4 Tips To Help You Break Free From Binge Eating

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How To Put An End To The Binge Eating Cycle

BY DR SARAH HUGHES

Learn to say no to your urges to binge

Learn how to say no to your urges to binge

When you’re stuck in the binge eating cycle it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless.  You might manage to refrain from binge eating for a period only to revert to old patterns a few days or weeks later.  

Below are our top tips for getting on top of binge eating.  If you have difficulty implementing these tips consider speaking to your GP about a referral to a clinical psychologist.  A clinical psychologist can help you to address the emotional issues that may be triggering your bingeing.

Tip #1: Commit To Change

Change is hard.  If you’ve had trouble stopping binge eating in the past, you’ve probably questioned your ability to change and this can make change feel even more impossible and overwhelming.

Sit down with a pen and paper and write down your reasons for wanting to change.  Also make a list of other changes you’ve made in the past and think about what personal strengths helped you to achieve these changes.  This will help to remind you that you are capable of change.

Tip #2: Identify your Triggers

The first step in managing binge eating is identifying triggers.  Keep a diary and when you binge take notice of what you’d been doing earlier in the day and your thoughts and feelings in the hours leading up to the binge.

Common triggers are: feeling upset, lonely, or bored; feeling hungry after restricting food intake throughout the day; or breaking a dietary rule.  Once you know your triggers you can start to work towards eliminating them.  For example, if feeling upset triggers your binge eating you can work towards learning alternative strategies to manage your feelings.

Tip #3: Set Realistic Dietary Goals

Make realistic changes to your diet – drastic changes tend to be unsustainable.  Keep a food diary for a week and look to see where you can make changes.  Don’t try to change everything at once –aim to stick to a meal plan 1 or 2 days per week at first and then increase the number of days as you experience success.

As a general rule, eat 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day.  It might feel like skipping meals will help you to lose weight, but it usually has the opposite effect.  Skipping meals leads to intense hunger which can trigger binge eating.

Tip # 4: Manage Urges

Urges are like any of our other emotions, at their peak they can be intense, but they always pass.  Urges might feel like they’re going to hang around for forever, but they won’t.

Practicing waiting your urges out; start with small blocks of time – see if you can delay acting on your urge by 5-minutes.  If at the end of 5-minutes it feels like you can wait it out for another 5-minutes, wait another 5-minutes.  Continue doing this until the urge passes.

If you clock watch 5-minutes will feel like 5-hours.  Make a list of things you can do to keep busy and work through your list while you’re waiting out your urge – you might surprise yourself.

Dr. Sarah Hughes is a clinical psychologist and the founder of Think Clinical Psychologists. She enjoys working with children, adolescents, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, postnatal depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and challenging behaviour.