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Binge Eating: How I Learned to Say No

Posted Feb 06 2013 6:20am

Binge eating isn't just something people with eating disorders struggle with -- many regular people with an emotional eating flair do as well.

The temptation to binge eat as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, boredom, fear and...just about anything else, was always an issue for me -- especially throughout college and right after.

I'm happy to say today, though I do overeat sometimes, I never binge. If you are a binge eater, you know there is a major difference between simple overeating and binging. It's the difference between seconds on dessert and eating the entire pan -- and then some.

Binging is a friend and an enemy at the same time, especially if you are lonely or sad. It's a numbing mechanism, it's an excuse.

The ability to say "NO" to the binge didn't happen overnight but I hope you can learn from me and find a quicker path to freedom than I did. After years of struggling, I finally started to see the light. Here are a few ways I conquered it one day at a time
-- Consider tomorrow. Most binging takes place at night. The stress of the day is melting away and you are in the moment, not considering when you might wake up with a bloated belly or the night when you can't sleep because of indigestion -- or simply that feeling of failure when you rise to start a new day. Remember that the consequences of a binge are simply not worth it. You will be faced with the same temptation tomorrow and the more you say no, the easier it will  become.

-- Stop Making Food Off Limits. The minute you aren't "allowed" to have something, you want more. Then, when it's in your house, you feel like you have to eat it all because you "never" get this food. Bad idea. I eat sensibly but ice cream was always my downfall so I nearly always let myself buy it and eat it whenever I want. This way I don't feel like it's "bad" and get some kind of rebel thrill from eating it. Sounds crazy but some of you know what I mean.

-- Seriously, Eat Breakfast. You've heard it. I mean it. If you aren't binging in the evenings, there's a big chance you will be hungry for breakfast so set a pattern. You don't have to eat when you get up but have something available a few hours later. People that claim they don't get hungry until lunch are freaks of nature of lying. I used to go almost all day without eating and end up binging in the afternoon. It plays a huge part in it mentally and physically. Be regular with your  meals to balance yourself.

-- Drink Water Now. It can take awhile to get into the habit but water can play a huge part in keep you satisfied and not confused about your body. Don't like drinking water? Just chug. I'm not a sipper. I usually fill up the glass and chug it down. Done and done. If you ever have a temptation moment, start chugging. Don't say you can't have your binge after but water gives you a fullness and at least a few seconds to think about what you are doing before all hell breaks loose.

-- RUN! Or workout. Not always an option at 9pm in the evening when the feeling hits. But, sometimes it hits at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon too. If there's any physical activity you can do to distract yourself, do it. Cleaning the house is another option. NEVER tell yourself you can't eat after the activity (or you don't do it) but...just say, I will do this FIRST. Often, the desire to binge desists. 

The more you practice these things, the more benefits you will see. You'll notice how refreshing it is to wake up in the morning hungry for breakfast (like you did as a kid.) You'll be able to put some distance and wisdom in there....and see that saying no is well worth it no matter how hard it is. You'll notice that you can have your dessert or favorite foods without wanting to eat every bit -- because you are now "allowed" to eat things once considered "bad."

It doesn't happen overnight. You'll mess up. You just keep trying again. Eventually, like I did, one day you'll wake up and realize you don't know the last time you binged. And then you'll really (almost) never want to again.

Do you have an issue with binge eating? Have you tried any of these tactics? What am I missing? Feel free to email me at ericka.andersen@gmail.com if it's something you are struggling with.
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