I was about eight-years-old when I had my first binge episode, so I’ve had a lot of experience with it. Over the years, I’ve researched binge eating, focusing on what I’ve done to get a handle on it. I’ve also listened to what others told me they’ve done too.
From all those years of painful experience, I’d like to share this list of nine tips you can use to start working on preventing a binge episode, right now. Pick one or two of these tips and try it yourself for a week or two. I think you’ll find you’ll become more aware of your binges and what’s causing them.
1. Eat a substantial breakfast every day. When I say substantial breakfast, I’m actually talking about food with protein in it. If you don’t like eggs, find a protein heavy alternative. Greek yogurt, for example, is a good option.
You can also make protein muffins. They’re delicious. And although they have a ridiculous amount of egg whites in them, you don’t taste the eggs.
2. Eat protein at every meal. You’ll want to do this in the earlier part of your day. Again, protein is key. Studies have shown it maintains your blood-sugar levels and it you’ll feel satisfied longer.
I know a lot of people tend to blow off eating protein, but your body needs it and it can help you suppress the urge to binge eat.
3. Carry a healthy snack with you. I like to eat the majority of my calories between the time I wake up (around 5:30 am) and 3:30 in the afternoon. Because of the way I work out, my body needs those calories. So, I keep a stash of snacks with me all the time.
String cheese, apples, peanut butter, cottage cheese and fruit, and almonds are all excellent healthy snacks. Have snacks like these on hand in case you start to feel hungry between meals.
4. Avoid surrounding yourself with tempting foods. I keep my pantry clear of most of my trigger foods (the types of food I tend to binge on). Because I know sweets are a weakness, I keep them out of the house. Does this mean I never have them? Or that I “deprive” my kids and husband?
No, it doesn’t.
When we go out, for special occasions, I’ll have a treat. Or, if I’m bringing it home, I’ll buy enough for everyone to have a serving. However, because I know desserts are my triggers, I don’t keep them in my house.
5. Exercise first thing. If you binge eat, when you exercise may matter as much as if you exercise. When I’d have a binge episode in the past, I noticed something. If I worked out in the morning, I’d try and salvage the rest of the day. It felt like I was already “vested” into my healthy lifestyle.
But whenever I planned on working out at the end of the day, if I had a binge beforehand, it became an excuse not to exercise. I’d tell myself, “Well, you’ve already binged, so why even bother?” Of course, I know now how irrational this rationalization was, but it’s how I felt.
6. Be aware of how you’re feeling. If you’re tempted to eat, but don’t feel hungry, pay attention to how all of you feels, not just your stomach. Your body will key you in. We get so out of touch with our bodies over the years. This is especially true as you gain weight. You stop listening to it.
It’s time to start paying attention again.
If you’re feeling the urge to eat, stop for a minute and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Do I want to eat, or is something else going in?” See if the feeling passes. If it doesn’t, don’t beat yourself up. Awareness of your impulses, knowing what you’re feeling when the urge to binge hits you, is an important step in gaining control.
7. Journal your food choices. Write down what you eat. Everything. This is what many weight loss programs promote, and there’s a reason. It works. How can you get control of your eating if you don’t know what you’re putting in your mouth? You can also write down what you’re feeling, doing, and who you’re with when you feel the urge to binge eat.
You’ll start to notice patterns,. Maybe it’s the time of day. Or it’s only after certain situations, or when you’re around toxic people. Binges have patterns to them.
Try journaling for a week or two and see what you find.
8. Find your triggers and remove them. You know you have a trigger. Maybe there’s more than one. It’s whatever you experience that leads to a binge. Instead of dealing with your real problem, you’re turning to food. It seems like the “one thing” you can control. But, of course, you lose control, which leads to the dreaded binge.
It’s completely irrational, but there it is.
Examine the people and situations in your life. Decide if these “triggers” are worth keeping around. And if, for right now, you’re unable to remove your binge trigger, ask why you believe the only way to deal with your problem is to binge eat.
9. Find support. Seek out a group, counselor, coach, friend or family member. It’s important you find help to get you started. For me, I re-joined Weight Watchers and went to therapy. I began viewing myself differently. I started dealing with my binge eating and learned to coach myself through it. I did it my way.
You can find your way too. Finding support can get you started on your journey. It’s a bumpy road and everyone can use a helping hand to keep them steady when they stumble.
Do you have a tip to prevent a binge episode that I didn’t mention here? Please share it with us in the comments!