Everyone overeats from time to time. If you regularly overeat while feeling out of control and powerless to stop, you may be suffering from binge eating disorder.
People who compulsively overeat, though, may use food as their only way of coping with negative emotions. Regular binge episodes can also lead to weight gain, which can contribute to health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can try, both at home and with the help of a professional to reduce episodes of binge eating.
Overeating vs. Binge Eating
Don’t get confused between the two. You eat too much without thinking about why. But there are real differences.
General examples of overeating are:
- Having more than one dessert after dinner
- Finishing a whole bag of popcorn while watching a movie
When you eat too much because of a stressful event such as a romantic breakup, it’s sometimes called “emotional eating”.
If you have binge eating disorder, you may feel embarrassed and ashamed about your eating habits, and try to hide your symptoms by eating in secret.
- Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating
- Eating even when you’re full
- Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret
- Eating normally around others, but gouging when you’re alone
- Quickly eating large amounts of food
Eat breakfast every day
Starting each day off with a healthy breakfast might reduce the risk of binge eating later in the day.
Plus, filling up on the right foods can keep you feeling full to curb cravings and reduce hunger throughout the day.
Meanwhile, eating fiber- and protein-rich oatmeal was shown to improve appetite control and promote fullness.
Try combining a few fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, with a good source of protein to avoid overeating.
Avoid skipping meals
Skipping meals can contribute to cravings and increase the risk of overeating.
Setting a regular eating schedule and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to overcome binge eating.
Portion out your food
Planning meals can help ensure that you have healthy ingredients on hand to prepare nutritious meals. Also, measuring out portion sizes and putting the remainder of food away may help you avoid triggering a binge.
Don’t just grab a big bag of chips and head to the couch to watch TV. Measure out one serving into a small bag or onto a plate.
You’ll be less likely to eat too much if you have to get up for more.
Mindfulness is a practice that involves listening to your body and paying attention to how you feel at the moment.
This technique can prevent overeating by helping a person learn to recognize when they no longer feel hungry.
A small study showed that combining mindfulness with cognitive behavioral therapy may improve eating behavior and self-awareness (Source).
You should listen to your body to recognize when hunger lessens. Additionally, try to eat slowly and enjoy food to promote healthy eating behaviors.
Keep a food diary
It will help you learn when you tend to binge. You can also see what was going on in your life that may have led you to do it.
To get started, simply start recording what you eat and how you feel each day using either a journal or app.
Start visiting the gym
Just by adding exercise into your routine, could prevent binge eating.
Exercise can help enhance weight loss, improve body image and improve your mood and anxiety symptoms.
Walking, running, swimming, biking, and playing sports are just a few different forms of physical activity that can help relieve stress and reduce binge eating.
While the strategies above can be helpful, oftentimes a treatment plan designed by a professional is needed to help overcome binging.
Many people with BED have other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, they may also receive additional medications to treat these.
Other types of therapy is also used to treat binge eating include dialectical behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and behavioral weight loss therapy.
It is important to have support, whether it is through your partner, family, a friend, binge eating support groups or online.
BED is a recognized psychological condition that affects millions of people around the world.
It can have negative effects on your overall health, body weight, self-esteem and mental health.
However, it’s possible to overcome it with the right treatment plan and healthy lifestyle modifications.
With proper care and support, you can stop binging and live a happy, healthy life. And you can start today.