Over 7 million Americans have binge eating disorder, as a study conducted at Harvard suggests.
Binging means eating much more food than you actually need and not having control over it. After you’re done eating, you feel ashamed, embarrassed and maybe even depressed. Do you recognize yourself in these words?
Binge eating is usually a response to stress – people turn to food to delay facing their problems head on, but this food only offers momentary comfort, and makes things even worse later. If you have been bingeing two times a week or more, in six or more months, you could be dealing with binge eating disorder. This disorder can interfere with relationships (as those suffering from it tend to avoid people and eat in secret instead) and create financial problems.
But even if you’re there, there is a way to fix things and regain control over your life and eating habits.
1. Track your binges for a week and see what sets you off.
Is there a particular pattern which keeps repeating and causing you anxiety and emotional discomfort?
Start writing your feelings down as well as your binges, so you can reflect a week later and see what is the cause of them. You may think your bingeing is random, but there is almost always some kind of a pattern. Once you’ve realized that certain emotions trigger your binges, it is time to analyze them. Then consider whether your emotions are realistic or you’re just imagining things.
For example, you feel the fear of being left behind, or that nobody loves you. Those are usually just insecurities, and you need to understand it. And even if those feelings are realistic, work on yourself – love yourself and be a strong person, and you won’t depend on other people’s acceptance or love.
2. Exercise, but out of pleasure and not as a punishment.
Physical activity should make you feel good, energized and more confident. If you’re exercising just to spend all those calories you took in while eating junk food during your binge, you will probably start seeing exercise as something bad or a punishment. Then the anxiety may come back, and instead of releasing you from stress, physical activity may become one of the causes of it.
Change your mindset. Start exercising because it makes you feel good. Consider all the positive aspects of it:
- better health
- more energy
- it takes your mind off of things that make you feel nervous
If something makes you mad, take it out by running or exercising at the gym. Don’t punish yourself with exercising, treat yourself with it.
3. Fad diets are a no-no.
Binge eaters tend to go on very restrictive diets, mostly because they want to lose weight (which they’ve gained because of bingeing). Counting calories or obsessing about the amounts of food you’re going to eat can lead to frustration. You will feel even worse if you fail to follow your diet program completely, and then when you start feeling worthless (which you are not!), you start bingeing again.
Yes, it is important to create healthier eating habits and pay attention to what and how much you eat, but not obsess about it. Instead of counting every calorie and every gram of fat, carbohydrate and protein, make sure you’re eating whole foods and avoiding junk. With such a ‘diet’ and with no specific restrictions, you will be less likely to binge.
4. Start socializing more.
Binge eaters tend to become isolated and asocial. You can talk about your problems with friends or family. Try solving them constructively and don’t eat to forget about them. Start doing things that keep you busy and enthusiastic.
Don’t give yourself too much free time – that leads to boredom and boredom leads back to bingeing (if you are already struggling with it). If you like singing, take a singing class. If you like going out, do that. Read a good book. Don’t sit alone in your room thinking what to eat next.
It is not easy to beat binge eating. It’s a process that can last for years if you’re not determined to put a stop to it. But it’s time to make a decision. Will you let food control your life, or will you make your own decisions? Do you want to be a healthy individual?
If yes, follow these pieces of advice, do your own research, make a decision and fight your food addiction. You can do it!