Nutrition Articles

10 Ways to Stop Binge Eating in Its Tracks

How to Prevent a Binge and Regain Control

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If you're reading this article, chances are that you've experienced binge eating and may be wondering things like:
 
  • Is it ever OK to binge? Is the occasional binge normal?
  • Is it better to eat "right" Monday through Friday and then to throw caution to the wind on the weekends or plan for one cheat day per week?
  • Will I ever find a happy balance between eating the foods I crave and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
  • I’ve heard of "intuitive eating," but what exactly does that mean and how do I apply it to my daily eating habits?
 
Let's explore some of these thoughts a little further.
 
Instead of defining "normal" eating here, this article will focus on how to prevent binges and get back on track after them. To read more about whether your eating habits are "normal" check out this three-part series on the topic by SparkPeople's behavioral psychology expert, Coach Dean.
 
What is binge eating?
Bingeing is an uncontrolled ingestion of large quantities of food within a short time period, often accompanied by feeling out of control over the eating taking place. 
 
We have all overeaten at one time or another, most notably around the holidays or on a special occasion. I think we have all gone back for seconds (or thirds) on Thanksgiving, or had an extra slice or two of cake at a birthday party. So when does the occasional overindulgence cross the line into the realm of real binge eating?
 
That isn't always easy to define. But if your days and weeks are becoming more filled with sessions of overeating and guilt; if thoughts of "bad" food and "good" food are constantly on your mind; and the lines between enjoying a small piece of cake on occasion and eating the whole pie are becoming more obscure, it might be time to step back take notice.
 
 
Keeping Binges at Bay
I’ve had many conversations with co-workers and friends about their post-weekend-binge guilt. Most often they say something like, "I was good all week! No sweets, no candy or cookies, and I even passed on mom’s mac & cheese at dinner the other night! But I just couldn’t help myself on Saturday when I opened the pint of ice cream to just take a bite and before I knew it, the whole carton was gone. Now I feel so guilty. I have to be extra good this week and go to the gym every day to work it off."
 
My response usually seems to surprise people: "Instead of eating the whole carton of ice cream on Saturday night, why not enjoy a small serving a few times throughout the week?" A half a cup of ice cream will likely set you back around 150 calories—maybe 200 for a really rich variety. But the whole carton will do much more damage than that! Not to mention the havoc all that sugar intake in one sitting will have on your blood sugar levels! 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.
 
For those of us who struggle with occasional binges that are more annoying and guilt-providing than obsessions or compulsions, there are a few tricks you can implement to keep yourself on track and avoid bingeing.
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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 RedHeadRecipes.com, which provides recipes and ideas for a balanced lifestyle.

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