As you crack open the third box of donuts, you’re overwhelmed by the sweet smell of sugar and think to yourself, “I have blown my diet again!”. Even though you know that you’ve had too much already, you continue eating donut after donut and absolutely don’t care about the consequences. You have already started down the path of cheating, so you might as well go off and have a blast doing it because who knows the next time you will have such a liberating experience with such sinful goodies. In the moment, there is pure food nirvana where calories don’t mean a thing and its all about a comforting warmth you receive from the tasty treats.
About 30-45 minutes after your massive indulgence, you start to fall into a serious depression and begin thinking about the damage you have caused. You get angry that you have lost absolute control again and your self-discipline and hard work have been crushed. How could this happen again, you ask yourself. You’ve been doing so well on your nutritional plan eating the right things and the right portions. You’ve also been following your exercise plan busting your butt in the gym doing weights and cardio.
Now, you’re in big trouble because you just consumed an entire days worth of calories in one sitting and you know just how hard it will be to burn off all those extra calories. So what usually happens? That’s right, you get so down on yourself that now the whole day and sometimes the whole week turns into one enormous binge where you pack on multiple pounds, lose all your energy to do anything and can’t seem to think about anything other than how long it will take for the pizza guy to get over to your house with that extra large, thick crust pepperoni pie!
So the main question here is how do we avoid these episodes of massive overeating called binges? Well, the first thing you need to know about binge eating is that it’s usually mental, not physical. You’re not actually physically hungry, you’re bored or depressed or just downright tired and want to enjoy some cheat foods. The difference between a normal person enjoying a small cheat meal and a binge eater is that there is no cut-off point or limit to the quantity of food consumed by the binge eater. They can’t seem to fulfill their appetite and keep eating and eating until they are either sick or can barely breathe since their stomach is so distended from the cornucopia of food they just consumed.
The approach a binge eater should take dealing with this disorder is the same an alcoholic or any other drug addict deals with when they try to get sober. For the alcoholic, it might be beer or wine that is their drug of choice. For the binge eater, food is their drug of choice. The binge eater gets a “high” when they see a glazed donut or smell the waft of a freshly baked pie in the oven and they can’t stop eating piece after piece until they are engorged. Just like an alcoholic that drinks and drinks until they pass out, the binge eater is addicted to food and has the same addictive tendencies as any drug addict.
Below are several tips a binge eater can use to control their binge eating episodes:
Remove all cheat foods from your house. Binge eaters should try to take this “drug addiction” mindset to their food addiction. Do you think it would be smart to have bottles of vodka and whiskey in the pantry of an alcoholic’s kitchen? No way! It would only be a matter of time before they would rip the pantry door off and chug down every bottle. It’s not a matter of if, but when. This is the same thing for a binge eater. If you have a huge bag of potato chips and boxes of cookies in the kitchen, they will be screaming your name each night saying “eat me, eat me!”. You might hold off for a few weeks or maybe even a few months, but eventually you will cave in and the next thing you know you will be sitting in fetal position on the kitchen floor with empty bags and wrappers around you and a mouth covered in crumbs and chocolate!
Leave the house for a treat. If you feel like a small treat, get into your car and drive down to a local yogurt shop for a healthy dessert. Choose the healthier versions of whatever your treat is, like sugar-free non-fat frozen yogurt instead of regular ice cream. By not having cheat foods inside your home, you will be forced to leave if you want something that’s not on your healthy nutritional plan. Many times, this extra effort is not worth it for some people and they will end up just staying home.
Know what your trigger foods are. If a piece of pie triggers the food beast within you, then make a mental note of it and next time don’t even go there. Most people usually have specific foods that cause them to completely derail from their diets. Knowing which ones these are can really help put out the bingeing inferno that these trigger foods can spark.
Be conscious at all times. Be aware of the foods you’re putting into your body at all times. Never just eat unconsciously! By keeping track of the foods you eat, you will be so much more aware of how much you’re consuming and which types of foods satisfy your appetite.
Choose healthy treats over high calorie ones. You can literally save hundreds of calories by choosing healthy foods over high calorie ones. If you crave popcorn, choose fat-free instead of buttered. Frozen yogurt over ice cream is a great choice. One of the huge ones is diet soda over regular soda. This one change in your liquids can make a huge impact on your weight loss efforts. Even though water should be your number one choice for liquids, if you have a sweet tooth for sugar laden sodas, try to make the switch over to diet soda since it will save not only mega calories but also drastically reduce your sugar consumption.
Go for a walk. If you feel the calm before the storm of a binge, recognize it and go for a walk outside. By getting out of the house and getting some exercise, you will be releasing endorphins in the body that are capable of producing feelings of euphoria and a general state of well-being. This feeling will help you get past a possible binge that’s calling your name.
Get off the couch and do something. The couch is the epicenter of most binge eating catastrophes. Once you snuggle into your soft surroundings and turn on your giant flat screen high definition TV, you get a sense of calm and comfort. You start thinking about that brand new bag of stuffed Oreos just sitting in your kitchen all lonely. Well, stop thinking that way and get off the couch and actually do something instead of basking in the glutinous comfort of your binge eating den. Go do some laundry, crack open a good book or go vacuum. Just anything that takes a little activity and gets your mind off of spiraling out of control on a bender binge.
Start a journal. Anytime you feel a binge approaching, get out your laptop or journal and start writing. Write down how you’re feeling at that moment. Journal your thoughts, feelings and emotions about the day and how your nutrition and exercise plan are going. Document what you ate that day and why you’re feeling a binge might be chasing you at this moment. Did you not get enough food today or maybe you cut back on too many carbs? Write it down and learn from it!
Put pictures up as reminders. Put up photos of yourself when you were in your best shape and place them on your fridge, bathroom mirror and any other places in the house as reminders of how good it feels to be in shape. These visual reminders will help you immensely for staying on track and you will know quickly after seeing them how much better it feels to look good instead of going off your diet and having that piece of apple pie.
Get therapy. Food addictions are a serious issue and if you’re having recurring episodes over many years, you may want to see a therapist who deals with eating disorders. They can help you uncover underlying issues with that may be causing your binge eating and provide a great resource to get your feelings out and really try to work on yourself.
Try to incorporate many of these tips when you feel a binge coming on and hopefully you can start to be aware of actions you can take to control and avoid any future binge eating episodes.