stop binge eating

How to stop binge eating: 7 helpful tips

Binge eating disorder is a serious cause of concern, but there are ways to bring this condition under control.
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Many people eat like there’s no tomorrow. It could be during an occasion such as your friend’s wedding party or a Sunday afternoon when you binge eat while binge-watching shows on Netflix. But if you eat until you are uncomfortably full and feel regretful afterwards, you might be a victim of a binge eating disorder. People who suffer from it regularly eat more food than others that too in a short time.

Anyone can get affected by this disorder regardless of their weight or age. According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), USA, “BED affects an estimated 2.8 million US adults, based on a national survey, and is more prevalent than anorexia and bulimia combined.” Although the exact cause of binge eating is not yet known, a study titled Enhanced striatal dopamine release during food stimulation in binge eating disorder suggests that dopamine levels in the brain could be a factor as it can interfere with your ability to regulate food intake.

Those who suffer from this disorder eat huge portions of food when they are stressed and upset, and not just when they are hungry. And this is followed by a feeling of guilt and shame. American Psychiatric Association says, “binge eating is chronic and can lead to serious health complications, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.”

The good news is there are ways to bring binge eating under control by making some changes in your diet and lifestyle. Read on to know how you can overcome binge eating.

Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly can help relieve your stress, improve your mood, and make you healthy. When you are physically strong and mentally rested, your ability to handle the daily stressors of life improves drastically. Research suggests, “Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.” Thus, by simply adding this practice to your daily routine, you can eliminate stress from your life and put an end to your habit of binge eating.

Drink enough water

Staying hydrated is crucial for your body. Other than aiding in digestion, protecting organs and joints, drinking water can help you curb the urge to overeat. As per research titled Water consumption reduces energy intake at a breakfast meal in obese older adults, “Water consumed before a meal has been found to reduce energy intake among non-obese older adults.” This shows how staying hydrated can help you deal with binge eating.

Do not skip your meals

Skipping your meals is another factor that can lead to binge eating. If you don’t eat breakfast, you will eat more at lunch. Over time, this can increase your likelihood of developing a binge eating disorder. A study titled The Influence of Meal Frequency and Timing on Health in Humans: The Role of Fasting says, “alterations in meal frequency and meal timing have the potential to influence energy and macronutrient intake.” So, don’t skip your meals, especially breakfast, as it provides you with the energy to carry on for the rest of the day.

Practice mindful eating

The practise of mindful eating can help you gain control over your eating habits. By incorporating mindfulness, you will be able to objectively observe your behaviours and pay attention to your thoughts, and think positively. This way, you can avoid resorting to poor eating behaviours which can result in the habit of binge eating. A study suggests, “mindfulness meditation effectively decreases binge eating and emotional eating in populations engaging in this behaviour.”

Identify what triggers binge eating

If you have been diagnosed with a binge eating disorder, it would be helpful to understand what triggers this behaviour so that you can anticipate the cravings before they occur. Once you are aware of these triggers, you can take appropriate actions to stop them from happening. Oftentimes, binge eating is driven by stress or anxiety, forcing people to resort to food for comfort. They eat not to satisfy their hunger but to fulfil their emotional needs. Keeping a journal can help you learn more about your triggers. This way, you will know when it occurs and find out what led to this disorder.

Do not compromise on your sleep

Sleep is important for your wellbeing. Following a regular sleeping routine can help you relax, improve your mood and increase your concentration levels. On the other hand, lack of sleep, apart from causing problems like increasing your stress and anxiety, affects your appetite as well. A study titled An examination of the relationship between binge eating disorder and insomnia symptoms found that “individuals with binge eating disorder reported significantly greater insomnia symptoms than those with no history of an eating disorder.” Hence, you should not compromise your sleep. According to the guidelines suggested by the National Sleep Foundation, “Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.”

Seek help from experts

Binge eaters often find it hard to discuss their problems with others. Statistics show that “less than half (43.6 percent) of people with binge eating disorder will receive treatment.” However, it is better to consult an expert if you need any help to deal with this condition. Some of the therapy options suggested by NEDA include cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, and interpersonal behavioural therapy. Although these therapy options are certainly beneficial, speaking to mental health professionals can provide you with a treatment plan as per your exact requirement, which can easily help you recover from the problem of binge eating.

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