Have you ever found yourself holding a bag of junk food, reached in and found it was empty, even though you swore you’d only eaten a few bites? That is binge eating and yes I have been there, quite recently actually… This doesn’t mean you have a binge eating disorder. But whether you do suffer from a disorder or are just a more than occasional food splurger, you can benefit from understanding what binge eating actually is.
Binge eating defined by the urge to eat for reasons other than hunger and often past the point your body is full. Often we don’t even register let alone enjoy the food we consume when we binge. The key is that you are eating simply because you feel driven to eat.
Signs you are binge eating are easy to pick out once you know what to look for. They include:
- Being full but eating anyway.
- Eating despite lack of enjoyment in the food. You may even lose track that you are eating.
- Stopping seems impossible. Often people will make excuses for binge eating like “If a bag of chips is open I just can’t seem to stop until I reach the bottom.”
- If you find yourself saying “Just one more” more than one time in regards to going back for more food.
- You lose track of how much you have eaten.
- You eat at a very rapid pace
People succumb to binge eating for a number of reasons and understand why we binge eat is quintessential to understanding how to stop.
One of the causes of binge eating is treating certain foods as forbidden or relegating ourselves to a temporary eating plan that restricts us in unrealistic ways to maintain. This creates a cycle of self-denial leading to binging.
Most of us have dieted at some point. There’s a whole list of diet plans claiming to be accepted as the saviour to all health and weight problems. They are not! The key to finding a functional eating habit is that you can realistically maintain them for the rest of your life. Otherwise, you are pushing yourself into binging cycles as soon as you can’t maintain the diet anymore. The natural impulse of your body when it has been denied something is going to be to try to “catch up”.
In addition, when you make something like doughnuts off limits, you are training your brain to be ashamed of eating it. You are training yourself that it is wrong and bad and you are bad if you do so.
Rather than make a food fade from our lives this gives it more power over us, and when we do succumb, there is a feeling that since we’ve already failed, we need to fail epically to make it worthwhile. That brings us right to our next point.
Weekends off are an entitlement to binge. So is a cheat meal. You go into them thinking that you’d better take advantage of the opportunity, and then you feel guilty if you haven’t ordered/eaten something awful for you. Even on weekends, eating is about feeding your body. You should always listen to what it needs and wants.
Part of forming a diet you can maintain is accepting that means maintain all the time. The regiment you choose to follow should allow for you to live and enjoy your life reasonably. There should be no need for things like weekends off or cheat meals. If you do need that, then your eating habits aren’t really maintainable.
That’s not saying you can never eat a meal out with friends, never go on vacation and allow yourself a few extra perks or grab an ice-cream bar on a hot day. Accept that those moments/treats are part of your diet. When you go out with friends, let yourself have a little extra, but that doesn’t mean you have to go berserk and order every fried thing on the menu. And the problem with promising yourself cheats is it leads to just that kind of binging.
Food is meant to be enjoyable. We crave that joy in our lives. This doesn’t mean that every meal should be unhealthy. Your body’s desires for good food go hand in hand with what your body needs. It is a faulty mindset that healthy equals bland and unenjoyable. The key to a healthy life and not binging is not making yourself feel deprived. Make sure the food you eat is something you enjoy.
There are some great foods out there. Figure out what works for you that is both enjoyable and healthy.
If you find yourself eating for reasons other than enjoying the food—you are likely binging and it is important to ask yourself why you are eating. Sometimes the reason has nothing to do with food and you can only solve it by digging deeper.
One of the reasons people binge is because they feel frustrated with their progress toward being healthier, thinner, or stronger. Once you’ve started up a healthy lifestyle, don’t focus on the endgame. Results will come if you are leading a healthier life. More important than how fast you lose weight, or build up muscle, or can run that marathon is that you are working toward your goal.
Whatever your goals are, try to keep in mind that life and health are a journey, not a destination. Enjoy getting to your goal and don’t get too frustrated if you aren’t getting there fast enough. It’s sometimes tempting to throw your hands up in the air and say “I quit!” and run to a pint of ice-cream as consolation. This only furthers the cycle of self-hate that often feeds binging.
Last, if you do find yourself binge eating, step back from the self-blame and self-hate. We all slip. The reason your health is important is because you are important. Accept your mistakes and endeavour to do better the next time. If you slip again, just repeat that process. As long as you keep trying to avoid letting yourself fall into the pit of binging, you will get there, eventually.