Most people know what it feels like to overindulge and get a little sick, put too much on their Thanksgiving plate, or have that extra cookie they said they’d skip. This is normal. Other people experience overeating in a completely different way. Loss of control, a disassociated eating experience, and a hangover of regret, shame, or self-hate; this is what it feels like to binge.
What is Binge Eating?
Binge eating is a form of overeating when a person consumes a large amount of food in a relatively short period of time (under two hours). Binge eating can occur at any time but usually occurs after periods of restrictive dieting or in the evening. Binge eating usually involves high-sugar or high-caloric foods and can lead to weight gain, depression, and other eating disorder such as bulimia.
Why Do I Binge Eat?
People binge eat for a variety of reasons. Some people eat large quantities of food while under stress. Others over eat to feel a sense of soothing relief or temporary pleasure. Many people binge eat after periods of overly restrictive dieting or fasting. Binge eating is the brain’s fault mechanism at feeding the body what it doesn’t need. If someone binges enough, their brain begins to think it is an effective coping mechanism and urges to binge become more intense and more frequent.
How Do I Stop Binge Eating?
Although some psychologists claim that the root of the problem can be solved, such as emotional issues or depression, to stop binge eating, this isn’t always the case. Binge eating can be dealt with as a bad habit and conquered without over-complication of other underlying issue. You can overcome binge eating so that even when you’re triggered by an issue like stress or sadness, you will not cave into urges. These are seven key steps to stop binge eating forever.
How to Stop Binge Eating:
- Be prepared for urges.
- Pay close attention to urges.
- Separate the lower brain from the higher brain.
- Align with the higher brain.
- Eat enough nutrient-rich food.
- Drop extreme diets.
- Love yourself to a better body.
1. Prepare for Urges.
You know that urges to overeat or eat the wrong things are powerful. Being prepared means ensuring your body does not enter a state of starvation when it will be susceptible to high sugar and high volume cravings. Being prepared also involves having healthy and prepared foods on hand. Bring healthy snacks (that you enjoy) with you when you travel and in your home.
2. Pay Attention.
Urges are inevitable if you’re in the habit of binge eating regularly. Know that an urge will come and when it does remain hyper aware. Use your full attention to watch the thoughts your brain begins firing out to justify the binge or the attempt it may take to push away thoughts and propel into action.
3. Separate the Lower Brain From the Higher Brain.
The lower brain is your survival brain. This part of the brain thinks that stocking up on tons of sugar is a good idea to create reserves for your body. If you habitually purge by means of starvation, over-exercising, or throwing up, the body’s survival instinct will be even stronger in advising you to binge.
The higher brain contains your rational thoughts, hopes, goals, and desires to eat a balanced meal. This part of the brain controls your motor actions. This is the gateway through which the lower brain requests can be accepted or denied.
4. Align With the Higher Brain.
Always act in alignment with your higher brain. Recognize that the information the lower brain is telling you is faulty junk. When urges are strong your lower brain may say, “Just eat it, you only live once, why restrict yourself?”, “just one last time, you can start again tomorrow”, “you already ate so healthy today, just eat the cake”. The points vary depending on the person but overall, this part of the brain aims to manipulate and sway the higher brain onto its side.
5. Eat Enough.
Eat adequately and eat nutrient-rich foods. Intuitive eating is important. The normal cues of the body involve the hungry feeling and the full feeling. This is not an intense spectrum that involves starvation and sickness. If you feel pain, light-headed, or moody, you’ve let yourself get too hungry. If you feel nauseous, bloated, and lethargic, you’ve let yourself get too full.
Eat generous portions of nutrient-rich foods and stop when you’re full, not necessarily when the plate is clear. If your body is getting its required nutrients and feels confident that it will be fed regularly, it’s less likely to desire a binge.
6. Seriously, Cut Out Extreme Dieting.
Extreme diets don’t work. They scare the survival instinct of the lower brain into thinking that being near food means time to stock up. If you engage in long cleanses, extreme restrictions, or calorie counting, your body often rebels with binging.
Eating adequate meals will align you on a balanced path and rid you of the dichotomy between starvation and sickness or the purge and the binge. Trying to starve your way out of binging just doesn’t work.
7. Love Your Way to A Better Body (And a Better Life).
I have felt the pain of self-hate. Engaging in self-talk that is hateful, degrading, or strict will only discourage you from success. Hate is not motivation. Hate makes you hungrier for temporary relief and pleasure that a binge brings. The cycle of self-hate, self-indulgence, regret, and more self-hate is only broken by love.
You need to know that you are a healthy and strong individual with will power and control. You are a victim of a bad habit. You don’t have to fix every part of your life to fix your binge eating. You can stop binge eating and never succumb to the urges again. You can stop letting food rule your thoughts and your life. You can look in the mirror and feel good about yourself and the way you choose to eat and live. You can love your way to a better body.