How To Take Steps To Control The Urge To Binge Eat
Binging is not the only way to deal with these intense feelings. Creating alternative coping strategies can help when trying to manage the desire to binge eat.
To do this, start by noticing your triggers:
- Have you had a stressful day at work?
- Has someone said something to hurt your feelings?
- Are you feeling lonely?
Once you can see a pattern, you can start to identify coping strategies to put in place and reduce binge eating. These coping strategies can then be practiced when the psychological or emotional urge to binge eat arises.
Here are three more tips to help you control the urge to binge:
Amy Ornelas Rdn Cedrd
My best advice for binge eating is not to let yourself get too hungry! Try to avoid going more than 3-4 hours without eating. Many people try to compensate for bingeing by dieting or otherwise restricting their intake on the front end, but this only causes the body to push harder to seek out more calories later on and ultimately perpetuates the bingeing cycle. Since bingeing is typically triggered by some combination of being nutritionally restricted as well as being emotionally triggered, one of the first steps to break out of this is pattern of coping involves the development of a regular, consistent eating plan.
Tips To Improve Your Body Image
Dress for yourself, not others. You should feel good in what you wear. Pick clothes that express your personality and make you feel comfortable and confident.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Even people without an eating disorder experience feelings of anxiety and inferiority when they compare themselves to others on social media. People exaggerate the positive aspects of their lives on Facebook, Instagram and the like, brushing over their flaws and the doubts and disappointments that we all experience. If necessary, take a break from social mediaand toss the fashion magazines. Even when you realize that the images are pure Photoshopped fantasy, they can still trigger feelings of insecurity. Stay away until youre confident they wont undermine your self-acceptance.
Pamper your body. Instead of treating your body like the enemy, look at it as something precious. Pamper yourself with a massage, manicure, facial, a candlelight bath, or a scented lotion or perfume that makes you happy.
Stay active. While its important not to overdo it with exercise, staying active is good for both your mental and physical well-being. The key is to differentiate between compulsive exercisewhich is rule-driven, weight-focused, and rigidand healthy exercise that is rule-free, fun, and flexible. Focus on activities you enjoy and do them because they improve your mood, not because they might change how you look. Outdoor activities can be especially good at boosting your sense of well-being.
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Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Treatment for BED can be crucial in reducing the lifetime prevalence of the disorder, that is, reducing the likelihood one will struggle with BED behaviors for their lifetime.
As with most eating disorders, the number one, evidence-based treatment recommended is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy . One study notes that CBT has higher abstinence, is well-tolerated, and maintains remission for 1 or 2 years . CBT focuses on the impact that beliefs and thoughts have on subsequent feelings and behaviors, encouraging individuals to alter their core beliefs and thoughts in a way that then alters their behaviors.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is also recommended, as it was created for individuals that struggle with emotion regulation, which is also correlated with BED. DBT focuses on how one can regulate their emotional states, tolerate distress, exist within the present moment, and communicate needs to others. All of these skills work effectively to reduce BED symptoms as well as the symptoms of disorders that often co-occur with BED.
Regardless of the theoretical orientation to treatment, the key is to receive treatment at all. Of course, be a conscious consumer and do not be afraid to ask your treatment team if they are using the most up-to-date, evidence-based treatments and, if they are not, why they are not. Even so, the likelihood of individual achieving remission of BED symptoms and recovery increases with any type of mental health treatment.
Binge Eating Vs Emotional Eating Vs Getting Really Full
The terms binge eating and emotional eating are often used interchangeably, even though they are actually very different behaviors and need to be treated in different ways.
Since you cant heal a problem you dont fully understand, lets start by defining these terms so we can all make sure were talking about the same thing.
I give my definitions of binge eating and emotional eating in greater length in this free video seriesbut heres a quick summary:
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Make It Difficult For Yourself To Binge
If you can put a tangible obstacle between you and the possibility of binge eating, you can make it more difficult to succumb to the urge. The best alternative strategies are incompatible with eating or make eating difficult. Doing something with your hands is a good bet, as its tricky to binge and draw, paint your nails, or play with your pet.
Other ways to make it difficult for yourself to binge could be to:
- Take a long bath or shower to relax.
- Soak the binge food in water so that it is ruined.
- Flush the food you are planning to binge on down the toilet.
- If possible, make it so you are unable to plan a binge. For instance, if you live with someone, make sure they do not tell you when they will be coming home.
There are a myriad of alternative coping strategies out there, but the ones listed above are some that our clients have found useful:
The key point to all these activities is that by the time you have done them, the tide will have gone out and the wave of feelings will have passed.
Once you have made your list, put it somewhere you can find it quickly, like on the fridge, or a note on your phone. Then you know exactly where to look when the feelings strike.
Most importantly, if you dont manage to overcome the craving this time, remember that you havent failed. Maybe you havent found the right coping strategy quite yet, and thats ok. Trying to overcome it is the first step. There is always another time to try and each time you do, it will get easier.
Follow A Recovery Meal Plan
This is the beginning basic building block of recovery from an eating disorder. You must have structured, balanced meal plans for eating disorders. This will be a struggle in the beginning because you have learned through the eating disorder dysfunctional ways of using food. Learning to eat normally is the first step in being able to stop the eating disorder behaviors. Yes, it will probably be scary. Yes, you will probably feel much anxiety. Please obtain assistance from your treatment team with this step do not go at this alone. You will need support with your recovery meal plan. This is okay.
Understand that you did not develop your eating disorder overnight and so your behaviors and feelings about food will not disappear overnight either.
Work with your therapist and treatment team on understanding some of these feelings and perceptions that come up for you. You must learn how to nourish yourself with food instead of abusing your body with the food. We must eat healthy, balanced meals and learn to tune into our bodies internal hunger cues again. Go here for sample meal plans for eating disorders.
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Make The Distinction Between Physiological & Emotional Binges
Physiological binges occur mainly as the result of restriction of food and sometimes in response to metabolic/hormonal imbalances or substance use. Emotional binges occur in response to mood reactivity. Most individuals with binge eating disorder or emotional overeating, experience both types. In recovery, we make it a treatment goal to help address both physiological and emotional binge eating.
When you have regulated your eating patterns through consistent structured eating, most likely you will experience a significant decrease of physiological binge episodes. Emotional binge episodes occur in response to an external event or internal experience that triggers strong feelings within us. Understanding the precipitating/activating event using DBT chain analysis can help you decrease emotional binges.
Recognizing Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder
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Make Small Changes You Can Commit To
The last step of a binge eating disorder recovery plan is to start with one small change you can commit to. Maybe that is making an appointment with a psychologist, maybe that means taking a 15 minute walk at lunch, maybe that means calling a friend every day just to blow off steam, or maybe that is returning to a hobby or activity that you love. People often discourage themselves before they even get started because they feel that have to do everything they would be doing if they were recovered NOW. Getting to a place of balance and recovery takes time. It is a process and you dont know how it will turn out. By taking small steps, one at a time, you can get a better feel for where you want your recovery to go. As you make these changes and you learn to more fully experience your own feelings, you may find that you are headed in a new direction, one you might have missed if you pre-determined what you should be doing in advance. So take it slow, consider your options, and dont overwhelm yourself.
Stop Trying To Be Perfect
Voltaire summed it up well, when he wrote, Perfect is the enemy of good striving for perfection often results in no progress at all. Dont look at things as if theyre black or white. You dont have to be perfectly on plan or completely off. There can be a balance.
Learn to find and live in that balance.
Both food and behavior are never all good or all bad. One of my primary goals with clients is to help them start learning how to live in the gray. This is true with feelings and with food. There is no perfect meal plan, no perfect weight and striving to be perfect puts pressure on yourself that will backfire.
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Limor Baum Ms Rdn Cedrd
People who binge eat do it impulsively or compulsively. It can derive from physiological or emotional needs. I start working with clients focusing on their physiological needs.
The strategy that helps most is to make sure to eat consistently and regularly throughout the day and making sure each meal and snack is well balanced and includes all or most food groups. This includes carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vegetables, and/or fruits. I dont believe anyone should restrict a particular food group. Doing that is known to lead to more binging and cravings so better to have it with intention and appreciation.
Another topic that I revisit often with clients is the idea of mindful eating. Eating with a present mind that is connected to the rest of the body and notices how different foods taste like and their effect on the body. Many people with BED eat rapidly and mindlessly without noticing how food tastes like. To cultivate mindfulness I encourage my clients to ask themselves before and after eating questions such as: what do I really want to have now? Do I enjoy eating that? After I finished a meal do I feel energized and focused or lethargic and dull?
When people cultivate this awareness into their food choices and body sensations we slowly see a shift towards a healthier relationship with foods. A place where eating can be slowly paced and meal time becomes a satisfying and satiating experience.
Strategy : Exercise And Relax
Stress can trigger binge eating, and exercising often reduces stress levels. A small study showed that aerobic activity significantly reduces binge eating episodes in the long term. Simply taking a 30-minute walk, riding your bike, dancing, or swimming can help prevent binge eating.
Yoga is another type of exercise that has been shown to reduce binge eating. In addition to exercise, practicing mindfulness, participating in breathing exercises, and enhancing your mind-body connection can promote relaxation and reduce stress eating.
Sleep also affects hunger and appetite, and it has been suggested that BED may be linked to insomnia. Try and get at least eight hours of sleep a night to reduce the risk of late-night binge eating. Doing a nighttime yoga routine can help relax the mind and body for sleep as well.
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Children Binge Eating: Different Stories But Similar Storylines
Binge eating is not only a concern for adults. Many children and adolescents have secret memories of having engaged in binge eating. These patterns are occurring ever more frequently in todays image-focused, diet-obsessed world. Read two stories about young adolescents who engaged in binge eating disorder behavior.
Build A Support Network
You cannot do this alone! Your treatment team might include a medical doctor, holistic doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, coach and dietitian or nutritionist. Dont stop there! Reach out and build a support network you can count on. Go to groups or meetings, join pro-recovery online communities, talk to family members, friends and/or your spouse. You might even want to consider getting a mentor or an eating disorder coach to really boost your commitment and keep you accountable in your recovery for bulimia.
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Two: Create A Daily Routine
Over time, you have created a belief system that acts like a magnetic field, which pulls you towards addiction. Your beliefs and repeated behaviors have created pathways in your brain that are ready to create a binge at any trigger.
To change permanently, youll have to rewire those pathways and create a magnetic field that pulls you towards healthier habits. In order to succeed, you must work at creating that field daily. Otherwise, the pull of the old field will take over, and youll end up binging again.
If you binge emotionally, at some point, you decided it was better to eat than to feel or address your stress, conflicts, and difficult situations. You then started obsessing over food to avoid experiencing negative emotions like the fear of rejection, or feelings of unworthiness, anxiety, guilt or shame. Each time you did, you imprinted your mind and brain with this reaction. Now, it may happen so quickly that you cannot even feel it happening within you. You just know you want to binge.
If youre serious about learning how to control binging, you have to create an efficient daily routine to start imprinting new reactions to external and internal triggers.
In your daily routine, youll have to learn to be present to yourself, to stop and listen for what you feel and need, and to create a new set of beliefs. Youll also need to take action to nurture yourself. For example, if you feel the need to be alone, youll have to cancel unnecessary engagements.
Treatment For Eating Disorders
Traditionally, treatment for eating disorders includes two goals: restoring the patient to a healthy weight and addressing the psychological roots of the condition.
Professionals typically use therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy , to help the patient change their thoughts and behaviors surrounding food. Family-based treatment is also one of the most evidence-backed methods. The family learns how to recognize eating disorder symptoms, understand the patients specific case, and monitor their recovery. Additional nutrition counseling teaches the patient how to maintain a balanced diet and restore normal eating habits.
Sometimes, people require treatment at a hospital or other in-patient facility. This may be the best choice for people who need daily supervision because of serious health complications or suicidal thoughts.
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How To Recover From Bulimia: Step One
The first step in recovering from bulimia is getting help. Tell a trusted family member or friend or reach out to a professional. Since recovering from bulimia is a difficult process, with many bumps in the road, guidance from a professional who specializes in eating disorder recovery will help you navigate the twists and turns of recovery. Many people are not able to recover on their own. Reaching out for help can be essential to recovery.
Once youve identified your support system, and ideally with help from a professional, you can then start to follow these steps to let go of bulimia once and for all.