How to stop binge eating comes down to resolving and getting to the roots of the reasons you feel compelled to eat. This post will establish a list of all the steps you can take to understand and reduce the emotional triggers that make you want to binge eat.
Reasons can be physiological or psychological. The physiological ones are easier to resolve with changes in nutrition, the psychological ones are more complex but hopefully this blog will give you tools to quick start your journey to stop binge eating and finding food freedom.
I want to reassure you that it is normal to doubt and be resistant to all those steps, you are not alone. Give yourself the opportunity to just try. You don’t have to solve your binge eating battle overnight, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, be gentle and ready to explore new thoughts and strategies.
How to stop binge eating: Stop judging yourself and the food you eat.
1..Stop judging yourself for what you eat or not eat. Negative judgement will drive you to overeat to compensate for the negative self-talk that pulls you down.
2. Tell yourself that you are not alone and that it is OKAY to have a complicated relationship with food even if it seems “easy on paper” to change it.
3. Stop using ‘good’ or ‘bad’ when it comes to food. You are not bad because you ate ice cream and good because you ate a salad. This way of thinking will only perpetuate the failure feeling. Not good.
How to stop binge eating: Learn from your binge eating episodes.
4. Ask yourself “How does binge eating serve me?” Yes, the binge eating has a purpose, I know it is a tough one but try to dig deep. “Is there something I am trying to cope with and food gives me an instant relief?” “Am I checking out for some reasons?” “Do I have toxic relationships in my life?” “Do I have major stressors that could cause me to overeat?”
5. Once you have identified the issue(s) (the answer is not easy), start looking at how you solve the underlying problems.
6. Stay away from the “cold turkey” approach, focus on REDUCING binge eating and not STOPPING overnight. This is too much pressure and chances are that you will end up compensating to comfort yourself. Accept that it will take time. Gradual changes are okay. Remember my blog THE QUEST FOR PERFECTIONISM LEADS TO ABUSE.
7. Making extreme changes can feel very scary so try rather to focus on how to “do better” than how to stop “all at once”.
8. Understand that drastically restricting almost always leads to binge or overeating to compensate so if a binge episode happens, don’t react with restriction, just go back to normal eating to break the cycle.
How to stop binge eating: Start journaling.
Journaling is such an efficient way to put things down on paper and reflect on what is happening.
9. When you feel emotional, write down all your feelings and emotions.
10. When you binge ate take your journal out and write down how you feel and what happened that day that could have triggered you to eat.
11. Write down how you feel when you want to eat when you are not hungry. Try to think about all the potential emotional triggers.
12. Practice your hunger scale (HOW TO STOP EATING: TAKE YOUR HUNGER SCALE OUT coming out soon) whenever you can and write down where you rank before the meal, during the meal and after the meal, this will help you to connect with hunger and fullness signals.
How to stop binge eating: Plan your meals ahead
13. Plan out your meals to make sure you have all the healthy ingredients on hand to quickly prepare balanced meals. This will minimize the risk of binge eating on junk foods.
14. Eat a complete breakfast with healthy proteins, complex carbs and fats. I insist on the proteins and fats because they will help your blood sugar to stay balanced and avoid cravings. If you tend to have many cravings in the afternoon, avoid fruits in the morning and keep them for the afternoon snacks.
15. Never skip meals, never ever. Skipping meals is the best recipe to binge because when the body is starving, any rational desires for healthy foods have been overwhelmed by biologically propelled cravings for all the bad stuff.
16. Avoid undereating for the same reasons.
17. When you go to bed, try to already think about what you will be eating the next day, we just want to avoid unexpected situations where you would be tempted to grab convenience foods because you didn’t have anything ready.
18. If you have a night out with friends, check the menu in advance and pick what you will order.
19. Stay away from counting calories, this never served anyone with disordered eating. Quality is more important than quantity! Take the example of the fat-free yogurt. You might think it is better because it has less calories, it is not! The fat has been replaced with sugar and the fat-soluble vitamins are gone without the fat. Counting calories is actually dangerous.
How to stop binge eating: Create healthy lifestyle habits.
20. Practice mindful eating. I invite you to read my blog (“MINDFUL EATING TIPS THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD” blog-to-come)
21. Prioritize sleep. You might wonder what it has to do with binge eating. It does, completely. Not enough sleep messes up your hunger (ghrelin) and fullness (leptin) hormones.
22. Don’t weight yourself. I know this one is a tough one, it is like the calories, stay away from any number. If that number on the scale is not the one you want to see, there is a big chance you will end up binging or overeating to compensate.
23. Choose who you want to spend time with. Stay away from people who judge others by the weight or appearances. Stay away from people whose favorite subjects are the latest diets, quick fixes or magical pills or diets.
How to stop binge eating: Reject diet culture.
Not later than yesterday night, I was chatting with friends about our lives before internet and social media (yep, I am already 44 years old…). I honestly wish all those social media didn’t exist. It is a little paradoxical because I am currently using them to share with you all my knowledge and experience in the field of holistic nutrition and eating psychology. But they have gone too far.
With all the images on unattainable figures constantly flooding young girls (and boys) social media feeds, it comes with no surprise that body image issues and eating disorders are on the rise.
What are the beliefs of diet culture?
- Thinness is worshipped and equated to health
- There is a moral virtue to be thin
- Certain ways of eating are demonized making people ashamed of certain food choices
- Thin people are “better”, overweight people are lazy and have no willpower
A few tips to reject diet culture
24. Unfollow Instagram accounts that make you feel bad about your body.
25. Detox from social media every now and then to reconnect with yourself.
26. Recognize the false promises behind all the quick fixes and magical diet pills.
27. Recognize the futility of dieting by exploring your dieting history.
28. Reject the diet mentality and embrace the health mentality.
How to stop binge eating: Get professional help.
29. Sharing all the difficulties, painful moments, binge eating episodes that might feel shameful to you helps to get rid of their power.
30. Your therapist/coach/psychologist/doctor will always reassure you that even the most shameful and insane things that you share are okay and normal. He will reassure you that you are not alone and that is a great relief.
31. Why not trying group therapy, it is always helpful to meet people with the same struggles. When I was struggling with an eating disorder, it always helped me a great deal to know that I was not alone.
32. Watch TED talks or conferences of inspiring people for your recovery.
I will conclude by saying
- Start from a place of love and acceptance
- Be patient as you learn to reconnect with your innate ability to nourish your mind, body and soul.
If you are struggling with binge eating, overeating or emotional eating, I invite you to check my HAPPY SPOON 30-DAY PROGRAM. It is a step-by-step supportive and effective method that will help you to get to the root of your eating challenges to finally overcome them. It will help
- to explore your eating habits with the powerful cycle for Focused Eating to explore WHY, WHEN, WHAT, HOW and HOW MUCH you eat
- to become a mindful eater and extend this mindfulness to other areas of your life
- to understand your emotional triggers and honor your emotions without using food
- to reach a happy and healthy weight and gain your power back over food and your life.