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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

More by this author

Davide Alfonsi

Celebrity Coach, Author and Mindfulness expert

How to Stop Binge Eating for Better Health 10 Best Low Calorie Foods That Help You Lose Weight Fast 10 Best Workouts to Lose Weight and Burn Fat Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism 7 Effective Ways to Cope with Stress

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

1. Exercise

It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

2. Drink in Moderation

I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

4. Watch Less Television

A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

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Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

5. Eat Less Red Meat

Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

6. Don’t Smoke

This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

7. Socialize

Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

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9. Be Optimistic

Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

10. Own a Pet

Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

11. Drink Coffee

Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

12. Eat Less

Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

13. Meditate

Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

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How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

15. Laugh Often

Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

17. Cook Your Own Food

When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

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18. Eat Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

19. Floss

Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

21. Have Sex

Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

More Health Tips

Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
[2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
[3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
[4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
[5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
[6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
[7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
[8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
[9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
[10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
[11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
[12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
[14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
[15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
[16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

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