Have you struggled with the temptation to binge? You’re in your own little world eating away, and you just can’t stop. And in that very moment, you don’t want to stop. I hate to admit that I’ve been there many times. Many of us have.
There are a lot of different factors that may drive us to binge. Often, certain emotions like anger, sadness, or boredom can be triggers for overeating. Sometimes, it’s the situation we are in, like a party or a celebration. It’s just hard to resist when you’re surrounded by so many temptations; you give in and take a delicious bite and just lose all control. At events like these, there is so much food to choose from, so why stick to one thing? You must try it all! (Or so you think…)
Here’s a prime example of a time I was tempted to binge. And I actually did a little bit. There were so many flavors of cake pops…
For some of us, we may go overboard when we’re alone. If no one sees you eat the entire pint of ice cream at once, did it really happen? Unfortunately, yes.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to help yourself. Here are some tips that might keep you from binging in the first place, or just help you pick yourself up after a day (or two) of overeating.
1. Be Aware of Portion Control: Often, eating mindlessly straight out of the package leads to overeating and binging. Eating cake or ice cream out of the container with a spoon puts you in dangerous territory. Plan your portion before you start eating. Read the nutrition label and determine what amounts to one serving, and then measure it out and put the container away. If the box says “16 crackers per serving,” count them out.
2. Eat Often: Seems backward, right? I’m talking about regular meals, so listen up if you’re a meal skipper. Eat at least three meals a day. If you haven’t eaten all day and are absolutely ravenous when you sit down for dinner, chances are you’re going to shovel in a whole plate of food and possibly go back for extra helpings before you even blink. Eating at normal meal times will help you keep your hunger in check and your metabolism working as it should. Snacking is fine, just make healthy choices like granola bars, nuts, or yogurt. It helps to keep nutritious snacks with you so when you’re at work or on the go, you don’t have to resort to what’s in the vending machine.
3. Keep Your Goals In Mind: Having a specific goal to work towards will help motivate you to make healthier choices now and in the future. Whether you want to lose some weight, run a 5K, or just feel better about yourself, try finding a motivating picture that reminds you of your goal. Post it on your phone so you’ll see it all the time — just glancing at it when you’re feeling weak may be powerful enough to keep you from binging. But be careful — make sure it’s something that will motivate you, not make you feel guilty!
Sometimes, despite all the best planning, you just end up binging.
Oh no, I ate all that pizza!
So, now what?
4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up About It: Blaming yourself and engaging in self-hate isn’t going to help; it will only make you feel worse. Remember, one unhealthy meal doesn’t mean you’re a failure. The binge already happened, so do your best to breathe, let it go, and move on.
5. Avoid the Snowball Effect: It’s way too easy to let one indulgent meal turn into three bad meals, or even a whole week of overeating. So just because you ate that huge whipped cream covered stack of pancakes for breakfast doesn’t automatically mean you have to eat crap for the rest of the day. Don’t fall into the trap of “Well, my diet is already shot today, so I’ll just pick back up tomorrow.” You can still eat well the rest of the day and maybe even get a workout in! Give yourself a chance to do better at the next meal.
6. Get Back on Track: And speaking of your next meal, make sure it’s healthy and well-balanced. Try to load up on foods like fruits and vegetables that are low in calories but high in nutrients. Having a nutritious, healthy meal may help you feel re-energized and allow you to pick yourself back up. Recovery food ideas include grilled chicken and veggies, like those pictured below. Or try these Pretzel Crusted Chicken Tenders, my healthy version of chicken nuggets!
7. Get Moving: Going to the gym or doing something active will help you to feel better about the excess calories you consumed. I personally just like to take a long walk after I overeat, as it helps to make me feel less bloated and full. Exercising releases those feel-good endorphins, and it also burns calories. (Don’t do anything too strenuous right after you eat since your stomach needs time to digest what you ate.)
8. Remove the Temptation: Was it a birthday cake (see below!) that pushed you overboard? A pint of Ben and Jerry’s? A big bag of Cool Ranch Doritos? Take whatever it was that caused you to lose control and get it outta there. It’s pretty hard to binge on junk, when you don’t have any junk in the house! Maintain a healthy pantry and fridge with items like fresh fruits, veggies and hummus, popcorn or nuts.
Hopefully these tips will stop you from binging next time you’re home alone with a big box of cupcakes or help you recover after overeating. Just remember, nobody is perfect. The key is moving on to a healthier behavior next time and taking back the control.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.