Nutrition Articles

10 Ways to Stop Binge Eating in Its Tracks

How to Prevent a Binge and Regain Control

We’ve all heard the lunch room chatter about people's latest diets and weight-loss escapades. Maybe you’ve even led the discussion by saying something like,"I am going to be ‘good’ today and only eat salads and fresh fruit and avoid the sugar and junky stuff." Or maybe the conversation went more like, "I ate so bad this weekend! Now I have to go to the gym for two hours after work to burn it all off." Sound familiar?
As a dietitian, I often get asked "What do you think about the [fill-in-the-blank] diet?" My response is almost always the same: Diets do not teach healthy lifestyle changes that can be maintained over many years.
Unlike small and sustainable changes you can live with, diets are usually restrictive in nature and short-lived. While some people do find success on a variety of fad diet plans, most of the initial weight loss is simply water weight that comes right back once the diet is over or once you’ve cheated or given up on the eating plan that you simply couldn't take anymore.
Unfortunately, many people will not only gain back every pound they worked so hard to lose on a short-lived diet, but they can actually gain even more than they lost. Many times, dieting can lead to out-of-control binge eating episodes in which the dieter gets so fed up with restricting herself that she overindulges in every "sinful" treat she had been avoiding. However, these binges can also be on "healthy" or diet-approved foods, too.
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About The Author

Lauri Watson Lauri Watson
is a Registered Dietitian with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She eats her way through life's tasty treats and documents her culinary journeys at, which provides recipes and ideas for a balanced lifestyle.

Member Comments

  • I'm sorry, but people who say instead of eating a whole tub of ice cream, ( or bar of chocolate, or cake or whatever) have a little bit each day really don't get what the problem is. My partner is one of those who can have a load of sweets in the house and just eat one or two and then forget them for the day. I can't. If it's there, I will eat it all. It's like a coke addict saying I'll just have a little snifter to pick me up. It doesn't happen. The taste of sugar triggers a reaction, I can actually feel it, like a dopamine hit, and the only way to stop is to not have it. - 8/9/2015 2:31:32 AM
  • Actually, a lot of new studies coming out say that it's easier to control type 2 diabetes and your blood sugar level, AND lose weight, if you eat two hearty meals a day. It's better than snacking throughout the day :). Check out this article on it:

    -control-weight-blood-sugar-levels.html - 6/2/2015 9:08:32 AM
    I had a problem with binge eating for over 25 years. The only thing that has worked for me is the method described in Kathryn Hansen' s book Brain Over Binge. Basically to realise that although a primitive part.of your brain is urging you to binge, the highest human part of your brain controls your actions and so you do not have to binge. 5 months binge-free and counting.... - 5/12/2015 2:05:52 PM
  • In the past, I have found that NONE of the above suggestions have ever worked. They delay the binge a few hours!

    I tend to be deliberate in my binge eating. I actually DECIDE that I am going to the store to buy a particular item (usually a box of sugary cakes or candy) and eat the entire box.
    I decide that I don't care and that I want the item so I WILL have it. period. ....Immediately after, I feel sick and horrible for what I've done.

    What DOES work for me is when I get it in my head to binge, I grab a piece of minty gum...
    ~foods taste horrible after eating a mint or peppermint gum! By the time the mint has worn off I've managed to get it all under control. - 4/17/2015 10:33:51 PM
    I am so grateful for sparkpeople, I am disable and it been hard to excersise more than ten minutes,so I love coach Nicole and all the advise and help I get thanks. - 4/16/2015 11:32:19 AM
  • I'm nearly 59 and I've had binge eating disorder since I was 8.

    In my experience it's a lifelong disorder and there is no "cure" but I have learnt to have more control over my cravings and eat more sensibly since I had a gastric bypass at the beginning of 2009. It does help that there are certain very unpleasant side effects from the procedure if you eat the wrong thing or do the wrong thing.

    I have a real problem with leaving open packets or leaving food on my plate, maybe it's an OCD thing, so while I do have trigger foods around the house I buy them in individual packs and don't have too many packs around. As the article suggests I do find the cravings easier to control when I allow myself small portions of these foods on a regular basis. I don't 'diet' I have an eating plan.

    It's very hard not to feel guilty when the 'binge eating monster' gets out of control but I treat it as something seperate from myself and so I can draw a line under the bingeing incident and immediately get back to my planned eating. I do not restrict myself or try to work the binge into my calorie intake for the day/week as I find this more likely to trigger another binge.

    That's just some of the ideas that have helped me to have more control and generally eat better. - 1/18/2015 6:28:17 AM
  • Okay- so I allow myself ONE small treat a day. if I overdo it- eat a second or sometimes a THIRD cupcake/slice of cake/serving of icecream/piece of candy(Bite size)/cup of hot cocoa/glass of wine/slice of pie- whatever it is- then I dont get my treat the next day. if I go on a binge- I de-junk my house.....for at least 14 days I dont have anything in the house that will tempt me....and since the nearest shop is a couple miles away and I dont drive- if I want junk- it's a two mile hike to get it. - 12/27/2014 8:21:49 AM
  • Just reading this article and the comments has elevated my 'anxiety level'! lol
    Fighting the binge demon is my biggest challenge.
    I am a food addict and I binge! There . . . I said it! Whew! ;)
    The article offers many great tips which I have used and still do, but I am like many here and need chains on my body and duct tape over my face to overcome some of my urges.
    98% of the time the above tips work, but once in a while it seems NOTHING can stop a binge. A thoughtful attempt at control by eating a spoonful of peanut butter (to stave off cravings) can turn into eating a whole JAR of peanut butter. Then, I feel miserable, sick, and on top of that guilt, remorse, self-depreciating thoughts, etc. AGONY!

    A post with a link on here shared about how harmones and a diet plan that treats body chemistry may help! I'll check that out. I do know that when I eat a balanced menu and proper nutrients do help stave off binges for me. I still think the other aspect mentioned is our mental or emotional reasons for a binge. Getting to the root of why we binge may also help.

    In the end, I believe it is just going to be a trial and error and lots of work at self discipline, diversion, etc. WHATEVER gets us through! Sometimes we just have to keep at it until something works. I know there is never going to be an easy solution and it is never going to be a thing I can ignore--ever. I have learned that I alone is where it begins and ends and that ultimately if I want to be a healthy weight it is going take work. Sorry, this is not what I want to hear either, but it is the cold hard fact.

    Someday, there may be a pill for that, but in the meantime I have ME and I have to have the determination to be stronger than my urges.

    Now, I need to work on continued, sustained determination--fo
    r life! - 10/25/2014 11:46:01 AM
  • If you have a true binge eating disorder, chances are there is a genetic component involved as well. My father was bulimic. - 7/15/2014 10:16:45 AM
  • While this article is great for the occasional over-eater and has some great tips, it does not address true binge eating disorder which is a serious mental illness/eating disorder. I have had problems with binge eating for the last 10 years and it is an extremely painful and physically debilitating condition. It will destroy your body and make you sick. It can have permanent consequences on your health. My liver is damaged because of it. While my condition has improved somewhat, I didn't do it through diet or exercise. I did it through the painful journey of learning what the source of my bingeing is. You can only address the symptoms (bingeing) after you understand the root cause. Treating the symptoms before you get to the root of the problem won't cure you. - 7/15/2014 10:05:33 AM
  • I suffered from binge eating for many years and thank goodness for a friend from Europe who showed me how to address the emotional side of binge eating with a very special diet. It worked after the birth of my daughter.

    Copy and paste the link below and you will be freed from binge eating

    ctions.wordpr - 7/14/2014 6:14:18 PM
  • I used to binge and then beat myself up and start again next week. I am working on that and I think that while simple, this is spot on. Nothing is forbidden, so when I have a cupcake or a glass of wine, I try to keep it at that. Somedays are better than others, but these small steps are helpful to me. - 6/21/2014 2:52:30 PM
  • One helpful strategy for me is one I learned while quitting smoking. It was suggested that when you felt the craving, you just start counting; because the craving will go away in a few seconds. I started out needing to count into the hundreds, but gradually the craving would go away in a count of under 30. After a while, just the thought of stopping to count was so annoying that it drove the craving away immediately. This article made me aware that I use my counting strategy to avoid giving in to food cravings most of the time...but I have to realize it is just a "craving" and not a NEED!!! (This is a funny insight for me.) Thanks! - 6/21/2014 9:45:45 AM
  • Very helpful article. I've been on SP for over a year, then was having a bad week, and went on a binge. After reading the article, I can see a relationship between restricting my calories then bingeing. Just by being aware that that can happen makes me feel hopeful that I will find a way.
    8-) - 3/2/2014 1:22:54 AM
  • This article is really help full for me .. great tips and just in the right time to come back from my prolonged honeymoon ( three weeks in before and after my exam). - 11/20/2013 12:38:42 PM

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