Think you have no control over your binging habits? Well, think again because today I’m going to show you exactly how to get control over that and stop them once and for all, starting right now…
So let’s start off today talking about what binging actually is. Binging is the overindulgence or overeating of foods that are unhealthy for us. These are foods that are essentially just loaded with sugars, fats, flours, sodium, all sorts of chemicals. These are foods that are essentially really not food, and binging is where you eat to the point where you feel past full. You feel out of control, and sometimes this can happen in a one-time occasion or it can happen over a period of days or even sometimes weeks.
Oftentimes, people get into a binge-eating disorder type cycle where they start a diet, they binge, they feel crappy, they start that diet all over again, and off we are to the races. Binge eating disorder, or BED, was actually officially recognized as a disorder in 2013. While I’m not particularly huge on labeling something like this, a behavioral habit, as a binge eating disorder because I think sometimes when we label things like that as a disorder, then it makes us feel powerless to do anything about it. And the truth is you do have power to change this, and we’re going to get into that in just a second.
The next question becomes why do we binge eat? Now, while the studies are inconclusive on this, we do see certain patterns that exist with individuals that do binge eat, and some of those patterns are, well, you’ve started a diet plan and you’ve gone a few days, you’ve done really well, and then something happens, a trigger, and you hit that junk food. That could be because of a learned behavior. It could be because of modeling. Maybe your parents, when you were young, you saw them binge eating, and so that’s how you deal with certain stressors and triggers in your life. Your particular binge eating could be triggered by, perhaps, you taking on extreme diets where you cut your calories so much that your body goes into starvation mode and it wants a quick fix, quick fix of energy. And, candidly, when your body goes into that mode, you are going to be seeking out those energy dense foods, which typically are laden with sugars. And it could be that you’re just not recognizing the cycle that you do get yourself into, and so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You feel like you’re going to fail at your diet. You feel like you’re not going to lose the weight that you’ve been trying to lose, and so you start a diet, those triggers hit. If you get that in your head, “I’m not going to succeed in this anyway,” so you go ahead and binge on junk food because, let’s be real about this for a second, when we’re in those moments of eating junk food, it feels darn good. Well, of course it does. It’s flooding our body with all of those feel-good dopamines, right, when we’re eating all that sugar. Our body is flooded with glucose. We get all this instant energy. We feel amazing in that moment, but then we crashing down, and I don’t need to explain that to you because you know that.
So then we have to ask, well, what are the problems that come with binge eating? Well, if you’re binge eating, likely, you are carrying lots of unwanted fat pounds already. You are likely not happy in the state that you’re in, and with all those unwanted fat pounds comes all the host of health issues that comes with being obese. That includes diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, joint problems, low energy, sleep issues, and then, of course, and I think this is the most detrimental part of binge eating, it’s feeling out of control of your own body. And that can bleed into that lack of self confidence, that lack of feeling in control, that can bleed into every part of your life. It’s feeling absolutely helpless to do anything about it, but I’ve got great news for you, and you can do something about it. And there are tons and tons of examples of women that I’ve worked with throughout the years that have done so.
Now, in order to show you how to stop the cycle of binge eating, let’s look at the cycle itself. This is where you get to see my awesome artwork!
So a binge eating cycle typically starts off when you’ve started a new diet plan or diet lifestyle, and then something happens, something triggers you, some sort of stressor that compels you to binge eat on junk food. Now, of course, after you’ve binged, you feel absolutely crappy about yourself, and you’re going to probably binge some more. But, at some point, you feel so crappy, you get fed up, you’re miserable, you want to do something about it, and so you start back on your diet plan, and so the cycle continues.
Now, the key to understand how to stop the binge eating cycle is to understand that these triggers, these stressors are going to happen. So what I call it is my three Rs. First, you have RECOGNIZE. The first R is recognize what those triggers are. And then you need to REPLACE that trigger behavior with a different more healthy behavior. And, once you’ve succeeded at that, you need to, the third R, REWARD yourself, but not with junk food. You need to reward yourself by recognizing, “hey, I did it!” “I had the trigger, and I replaced it with another healthy behavior, and I got through it.” “I was able to actually have control over my binge eating”, and that is critically important.
So the key is to recognize those triggers when they’re happening, stop yourself in that moment, recognize that you’re going to have a physiological response. Your body is screaming to you, “I want junk food right now,” because it’s been trained for that. If you’ve been doing this for many, many, many years, these first few times that you are replacing your binging behavior with another healthy behavior, well, your body isn’t going to like it.
So just understand that you’re going to go through that. It’s going to feel uncomfortable, but also understand nobody died from not binging. You will get through it. You just have to replace that binging behavior with another healthy behavior and then wait it out. Give yourself time because this too shall pass. The physiological response that you’re feeling, that body response inside you that’s screaming, “I need junk food,” that will pass. You just need to give it enough time.
Now, what I typically recommend is get through to the next morning, and then that next morning reward yourself. And when I say reward yourself, that means recognize in your head, in your mind, “Wow, I did it,” and think about the way you did it because every time that you actually recognize that new pattern, that new behavior that’s healthy, you will be creating new pathways in your brain, replacing that old behavior that is very unhealthy, and that reinforces this.
What are some healthy replacement behaviors that you can use to replace your binging habits?
Well, candidly, one of my favorites is moving, getting up and out from wherever you are, from wherever your experiencing this trigger, and do something. Go for a bike ride. Go for a walk. Take the dog out. Dance. Put on some music. You have to change your environment and change something that’s going on because, candidly, if you just sit there and think about it and try to deny what’s happening in your head, that typically doesn’t work. You have to move. You have to get physical because your body is screaming right now, “I need some something,” and the something is going to be sugar if you don’t do something about it. So get physical, move, change your state, change, you know, the environment, change what you’re doing at that very moment, change something. You just got to trust me on this one. It works.
What’s also key is to identify your potential replacement behaviors before those triggers happen because you know what? Those triggers are going to happen. that’s just life. We have stressors all the time. So identify potential replacement behaviors ahead of time, and not just one, identify a bunch of them because if one doesn’t work, try another one. And if that doesn’t work, try another one. Don’t give up.
So let’s review those three Rs again that will conquer binge behavior once and for all.
First one is recognize the triggers. Second one is replace. Replace your binging, terrible destructive behavior with a behavior that is healthy for you. And then the third one is what? Reward. Reward yourself, not with junk food. No. Reward yourself in your head, likely the next morning when you actually were successful in pushing aside that binge eating feeling that comes up, that your body’s screaming, “I want sugar right now,” replacing it with another healthy pattern. And now you’re on your way. You’ve actually done it. That’s where the control comes in. Now you’ve proven to yourself that you have control over this, and if you can do it once, you can do it many times over. And, trust me, it gets easier over time.
As always I want to hear from you. Let me know what you think!