Roger Gould, M.D.  

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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5 Ways to Prevent a Binge

May 18, 2009 - 4 comments

binge eating




Eating disorders


food addiction


Weight Loss

Binge eating is just one type of emotional eating. In other words, it’s using food in a compulsive way to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Binge eating affects millions of people and is more common than both anorexia and bulimia combined. Binge eating is often used to quell anxiety or fill a gnawing emptiness inside. However, no matter how much food gets stuffed in, binging simply can’t deal with the feelings, whatever those feelings might be.

What the cycle of binge eating does do successfully, however, which is why you keep relying on it as a coping mechanism, is that it changes your mind’s path. For example, if your mental train is on a particular track of thinking, binge eating has you switch tracks and go in a different direction. If you were thinking about something troubling (your job or a relationship or an insecurity), binging stops those thoughts for a few moments, puts you in what I call a food trance, and then redirects your thoughts to ones of guilt and regret about what you ate. These thoughts might not be pleasant but often they’re more acceptable than what you were originally thinking about. Not to mention that the foods that are typically binge foods (peanut butter, cheese, ice-cream, chips, baked goods) alter your brain chemistry in a way that gives you a surge of calm feelings.

No matter how much you are binging you can take certain steps to preventing your next binge:

1.Keep Things Organized

Many people report binging when they get overwhelmed with chores and responsibilities. If you stay on top of things you’re less likely to use a binge to procrastinate or escape. Create systems, pay your bills, ask for help and don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

2. Chill Out

Knowing how to manage your own anxiety is a critical factor in avoiding binges. Whether you use walking, reading, meditating, or sports, to calm yourself down, knowing what particularly works for you is key. Experiment with different things until you find things that reduce your level of anxiety.

3. Have a Solid Support System

Having people to go to when you need to vent, get advice or hear you out is important. Remembering that you’re not alone and having solid people in your life that you can honestly share your struggles with can make a huge difference. A therapist, online community,  or support group can also help.

4. Don’t Keep Binge Foods Around

Most people have certain foods that trigger their binges. If this applies to you, don’t keep those foods in your cupboards or go to places where you know you can’t avoid them. You don’t need treats for the kids, or for guests, or for anyone else. No reason to make things harder for yourself than they need to be until you have more control over what you eat.

5. Go to Bed

You’d be surprised how many afternoon and evening binges happen when you’re tired and don’t just put yourself to bed. Obviously, there will be times when going to sleep just isn’t possible, for example in the afternoon when you’re at work. However, if you stay on top of getting the rest you need, you’ll find yourself looking for food so much less.

It only takes avoiding a binge a few times to prove to yourself that you can. Also keep in mind that the mark of successfully ending a binge pattern happens one binge at a time. No one ever quits cold turkey. By using these five tools you’ll be proactive and aware which will help you start to avoid some binges. Even if you don’t avoid all binges at first, more time between binges, is a huge step on the road to success. Be sure to acknowledge all the small successes on your way. If you need help getting your binge eating under control visit my website www.shrinkyourself.com for more information.

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by Georgia72, May 26, 2009
After gaining 70 pounds from binge eating, I finally found something that worked for me. I eat very small meals very frequently so that I am never really hungry. For example, I might eat an English muffin for breakfast, then 2-3 hours later I'll have a tiny cup of yogurt or cottage cheese (they sell really small cups of yogurt and cottage cheese at the store). 2 hours after that I might have 20 nuts (I have to count them out and then put away the package or I will gorge myself with them). Then 2 hours later a little tin of tuna or salmon. Then very small portions for dinner. If I feel hungry after eating something, I force myself to remember that I won't feel hungry in 15 minutes, after my stomach has time to acknowledge that I have eaten something. Not only has this, for the most part, eliminated my binging problem (it comes back if I allow myself to get ravenous), but I have also lost 45 pounds over the course of 14 months. I hope this helps someone else.

Avatar universal
by Georgia72, May 26, 2009
One other thing I do that has helped is I do not allow my "trigger" foods in the house. For example, if I were to allow peanut butter in the house, I would sit and eat half the jar in one sitting, plain. Now, we just avoid any recipe that takes peanut butter so we don't have to buy it.

Avatar universal
by porcupinemamma, Oct 19, 2009
Really helpful article.  Thank you very much doctor.

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by becksh23, Nov 05, 2010
I'm a 22 year old bulimic (have been bulimic for 8 years) and after moving away to university I thought I had my binging problem over and done with. But now it's become part of an activity I can't avoid - doing homework. Homework is my trigger, and since I obviously can't avoid my trigger, it's been really hard to avoid binging. The thing is that is different now than before is that I CRAVE toffee candy, mainly the texture of it, and I don't binge on anything else. I've only recently started purging after eating the toffees (over the summer I had reduced my binging and purging down drastically from several times a day to once a week or less) but I can't seem to help it. I have spent $40 on toffees alone this week - which I clearly can't afford. I really need help...I don't know what to do...

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