What did I do to overcome BED?
1. Stop dieting
I can positively say that had I not started dieting back in 2008, then I don’t think I would have ever ended up with BED. Now this isn’t the case for everyone. Not everyone that has BED was caused from dieting, but in my case it was. I had counted calories and restricted myself for so many years, that the thought of doing or trying anything else sent me into a state of panic. Even when I wasn’t faithfully tracking calories, I had done it for so long that I could still calculate everything in my head before I ate it.
If you feel you are being controlled by a ‘diet’ and that is what is causing your binge eating, then you need to stop dieting and find an alternative. I know, it’s easier said than done. For me the things that helped the most was IIFYM and Intuitive Eating. IIFYM worked well for me because I was already an obsessive calorie counter, but this allowed me to eat what I wanted, reach my goals and stop the restriction that came along with it. The restriction was a huge factor for me.
Then I decided to read the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole. After all the years of binging, calorie counting and eating every 3 hours on the dot I had forgotten how to listen to when my body was really hungry. This is something I am still getting used to, but it has definitely helped.
2. Stop weighing myself
I used to be one of those people that would step on the scale first thing in the morning every morning just to see if I had lost any weight. If I hadn’t I would try and figure out what I did ‘wrong’ and if I lost weight I would think ‘yay I lost weight, now I can treat myself’. This obviously lead to a binge 9 times out of 10. I had a unhealthy relationship with the scale and decided it would be best to stop weighing myself. It was so difficult walking into the bathroom in the morning and resisting the urge to step on the scale. Not weighing myself has allowed me to focus on making this a lifestyle change rather than look at it as a diet.
3. Know my triggers
For me this was 1. dieting/restricting 2. the scale and 3. junk food, especially nestle milk chocolate chips. I still to this day can’t have them in the house or it will spiral out of control. Those things (to me) are so addicting and are a huge temptation. Know your triggers and avoid them. This will make a big difference.
4. Chew gum
Many times I would eat out of boredom and would reach for junk food. Once I started eating junk food, I kept craving more. Gum gives you the feeling that you are eating something by chewing, without actually consuming calories. If I am craving something sweet, I reach for Extra Dessert Delights. If you live in Australia these can be found in select shops or on eBay. It is something I always keep on hand.
5. Talk myself through it
Everytime I felt a binge episode coming on I would shove some gum in my mouth and sit myself down on the couch and talk myself through it. Identifying exactly what I was feeling (the insane urge to eat everything in sight), try and find out what had caused it, what could I do to stop it, and distract myself as much as possible. Anyone who has tried this will know how ridiculously hard it is to do.
6. Distract myself
Ahhh the art of distraction. This didn’t always work, but it definitely helped. Anything you can do to keep your mind off food is good. Go for a run, listed to music, chill with your family, watch a movie – anything. Just find something to do to take your mind off it.
7. Find the right amount of calories for my body
If you still want to lose weight and are an avid calorie counter, then make sure that you are eating enough calories. Restricting yourself and not eating enough can lead to binging.
8. Don’t deprive myself
I know this seems counter-intuitive to what I’ve said above (eating sugar causes more cravings), but sometimes you just need to eat a bit when your cravings happen. What I do for this is to only buy food that comes in a single serve such as a chocolate bar rather than buying the whole block. That way I only have the amount I am going to eat. I can guarantee if I had a whole block sitting in the house I would eat it.
Another option which helps a lot of people is therapy (I never tried this). If you feel that you have tried all you can to stop it and nothing is working, then therapy is another option to consider.
Here are a few other links to posts about binge eating that you may find helpful.
Binge Eating: What Would it Mean to You if You Knew You Would Never Do it Again
The #1 Reason Why You Can’t Stop Binge Eating
If you have any questions about Binge Eating, feel free to contact me.