Have you ever had to consider how to stop binge eating? Here are 7 top tips to help you learn how to stop binge eating and replace it with great habits.
We all love food. And from past centuries our love for it has just increased exponentially which is evident from the fact that worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
All of us overeat from time to time, but we hardly notice it or take account of it because since childhood we are rewarded with food and we have learned that it’s ok to eat more of something that you absolutely adore once in a while. And maybe that’s why we have developed an emotional connection with foods.
Moreover, this is in our genes as well, ancient humans or hunter-gatherers usually moved from one place to another in search of food and shelter. So whenever the group would find a fig tree they would gorge on the sweet treat because it is possible that they would not find something this sweet to eat in the near future.
But now, as everything is abundant and most of our processed foods are engineered for overconsumption, some of us unconsciously develop a habit to eat compulsively which is termed as binge eating.
Understanding binge eating
Scientifically speaking, binge eating is kind of a disorder that is categorized by eating a larger amount of food than most people would eat in a similar amount of time and circumstances. This situation is also defined by a lack of control over self, eating rapidly, eating even if not physically hungry and recurrence of such episodes at least once a week for 3 months.
Additionally, individuals with such disorders may feel embarrassed, depressed, or guilty after the episode.
However, it is important to understand that an excessive amount of food consumption during a celebration or a single episode of binge eating is not considered as a disorder.
Effects of binge eating on health
Individuals who tend to binge eat mostly consume non-nutritious and comforting food which leads to nutrient deficiency in the body.
Due to overeating, a person may feel uncomfortably full and get sick in the long run this can lead to serious gastrointestinal issues.
Obesity is common among the people who over-consume which can lead to chronic conditions such as type- 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
Therefore, it is essential to know how to stop binge eating as it can be an underlying cause of various health problems.
How to stop binge eating
Eating disorders are treatable and with proper care and minor change in the habits a person can be recovered fully from compulsive eating. Therefore, I have listed these 7 incredible healthy habits targetted at how to stop binge eating in order to help you overcome it.
Be more self-aware
People who tend to overeat are usually triggered to do so because of some emotional distress. For instance, you must have felt the urge to eat whenever you are bored, alone, or sad.
This shows that we sometimes eat food in order to relieve our stress, comfort ourselves, or to reward us. And whenever we do this, we always reach for junk food. Unfortunately, this in no way helps us in relieving our stress rather it just traps us in a vicious cycle of
Overeating – Feeling guilty – end up eating more in order to overcome that guilt.
Thus, it is essential for us to be self-aware and identify our triggers such as feelings, situations, or emotions that compel us to gorge on our comfort food.
It is important that you find things to do instead of binge eating and other ways to feed your feelings by looking deeply into yourself and cultivating habits that will be more productive and engaging for you.
For example, if you are feeling anxious or depressed you can try yoga, sing out your favourite song, or take a brisk walk in order to distract your mind and connect with yourself more.
Additionally, if you are bored you can learn a new hobby, go and explore outdoors, perform meditation or anything that keeps you engaged.
Doing this frequently will shift your focus towards yourself and you will become more self-conscious eventually eliminating your old habits.
Increase physical activity
Many individuals dealing with binge eating are overweight or obese, and most of them feel embarrassed to go to the gym either because exercising can bring the feeling of shame or they fear of getting judged.
This feeling is quite relevant and because of that, it is recommended for such people to increase their physical activity instead of exercise. The basic difference between them is that in the exercise you have a specific goal and in physical activity, you just move your body without any goal.
Increasing physical activity has numerous benefits such as
- You feel more energized, motivated and happy
- It reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart problems.
- It can reduce depression and anxiety by boosting endorphins the feel-good hormone
- As you see results you are motivated to control your habits more and this may help with binge eating.
However, it is always recommended to start small and build your strength gradually, you can start by taking stairs, going for a walk, performing simple yoga poses or just basic stretching exercises.
Also, you can find an activity that you love like swimming, dancing or going on a hike, etc. which you can do without getting bored or exhausted and gradually level up.
Avoiding dieting is one way how to stop binge eating
As discussed earlier, people with eating disorders are prone to obesity, and following a restrictive diet is more common among these individuals in order to control themselves and maybe lose some weight.
However, contrary to the prevalent belief, studies have shown that 85% of obese people who lose weight this way regained or exceeded their previous weight within a few years. In addition, it is also seen that such heavily restricted diets only exaggerate the risk of binge eating.
Contrary, it’s better to fill up on healthy low calorie foods like
- Vegetables and fruits because they contain almost all macro and micronutrients.
- Nuts and whole grains
- Food high in fiber like oats, chickpeas, lentils
- Chia seeds and flax seeds
Thus, to beat binge eating it is important to clean your food and not just restrict your diet. You can eat clean for 80% of your meal and in the other 20%, you can reward yourself. But, make sure none of your meals should be too heavy, it is ideal to eat till your stomach is 80% full.
Try mindful eating exercises
Mindful eating is based on the principle of “Mindfulness” which means completely indulging your feelings, sensation, and thoughts while eating. This practice has proven to make you feel more satiated and can stop binge eating.
Practicing mindful eating makes you more aware of the texture, taste, and smell of your meals, after that you become more conscious about your habits while eating your food and eventually you realize the factor affecting these habits and try to change them willfully.
Practicing mindful eating exercises such as eating slowly, chewing your food properly, disregarding the psychological hunger cues will surely help you to overcome cravings and help you beat binge eating.
Avoid processed foods
Processed foods are high in sugar, salt, trans fats, and refined carbohydrates which are designed for overconsumption. Some studies have shown that processed foods can actually get you addicted to them.
These products are engineered in such a way that their taste and texture lures you to eat them again and again. Some studies show that these snacks have a high glycemic index.
A high glycemic index suggests that after eating such food your blood sugar rises quickly, which means you will be hungry in a short time after eating such foods. On the other hand, whole foods like grains, pulses, fruits, and vegetables have a fairly low glycemic index and keep you full for a longer period of time. Why not try a vegan diet for a while?
Hence, it is always a good choice to snack on healthy foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits instead of such addictive snacks which makes you prone to binge eating.
Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals is popular among busy adults and individuals who try to lose weight without guidance and sometimes it lures people with binge eating problems to do so as well in order to eat less and have self-control.
However, skipping meals is not at all beneficial in any sense because it causes your blood sugar to drop quickly which in turn sends your mind to put sugar in the system and you end up craving unhealthy and sugary foods and you end up eating more than required.
In addition to that keeping, yourself hungry can have a negative impact on your mood that can make you irritated and angry for no reason. This anger and mood fluctuations can lead to a loss of control while eating which can also lead to overconsumption.
Instead, you can try planning your meals and snacks with predefined quantities without skipping any major meals of the day. This has shown promising results in curbing binge eating.
Avoid taking STRESS
Stress induces fight or flight response in the body, which releases a hormone known as cortisol. This hormone triggers hunger in the body because our body needs instant energy to respond against the stress factor. Thus, we end up eating junk food.
Moreover, during stress, we eat in order to divert our focus from the issue we are facing and distract ourselves with our favourite food, but after eating food you may not feel relaxed instead you may feel guilty and anxious so to cope up with that you may end up eating more.
Instead, we can choose to manage stress by a few techniques such as
- Performing MINDFULNESS meditation
- Shifting your focus by engaging in playful activities
- Practice calming yoga poses
- Going for a massage or other natural therapies
Stress is related to many chronic conditions besides compulsive eating and it should be managed skillfully.
The bottom line on how to stop binge eating
Binge eating is a serious issue that involves consuming large amounts of food in a shorter period of time which is often an unconscious thing. Overconsumption of food may lead to a series of threats to the body thus it is essential to develop some of these above mentioned amazingly healthy habits to stop binge eating.
Do go and see your doctor if binge eating is a problem for you that you cannot resolve yourself.
I would also love to know what you all do to stop yourselves from overeating and stay fit, share your views and ideas so that we can collectively overcome this emerging health issue.
If you found this post on how to stop binge eating useful you might also enjoy my post on how to stop mindless snacking