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How I minimize binge triggers in my life

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Out of control eating while alone is probably one of my worst problems for controlling my size. It's particularly a danger late at night when I'm tired and should be going to sleep (around 10 or 11pm). Here's an old blog post about a typically uncomfortable case:
www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
ge_public_journal_individu
al.asp?blog_id=2881460


Since this topic has come up a few times lately, I'm listing my strategies here so I can refer to them in the future. Each individual strategy may have only a small effect, but in combination they seem to work pretty well. I've certainly had my share of episodes, although they're pretty infrequent these days. These strategies also sometimes help me keep from overeating when at parties and other social events.

I realize that I'm very lucky to live alone and not have to consider a family or a partner when it comes to availability of food. I'm not sure I could do this if I did have to consider them - I have tremendous respect for those of you who do!

1. I keep almost no food in the house. It's all at work where people would see me indulging if I binged. And its not just snack food. I am talking about any food. I have watched myself binge on raw oat grains, along with carrots, apples, or whatever else is in the house. If it's just not there then I won't be able to eat it.
2. I eat a minimum of 1500 calories per day because if I go below that for more than a few days in a row the genuine hunger will trigger a binge.
3. I rarely eat starches, grains, or added sugars. Those trigger binges later in the day. I have to limit fruit for the same reason. If I DO experience a craving for something sweet or starchy, I've found through trial and error that eating lean protein makes the feeling go away. If I eat the starchy or sweet thing I'm craving, the craving just grows stronger. Go figure.
4. I eat 150g of protein per day. That helps with satiety and thereby controls the binge trigger. www.sparkpeople.c
om/mypage_public_journal_i
ndividual.asp?blog_id=2536501

5. To push that much protein through the system I usually try to have at least 40g of fiber per day. That helps with satiety too.
6. If I get at least 20% of my calories in fat (~50g) I seem to do better, as well. Fat helps with satiety.
7. Plan ahead. I carry protein bars for emergencies. www.sparkpeople.c
om/mypage_public_journal_i
ndividual.asp?blog_id=2536501
And to get those macronutrient levels I mentioned earlier requires having the right foods on hand. If I don't plan ahead for my nutrition, I am setting myself up to fail. Real physiological, hormonal effects happen because of the food I eat. If I can make sure that what I'm taking in is along these lines, then I'm less likely to crave and thus less likely to binge.
8. No TV in the house. That is a trigger. Especially at night when I need to go to bed.
9. I exercise after work so the appetite suppression will kick in at night when I'm most vulnerable.
10. I rarely attend parties where they feature snack foods. Processed foods loaded with sugar, starch, fat, and/or salt sometimes trigger binges later in the day. I do not need the temptation. The longer I'm exposed to it the more likely I'll eventually give in. If I have to go to one I make sure I bring a vegetable tray with dip made out of nonfat Greek yogurt.
11. I rarely eat out. (Same reasons as above.)
12. I drink herbal tea when I want a treat. Sure, I still like mindlessly sipping something while reading, etc. This satisfies the urge without adding calories. It's a comfort thing. I'm partial to Good Earth Original Sweet and Spicy tea. www.amazon.com/Go
od-Earth-Original-Caffeine
-18-Count/dp/B000F6SNPS?ta
g=manifolds-20

13. I weigh myself every morning. If I binge at night I see the effects immediately. I track the moving average so normal fluctuations won't bother me: docs.google.com/spreadsh
eet/pub?hl=en_US&hl=en_US&
key=0Ah4KrA4GkhKgdEF6dlJkb
nNlVEFCZlhxRElCWDZNUlE&sin
gle=true&gid=8&output=html
More about moving averages for weight trackers here: teams.sparkpeople
.com/hackersdiet

14. I try to be actively engaged in weight-based challenges; I respond well to competition and it helps suppress the urge to stray from my plan. (Here's a shout out to my buddies in the current challenges where I've managed to lose nearly 8% of my weight (13 lbs) between Halloween and now.) www.sparkpeople.c
om/myspark/messageboard.as
p?imboard=8&imparent=25783617
www.sparkpeople.c
om/myspark/team_messageboa
rd_thread.asp?board=681x11
11x44893790x4

15. I sometimes try to wear tighter clothes if I know I'm going to be around temptations or feel emotional or otherwise off-balance for the day. It helps provide a physical reminder of my size and that I need to pay attention.
16. I have a tattoo on my arm of a kayaker to remind me that I want to be at my peak fitness and be able to continue to fit into my boats.
17. I have put images from this hilarious blog on the back of my iPhone to remind me of where the food crazies can lead. hyperboleandahalf.blogsp
ot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake
.html

18. I try to limit consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners to the evenings. If I have them earlier in the day they sometimes trigger cravings later. If I drink diet sodas at night I'm asleep during the time a craving might happen, so it's safer.
19. I forgot to mention this earlier because it's so integral to my life - MOBYCARP's comment reminded me. I track EVERYTHING I eat. Even the binges. It's one way I can make sure I get at least 1500 calories per day. Since I like to have a standalone app that works even where there's no internet or signal, I use Lose It! They have free apps for iPhone/iTouch and Android that sync to a website when there is signal. It's what I wish the SP tracker did, but doesn't. www.loseit.com/#Products
20. If I can stop myself in time, I sometimes track the things I WANT to eat on a separate tracker (without eating them) . www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
ge_public_journal_individu
al.asp?blog_id=4463733

21. Add a negative consequence. One time I managed to avoid a binge by making an agreement with BREWMASTERBILL that I would have to send him $20 if I binged that day.
22. Stall for time. Another time I whined that I wanted to overeat and Bill suggested that I do 20 pushups. Having nothing to lose, I shut my office door and did, and it helped. So, yeah. If I can, I go for a walk. Do some crunches. Do some pushups or tricep dips. Anything to stall for time. Because if I can just hold out for about 20 minutes the feeling usually goes away. It might come back again later, but at least temporarily it goes away.
23. Get adequate rest. Things go downhill for me when I'm short on sleep, spending too much time in the car driving, trying to do to many things, etc. Some evenings I have to go to bed early and shut the cats out of the bedroom to make sure I get a decent night's sleep. The effect of sleep depletion is cumulative, at least in my case. I can handle a week or two short on rest, but if I keep it up, it eventually catches up with me - and one of the ways that happens is I find my resistance to binges is much lower; I make more unhealthy decisions.
24. Minimize alcohol consumption. Yup, it lowers my inhibitions, just like it does for the rest of humanity. And while that can be fun, it can be also dangerous if there happens to be food around...
25. Making my bed, keeping my house clean, putting away my laundry - doing the little things that help make me feel like someone loves me. Disengaging in general from self-neglectful behaviors. www.sparkpeople.c
om/mypage_public_journal_i
ndividual.asp?blog_id=5139440


Every one of those habits was discovered to help by trial and error. I've collected them from suggestions from other Spark People, articles, etc. They all add up to constructing a world where I can live reasonably safe from binge triggers most of the time.

I'm like an addict in recovery. I have found I need to remain vigilant and some days it's all I can do just to get through one hour, then another hour, then another hour, even with these strategies. Like NELLJONES says, it's One Day at a Time. But I do think they help.

UPDATE:
There is a whole section about managing binge behaviors in At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance Team Big Page of Links:
docs.google.com/document
/d/1AkUBsUACT7rZ5GsdF7jT9Y
cD1Xa80VFGiJ5JeUkur8A/pub
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • AUNTBEE6
    Wow, I see me in almost every line. Thanks for your honesty and for taking the time! Lots of GREAT helps here for sure!!!
    Auntbee
    921 days ago
  • AUNTBEE6
    Wow, I see me in almost every line. Thanks for your honesty and for taking the time! Lots of GREAT helps here for sure!!!
    Auntbee
    921 days ago
  • JOE14250
    yaker here too! The level of stress comes out in these well thought out points. I feel for you and your struggle.

    I couldn't help but notice that you haven't talked about what you allow yourself to gorge on?
    e.g. so what is the down side of binging on carrots? Binge away on any healthy non starchy veggies.

    Just curious about that one? I let myself consume large salads. I try to limit food in my immediate area too, but my wife has rights too! Stacking your fridge with salad foods would be a positive I would think,

    thanks for your leadership here on this blog and team. I have learned a lot here already!

    Keep paddling!

    I got the feeling you were trying to keep a raging bull in a box.
    1016 days ago
  • ANOLETTE
    I really enjoyed this post, and I totally agree that turning around emotional binge eating is much like being an addict in recovery. (I have a daughter in recovery from heroin addiction, and I'm often struck by the similarities in the challenges.) That being said, I find the idea of never going to parties or out to dinner or even watching TV as depressing as being overweight. I've always believed life requires a balance. Any plan that extreme would be impossible for me to maintain for any length of time, and it just sounds so lonely. But I commend you for your success and really appreciate your ideas.
    1068 days ago
  • PASCAL921
    Thank you so much.
    1158 days ago
  • SWAMSER
    just the advice I needed today
    1238 days ago
  • IAMTOLOSE
    Wow! You put it all into words and I thank you. This is what I so needed to hear today. Hugs.
    1256 days ago
  • USMAWIFE
    emoticon
    1278 days ago
  • SMARGED
    Loved your blog! Lots of your triggers are mine too! You motivate me to use some of your solutions to get over them! Thanks for sharing!
    1278 days ago
  • TRIANGLE-WOMAN
    Agree this belongs in the Spark Blog Hall of Fame.

    I don't understand the whole "popular blog" post thing and how things get voted there!!


    ..*) ♥.*)
    (. .♥ (. .♥ (.*`* ♥☆.*`*♥☆
    ;.*
    `*♥☆ Spread the Spark!!!
    1278 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/30/2013 3:08:30 PM
  • AMBERDAWN64
    WOW...that's a fantastic list...thanks for sharing in such detail...
    emoticon
    1283 days ago
  • FREELADY
    This one goes in my blog hall of fame.

    I can't express how valuable these concepts are to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the time and effort and mental energy (and probably a huge amount of emotional energy) to put all this down so we can benefit.

    At what store do you find your Good Earth tea?
    1304 days ago
  • KIMCOLLINGS
    Great post. Thank you
    1332 days ago
  • KYLAR_STERN
    Thanks for your blog comment on mine, problem is I really don't want to have to use any of these methods. I've done things like keep nothing in the house, decline every opportunity to eat out ect. That was when I was being strict on my diet and fighting so needing to keep myself in range to make weight.

    Now I'm back at college with friends, and just want to be able to relax. I want to go for beer and pizza with friends, that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that either A) I eat more pizza than anyone else, or B) I want to eat everything in sight when I get back. I'm just trying to find a way to enjoy 2 slices of pizza, couple beers, and not think its a big deal. After this upcoming 4 day party, I'll be trying new stuff and seeing if it works for me to find a balance of relaxing and still eating healthy.
    1332 days ago
  • JUDY106
    This is so helpful. Thank's for sharing.
    1334 days ago
  • SEEINGCLEARLY53
    Good post, t emoticon hanks!
    1355 days ago
  • KAREN91
    emoticon emoticon Great advice and links. Thanks so much for posting this! emoticon
    1382 days ago
  • MILBERTWORKS
    I love this post - I can identify with the part of living alone - and the suggestions are perfect for my situation I have much less night binge eating than ever before. I try to keep busy with mind and hands and I don't think of eating. Keeping favorite foods out of the house is also a great idea. Thanks for the info.
    1411 days ago
  • OSUBUCKI101
    For me my weak time is right when I get home from work. I want to snack, snack and snack some more. I've found though that when I have a snack at around 3:00 in the afternoon it helps. Something like cottage cheese and trail mix or anything involving some natural peanut butter. The peanut butter really sticks and allows me the control I need when I step in the door after work and gives me the time to prepare a healthy dinner.

    I love all of your ideas and will incorporate a few! Keep up the good work.
    1417 days ago
  • LOGOULD
    Wow! So much good information. I need to read and re-read this one!!!
    1441 days ago
  • RAWRRACH
    How did you create your AB FitnessLog? I love that way it shows the trends and everything, but I can't figure out how to make out for myself. I also weigh myself daily, and a chart like this would be very helpful.
    1442 days ago
  • SURRENDER21
    How do I save this to SP "favorites" so I can come back to this post again and again? I need to memorize this post. Thank you so much for compiling this list, many things on here to try.
    1445 days ago
  • ANDASI
    I very much appreciate you sending this link to me. I can sure relate to a lot of these trigers. Especialy the night and being alone. I work nights and on my days off i tend to stay up very late to the early hours of the morning and its just me and so the cravings do come.

    This blog makes it so real that it is an issue and i need to really deal with it. I do well for a few days and then binge for a few days and gain all of it back. I really need to be able to return from a binge quickly the way i read people do at the next meal and not continue it for days this is the reason i dont progress. It is disheartening because i do love working out but am not seeing the benefits of my hard work. This has become a cycle for me tha i want to stop.

    Thank you so much for the support and the tools you have extended.
    1492 days ago
  • LAINYC
    emoticon emoticon
    1546 days ago
  • VALERIEMAHA
    Gawd woman, deep gratidue for framing the work you're doin'...it definitely helps put your success into perspective. I cruise by your SHome now-and-then and I'm always blown away by who you are and all you've done.

    My major loss back-when was a "mere" 80 pounds, but I was also seriously obese at that weight (and also tested diabetic, which disappeared with the weight loss) and I experience the same challenges and fluctuations you describe, though with less coping diligence. My age *may* account for that to a minor extent.

    BTW, will you saunter over, when you have a *hot minute* (after the conference?) to give some tech info and encouragement to our friend Don?

    http://www.sparkpeople.
    com/mypage_public_journal_indiv
    idual.asp?blog_id=4706660
    emoticon
    Maha
    1706 days ago
  • JENNSWIMS
    When you say binge, do you mean 5,000 calories at a time binges that bring to mind bulimia, or do you mean more like overeating?

    I love your tips. Your idea about keeping very little food in the house is interesting, because I keep tons of food in the house and make jokes that if the apocolypse were to happen we would be ok for months. I'm wondering if I'm a bit of a food hoarder, even if it is healthy stuff like dried beans that can keep for years.

    Your list has really made me think today. Thank you.
    1723 days ago
  • NOTGIVINGUP49
    emoticon Tips! Thanks for sharing! Love the one "I sometimes try to wear tighter clothes if I know I'm going to be around temptations or feel emotional or otherwise off-balance for the day." I am going to try that one myself! Great idea!
    1726 days ago
  • BUSY_BEE68
    I can relate to eating too low of calories sparking a feeding frenzy. It occurs if I don't eat enough for breakfast and lunch. As I eat a larger dinner to compensate, I tend to keep going until bedtime. The tighter clothes idea is one I plan on trying. Thank you for sharing! emoticon
    1729 days ago
  • MOM5INFL
    Way to go on the binge control! I've got to tighten the reins in my home. There are way too many triggers! Cool tattoo! Makes me want one! Birdie
    1730 days ago
  • TENACIOUSTIGER
    hey love your kayaking tattoo and also thanks for the tips, I have survived the festive season well, about to go away to tasmania to go crayoning, kayaking and trekking hope you had a great xmas and all the best for 2012 you rock
    1731 days ago
  • DAVEINSEOUL
    Thanks for the tips on controlling binges - they are important to keep under control.
    1731 days ago
  • AMBERZADE
    dang you work HARD!!! Congrats and thanks for the tips!!
    1732 days ago
  • TAICHIDANCER
    Thanks for sharing that with us. Happy New Year.
    1733 days ago
  • KAYOTIC
    It takes all that trial and error and time to figure out what works for each of us individually, what a great way to document what works for you! I might have to give that a try myself....

    and I totally agree about the herbal tea, we make iced tea all the time, it helps me keep hydrated with flavor!
    1733 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    Thank you so much for sharing your tips.
    May 2012 be your best year yet (and the first of many :))
    Deirdre
    1734 days ago
  • BATYAFA
    Thanx for sharing these strategies.

    Perhaps the most basic thing I'm learning is that yearning to binge - and constant vigilance - never end!!! Oh dear ....

    Happy New Year! emoticon
    1734 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/30/2011 9:50:50 AM
  • HDHAWK
    This is a great list. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    1734 days ago
  • GLOBALDAD
    Thank you for sharing your tips. This summary is very helpful to me and I know to others as we fight the "binging addiction". I have never thought of this as an addiction but this helps put this into perspective!

    Your sharing was a gift today and very helpful to me.

    emoticon
    1734 days ago
  • KELLIGIRL523
    Out of control eating while alone.

    That is the first item on my list of things to conquer in 2012.

    Great blog. Thanks for sharing.

    emoticon
    1734 days ago
  • ONEKIDSMOM
    Good list. As some others have said, one size does not fit all... I find I have to keep certain foods out of the house, but I also have to keep certain foods available in abundance, too! I have never binged on veggies!

    Good one about not going *below* an intake level.

    And I'm a tracker, too... even if I binge, I try to estimate and track. Honesty with myself is vital to this addict!
    1734 days ago
  • MOBYCARP
    Interesting list. I share some of the same strategies, but not all of them. It's interesting that some of your strategies are important to me, while others are irrelevant to me. One size does not fit all.

    One key for me that didn't make your list: Track everything I eat. Even when I overdo it, make an estimate and move on. The act of recording makes it real to me, and reduces the chance of my doing it again.
    1734 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/30/2011 8:37:23 AM
  • KRISZTA11
    Thank you for sharing, great summary!
    emoticon

    For me, the triggers are: any alcohol, leftover food of kids, emotional stress and being bored.
    The first is easy to avoid, but the other 3 are rather challenging sometimes.
    1734 days ago
  • FROGGGY13
    Good strategies! The top two binge and weight gain inducers in my case are stress and lack of sleep, so I try to avoid them. I had first gained a bunch of weight after having my daughter: I weighed more when she was 12 months old than the day after she was born. It was the chronic, unrelenting sleep deficit.
    Now I try to get good sleep no matter what; stress I only have limited control over. This year has been relatively good, I'm hoping 2012 will not be too stressful, either.
    1735 days ago
  • MAGGIEROSEBOWL
    GREAT blog and good tips. I too am an addict, and must be constantly vigilant, moment to moment. Right now I know I must avoid temptation and just go to bed rather than grab a piece of dark chocolate on the way up to my bedroom. I'm not hungry and I don't need it. I wish I had the luxury of being able to keep no food in the house. I found out over Christmas, if it's in my house I am tempted and usually give into the temptation. From now on, no BAD food comes in this house!
    1735 days ago
  • ADVENTURESEEKER
    This blog spoke volumes to be- the careful monitoring and attention every single day is so important. You can and will maintain! emoticon
    1735 days ago
  • WOLFKITTY
    It's so easy to forget where we've started from or what strategies worked when everything is going swimmingly! This list will serve as a great reminder if you're just living "naturally" and forget, for sure!!

    Fantastic!!
    Jocely
    n
    1735 days ago
  • DDOORN
    Great tips and agree with most of them...not so caught up with the competition thing. Now if only I was HALF as diligent as you in FOLLOWING THROUGH with what I know works best for me!

    Starting to get psyched up about cycling goals for 2012 though...big motivator to shed pounds so I can fly faster and farther! :-)

    Don
    1735 days ago
  • BETTA13
    wow. That is amazing. You are on to something.
    beth

    1735 days ago
  • NEWKAREN43
    A few of these I haven't thought of before (1, 13) and some things aren't an option as I have a family though I'd love to think just of me for a time to see if it made the journey easier (just for a little while)(5)...6 works for me too, 7 has been an issue for me during this holiday season and I didn't put together the processed foods v binging issue, I'll have to investigate that further...so, very interesting. Thank you for sharing, your blogs make me think and I like that. I also went through your pictures and they are really amazing! I would love to know how much you were working out when you were losing sizes every several weeks? I have surges of loss but then I stop (completely stop for weeks) and then I surge another loss. I'm going back to your calorie burn blog from the 23rd after the first of the year (I've had the flu so my data is all a mess). Thanks again for blogging and inspiring! Karen
    1735 days ago
  • WATERMELLEN
    Eternal vigilance and avoiding temptation because I can resist anything but temptation: that's what does it for me too.

    Plus avoiding my binge triggers: potato chips, French fries in particular.

    But you've given me some specific new ideas and I appreciate it. Gotta keep my protein count high: that's one area I tend to fall down on.

    Imagine KNOWING Leonard Cohen! Amazing. Hate to sound star struck but . . . he's somebody I'd be star struck around for sure!
    1735 days ago
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