or you eat too much because you feel depressed. For binge eaters, this vicious cycle is relentless leaving feelings of guilt and shame in addition to other negative emotions commonly associated with depression.
Reasonable Exercise Plans for Someone Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder
For those struggling with binge eating disorder, their exercise patterns tend to mirror their eating patterns – falling prey to an all-or-nothing tendency. With food, this involves a restriction/binge cycle and for exercise, this all-or-nothing tendency usually shows up as a cycle of no pain/no gain exercise and then being sedentary.
BED and Mindfulness/DBT
A common approach that is often taught in recovery for binge eating disorder is the practice of mindfulness and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). While there may be some initial skepticism towards these psychotherapy methods, many individuals will find these practices helpful in dealing with urges to binge, which can occur at any point of their recovery from binge eating disorder.
BED: Celebrate Your Recovery by Committing to You
Living with BED can also become a way to survive and face life difficulties, and relearning healthy coping skills can feel as though you are unraveling your sense of reality.
BED & Bariatric Surgery or the Sleeve
Countless individuals struggle with Binge Eating Disorder throughout our nation though many suffer in silence due to the fears and stigmas that surround this painful disorder. A common physical effect that can result from BED is obesity, which can result from consuming a greater amount of food than is needed over time.
Kids Binge Eating and the Rise in Obesity in American Children
The response to this epidemic has sent many mixed messages to families, who may feel unsure about how to handle their growing children. Could a country that is hyper-focused on obesity in our youth, in combination with a culture that is saturated with a disillusioned media, be leading to a rise in eating disorders in younger generations?
Binge Eating Disorder and Family Patterns of Self-Soothing
The factors that influence the development of binge eating disorder (BED) are complex and involve genetics (your biological make-up), the environment of both your past and present, the social conditions you are exposed to, and much more. One aspect that that can also be influential in the development of BED is the nature of a family setting and the way in which children are taught to soothe themselves and cope with their emotions.
BED: Impulse Control and a Recovery Coach
Many individuals who suffer from BED would attest to the loss of control they often experience during bingeing episodes, feeling a sense of unconsciousness as they engage in food binges that take them beyond a normal point of satiety. Consideration of a BED recovery coach might be helpful!
Night Eating Syndrome: So Much More Than Just A Bedtime Snack
Night Eating Syndrome (NES) was first recognized in 1955 by American psychiatrist, Dr. Albert Stunkard. NES is an eating disorder in which the affected individual wakes several times in the middle of the night and is unable to fall back asleep without eating, even though he or she is not actually hungry. The food eaten is often unhealthy and calorie-dense.
Research on BED and Medication
Recent research has shown that binge eating disorder (BED) is quite common, affecting about 2% to 3.5% of the population.
Page Last Updated and Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 4, 2019 Published April 20, 2012, on EatingDisorderHope.com, Information for Eating Disorder Help
How to Stop Binge Eating in Three Unusual Steps
If I said I could show you how to permanently stop binge eating and overeating today if you wanted to, would you think I was crazy? Many people would, especially if they’ve been struggling for a lifetime. Some even report feeling compelled to binge, as if someone were pointing a gun at their head saying “keep eating or I’ll shoot!” Others feel they ‘need’ their junk, not so much for pleasure, but just to feel normal.
I know this pain all too well…
Not only from my 27 years of experience as a psychologist, author of a popular weight loss book, and a consultant to the food industry—but from personal history as well. I’ll spare you the full story, but let’s just say there’s probably nothing you’ve done with food I haven’t done myself…
- Eating out of the garbage…
- Stealing my roommate’s food without telling him…
- Driving to multiple fast food restaurants just so no one person would know how much I was eating…
- Eating off the floor…
- And repeatedly stuffing myself way past the point of physical pain.
This went on for almost thirty years while I tried to fix my problem from the vantage point of a psychologist. “Must not be what I’m eating but what’s eating me”, I thought. But this was NOT the case, and this paradigm really slowed down my efforts to fix the problem.
But approximately 10 years ago I stumbled on a solution and kept a journal to work it all out for myself which I later turned into a book. I couldn’t imagine I’d ever have 600,000 readers and tens of thousands of followers. In the end though, I’m in a rather unique position: I haven’t met another psychologist who’s worked extensively with the food industry and also struggled with their own personal eating hell. Certainly not to a successful conclusion. So I hope you’ll at least consider this three step solution, no matter how odd it may seem. After all, what if it works?
STEP ONE: Understand and Confront the Forces and Myths in Our Culture That Keep People Fat.
There’s an abundance of misinformation and misunderstanding which prevents the majority of our population from losing weight for good. You need to confront this head on if you don’t want to be one of them. Let’s go through the myths one by one:
MYTH: “It’s not what you’re eating, it’s the emotions eating you!”
TRUTH: It’s actually a part of your brain that isn’t primarily responsible for emotions that’s doing the damage!
It’s common to assume people overeat primarily for emotional reasons. The idea is that we’re looking for “comfort food” to escape painful emotional states and fill the empty hole in our hearts. From this idea stems the notion we must first nurture our “inner wounded child” back to health if we ever hope to lose weight for good…
But there’s a big problem with this idea: The reptilian brain is very involved in food addiction, and the reptilian brain does not know love. Instead, when it evaluates something new in the environment it thinks “Do I eat it? Do I mate with it? Or do I kill it?” Love seems to exist much more in the higher, more recently evolved parts of the brain—the parts you think of as “You.” So do spirituality, music, art, friendship, work, and all your long term goals like diet and exercise.
We think a large part of what happens when you “lose control” or change your mind about your diet in the face of a tempting treat is that survival mechanisms in the reptilian brain have been mistakenly activated and misdirected towards the treat. This is why people feel like all their best laid plans go out the window at the moment of temptation. Those plans are in their higher brain, but the reptilian brain is taking over.
MYTH: If we can’t control ourselves around food, we don’t have willpower!
TRUTH: There are EXTREMELY powerful economic-persuasion systems that are set up to get us to binge and overeat. These systems are so successful that almost 70% of the population in the United States are overweight and almost 40% are OBESE!
The food industry spends billions of dollars engineering food-like substances to target our lizard-brain with hyper-palatable concentrations of sugar, starch, fat, oil, salt, and excitotoxins which hit our bliss point without giving us the nutrition to feel satisfied. Then the advertising industry spends billions convincing us we need these things to survive (both physically and mentally). Of the 5,000+/yr food advertising messages beamed at us through the internet and airwaves only a handful are about eating more fruits and vegetables. And many of these are targeted at us from the time we are small children! (“Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated” – The Borg)
There’s some very interesting research which may shed light on the impact. Mammalian studies which bypass the normal pleasure apparatus show an abandonment of survival needs to self-stimulate via artificial means…
For example, psychologists Millner and Olds wired an electrode directly into rats’ brains and allowed them to activate it by pressing a lever. In experiment after experiment rats pressed the lever thousands of times per day. Starving rats ignored their food. Nursing mother rats abandoned their pups. Rats would crawl over painful electrical grids to press the lever. One could argue their survival drive was hijacked by the chance to obtain this artificial pleasure.
Now, I’m not saying anyone is putting electrodes in our brains. At least not physical ones – chemical electrodes are another story. That’s not stretching the truth too far, I think, when in most cities today you can walk out of one fast food joint and see another one directly across the street! It’s no wonder so many people insist they no longer like fruits and vegetables. Their survival drives have been hijacked by the artificial pleasure buttons the food industry has to offer.
The point of all this is, our reptilian brains are under attack by enormous forces, and while this part of us doesn’t know love, it does have access to our fight or flight mechanism, which can convince us we need these things as a matter of survival.
In my own experience, as well as thousands of readers and clients I’ve helped, the best way to deal with this is more a game of unflinching domination than one of loving yourself. When an alpha wolf is challenged for leadership by another member of the pack it doesn’t look at that member and say “Gee, I think someone needs a hug!” Instead, it bares its teeth and snarls aggressively as if to say “Look, I’m the boss here. Get back in line or I’ll hurt you!”
It’s like that.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is definitely an association between food and emotion, but emotions do not “make” you overeat. Mammals in the studies above over-stimulated themselves with artificial pleasure regardless of whether they were stressed, and people overeat when they’re happy as well as when they’re angry, sad, lonely, tired, anxious, or depressed. It seems the engineered intensity of pleasure available for minimum effort can bypass all these feelings.
MYTH: Guidelines are Better Than Rules. Eat Well 90% of the Time, Indulge Yourself 10%
TRUTH: Guidelines wear down your willpower by requiring constant decision making. Consider well-thought-through rules for your most troublesome trigger foods and/or eating behaviors.
As discussed in my previous post, guidelines wear down your willpower by forcing constant decision making. Every time you’re in front of a chocolate bar at Starbucks you have to ask yourself “Is this part of the 90% or part of the 10%.” Rules, on the other hand, preserve willpower by eliminating decisions. Decision making has been consistently shown to deplete willpower in studies. Better to use a rule like “I’ll only ever eat chocolate on the last weekend of each calendar month” because it eliminates your chocolate decisions most of the time!
MYTH: Avoid tempting food and environments.
TRUTH: Cultivate confidence, not fear.
Sometimes overeaters are told to avoid fast food restaurants, birthday parties, etc. Many believe they need a separate pantry and/or shelf of the refrigerator where other people’s tempting treats are kept. Sometimes they even ask their spouses and children to keep tempting treats in a locked drawer. The underlying belief behind this idea is that external temptation is the problem.
While there’s no reason to hang out in a bakery all day if you’re trying to lose weight, and while some people might find it helpful to avoid temptation as a kind of “training wheels” exercise to get started, I find it’s much better to cultivate confidence vs. fear. I have good reasons to hang out in Starbucks. Yes, there are many tempting treats on the counter…but my friends go there. Sometimes I like to just sit there and read or do a little work. So I define clear rules for myself regarding those treats and confidently follow them while I enjoy the rest of what the environment has to offer. You can’t avoid temptation without seriously shrinking your life.
STEP TWO: Make At Least One Clear Food Rule.
What’s your single most troublesome trigger food or eating behavior? For example, if you tend to overeat in front of the television you might make the rule “Except for Saturdays I’ll never eat while watching television again.” Or perhaps you reliably have healthy days when you drink pure water in the morning so you say “I will always drink 16 oz of pure spring water before I eat anything in the A.M.” Or maybe you just eat too quickly without really experiencing your food. In this case you can say “I’ll always put my fork down between bites.”
Any rule you create is fine—as long as it doesn’t restrict your overall calories and nutrition too much—and provided the rule is crystal clear, such that if ten people followed you around all week they’d all 100% agree whether you followed it.
Also, you can change your rule(s) whenever you want, provided you take at least a half hour for written reflection and are clear why you want to make the change, and allow at least 24 hours before the change takes effect.
Last, it’s very important to note that despite the fact we can change the rules, we write them as if they were set in stone. It’s kind of like telling a two year old they can never ever cross the street without holding your hand, even though you know you’re going to teach them to look both ways when they’re older. You say “never” because you know they’re not anywhere near mature enough to even entertain this dangerous idea. Similarly, you can say “never” to your reptilian brain, even though you know you might change the rules later on. Turns out our reptilian brains act like two year olds around tempting foods!
STEP THREE: Separate Your Constructive vs. Destructive Thoughts About Food
OK, now here’s the weird part. The last and most powerful part of this strange method involves deciding that all your destructive, impulsive food thoughts no longer belong to you. Instead, they belong to a kind of inner enemy associated with your reptilian brain. (You can call it your “Food Monster” or “Binge Lizard” or anything else that’s not a cuddly pet.)
Then, come up with a name for your Food Demon’s voice. For example, my Food Demon doesn’t talk, it Squeals. Any thought, feeling, or impulse which suggests you will ever break your rule again is that voice, which you will learn to recognize and ignore.
Finally, come up with a crude name for everything your inner enemy craves. For example, my Demon Squeals for Demon Slop.
The idea is to help you more easily recognize and ignore the inner voice which has to this point been responsible for all your bad choices around food.
Let’s illustrate in a little more detail so you can see how this works. Suppose I have a rule which says I never eat chocolate on anything other than the last Saturday and Sunday of the month. Then, when I’m standing on line at Starbucks and there’s a chocolate bar calling to me at the counter, I become aware of a thought like “Gee Glenn, you worked out really hard this morning so you can definitely afford a few bites.” Or “Hey Glenn, chocolate is made from cocoa beans, and those grow on a plant, therefore chocolate is a vegetable.” At that point I’d say to myself “I don’t want that, my Food Demon does. It’s Squealing for Demon Slop. I never eat Demon Slop!”
And that’s it.
As crazy as it sounds, this very crude, very primitive technique can give you the extra microseconds you need at the moment of impulse to wake and remember who you are and why you made the rules in the first place. It’s not a miracle, and most people have to experiment with a variety of rules and behaviors before everything really comes together for them…but it really can quickly restore your sense of power and agency with food, especially if you’ve been struggling for a long time.
“I don’t eat Demon Slop and I don’t let my lizard brain tell me what to do!”
Try it. What have you got to lose? After all, what if I’m right?
Now, there are some very specific applications of this process which answer some very frequently asked questions about binge eating. I’d like to cover them briefly here.
How to Stop Binge Eating at Night
Night time overeating is a very common problem, and it’s often the last one people solve as they are recovering from binge eating, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it feels. The most important thing to do first is identify the cause. Which of the following might apply to you?
- Over-restricting during the day: More often than not I find people who struggle with binge eating at night tend to have had too little to eat during the day. Perhaps they are trying to stick to a diet that’s is too rigid, or which causes them to lose weight too quickly. When that’s the case, the brain often fires the “be less discriminating with food and feast” at nighttime, when willpower is lowest.
- Not enough self-care during the day: Just as over-restricting calories during the day can cause the brain to rebound with a feast response at night, so too can too little self care. In particular, subjecting yourself to constant pressure and decision making without enough input-and-decision-free breaks can wear down your willpower too. There are only so many good decisions you can make in a day. If this is you, try to add another two five minute breaks completely away from other people, electronic devices, and the necessity to respond and/or make any decisions. It can make a big difference. So too can a short period of meditation, and journaling or free-writing.
- Not enough sleep: Paradoxically, night time eating can be exacerbated by not getting enough sleep. And of course, eating at night can interrupt your sleep too, creating a downward cycling snowball. Pay a little more attention to your sleep patterns, consider going to bed at a standard time, make the bed for sleep only, consider talking to your doctor about supplements and medications, etc.
If you struggle with night time overeating, you might also want to try making your night time food decisions in the morning. Plan out your evening meal and be sure it’s substantial enough for you to look forward to, then prepare it and leave it in some Tupperware or a plate, so you’ll know all day that it’s just sitting there waiting for you to eat. You might even consider taking a picture of it and carrying it around on your smart phone all day, glancing at it a few times on breaks to remind you what’s waiting at home.
How to Stop Binge Eating After Work
To stop binge eating after work, you must do similarly to the instructions above to stop overeating at night. The only difference is, most people who complain of overeating after work are talking about stopping at fast food establishments on the way home and binge eating in their cars.
To overcome this, prepare something substantial for yourself in the morning and take it with you to work, all sealed up in Tupperware. If it’s cool enough outside that you can leave it in the car, leave it on the driver’s seat so it’s the first thing you’ll see when you get back in the car, otherwise put it in the refrigerator at your job. Then, take a different route home for the next thirty days. It should be one that doesn’t require you to pass all your old haunts. You should be fine to go back to your standard route soon, but protect your new habit by creating a cocoon in which it can develop.
If it’s impractical to take a different route home, or you’re unable to find the time and energy to prepare food for yourself to take with you in the morning, you can still implement the above method by stopping at a different restaurant and establishing a new routine there. For example, if your overeating after work routine habitually takes you to McDonalds where you get a cheeseburger and fries, you might consider going to Wendy’s and getting a baked potato with nothing on it, and a salad with the dressing on the side. (Any different restaurant which serves healthy options will do. We are just trying to break the routine.)
How to Stop Binge Eating Sweets
You can very effectively use the standard method described in the video and text above to stop binge eating sweets. The key, I find, is in how you define what a sweet actually is. See, your Food Demon (reptilian brain) is always hard at work looking for loopholes in your food rules. So if you say something like “I will never eat sweets on a weekday again”, it will immediately say something like “Honey doesn’t count, right? What about muffins? They aren’t technically just a sweet. Oooooh, what about mounds of ketchup on french fries? The sugar in that doesn’t count either, right!?”
The solution to this is to define exactly what “sweets” means inclusively rather than exclusively. In the above example, I’d ask a client to fill in the sentence “The only sweet tastes I will ever consume on a weekday again are (fill in the blank).” For me personally, the only sweet tastes I include in my diet are whole fruit and berries. For other people it’s whole fruit, berries, stevia, ketchup, and any sauce which is primarily intended to be savory vs. sweet.
You don’t have to limit the list to any specific number, but you do need to be very specific about what’s on the list. Then, you assume everything else is off limits and your Food Demon can’t argue.
How to Stop Binge Eating Sugar
You can stop binge eating sugar in the same way you stop binge eating sweets above. It’s necessary to be very specific about what sugar actually is, and what sweet tastes you will include in your diet.
In the case of sugar in particular, if you still wish to allow processed foods in your diet, you may wish to define where a sweetener must appear on the label in order to qualify as sugar. For example, many of my clients don’t consider a food to have “sugar” in it if there are no sweeteners at the 4th position or above on the label.
How to Stop Binge Eating When Stressed
It’s an odd thing, when you think about it, that we would even entertain binge eating when stressed, because we know recovering from the digestive bloat and self-loathing which occurs after we overeat will make us feel more stressed. I tell my clients “If you have six problems and you overeat, you’ll have seven problems.” Moreover, the time and energy it takes to recover is time and energy which could’ve been used to solve the problems we felt stressed about in the first place! “If you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Overeating causes stress, it doesn’t fix it.
To stop binge eating when you’re stressed it can be helpful to think of two things. First, research the physiological effects of the food you gravitate towards overeating. For example, if you love sugar, it might be helpful to know that the average sugar high lasts only 18 to 36 minutes. Thereafter your blood sugar will have been destabilized, and it will take hours for you to recover. In the meantime you’ll have low energy and quite possibly depression, anxiety, and/or jitters. Or, if you love salt, you might wish to know that excess sodium can be associated with hemorrhagic strokes even in the absence of high blood pressure.
It’s also helpful to remember we do not just overeat for “comfort.” See, most of us aren’t binging on whole, natural foods. Instead, we turn to some sort of industrially concentrated form of sugar, starch, salt, fat, oil, or excitotoxins. These are supersized doses of pleasure things which didn’t exist in the tropics while we were evolving. A better word for them might be “drugs.” What we are actually doing when we overeat things we know aren’t good for us is “getting high with food.”
Knowing that helps many people to think twice about overeating when they’re stressed because they don’t want to think of themselves as abusing drugs. I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but there’s at least some truth to it, and I find when clients can tell themselves “Wait a minute, I’m about to get high with food again” in the moment of temptation, they can often stop and make a healthier choice.
How to Stop Binge Eating Forever
The key to stop binge eating forever is in the recognition of the fact that you can only ever eat now. Now is the only moment you can use your hands, arms, legs, mouth and tongue to put food in your mouth. Now is the only moment you can choose to chew and swallow anything.
Your Food Demon will tell you that you simply cannot maintain your food rules forever, but this ignores the fact that forever is an infinite string of now moments. For example, as you are reading these words, you don’t know what the next ones are going to be. All you know is that now you are reading, and as you process each successive word on the page, you realize it is still now. It is, isn’t it?
It would be silly for me to tell you that you couldn’t ever hope to read this whole article because it’s way too long, because you know that if you only keep focusing on the passing words as you encounter them now, eventually the article will be done. A good reader doesn’t even entertain the thought that they couldn’t read the whole thing, because if they did, that would distract them from integrating the meaning and significance of the words as they read them. In order to concentrate on reading, the reader must remain focused in the present moment, and in so doing can read even the longest book.
That’s how this works. You focus on eating healthy and following your food rules now, and ignore the Food Demon’s attempts to distract you. That way all your energy can remain targeted at the goal. You can only ever use the present moment to eat healthy, so if you always use the present moment to do so, you will always eat healthy. Forever!
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but for years I struggled with binge eating.
When others were around me, I would eat healthy, normal-looking meals, but when I was by myself I would gorge on junk food until I felt sick. It was a heavy secret to keep, affecting not only my weight and overall health, but also my social life and relationships. (Some nights I would rather stay home and secretly eat than hang out with my family or friends.)
Today I want to share some of the steps I took to finally stop binge eating, in the hopes that it might help someone else out there who might be struggling, too.
Disclaimer: If you are feeling suicidal, severely depressed, or in need of medical attention, please see a licensed health care provider. This website is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice.
What Causes Binge Eating?
I don’t believe there is a just one answer as to what causes people start binge eating, but it seems that one common cause is having a restricted diet at some point in your life.
This could have happened when you were a child, if well-meaning parents attempted to limit your food intake to help prevent childhood obesity, or it might have happened later in life, when you attempted to diet to lose weight. (In my case, it was the latter.)
Not surprisingly, depression can also play a role in binge eating. My suffering hit its peak when I was working from home in Los Angeles, as I felt very isolated and didn’t have a lot of human interaction each day. I also had a nutritionally poor diet, which probably contributed to those feelings of depression, and that left me feeling malnourished. This combination led to more serious bouts of binge eating like you’ll see below.
What is Considered Binge Eating?
Binge eating is defined as the consumption of a large quantity of food in a short period of time. In many cases, the person binge eating feels out of control and eats WAY past their comfort level. For a person suffering from Binge Eating Disorder, there is no purging after the binge (which is what makes it different from Bulimia.)
I would imagine that almost everyone has experienced some level emotional eating, or comfort eating, at some point in his or her life, but it’s the eating far past your comfort level or feeling out of control that sets binge eating apart from simply “splurging.”
A binge can vary from person to person, as it’s kind of up to self-interpretation. For some, they may tend to binge eat at night, after a stressful day at work or after a day of a low-calorie dieting. For others, it maybe a full day of binge eating, particularly on days leading up to starting a strict diet. One thing that most binges have in common is that the eating is done in secret, as the person is ashamed of his or her actions.
Here’s an example of what a full day of secret binge eating looked like for me:
- Morning: I’d go to McDonald’s and order an Extra Value Meal (which included a breakfast biscuit and hash browns), then realize that I could even be more indulgent and order a second meal. I’d order two cinnamon rolls, as well, because why not. I took my massive amount of food home and devoured it all in about 15-20 minutes. After that I would feel slightly guilty, but still excited to eat more food.
- Afternoon: I’d order a large, deep-dish pizza. While I was waiting for it to be delivered, I’d eat cookies and potato chips, and anything else that might might be off-limits to me in the near future.
- Early Evening: This was often my last chance to eat something before someone else could get home and interrupt my secret eating, so I’d walk to the convenience store across the street and buy a pint of ice cream, or a king size candy bar, or both. I’d eat as much as I could, then I’d get rid of ALL of the evidence, taking out the trash so that no one would see my empty food wrappers.
- Evening: I’d make myself a light salad or healthy dinner to eat in front of my family, and act as if my stomach wasn’t killing me, even though I felt miserable. I’d go to bed feeling guilty, depressed, and ashamed, with a resolution to eat “perfectly” the next day.
A binge day like this would usually occur anytime that I was planning to try a super-strict diet, like a juice fast, an all-raw diet, a candida cleanse, or a low-carb protocol (I tried it all!). The more strict my diet, the more drastic the binge would be.
Also, my binges rarely were contained to just one day. Usually I would binge-eat like that one to three times a week. If I slipped-up during a dieting day, the rest of that day would turn into a binge because the way I saw it, I had already “blown it” for the day and I might as well start fresh tomorrow.
Mentally, I remember reasoning with myself that I would have a better “before” picture to compare to later when I lost weight after my diet, since I’d be so bloated from binge-eating. (What I a great excuse to eat with reckless abandon!) The only problem was… it was really hard to stop binge-eating, and it was even harder to stick to a strict diet for very long.
On a side note, days like this one would also wreak havoc on my budget. I was too ashamed to keep these “bad” foods in my fridge, so I would buy them and discard the evidence, which is a huge waste across the board. You would think that being on an insanely-tight budget would have stopped me at the time, but it didn’t.
Binge eating, in general, doesn’t make logical sense, which is why it’s so hard to explain it to others who haven’t experienced it.
Stuck In A Cycle of Yo-Yo Dieting
I suffered through this cycle for years because I was always convinced that if I could just find the perfect diet, or reach a certain goal weight or clothing size, that my issues would go away. I wouldn’t stop dieting, and therefore I couldn’t stop binge eating, either.
I also felt like I was “getting away with it” because I never gained THAT much weight, despite my crazy eating habits. I definitely did gain weight, and my clothing size did fluctuate often, but I would always follow a super-strict diet for 2 to 4 weeks and lose the weight again. (Though, this did get harder to maintain overtime. Your body won’t always respond as well to the same diet over and over again.)
Then the cycle would start all over again. I was stuck in a cycle of yo-yo dieting.
How I Finally Stopped Binge Eating
I’d love to say there was a “magic cure” that made things click, but it didn’t happen overnight. For me, the change was more gradual.
By taking the steps below, my binge eating sessions became shorter and less severe, and happened far less frequently. Eventually, they started to simply resemble the dietary “splurges” that normal people have. (Like having a couple cookies after family dinner, or going out for ice cream with friends.) Now, I eat like a healthy, normal person with a few splurges here and there.
The following things helped me get there:
- I stopped dieting. This was a non-negotiable step for me. I had to stop restricting my food choices, because restriction led me to binge-eating. Every. Single. Time. No more calorie counting or thinking about macronutrients for me. In fact, I needed to make sure I was eating plenty of nourishing food so that my body didn’t feel restricted at all. When you eat enough, your cravings really do diminish naturally. (This is also why I urge people to enjoy plenty of fresh fruit— when I eat fruit, I have almost no sugar cravings.)
- I stopped labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” This one is tricky, because I truly do believe that some foods are better and more nutritious than others. I absolutely think we should primarily focus on eating real, whole foods as much as possible, and I do think that processed foods should be minimized. However, for the sake of my mental health, I don’t feel guilty about moments when I wanted to eat french fries, pizza, or a real donut. It really is okay to eat these things every now and then, and when I don’t feel guilty about it, I go right back to eating salads, smoothies, and healthy dinners– usually appreciating how good they make me feel even more. I try to practice this mentality with my kids, too, so they don’t grow up with issues around food.
- I dropped all of my dietary labels. Along the same lines, I also decided to stop calling myself a vegetarian, because it was not doing me any favors from a mental health perspective. I needed to be allowed to eat any food I wanted, including meat. For the most part, I still don’t like to eat meat– but every now and then I want to be able to have a cheeseburger, or slice of pepperoni pizza, or a bowl of chicken soup, without feeling guilty about it. (Had I become a vegetarian for strong ethical reasons, i don’t think this would have been as much of an issue, but I became a vegetarian primarily because I wasn’t that fond of meat.)
- I started practicing daily self care. Have you heard the phrase, “fake it until you make it?” Even if you’re not totally happy with how your body looks or feels, you have to start acting like you LOVE it. With enough practice, you will! To get started, I made a list of things that make me feel good– like dry skin brushing, sitting in a sauna, going for a walk outdoors, or even taking a nap– and then I tried to practice one or more of those things on a daily basis. I’ve found that the more I take care of myself, the more I want to keep it up. It’s momentum building! (As an added bonus, taking a walk outside makes me feel better than eating a whole sleeve of cookies.)
- I only eat food that I truly love. I think it’s really important to start noticing how foods make you feel and what you actually love the taste of. When I stopped dieting, I let myself eat anything and everything– including fast food and junk food. And you know what I realized? Most of that junk food appealed to me because I had made it “forbidden.” When you tell yourself you can’t have something, you make that very thing SO MUCH MORE tempting. When I stopped making certain foods forbidden, I had the opportunity to judge those foods based on their actual taste and texture. Not surprisingly, most of the packaged junk food and fast food options became totally unappealing to me, simply because the recipes I make at home really do taste better– so now I choose homemade food most of the time, because I prefer it. (Not because I feel like I have to.)
Seek Professional Counseling: I was too embarrassed (and broke) to seek professional help at the time, but I still wish I would have seen a counselor for help. I’d recommend anyone who is struggling with binge eating, or another eating disorder, to seek help as soon as possible. I think it would have saved me a lot of time and struggle to have a professional guide me through the recovery process, since really none of my friends or family could relate to what I was going through.
As an alternative, I did read a lot of books. I can’t say that one book in particular gave me an “a-ha moment,” but I do think that as a whole, they helped gradually change my mindset. Here are a few of the books I found helpful.
- Brain Over Binge
- The Power of Habit
- The Diet Cure
- How to Have Your Cake & Your Skinny Jeans, Too
Can you stop binge eating AND lose weight?
I think the scariest part of this whole process was the fact that I had to stop dieting in order to stop binge eating. It’s scary to stop dieting, because I think everyone assumes that they might gain weight when they let themselves eat whatever they want. (And often the desire to lose weight is what starts this cycle in the first place.)
The truth is, you might gain a couple of pounds when you first allow yourself to eat whatever you want… though, that wasn’t the case for me.
Because I truly let myself eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, I was also able to stop eating those items when I was no longer enjoying them. Forbidden foods lose their appeal when you truly allow yourself to have them anytime.
For example, when I was dieting and binge eating, I could have eaten a whole sleeve or two of cookies in one day because I knew I wouldn’t be “allowed” to eat them the next day. I ate more than I needed or even wanted to, simply because they were going to be forbidden to me soon.
When I gave myself permission to eat those cookies whenever I wanted, I would only eat 2 or 3 cookies at a time and then I’d save the rest for the next time I wanted them. Eventually the box could sit in my pantry for a whole month or more. I became one of those people who “forgot” that the cookies were even there. (Which certainly never happened to me before!)
Get Rid of the “All or Nothing” Mentality
Something that I preach here on the blog, as well as in my cookbooks, is that you have to get rid of the “all or nothing” mentality if you want to have a healthy relationship with food. At the peak of my binge eating, I was either on a diet or I wasn’t– so when I wasn’t dieting, I was binge eating. There was no middle ground.
Now, I try to abide by the popular 80/20 approach, where I eat healthy 80% of the time, but I still splurge 20% of the time with no guilt whatsoever. Despite my lack of dieting, my body naturally lost the excess weight I was carrying– simply because I wasn’t binge eating anymore! I had to trust the process, and trust that my body would naturally start craving what it really needed when I simply followed my hunger signals. I eat when I’m hungry, and when I start to feel full, I stop. I can always go back for more food if I need it, so there’s no urge to stuff my face all at once.
While it’s super-embarrassing to share my personal struggles here in such a public space (Hi, Mom! Hello, coworkers!), I hope that my experience will help at least one other person who is out there struggling, too.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating. It is the most common eating disorder in the United States.
BED is one of the newest eating disorders formally recognized in the DSM-5. Before the most recent revision in 2013, BED was listed as a subtype of EDNOS (now referred to as OSFED). The change is important because some insurance companies will not cover eating disorder treatment without a DSM diagnosis.
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
- A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
- The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal.
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
- Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
- The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months.
- The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging) as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.
WARNING SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF BINGE EATING DISORDER
Emotional and behavioral
- Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food.
- Appears uncomfortable eating around others
- Any new practice with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)
- Fear of eating in public or with others
- Steals or hoards food in strange places
- Creates lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge sessions
- Withdraws from usual friends and activities
- Frequently diets
- Shows extreme concern with body weight and shape
- Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
- Has secret recurring episodes of binge eating (eating in a discrete period of time an amount of food that is much larger than most individuals would eat under similar circumstances); feels lack of control over ability to stop eating
- Disruption in normal eating behaviors, including eating throughout the day with no planned mealtimes; skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals; engaging in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting
- Developing food rituals (e.g., eating only a particular food or food group , excessive chewing, and not allowing foods to touch).
- Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being eaten
- Feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt after overeating
- Fluctuations in weight
- Feelings of low self-esteem
- Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down
- Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.)
- Difficulties concentrating
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF BINGE EATING DISORDER
The health risks of BED are most commonly those associated with clinical obesity, weight stigma, and weight cycling (aka, yo-yo dieting). Most people who are labeled clinically obese do not have binge eating disorder. However, of individuals with BED, up to two-thirds are labelled clinically obese; people who struggle with binge eating disorder tend to be of normal or higher-than-average weight, though BED can be diagnosed at any weight.
- Learn more about health consequences >
- Learn more about eating disorders statistics >