Ever come home from work and feel the urge to just eat everything in the kitchen pantry? Maybe you try having a snack but a half hour later you find yourself overlooking a pile of food wrappers you don’t even remember eating.
This could be considered binge eating and can be an extremely frustrating habit that leads to guilt, shame and restricting foods that you love. You might feel like the only solution is to throw out these foods and swear to never have them in the house again. But, before you start swearing off foods that you love, read on because I will be sharing with you my top 6 tips to stop the urge to binge eat.
Tip 1 – Acknowledge the urge
When you are on the verge of going from snacking to binge eating, you might find yourself jumping from snack to snack without really thinking about what sounds good, if you’re hungry or if the previous food you ate even tasted good. If you find yourself in this place, intentionally say STOP out loud. This will give you a pause to acknowledge what is happening.
Then, take a deep breath to calm yourself down and step away. These couple of actions bring the awareness back to where you’re at and what you’re doing rather than allowing yourself to “black out” until the eating experience is over.
Tip 2 – Have other outlets ready
The urge to binge eat comes from a feeling of lack or deprivation. This could be a lack of food/nourishment, sleep, stress management or work-life balance. Often we turn towards food to fulfill the need or lack that we are feeling rather than addressing the root cause and overcoming it.
For example, if you’re feeling stressed at work, you might come home, raid the kitchen pantry and unwind on the couch to de-stress after a long day of work. This is a perfectly healthy way to cope with stress. However, if you are not aware of the deeper need of managing the stress, you might find yourself binge eating. If this happens, you could end up feeling guilt and shame and still have not addressed the underlying need of reducing the stress from work.
That’s why I recommend having a list of activities that are calming/soothing to use. Taking a walk, calling a friend, journaling, taking a bubble bath are all things my clients have used to reduce stress in place of binge eating. When you overcome the deeper need, you are then able to come back and enjoy food without feeling out of control.
Tip 3 – Balance it out
There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy snack-y or novelty type foods. Chocolate, ice cream, chips and more can all be enjoyed within a healthy lifestyle. When you’re on the road to recovery though, giving yourself permission to eat those foods alone may feel overwhelming. So I recommend eating the food you’re craving WITH a balanced meal.
For example, having chips on a regular basis with a balanced sandwich. This helps reduce overeating or binge eating on them because you are eating them with a meal that satiates you rather than eating the chips by themselves on an empty stomach.
Tip 4 – Change environments
It is hard to enjoy and fully tune into an eating experience when you are in an environment that isn’t conducive to eating. For example, at your work desk, in the car as you’re driving or on the couch at night. Instead, take the food to the table to eat. This allows you to sit upright and tune into the enjoyment of eating the meal rather than shoving it down and not even tasting it.
Tip 5 – Remove distractions
Another common activity that can prompt overeating or binge eating is eating with distractions. If you’re on the couch at night, munching on some chips while watching tv, you might find yourself mindlessly eating rather than enjoying the chips. Again, nothing wrong with enjoying chips in front of the TV, but if you find yourself binge eating in this situation, it might be helpful to remove those distractions.
Turn off the TV, set your phone aside and again, head to the table to fully enjoy the experience of eating the chips. As you build trust in your ability to enjoy these foods without a binge, you’ll find it much easier to snack on them while watching your fav show at night.
Tip 6 – Describe the experience
One of the simplest things you can do when you start to feel urgency in your eating similar to binge eating is to slow yourself down. You can do this by describing the food as you’re eating it. What does it taste like? What texture is it? Do you taste specific flavors? Is it light or creamy or sweet or salty? This brings awareness back to the food and the eating experience.
Binge eating can lead to a frustrating and vicious cycle of bingeing, feeling guilty and compensating with restriction. However, restriction following a binge can often lead to more binge eating, feeling ashamed and hopeless that you will never be able to enjoy food again. These 6 tips can help you to navigate the specific moments where you feel the urge to binge eat by bringing awareness back to the eating experience. However, they may not address the root to why you are binge eating in the first place.
If you find yourself binge eating on a regular basis and want to understand where it’s stemming from – check out my free guide for what to do before, during and after a binge. If you want a higher level of support to overcome binge eating, book a free discovery call with me to chat about how I can help you heal your relationship with food & body, overcome binge eating and improve your health without having to diet or restrict the foods you love!