Food not only nourishes the body, but can also give us comfort and satisfaction–which is why our relationship with food is often complex. Binge eating disorder (or BED) is considered the most common eating disorder in the U.S. It involves episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food in the absence of hunger, and often leaves people feeling guilty and ashamed. Fortunately, there are some simple practices you can try to effectively prevent binge eating.
Don’t Skip Meals
Skipping meals leads to more cravings and an increased chance of overeating. By sticking to a regular eating schedule, you can effectively stop binge eating. No need to be rigid, but eating breakfast, lunch and dinner around the same time everyday will provide a healthy foundation that reduces the chances of a binge.
Keep An Eating Journal
To combat a binge episode, it is important to understand the reasoning behind it. You can do this by documenting what you’ve uncovered. When you are no longer in the binge state, write down your takeaways. What caused the binge? What did it feel like? What thoughts popped up in your mind? How did you feel after the binge? Was anger, sadness or shame involved? Be sure not to wait too long before you journal everything. The longer you wait, the less you remember.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to curb cravings and stop overeating. Studies show that increasing water intake could be linked to decreased calorie consumption, less hunger, boosted metabolism and weight loss. The specific amount of water you should drink each day varies, depending on many factors. It is important to listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty.
Remove Junk Food From Your Kitchen
Having plenty of junk food readily available in your kitchen makes it much easier to binge eat when cravings start to strike. By keeping healthy foods fully stocked and limiting the number of unhealthy options, you can reduce the risk of emotional eating.
Throw out processed snack foods like chips, candies and pre-packaged convenience foods. Opt for healthier alternatives, such as fruits, vegetables, protein foods, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Be Kind To Yourself
The aftermath of a binging episode usually involves guilt, sadness and self-loathing. Fight these negative reactions and practice kindness instead. Treat yourself like you would a friend. Be understanding and tolerant. Think kind thoughts such as, “You’re trying,”, “You’re an amazing person,” or, “There’s more going on than just a lack of self control.”
Our relationship with food is so complicated and powerful, which is why it takes more than nutritional knowledge to combat binging. However, with patience, self-care and support, binge eating can be beaten. For support, visit the National Eating Disorder Association website.