Do you feel like your eating is out of control? Do you feel like eating food combinations that only a food addict could love? Do you get up at night and eat for no reason at all?
You could be dealing with an eating disorder referred to as binge eating disorder (BED).
Binge eating is defined as:
- Frequent episodes of binge eating involving the consumption of a large amount of food in a short period of time. Binge episodes will be accompanied by a loss of control over eating and the inability to stop the binge
- A range of identifiable eating habits, including eating very quickly, eating without being hungry and continuing to eat to discomfort when already full
- Feelings of guilt and shame about the amount of food consumed during a binge episode and the way it has been eaten. Binge eating often occurs at times of stress, anger, boredom or distress, and at these times may be a means of coping with challenging emotions
- Secretive behaviors around food. Because of their feelings around food, people with binge eating disorder are often very secretive about their eating habits and choose to eat alone(1)
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Don’t feel like you have to live with binge eating disorder. There are things you can do to reduce and even eliminate the behaviors that are part of this eating disorder. Realize that changing thinking and behaviors is a process.
It did not happen overnight and it will not be cleared up overnight. The important thing here is to become aware of what is going on and to start making small changes.
Trying to make a major overhaul quickly can lead to overwhelm and will often lead to destructive eating behaviors.
1. Stop “Dieting”
This may sound strange, but dieting puts the focus on restriction and right or wrong thinking. Thinking that you are right because you can follow a food plan bite for bite or that you are a bad person because you ate pancakes for breakfast, can be destructive.
The feeling of not being able to have whatever you want can lead to bingeing because the foods you really would like to be eating are being restricted.
2. Get 7 – 8 Hours of Restful Sleep Each Night
Binge eating can often take place at night when you should be sleeping. Avoid watching TV and being on your phone at bedtime. Exercise and eat a minimum of 2 hours before bedtime to avoid trouble sleeping.
If you experience long-term problems with insomnia, you may want to discuss it with your doctor. It is said that people who suffer from insomnia can consume as much as an additional 500 calories per day.
3. Hit the Gym
Start exercising. It does not necessarily have to be in a gym, but physical activity of any kind can be a game-changer.
Yes, it burns calories, but it also causes the release of endorphins that can minimize discomfort and bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. Strength training can reduce appetite in some people.
Overall, moderate exercise can be very therapeutic. Feel like eating, but you know you are not really hungry…go for a 15 minute walk and drink a glass of water afterwards.
4. Practice Balance in Eating
Don’t skip meals and try to eliminate grazing. Eating at the same times daily will give you the best chance of avoiding binge eating.
You are forming healthy eating habits by not allowing yourself to get too hungry. You are also avoiding the urge to eat when you are not hungry when you eat just 3 meals each day with at most one snack.
People that manage BED successfully, minimize the number of meals they eat each day and avoid snacking between meals.
5. Drink Water
Drinking water has numerous benefits. It promotes cardiovascular health, keeps muscles and joints working, and helps cleanse toxins from your body.
Staying hydrated also helps balance your blood sugar, helps relieve headaches, and promotes healthy skin. The other thing about staying hydrated (with non caffeinated beverages) is it can help you avoid eating by helping you feel full.
If you think you are hungry, drink a glass of water and wait 10 minutes and then decide if you still are physically hungry. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day has too many benefits not to do it.
6. Clean Out Your Kitchen
This is a big one and the step that probably helped me the most. I am a grazer and can always find a reason to eat. But it becomes a lot harder to eat if the food isn’t there.
I am not saying you should not have food in your house, but know what your binge foods are. If you are a binge eater, having these foods in your home will make recovering that much more difficult.
Out of all the tools to combat emotional eating, not having easy access to my favorite binge foods helps me the most.
7. Keep a Food and Mood Journal
You are probably familiar with a food journal. You write down what you for each meal and snack as well as your portion size. It seems simple enough…and it is if you are tracking just food and staying on track.
But as you know, there is more to it than that if you are an emotional order. Eating can be prompted by things other than hunger and you have to start understanding what those other things are.
So, with a food and mood journal not only do you record the information about what you are eating but how you feel when you eat it, what is going on when you choose to eat, how hungry you are when you and satisfied you are when you finish eating.
This type of journal not only allows you to track what you are eating, but it can help you spot trends that could be causing you to eat compulsively.
8. Increase Protein and Fiber Intake
Both protein and fiber make a person feel full and these foods stay with you longer. They can also help offset some of the spikes in blood sugar that can be caused by eating processed carbs.
While we are talking about it, limiting carbs should be on your list of things to do as well. Eating a high amount of processed carbs can cause spikes in blood sugar that will most likely cause cravings and the urge to eat more sugar.
9. Try Living Mindfully
So, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is focusing and being aware of where you are now, while calmly accepting and acknowledging your feelings, thoughts and body sensations.
Take some time to get in tune with yourself and feel if you are really hungry.
10. Give Yoga a Shot
There are so many benefits to yoga. Improved breathing, flexibility and energy are just a few of these benefits.
A 10 minute morning or evening yoga workout routine can improve cardio and circulatory health, balance metabolism and increase muscle strength. And these are just a few of the benefits you can experience as a result of having a weekly yoga routine.
11. Slow Down and Breathe
Be kind to yourself. You deserve to be healthy. Don’t deprive yourself, but don’t overindulge. Avoid situations you know will lead to stress.
Pick your battles and just let the rest go. You cannot take on everything or solve the problems of the world. Take things one day at a time and you can make changes in your eating patterns.
Final Thoughts – Binge Eating Disorder
When people mention the term “eating disorder” the first thing that comes to mind is anorexia/bulimia. But eating disorders can come in several forms.
Fortunately, many of them are treatable, but most of them will take life-long self-monitoring. Self-care is one of the best ways to change course with your eating before it gets out of control.
People that are in recovery for an eating disorder will tell you they struggle from time-to-time with old habits, but as long as you are able to implement the above tips, you will be able to get back on track and ditch the unhealthy behaviors.
Having binge eating disorder can truly feel like living a life out of control, but it does not have to stay that way. Get started today making small positive changes and see how your life can change.