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Published on March 13, 2020

How to Stop Binge Eating for Better Health

How to Stop Binge Eating for Better Health

We all eat too much from time to time. But if you regularly overeat while feeling out of control and powerless to stop, you may be suffering from binge eating disorder or a harmful habit of binge eating.

I personally developed a severe case of binge eating disorder during my childhood that led me to become obese by the age of seven. It took me more than fifteen years to get over it, and it highly affected both my personal and social life.

This article will present some tips and tricks to stop binge eating and improve your health.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder[1] is a common eating disorder where you frequently eat large amounts of food while feeling powerless to stop and feeling extremely distressed during or after eating.

You may eat to the point of discomfort and be plagued by feelings of guilt, shame, or depression afterwards, beat yourself up for your lack of self-control, or worry about what compulsive eating will do to your body.

If you too are struggling with binge eating, keep reading because this article is just what you need.

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. You may find that binge eating is comforting for a brief moment, helping to ease unpleasant emotions or feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. However, reality sets back in and you’re flooded with feelings of regret and self-loathing.

If you binge eat regularly, you gain weight, which only reinforces compulsive eating. The worse you feel about yourself and your appearance, the more you use food to cope. It becomes a vicious cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief.

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As powerless as you may feel about your eating disorder, it’s important to know that binge eating disorder is treatable. You can learn to break the binge eating cycle, better manage your emotions, develop a healthier relationship with food, and regain control over your eating and your health, just as I did.

As any mental problem, both the causes and the solutions are not that straightforward. To get over any binge eating disorder, self-awareness is paramount.

Causes and Effects of Binge Eating

Generally, it takes a combination of things to develop binge eating disorder, including your genes, emotions, and experience. In my personal case, I grew up being extremely fussy with food. Because I almost never liked what was served to me at my school’s cafeteria, I would simply refuse to eat and, once back home, clear the kitchen from all the bread and crisps without letting my parents see me.

Some of my clients developed binge eating disorder because of social pressure from their parents in their early teenage years. Social pressure to be thin can add to the feeling and fuel your emotional eating. Some parents unwittingly set the stage for binge eating by using food to comfort, dismiss, or reward their children.

Children who are exposed to frequent critical comments about their bodies and weight are also vulnerable, as are those who have been sexually abused in childhood.

Many people also develop binge eating disorders because they find in food an easy way to supress feelings of anger, depression, loneliness or lack of attention from their parents. Depression and binge eating are strongly linked. Many binge eaters are either depressed or have been before; others may have trouble with impulse control and managing and expressing their feelings. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction may also contribute to binge eating.

But why do you still binge eat, even though you no longer feel social pressure, fussiness towards food, or strong negative feelings to suppress?

The truth is that old and reinforced habits are hard to break and are wired in our subconscious mind.

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The disorder is treatable. Your doctor can help you stop and, later on, get to and maintain a healthy weight. The first step is to understand why you’re engaging in this activity and then how to stop binge eating.

Overeating vs. Binge Eating

If you sometimes experience a mild version of the symptoms I’ve listed above and have only sporadic episodes of overeating, there’s a much simpler way of treating the issue.

It could just be an old habit of clearing the plate or mindlessly going through the whole bag of chips you’ve just opened. These episodes happen to everyone, but they’re not necessarily a way to suppress feelings.

If that’s the case, and you spotted yourself doing so sporadically, you might be simply overeating.

The path to breaking an old habit starts with getting to know yourself deeply and becoming mindful of your emotions and their triggers.

Be Mindful When Eating

You could stop overeating for some time by creating an environment where food is scarce, but, for most westerners like us, that’s not an option. Food is plentiful, and the choices at our disposal are endless.

This means that to stop overeating, the only solution is to learn how to spot and manage the triggers that are causing it.

Be aware that being able to notice your emotions on the spot and stop yourself before acting out of an impulse is not easy. Most people tend to get overwhelmed by their feelings and act impulsively. For this reason, before suggesting any “tricks” to stop your overeating habits, I recommend you develop a daily mindfulness meditation practice.[2]

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Meditating daily has the power to help you better understand your feelings and step back from the behaviors that are jeopardizing your health and happiness.

If you want to get started with a mindfulness meditation, this article may be able to help.

Practicing mindfulness in my early twenties didn’t just help me to get over binge eating disorder, but it also helped me to quit smoking and using recreational drugs.

How Mindfulness Helps You Stop Binge Eating

The way mindfulness works is very simple. The more you train yourself to notice your feelings when they arise, the better you become at pausing and letting them go away.

Let’s imagine a scenario where you’re home alone and you start to experience a feeling of boredom. You quickly remind yourself that you are single and lonely. This thought evokes a strong and uncomfortable feeling of either frustration, sadness, or even deep depression. The pull to try to suppress those negative feelings is very strong, and, in your subconscious mind, the solution that is deeply weird is to look for comforting food.

At this point, if you have easy access to food, your impulse is to reach for it. You may at this point try to exert willpower, but, as long as the negative emotions persist, the impulse of binge eating won’t disappear.

Eventually, you’d fall into temptation and start eating. You say to yourself that you’ll have “one more bite,” but there’s a voice inside your head saying “I’m such a failure at resisting temptations, I might just stop trying and eat the whole thing,” and that’s exactly what happens.

In this example, if you were able to notice the arousal of the feeling of boredom, you would have stopped there and, after questioning the feeling, maybe think about something to keep your mind occupied, like calling a friend, getting ahead with work, etc.

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Noticing the arousal of your first feeling (the least negative one) would help you to avoid the escalation of feelings that inevitably lead to binge eating.

A Simple Trick to Stop Binge Eating

A simple trick to help you notice your feelings and pause before letting them escalate is to wear a rubber band on your wrist.

Whenever you notice the arousal of one of the feelings that are usually leading you to binge eating, stop there, pull the rubber band, and let it hit your wrist hard enough to be painful.

At this point, your brain will register that “it is painful to experience that feeling,” and your mental focus will shift from the negative feeling to a physical sensation: pain.

Be aware that pain might be enough to help distract you from a weak emotion, but it won’t do much when it comes to dealing with strong and overwhelming emotions. Therefore, whenever you find yourself overeating because you didn’t manage to stop the escalation of emotions, just forgive yourself and acknowledge you’ve tried and that you are making progress.

Final Thoughts

With time, if you make mindfulness a regular part of your life, you’ll notice that your negative emotions become weaker and weaker, and you’ll start to develop a healthier relationship towards food.

There is no magic to it, just hard work and consistency. With these practices, you can learn how to stop binge eating and change your life for the better.

More Tips on How to Stop Binge Eating

Featured photo credit: Andi Whiskey via unsplash.com

Reference

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Davide Alfonsi

Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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