Binge eating is a huge problem for many of us and an increasing factor in the weight gain of many. Without understanding the utter brain switch off and lack of control that often comes with binge eating, it's hard to understand just how hard it is.
For most, binge eating is closely related to emotional eating, though not always. Emotional eating is an unruly habit that is extremely hard to break - but not impossible. As someone that suffers from bouts of binge eating, I've been looking at ways to keep it under control and break the habit.
When binges are bad for me, it's like I can't even stop myself. I find myself in shops with a basket full of rubbish, knowing I shouldn't eat it all but knowing I won't and can't stop myself. I am beginning to break the patterns though and have found that the less I try and restrict myself, the less I binge, so I'm obviously not keeping myself full or energised enough to cope with the rollercoaster of emotions that life can bring at times.
Here's a few ideas to help tackle binge eating and breaking the binge starve cycle that so many of us find ourselves in.
1. Find reason
For most of us, our binges are caused by something. Whether it's emotional eating, boredom or just plain food addiction, thinking of reasons why this is happening in the first place is a great place to start. Keep a diary and notice any triggers that set you off. If its certain foods that send you into an eating spiral, then simply don't have them in the house if possible.
2. Get help
If you think your binge eating may stem from childhood issues or current psychological problems, then you may be wise to seek some kind of counselling from a professional to unlock that chapter and free you from your bingeing. It's OK to not be able to cope with this alone, so don't be afraid to seek help as it's far more common than you think.
3. Distract yourself
Whatever your reason for binges, finding another way to channel your emotions or distract you can be a great way to break the cycle. If you find yourself getting bored and working your way through the food cupboards then find something to do instead. Something like drawing or crochet will help keep your hands busy or better still, get out in the fresh air for a walk. Doing exercise makes us far less likely to want to halt progress with over eating. Even if your binges are caused by emotional times, then exercise can really help make you feel happy, break out those endorphins and help you take out some rage on a punch bag or pounding the pavements. Make sure to find things you really enjoy doing though that don't feel like a chore, or it won't last long.
4. Review your diet
Lots of people I have spoken to that binge eat are often restricting themselves in some way, which bizarrely in turn can cause us to binge more. Having that virtual ban on 'bad things' can make them all the more appealing and often with things like sugar, not having them can have really strong withdrawal symptoms that can cause an unwanted binge.
Whether you're restricting yourself on a diet or feel you are eating 'normally', just have a quick review of your food and habits, check you are drinking enough and eating foods that will keep you fuller for longer, to give you less bursts of hunger that could lead to binges or unwanted snacking.
5. Be honest and kind to yourself
Binge eating is a real disorder. Like any other illness or addiction, it can take time to break the habit, but admitting you see a problem in your behaviour pattern is a huge start! If your binges are affecting your health and well being, be honest without yourself and recognise you may have an issue. Be kind to yourself and make sure you get any help you need, join groups to chat to others so you don't feel like you are going it alone and remind yourself that you are important and need to be cared for.
Identifying the reasons for binging can often be the hardest part, especially if the root of the issue is something you don't want to dig up again. Sometimes though, you have to go back a bit to move forward and if there are issues that need tackling, then it's always best to tackle them head on. A problem shared is a problem halved and as with any issue like this, this is so true. Knowing you are not alone, have support and others that understand can be an instant relief.
Have you ever suffered from a binge eating disorder?