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Nutrition Articles  ›  Pitfalls and Plateaus

10 Ways to Stop Binge Eating in Its Tracks

How to Prevent a Binge and Regain Control

-- By Lauri Watson, Registered Dietitian
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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

  • 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
    To the author of this Article- Thank you!

    I had to leave SP a few yrs back because this site helped to facilitate my EDs. Not to say that SP was responsible, I own that. It just made it all too easy to fall deeper into those issues. Everywhere I turned members were encouraged or encouraging others to eat less, exercise more, adhere to a "Good vs Bad" list, repent using the food and fitness logs as your way to "prove" you were being a good person, a good "fatty" as some were called on forums, or to prove to others you were taking this lifestyle change seriously. In fact, I grew to hate the term "lifestyle change" because all too many people blurred the line of it's definition and diet.

    Since rejoining in the past few days I have been nothing but encouraged with the changes I have seen. I have stayed away from teams and forums purposely but am loving the tone of the articles. I love seeing how proactive SP is with helping others help themselves with regards to disordered eating and ideals. It's nice to see that the powers that be here have taken notice of all of the iffy behaviors and diets that have been bantered around. I hope SP keeps up the great work. I went from being a Motivational Member to dropping out of the site so upset by what I was seeing. Now I feel as if though SP is trying to head in a different direction and I can fully support that now! - 10/3/2013 4:22:09 PM
  • Sorry, but if I could eat just one small serving of ice cream, then I would do that instead of binging!!! I think whoever wrote this article doesn't actually understand binge eating or food cravings. I am so angry right now I just don't know what to say. I want to swear, but I can't. :(

    Small amounts of starchy, sugary foods in moderation DO NOT keep my cravings at bay - they CAUSE my cravings!!!!!! I know what normal portion sizes are. I know it's better to have a few small amounts then binge on huge amounts. That doesn't mean I'm able to do it! If you can recognize that some recovered alcoholics can never touch a drink again, then why can't you recognize that some sugarholics (for lack of a better term) can never touch sugary, starchy junk foods again!?? Aarrrgh. - 7/6/2013 3:03:57 PM
  • I like the idea of setting a timer when you eat. Sometimes it is a problem when you just get into the habit of eating too fast or not paying attention to what it is that you are eating at all. Then when the meal is over you are still hungry. This article helped me realize that I don't have to give into binges or deprive myself of foods that I enjoy. It's all about finding that healthy balance. - 7/6/2013 1:08:29 PM
  • Great article. I am glad I read this today because I am going out for my birthday and I know now when I go out what's going to be on my plate. Because I was surely going out on a big binge. But tomorrow will be a different thing. Back on track. - 7/6/2013 11:00:00 AM
    I have suffered from Binge Eating Disorder for the last 35 years give or take. I am gradually finding ways to cope with it but I don't think I can ever be cured, it's a part of me. I have set up www.bingeeatingce as there are many celebrities who too suffer from this horrible disorder. With all their money and access to expensive therapists you would think they could beat it but this is not the case. - 7/1/2013 12:31:59 PM
  • I couldn't get past the example of the ice cream. if I can control myself enough to have a proper sized serving guess what folks, I'd be thin!
    Maybe (and I hope so) this article gets better but it left me a little hot under the collar. Do you really think I am not smart enough to TRY to limit my portions? what an awesome concept! Oh, BTW what I usually do with my ice cream is buy a cone out side the house so I don't have extra but when I do bring it in I never buy the pint containers because in my mind it is a serving but when I buy an half gallon I can eat 2 spoonful's in a very small bowl of my own and I am satisfied. I know that is my own quirkiness but it works for me. - 5/28/2013 9:42:23 AM
  • Thanks for sharing this info. Now I at least know I'm not a "binge" because I just want a little nosh not to consume large amounts of food. So that makes me a "Binosh" I guess.
    My attacks come on usually in the evening so I'm working on moving past that.
    Night time eating is a big problem for me so I need to push myself away from the pantry!!
    Thanks again for sharing.
    ginny - 4/20/2013 11:34:49 AM
  • These suggestions are good when you take them at face value but we all have different issues and for some of us-we simply can't eat just a little of the wrong foods. For example, I bought a box of cookies that were individually wrapped. I thought- great, they are already portion controlled I can have just one pack. Next thing I know, I ate another pack, then another until 15 minutes later I had eaten the entire box. I felt so bad because I knew I didn't need to eat them and worse-they were supposed to be my son's snack but I literally couldn't stop myself. The only way I avoid binge eating is to NOT start eating processed sweets. I can't bring them in the house and if I buy something I only buy one. If I see it I will eat it and eat all of it. I have realized that the cleaner I eat and the longer I go without eating processed sweets I have less desire to binge but the MINUTE I buy a piece of candy-I have to fight with my mind not to buy everything sweet. It literally turns something on in my mind that makes me turn into the cookie monster. - 4/19/2013 10:28:49 AM
  • A really good article. There should be a word for this healthy way to eat I wish we could find it. Diet is a maligned word. It used to mean what we ate, now it only used for I AM OVERWEIGHT. I am diabetic we say diabetic diet.
    Weight loss sounds better but too long.
    With vocabulary on my mind I thought the word TUMMY for stomach or even gut would go down better when speaking to Adults. We are adults not children so please lose the Baby talk. You are talking to adults so use proper speech. Thanks for the adult advice! - 4/19/2013 10:13:46 AM
    Eat smaller portions? Use smaller plates? Portion out your food? WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT? Old tired advise and if I had that much reason to my eating, binge eating would not be a problem to begin with. - 4/19/2013 10:10:31 AM
  • "Small amounts of sweets or high starchy foods over time are more likely to keep those cravings at bay and help prevent the cycle of binge eating and guilt."

    I don't really agree with this sentence. For me, ANY amount of sweet or high starcy foods just makes me crave them even more! As soon as I have even just a small bit, it's a fight to get those cravings at bay again. After a while of eating clean and staying off those foods, I don't crave them at all. That's not saying I never have them, but thats a psychological 'connection' to those foods that I need to deal with, rather than an actual craving for them.

    Great article though. - 4/19/2013 6:06:33 AM
  • Thank you very much for this article. I am a binge eater and struggle with staying on track. There's a lot of good advice here that I will try out. - 4/19/2013 4:45:32 AM
    I must say this is very nice article, also, if you are struggling with binge-eating disorder, then I highly recommend you to meet the healyourhunger people.
    I am confident that after their help you will overcome your emotional eating pattern.
    - 2/6/2013 11:37:31 AM