Binge eating disorder is a condition where someone consumes very large amounts of food in short periods of time. While overeating isn’t uncommon, people who binge have an overwhelming and intense feeling that they can’t control their eating.
If you’ve ever asked yourself questions like: why am I eating so much or how do I stop binge eating, you should know that there are healthy ways to break the cycle and start the process of binge eating disorder recovery.
It will take time and is challenging, but with the right tools and support, you can learn how to stop binge eating. Keep reading to hear more about the binge eating cycle and how you can regain control over your relationship with food.
The Binge Eating Cycle
People might binge eat for a number of reasons. For example, research has found a strong link between compulsive overeating and depressive symptoms. Some people binge in response to stress or use food as a distraction when they’re feeling down.
There are three main factors that contribute to the cycle of binge eating.
Basing your self-worth on your weight
There are several factors that help define a person, from personality traits, to abilities, to belief systems. For many people who binge eat, however, their self-worth is largely defined by their weight. These feelings can lead to unhealthy habits and disordered eating.
A person with a negative body image may introduce dietary restrictions that are difficult or impossible to follow. They may restrict their calorie intake to a dangerously low level or completely deprive themselves of foods that they enjoy. These kinds of dietary restraints aren’t sustainable, and for many people, they can eventually lead to binge eating.
When someone tries to maintain impossibly strict eating standards, they may eventually give up and give in to their urges. Many people wind up binging after a period of restriction.
12 Tips for Getting Control of Binge Eating
Even though you might feel out of control, it is possible to change your habits and create a healthy relationship with food. The following 12 tips can help you learn how to stop binge eating for good.
1. Take the time to monitor, understand, & address your patterns
Emotional or environmental factors frequently trigger binge eating. Monitor your patterns closely so you can understand what might be contributing to your binge eating habits. Knowing your triggers and what causes binge eating disorder is an effective way to combat binging cycles.
2. Start a daily journal (food & mood)
Journaling can be a powerful way to keep track of how you’re feeling and what you’ve been eating.
“While most people can relate to the idea of using food once in a while to manage thoughts and feelings, it’s important to note that binge eating feels out of one’s control, and there are strategies that can help. For example, keeping track of when binges happen and what you were thinking and feeling prior to, during, and after a binge can help gain insight into your behavior.”Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R
Research shows that keeping a food diary can help reduce binge eating episodes. Additionally, journaling for mental health is a proven way to improve mental well-being and can successfully reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, which might be triggers for binging episodes.
3. Focus on not skipping meals throughout the day
An essential part of knowing how to control binge eating is giving your body the consistent nourishment it needs. Depriving yourself of food can increase the risk of binging. If you want to figure out how to stop binge eating disorder, try to maintain a regular eating pattern and healthy eating schedule.
4. Make a daily (or weekly, if possible) meal plan
A structured meal plan can help establish healthy dietary patterns. When you plan your meals, you can also shop mindfully and avoid stocking up on foods that could trigger your next binging episode.
5. Don’t avoid sources of stress in your life
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be difficult to avoid the pressure to binge. Instead of pushing stress aside, find ways to confront and manage it. Stress management will be essential as you learn how to recover from binge eating disorder.
6. Use mindfulness meditation (daily!)
Mindfulness meditation for stress can help you let go of stress, anxiety, negativity, and other factors that might be contributing to binge eating. Spending even 10 minutes on meditation daily can improve your emotional and physical well-being.
7. Identify, then manage food anxiety
Food anxiety has many potential sources, including a desire to be healthy or a fear of weight gain. Sometimes, food-related anxieties can cause you to try and restrict what you eat, but we know this eating behavior doesn’t work. Part of learning how to stop binge eating is identifying the sources of your anxiety that are contributing to episodes of compulsive eating.
8. Clean your kitchen
Set aside time to clean out your kitchen. Clear out trigger foods and stock your kitchen with healthy foods that make you feel good instead.
It’s easy to mistake hunger and thirst signals. Staying hydrated throughout the day can curb impulses that could cause you to binge.
10. Develop & keep a healthy sleep habit
When you sleep, your leptin levels are elevated. Leptin is a hormone that helps regulate the sensation of feeling full. If you’re not getting enough sleep, however, your body may produce more ghrelin, a hormone that makes you hungry. Sleep and appetite are directly linked, and a healthy sleep schedule can greatly reduce the risk of binging.
11. Find joy in your life
Instead of dwelling on questions like how do I stop binge eating (which might just make you feel bad about yourself), it can be more beneficial to focus on finding more joy in your life.
Set aside time for your favorite activities and make it a point to appreciate the good things in your life. While trying to learn how to recover from binge eating disorder, remember to practice gratitude, which can be a wonderful way to find joy.
12. Work with a therapist
There are many strategies and tools that can effectively help you learn how to stop binge eating, but they can be difficult to implement on your own. If you’re struggling with binge eating habits, you may want to consider professional binge eating disorder treatment like interpersonal psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. A therapist can help you understand why you’re binging and work with you to overcome harmful habits and the symptoms of binge eating disorder.
How to Recover from Binge Eating
Recovering from binge eating is a process. Even if you’re committed to changing your habits, you won’t necessarily stop binging overnight.
“It’s possible to recover from binge eating. While it can be challenging, have compassion for yourself, as it takes time to shift behaviors and learn to tolerate thoughts and feelings in a new way. There is help available, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out to supportive friends and family or a licensed mental health professional.”Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R
Keep the following things in mind as you work on knowing how to control binge eating behaviors.
Be kind to yourself (self care!)
Let go of your judgment and try to show yourself compassion instead. Try to have the same level of patience and understanding you’d show to a friend. Since binge eating is often linked to low self-esteem, engage in self-care, practice positive self-talk, and work to boost your confidence levels.
Remember, you’re not perfect
Perfection is an impossible ideal. Instead of striving to be perfect, work on appreciating yourself for who you are right now. Let go of inner pressures and give yourself the space to make mistakes.
Don’t let one setback make you give up
It’s normal to have relapses during the binge eating disorder recovery process. A binge eating episode doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and it doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, work to create a relapse prevention plan so you can reduce the risk of binging in the future.
Work with a therapist (even after you make progress)
Even if you’ve made significant progress in your recovery, you should strongly consider working with a therapist. Therapy can provide support and help you work through the issues that are contributing to your binge eating. Not only can a therapist treat your binging, but they can treat other issues that are impacting your mental health.
Get Professional Help for Binge Eating Disorder
Recovering from an eating disorder isn’t something people have to go through alone. At Talkspace, you can get support from a licensed mental health professional. Talkspace is an online therapy platform that makes getting help easy, affordable, and best of all, convenient. You can get connected with a therapist to better understand your binge eating disorder diagnosis. It isn’t always easy to seek help, but binge eating disorder treatment can help you take back control of your life.