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10 Ways to Stop Binge Eating in Its Tracks

How to Prevent a Binge and Regain Control


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  • I don't think (?) I have the binge disorder, but binging does happen for me. I can even portion out -- say a box or crackers -- and then end up eating more than the 1 portion when struggling -- for me it is emotional. But, the portioning out does help b/c I can count it in nut tracker. Ice cream would be hard for me to portion - sometimes I get a family member to get my portion in that case, but then there is whatever is left over -- sometimes I can plan, sometimes not -- hot food issue. I think having perfectionist issues is the main cause of my own problems as well - and I try to deal with that - giving myself grace/kindness when I mess up.
  • Good article. Many responders missed the important sentence "Find what works for you!" I am a carb addict. One of my big trigger food is potatoes, especially chips. I just cannot eat them, not even once on a while. I tried thst and it opened Pandora's box and added 19 lbs. I recognized it and got back on track. Now I have a small bag of taters in veggie drawer because husband likes them, but that is it and I seldom cook them; he does. There are never chips, crackers, pretzels or other crunchy snacks because I will never be able to "eat just one". There are other things I can have a taste of, be sated and move on. Only you know you. The hard part is being honest with yourself.
  • I struggle with this as I am an emotional eater and carb addict. I am coping by having a "no fly zone" for foods that I know I cannot control and looking for healthy substitutes. For example, "fried" radishes instead of fried potatoes. So far, so good. -19 lbs in little over 2 months!
  • Great article!! Very "real" advice and sounds like I'll be able to work it into my life style!!

    Thank You
  • I would like to remark that all the comments that say that sweets must absolutely be banned from one's diet in order to be able to stop bingeing, may well be a sign of disordered thinking about food. I know some will fiercely disagree but I am a recovering binge eater myself, been in treatment, and talked to many binge eaters. For many, to be 'scared' of eating sweets or junkfood or of havin these foods in the house, is PART of a disordered relationship with food.
    I learned that with the right tools (like CBT and DBT) it IS possible to learn to ignore urges to binge and overeat and it is not per se necessary to cut foods out. Cutting foods out also means that a person runs a risk of 'succumbing' and having those foods (in abandon, also) if they get confronted with those foods one time too many, or if they have 'difficult circumstances' that make it harder for them to 'avoid' contact with the 'bad foods' (carbs, sweets, junkfood).
    Maybe a person will decide to not eat the sweets / junk because they do not WANT to eat them. Maybe for health reasons, because of taste preferences etcetera. BUT, it's important to realize that if we feel we UNABLE to resist them, cutting them out is not helpful and priority should be to learn to resist them not ban them from our house or life.
  • Using a small vessel is a great idea, and really works. I always use a tea cup instead of a bowl for many things containing a liquid or will liquify. The bowl works well for crunchy snacks.
  • For me binge eating is NOT about eating one particular food that is not part of my diet. For me binge eating is all about LOSING CONTROL of myself and eating everything in sight, not because of hunger but because of an immense craving that I can not even describe. My last binge lasted 3 days. Then bit by bit I felt my control coming back, not back to normal or how I want it, but at least better. Now I am back on track.
  • KITSME22
    ohhh, if only it were so easy! Just have a small amount each day.

    Yes, why did I not think of that?!

    I have struggled with binge eating for years now. I have gone thru therapy, every diet you can think system, I did it. But, the problem is one has to eat to live.

    Food is like a drug for me. I have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic, I am ashamed to say..I wish I was an alcoholic instead of a foodoholic! . Many things trigger me off. I will eat until it hurts, and then some. Somewhat like an alcoholic will drink until passed out in many occasions. Simply, just slowing down nor walking away after having a glass of water is almost laughable to me
  • As I read this article, I thought "okay, am I just way too cynical?" After I read the responses I see that I'm not! Yes, there are a couple of excellent suggestions (such as finding what is triggering your binges, this one has been HUGE for me).

    I have found the very best thing for me is delaying my binge. And there's actually some really sound science behind this! If I feel compelled to tear through an entire bag of tortilla chips (my "drug of choice"), I tell myself "okay, first I'm going to have an apple and let it sit for 20 minutes on my stomach while I do something to make me feel more in control of my life and then, if I still want the chips, I can have as many as I want!" And, you know what, sometimes, I end up eating the entire bag of chips! Often, very often, I don't. Either way, I've gotten in some fresh fruit which is not only nourishing but puts digestive enzymes in my belly to help me handle digesting the chips better and I spent 20 minutes getting something in my life more in control whether it be cleaning and organizing or doing a light workout.
    It's definitely not full proof but I've lost a ton of weight and kept it off for five years which, statistically, is rare so hopefully someone can add this to some of the better suggestions that this article offers and have a little success!
  • I appreciate sparkpeople and all its resources here, but I have to agree with Bluejean99, I have been battling with binge eating disorder for many years and I also am a recovering alcoholic. There's no such thing as having one serving or even one bite of sweets (my trigger) for me personally. I have to stay away from it completely, just like I have to with the alcohol.
  • This is a good article but I agree with other comments about binging. The reason I would eat the whole carton of ice cream on Saturday night is not because I didn't want to have it the rest of the week, but because I can't control myself around it at certain times. Having it in the house would only contribute to binge eating. I'm better off going out for a single-size serving and being done with it than having access to a week's worth in one sitting.
  • Please sparkpeople .... please stop the articles telling binge eaters how to eat sugar in controlled amounts. I love sparkpeople ... this website helped me lose 90 pounds. But this advice is dangerous and erroneous. Sugar and processed foods are addictive. I'm no purist. But it's one thing to have two or three cookies when I'm at a party (even that can make me vulnerable to a binge) and another thing to bring a carton of ice cream (or a package of cookies or bag of candy) into the house. I would eat it all by the next day! Does that make me not "strong"? Fine then, I'm weak. Weak and 90 pounds thinner!
    Would you tell a hardcore smoker who was trying to quit to just have a few cigarettes every day and to keep them around the house? Binge eating isn't just about behavior, it's about the substances. How many people do you know who binge on broccoli and apples????????
    don't ask a binger to have a box of anything favorite around and eat just one - a - day.... It will never happen and is a setup for failure.
  • "However, I think the goal would be to work towards enjoying a small serving of a trigger food whenever a craving strikes in order to avoid the inevitable binge that usually follows bouts of restriction. For some, allowing a small serving of a trigger food throughout the week can prevent binges".

    Hear, hear. However I miss one very important condition here: one must agree to how often per week one is going to indulge.
    In the BED treatment that I followed I was taught to plan in 2 to 3 treats per week, and 2-3 special meals per week. That worked fine. I feel that it is quite necessary though to agree beforehand HOW MANY treats you can have per week. If you've had your 3 treats, then just tell yourself you have the food you crave as soon as a new week starts - planned, as a treat, not as a moment of madness.
  • Contrary to this and similar recommendations other places, I found that trying to eat small amounts of sweets often was a very bad idea. The fact that people overdo it on weekends after being "good" all week I believe is because of two things: they are not committed in general to moderate eating, and they have not been coached through the learning phase. I my sweet eating is almost exclusively on weekends, and now always in company. Exceptions a maximum of two days a month. Eating sweets every day while cutting down on them is very difficult for bingers. Nothing has been as valuable for me as having several days in a row every week (and sometimes much longer, after six years of practice) of not eating sugar, though I do use stevia in coffee and tea, and lightly in a few other foods. Another crucial part of my recovery was eating FULL meals at routine times (a one or two-hour window) and NOT snacking on weekdays, either which is how most slim, long-lived cultures have lived. My body has gotten very used to longer stretches and pulls out its reserves very well. Bottom line is bingeing is a HABIT, and habits can be changed.

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