As you all may know, I use to binge eat but it was not severe enough to be considered a binge eating disorder. I just use to have a very difficult time stopping myself from eating when I was full. I had binge eating habits. After the meal, I would feel SO bloated & uncomfortably full. Sometimes, I couldn’t even eat for the rest of the day. It’s happened numerous times. I would feel so guilty & disgusted after but the process would happen all over again. There were times where I felt controlled by food & believed it would be impossible for me to overcome this problem. I would be in my kitchen at midnight 3-4 times a week eating whatever I saw in my kitchen. This lasted around 2 months.
Soooo, what is a binge eating disorder?
It is characterized by binge-eating episodes for at least twice a week for at least a 6-month period. It is emotional distress & feeling powerlessness. One feels like they have no control over their food intake. Night eating syndrome and sleep disorders may even be present in some situations. This is a more common problem around late adolescence.
Having a random food splurge here and there is not a problem because we all have those moments. I’m sure we’ve ALL have had times of eating too much food at once to the point where we felt uncomfortable. For example, Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners! Don’t feel bad, you aren’t alone! It’s common. We may eat too much in one sitting but it does not require attention to until it happens too consistently.
Here are several tips I felt were the most helpful in helping me recover from my binge eating before it turned worse.
1. Chew your food.
I recommend chewing your food at least 20-25 times for each bite. If it helps, COUNT IN YOUR HEAD. I use to literally count my chews in my head while eating all my meals and snacks. Don’t count out loud because we don’t want to see the food in your mouth LOL but try this out!
2. Put your fork down after every bite.
This may seem a bit much but it helps. It helps prevent any picking at your food while you’re still chewing. It prevents temptation of wanting to stuff more into your mouth before you finish your last bite. It also increases the amount of time it takes for you to eat, which is a good thing since binge eating is correlated with eating quickly! It encourages you to focus on slowing down your eating, paying more attention to chewing and enjoying the taste of your food.
3. Find out what foods trigger your binge eating.
Mine is chips, peanut butter & crackers. I always desire crunch and I have an obsession with nut butters. In the past, I would finish an entire nut butter jar by myself in just a few days. RIGHT NOW, I want you to find a piece of paper and pen. Write down a list of what foods you usually consume when you binge eat. Then, take those foods and literally place them into cupboards or anywhere where it is unseen when you walk into the kitchen. Keep them out of sight. This was one of the small steps in preventing my binge eating habits. Once I knew what my trigger foods, I was able to control myself better. Small steps go a long way!
4. Find out what situations trigger your binge eating.
When you’re by yourself? When it’s late at night? Because those are mine. I try to keep myself away from those situations. When nobody is at home, I will go out on a walk or do something else to distract myself. I use to binge eat around 11-12pm but now I always brush my teeth right after my snack around 8-9pm and sleep by 10:30. Sleeping earlier has significantly helped me!
5. Use an appropriate sized plate.
Eating off a smaller plate will trick your mind into thinking you ate more. Large plates make a serving of food seems smaller. Small plates make us thing the same amount of food is significantly more. Again, this is a small step but will help significantly in the long run.
6. Portion out your meals, snacks & desserts before you begin eating.
This one helped me big time!! I put the food I plan to eat onto an appropriate sized plate. BEFORE I TAKE MY FIRST BITE, I put all other food I don’t plan to eat back into the fridge or where it belongs. This helps prevent any temptation to put more on my plate or eat everything in front of me. Eating off of large buffet plates is not a mindful habit. Get into a habit of placing your snacks and desserts on a plate before you eat them. This includes chips, cookies, brownies, sliced cakes, etc. Instead of eating chips out of a bag, place a small handful into a bowl and put the bag AWAY and OUT OF SIGHT before eating even one bite. The habit of portioning out your foods will cause you to acknowledge how much of a certain food you are eating.
7. Try to understand the texture of your food & the ingredients in it.
This is a great way to focus on eating more mindfully. This can be a fun thing when you are eating out at restaurants since you didn’t make the food. Don’t just stuff all this food in your mouth but ENJOY it.
8. After eating, get out the house and take a walk.
I still do this very often! When I stay in the house I’m around so much food I just want to continue to munch on something even though I’m full. Going on a walk is relaxing and lets the full feeling kick in. Sometimes I’ll go to a park or just walk around my block to get a nice breeze of air!
9. Instead of resisting the feeling, distract yourself.
This is key. Don’t continue to say to yourself, “don’t eat it, don’t eat it”. Instead, find something to distract yourself. I realized the more I resist something, the more I think about it. Think about something else and get your mind on other things. Read a book, go on a jog outside or go to the mall to window shop by yourself! I’ve done all of these many times. I take some time to pray or do a devotional because it reminds me of my purpose.
10. Understand what “full” means to you.
You should have a pretty good estimate of how much is good enough for you. Recognize the amount of food you eat to get perfectly satisfied. Try to stay within this amount at each meal. When you feel “full”, stop eating. My boyfriend said to me once, “You’ll enjoy it more later.” Ever since he said that, it stuck with me. I think about that when I feel myself getting full. There is nothing wrong with taking leftovers home or not finishing your food. Listen to your body. Feed it the amount it needs.
I’m not about restrictions.
One of the reasons why people binge eat is because they restrict themselves. Before BBG, I remember driving home after getting a box of a dozen donuts with a friend. I was in the car alone at 12:30AM and I ate 5 donuts in 30 minutes. I went to sleep feeling disgusted and woke up feeling extremely disappointed with myself. When I first started BBG 1, I ate completely clean for 11 weeks. At the end of week 12, I devoured two huge donuts in 10 minutes. This made me SO full after. I love donuts and back then I didn’t allow myself to have any of it. Not even one bite since I thought it would “slow my progress”. Trust me on this; DO NOT restrict yourself that way. It’ll hurt you emotionally & mentally. It doesn’t create a lifestyle habit that sustains. You want to be able to enjoy your favorite foods and snacks, in moderation! Eat your 1 donut, but don’t eat 5. Eat a cookie, not 10. Learn to have control. It takes time. It takes willingness. But it IS an opportunity to face challenge. It’s a way to grow. You are put in your situations for a purpose. You need to change your perspective of seeing your hardships and struggles as a way to grow.
Food is meant for you to enjoy. Think about all the different types of food out there. There is SO much to try. I see food as a way to fuel and nourish my body. I also see food as a way to bond with friends and family. I see food as a way to socially interact with others!
I just binge ate. Now I feel SO guilty. What do I do?
If you did binge eat, getting angry & feeling guilty is a natural reaction. I’ve had that feeling in the past SO many times and not going to lie, I still have that feeling after a filling meal. I have a big urge to “work it off” and go on an extremely clean diet after.
Accept it & don’t be hard on yourself.
Don’t beat yourself up! Forgive yourself & offer compassion. Dwelling on the fact that you binge ate won’t change the situation. Shift your perspective. Try your best to understand we all go through this and you aren’t alone in your struggle. Make effort to understand WHAT caused it and WHAT you will do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This may take many many times but if you never give up, you will win.
Don’t starve yourself.
After binge eating, STILL fuel yourself properly and don’t skip meals!! Vegetables, lean protein, fresh fruit, grains & healthy fats! Keep a well-balanced diet and don’t let binge eating take over your emotions & happiness. If you starve yourself, it will only cause you to be super hungry possibly causing you to binge again. I recommend to make sure you are feeding yourself nutritious whole foods.
Keep your head up! I believe you CAN overcome it. I believe you WILL be stronger as long as you make the effort to accept your flaws & strive to be a better you everyday. Take things step by step, incorporate some of my tips and I believe you CAN do this. Although I don’t may not completely understand your situation, I know it’s not impossible to change things around. I KNOW you can do this!!