Have you ever noticed that few, if any, diet books or programs deal with binge eating?
Whenever I attempted diets over the years (and there were a lot of attempts!), I noticed this was the one area of weight loss I could never find help with.
And the same pattern repeated over and over again. I would start a new program. I would do well for several weeks. Everything was going great. Then, BOOM! Another binge eating episode.
After a binge eating episode everything unraveled. I felt like a failure. And I felt alone. I didn’t see any references to what I was experiencing. I felt out of control with my eating, out of control with myself and nothing would pull me back in. It was a horrible, lonely time and if you’re going through a similar experience I want you to know you are not alone.
That’s why I’m doing this five-part series of posts on binge eating and why I’ll soon be offering a course on binge eating (click here to learn more). I know how it feels to be alone. And I know how important it is to get the support you need when you’re struggling along your weight loss journey.
Here are 5 big mistakes contributing to your binge eating:
Assuming you won’t binge eat when starting a new diet. This was my biggest mistake. I did it time and again. I’d start a new program. I saw it as a new slate, everything’s clean. I’m not going to binge eat.
Of course not!
Now, I’ve been binging for almost my entire life. Why did I believe for a second a new diet program was going to prevent me from continuing my old behaviors? It wasn’t. It never did. And it never could.
Only I could prevent those old habits. How? By changing them, replacing them with newer, healthier ones. It wasn’t until I accepted my binge eating and made a real effort to change it that I was able to lose 170 pounds and reach my goal weight.
Having no plan for dealing with a binge after it happens. You don’t want to acknowledge it, I know. It’s easier to pretend it didn’t happen. You don’t want to face it but then it happens anyway. You don’t have an exit strategy.
It’s like a fire drill. If you have young kids, you work with them to create an “escape plan” if a fire ever breaks out in your home. Thankfully, house fires rarely happen, but there’s always a chance it could. So you have a plan.
But there’s a better chance of you binge eating; however, you don’t have an exit strategy. Rather than wallowing in anger and self-loathing, accept what you did. Ask yourself why it happened? What triggered it? Could you do anything differently when it happens again?
Skipping meals before and after a binge. Have you ever skipped a meal? Told yourself “I’m going to be really good today. I’m going to eat breakfast and skip lunch. Then I’ll have a sensible dinner. Everything is going to be great!”
If you’ve done this I don’t need to tell you what happens next. You get famished. Anything and everything edible looks amazing to you. And once those sweet, fatty foods you love cross your pallet, it’s hard to stop.
So skipping meals can trigger a binge. But let’s say it’s a couple hours after dinner. You’re not really hungry, but you start munching anyway. Soon it turns into a full-fledged binge-a-thon.
Next morning you wake up and you vow, “I’m not going to eat breakfast. That’ll make up the difference for binge I had last night.” Once again, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’re continuing the vicious cycle.
When you skip a meal, you feel famished later in the day and the binge starts all over again. Instead, if you woke up the day after the binge, and forced yourself to eat a protein-heavy food, like eggs, you’d break the binge eating cycle caused by skipping meals.
Self-loathing after a binge. I know, I’ve been there. When you binge eat all you can think about is ‘why did I do that,’ and ‘what’s wrong with me’. I remember having those thoughts and feelings.
It wasn’t until I started saying to myself, “It’s okay. You had a binge episode. So now, what can you do about it?” Instead of only seeing what was wrong with me, I asked myself, “How can I fix this? How can I stop letting my urge to binge eat control me?”
Ask yourself, “Is this how I’d treat a friend, or a loved one?” You’ll begin to change how you view yourself. You can’t go back and erase the binge you had last night, but you can decide, right now, to change the way you think about it.
Removing your binge eating triggers. Many things can trigger a binge eating episode. Stressful situations, relationships, family and friends, and work can all factor in. What are your triggers? Pay attention the next time you have the urge to binge. What happened just before? What about earlier in the day?
There might be several different reasons why you’re doing it. Write down your suspected triggers in a journal or notebook. Do this for a week and see if you notice a pattern emerging.
Know this. When you’re ready to dig deep, love yourself, identify your triggers, and prepare for the next binge, you’ll begin to feel in control of your binge eating and yourself!
Next week: Ten Tips for Preventing a Binge (before it happens)
Do you need support to help you feel in control your binge eating and ? Click here to learn more about my upcoming course—Binge Eating 101: How to control your urges, maintain your eating, and change your mindset about food.