How to Stop Binge Eating (and no it’s not about more control over food)
Do you ever feel like you’re out of control with food, or like you can’t trust yourself to keep certain foods in the house? Like if you bring the ice cream or the oreos or the doritos into your house that it will call to you from the kitchen until you give in and devour it all?
Are you afraid to let yourself eat your favorite foods in general, like ordering from your favorite pizza place or going to your favorite restaurant or cooking your favorite recipe because you’ll inevitably go overboard and then feel like crap about yourself?
Are you familiar with the feeling of guilt and shame after you eat way too much?
(And let me be clear…by “too much” I mean more than your body wanted and therefore you’re uncomfortably full. “Too much” is often a construct handed to us by diet culture trying to tell us how much we are allowed to eat. I’m referring to the type of “too much” being communicated to you from your body)
This feeling is miserable both physically AND emotionally.
And it’s often when the negative self-talk kicks in really loud:
- THIS is why I can’t trust myself with that food.
- I knew I should have just gotten a salad.
- I need to have more willpower and be more disciplined.
- I’m going to gain SO much weight, and then I’m going to be miserable for the rest of my life.
- If I don’t get a handle on my eating I’m going to have a bunch of health issues.
- I’m such an idiot for letting myself eat that.
Any of this sound familiar to you?
I get it. And I also get that the knee-jerk response to binge eating is often to try and regain control over eating by eating really “healthy” or by avoiding those binge foods.
But the problem is this makes things worse. Because it increases the biological drive to binge in the long run. (Kind of confusing and counter-intuitive, I know.)
Breaking free from binge eating is about reclaiming your inherent human NEED to eat and nourish your body with delicious food. You might be thinking, “But Katy, I don’t NEED to eat the foods I’m bingeing on. They’re not good for me in the first place.” Ok let’s pause. That type of thinking is the EXACT type of diet mentality thinking that is creating and fueling and maintaining the problem. The studies show that when we label and judge the foods as being “bad” or “unhealthy” that it actually increases the likelihood of us bingeing on them.
So what can you do instead? I’m going to share a few tips, (and if you want the deeper dive on this topic, listen to this week’s episode of the Rebuilding Trust With Your Body podcast.)
Tip #1) Make sure you’re eating frequently enough.
Generally speaking, try not to go longer than 3-4 hours without eating something.
Tip #2) Don’t deprive yourself.
Find ways to intentionally work in all types of food, so that we can neutralize those binge foods. (In the podcast episode, I share my “de-charming” method for doing this.)
Tip #3) Get curious about your needs outside of food.
Often times, bingeing is a way to cope with feelings and unmet needs that have nothing to do with food. Perhaps you’re feeling angry, lonely, stressed, or something else. (Highly recommend journaling so you can give language to your emotions.)
Tip #4) Come up with a list of things you can do to care for yourself after a binge.
Make this list and save it on your phone, so you can access it in a moment where you’re feeling discouraged. (And don’t make these things punishing. Choose things that feel kind and compassionate towards yourself.)
The temptation with bingeing is often to beat ourselves up and then punish ourselves. Instead, we are taking a compassionate and self-care approach, which will allow you to move forward in ways that are actually productive and healing.
Here’s a glance at this episode…
[00:01 – 05:08]
- Binge eating is often caused by hunger, deprivation, or emotions
- Rebuilding trust with food means reincorporating it into one’s life in a mindful way
- Breaking free from bingeing is about putting food back in its rightful place in one’s life
[05:09 – 20:43]
- Our biological responses to food
- We should have compassion, understanding, and gratitude for our bodies
- She recommends eating a meal or a snack at least every three or four hours
- Diet culture has sent us unhelpful messages about food
- Food is a way to connect with people that we love
- Understand what drives the binging of food
[20:43 – 25:43]
- Hunger is a warning that prevents you from getting ravenously hungry
- “Systematic de-habituation”
- To desensitize yourself to the food that has too much power or charm over you
[25:44 – 32:51] Wrapping up!
- Two ways to de-charm food:
- Reintroduce it into your life and have a small amount with every meal
- Have it every meal and snack until it loses its power
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE NOW:
Search for episode 31 Struggling with Binge Eating? Why it’s Not About the Food – and How to Stop
“Emotions are like warning lights in your car.. We want to understand what the warning light is telling us so we can respond appropriately.” – Katy Harvey
“You need to just show yourself that you can have it (food) and that nothing catastrophic happens.” -Katy Harvey
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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