Earlier this year, ground-breaking research out of Harvard University affiliated McLean Psychiatric Hospital showed that Binge Eating Disorder, or BED, is America's most common eating disorder. According to James I. Hudson, MD, ScD, a psychiatry professor at Harvard's McLean Hospital and lead author of the study, bingeing is "extraordinarily underrecognized, both by health professionals and by the public at large."
If BED is more common than anorexia and bulimia combined, we wondered how many more women are struggling with lower-level bingeing - the kind that has you downing a box of cookies without thinking because you're hungry from dieting or inhaling a bag of chips when you're angry.
Here are some tips to curb overeating:
1) Make sure you have several small meals throughout the day so you don't feel deprived and your metabolism stays constant. Don't restrict all carbs- healthy whole grain carbs can satiate your body from craving white, sugary or starchy carbs.
2) Try to dealing with the emotional issues that fuel bingeing. For many, the feelings that trigger the cravings and overeating are almost unconscious. That's why mindfulness is the number-one way to gain control. Instead of numbing whatever it is loneliness, frustration, anxiety with food, ask yourself, -- What am I really feeling?? Forcing yourself to confront the real problem often leads to the craving disappearing on its own.
3) Eating sans distractions may also help you savor food instead of inhaling it. Make a deal with yourself that you can eat what you want, but you must sit at the table.
It's called "eating mindfully", rather than trolling through the kitchen or zoning out in front of the television. A recent University of Rhode Island study found that if a woman places her fork down between bites of pasta, then purposefully chews 15 to 20 times, she realizes that she's fuller faster and she ultimately consumes about 70 calories less per meal.
4) Stress-reduction techniques such as yoga or walking also may help reduce the negative feelings that trigger emotional eating.
I totally agree that many, many weight issues are psychological and that if we can learn to relax it goes a long way toward ending binge eating. It's now almost a cliche for a broken-hearted woman to down a pint of ice cream. It's funny, but not if binge eating is having a negative impact on your life. When you have less stress, you don't feel as much need to eat for comfort.