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How To Change Binge Eating Habits?

Updated on June 1, 2014
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Binge Eating Causes

Binge eating happens when a person eat considerable amounts of food over a short period of time and they habitually eat although they are not hungry. Binges in many cases are planned and always have to do with the person buying special binge foods.

Bouts of binge eating usually alternate with periods in which the person significantly reduces the amount of food they eat, which unfortunately makes the problem worse.

Binge eating usually happens in private, with the person believing they can't restrain themselves not to overeat. They may experience sense of guilt or aversion after binge eating. These types of emotions emphasize the underlying psychological issues, such as:

  • low self-esteem and lack of confidence
  • depression - feelings of severe sadness that last for a long time
  • anxiety - a sense of restlessness, such as worry or fear, that can vary from mild to severe

These feelings can become worse as time goes by while the person continues to binge.

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Binge Eating Can Affect Anyone

Anyone can suffer from binge eating. Different from anorexia, where women are the ones generally affected, binge eating affects men and women impartially. The disorder is often more common in older adults as compared to younger people.

Binge Eating and Bulimia

People who binge eat and those that suffer from bulimia often eat until they are painfully full. People with bulimia then expel (flush out) the food they have taken by vomiting or by using laxatives (medicine to help clear the intestines).

Not like those with bulimia, people who binge eat will not likely purge themselves to manage their weight, and are usually try to limit weight gain by sessions of eating hardly any. However, this often results in more binge eating and quite often weight gain, that can cause obesity.

Binge Eating and Obesity

Binge eating is generally linked to obesity, where a person becomes very heavy with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Obesity is a serious health issue that can give rise to several serious chronic (long-term) health conditions, such as:

  • hypertension
  • high cholesterol levels
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease

Being overweight can also shorten your life span. For instance, the life span of obese adults who are over the age of 40 can be reduced by 7 or 8 years.

Binge Eating Treatment

Binge eating is a treatable health problem and many different treatment options are offered. For example, treatments include:

  • Self-help program - this can be individually with a manual or online training course, or included in a self-help support group
  • Psychological therapy - cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Taking an antidepressant drug called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) that are given by doctors in line with therapy

If you are obese, a healthcare professional may design a weight loss program for you after any psychological concerns have been taken care of. This is to make it easier to lose weight in a safe and effective way.

People can recover from binge eating as long as they understand the psychological factors causing their condition, embrace a regular eating routine and get sensible guidelines about food.

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Bnge Eating Getting Back on Track

Binge eating while working to stay healthy can feel like the most terrible feeling in the world, however it doesn't need months to get back on track after binge eating. You simply need the proper mindset and these helpful pointers. The most important thing to consider if you are trying to get back on track after binge eating is that you made a decision to be healthy for a reason and you don’t have to waste all of your hard work.

1. Do not eat right away from the whole package or box. Get a small portion and put the rest away.

2. If you like to eat some ice cream, use smaller sized cups, plates, bowls, cocktail spoons and forks. Serve yourself a half cup of ice cream or pie in a small plate to make it seem like a lot more food, instead of a large bowl with plenty of extra empty space. Using smaller spoons and forks will make smaller servings last longer and curb your eating.

3. Use a kitchen timer or monitor the clock and be sure to extend meal times to 15-20 minutes. Eat in small bites and put your fork down in between bites. Enjoy a conversation, chew lightly, and stuff like that. These strategies allows your body to gain plenty of time for its satiety signals to set in. It will take about 15-20 minutes for your tummy to send a signal to your brain that you are satisfied. Never forget last Thanksgiving when you eat hurriedly up to 3 plates of food in just a few minutes after that regretted it 10 minutes later because your stomach felt like it wanted to burst? It’s an awful experience, but eating slowly is the best defense to keeping it from happening again.

4. Learn to know the difference between hunger and cravings. Cravings are normally for a specific thing (cookies, French fries, sandwich, candy, etc ). However, hunger will definitely drive you to eat anything even if you don't normally eat vegetables. The understanding between hunger and cravings are often fogged, especially with plenty of food choices we have. Be conscious of your body and be able to see between cravings and hunger.

5. In some cases, we can confuse hunger with thirst. If you end up staring inside the fridge trying to find something to eat, but can't figure out what you really want, you are most probably having boredom cravings. Drink a glass of water and walk away.

6. Any time a craving for a particular food strikes, try these options: Take a walk, read a good book, take a warm bath, whatever you decide to do to get your mind away from the craving.

7. Quite often binge eating isn't purely about the food or the craving. In fact it’s more like a stress reliever after a terribly bad day or a desperate breakup. Often without realizing it, we gobble the whole bag of snacks or that entire bowl of spaghetti as a coping mechanism for pressure or personal issues. Probably the most important thing to prevent these particular binges is to stay active and flowing. Ease off and enjoy each bite of food. Even better, find stress relief by taking a walk or getting a hot bath.

8. Don't skip your meals! This is extremely important. Jumping over your meals and snacks may make you to overindulge at the next meal, and eating just one (or two) large meal in a day can wreak mayhem on your blood sugars and delay weight loss. Make it a habit to have three meals every day plus one or two nutritious snacks.

9. Stay present while eating. Be conscious of the foods you are eating and how much. Focus on your food and never give attention to distractions: Don't eat in front of the TV or computer. Clear off the dining table. Don't read, study, write or talk on the phone whenever you eat. If you eat mindfully, you will enjoy your food more, notices heaviness, flavor and satisfaction better than ever before, and feel less of an urge to eat way too much.

10. Learn some ways how you will respond to trigger foods. There are differing opinions about whether people affected by binge eating need to keep their trigger foods in the house or never buy at all. Perhaps this depends on the individual. Only YOU know your boundaries. If you are the type of individual that find it difficult to stop at just one cookie or one cup of ice cream, it would be best not to buy these foods for a time. However, the goal is to work on ways to enjoy a small portion of a trigger food any time a craving attacks so that you can avoid the inevitable food spree that usually follows rounds of restriction. For some, eating a limited piece or serving of a trigger food during the week can put off binges - because you grant it and not labeled it off-limits. Other people have a difficult time staying in control.

And remember, it's good to enjoy a sugary treat or other healthy foods every once in a while. Depriving yourself can be more frustrating sooner or later and can contribute to out-of-control eating incident that sum up to far more calories than the food you initially planned to eat. Take pleasure in life’s simple treats in moderation once or twice a week.

Stop Compulsive Eating

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    • jasonycc profile image

      jasonycc 4 years ago from South East Asia

      At times I do indulge in chocolate and my pick would be dark chocolate which is not so sweet. Thanks for sharing these healthy eating tips. I find them useful and practical. Cheers.