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How to Stop Binge Eating

If your body is carrying more fat storage than you would like, then there are two most likely culprits. One, you aren’t eating enough good foods (read this blog on the topic) and two, you are overeating or binge eating. Many people who are carrying more fat storage than they would like wonder how to stop binge eating. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. You might frequently wonder how to stop overeating? Here is a big reason. Our human bodies evolved over the last 40,000 years, and we have only NOT been hunter/gatherers for the last 10,000 years. That means are bodies are designed to crave food, want as much as possible of it, and default to overeating instead of under eating. Our bodies are programmed to keep us alive when food is scarce. Our bodies are designed to resist the question: how to stop overeating.

Enter this millennia. Now instead of starving, we have to constantly concern ourselves with how to stop overeating. We have soooooo much food available to us at all times, with our default programming telling us to eat as much as possible. Of course you will overeat unless we start putting in some habits to work around our default human programming. So when you wonder how to keep yourself from eating, you are trying to go against your basic human wiring.

how to stop binge eatingOvereating to Process Emotions

One factor to take into account the next time you wonder how to stop overeating is this: food is so comforting. Sometimes it can feel like the only joy available in a down moment. You just got a text from a friend that bothered you. You have a job interview tomorrow that you are nervous about. You had a fight with your spouse. It is easy to catch yourself in that moment, heading to the fridge, to get some food love. When you are in that space, you might even see what you are doing, be conscious that you are eating emotionally, and choose to do it anyway. You want to know to stop binge eating in this scenario? 

I don’t want to stop you. 

We are never going to tell ourselves that eating is bad for ANY reason. Sometimes you don’t want to know how to stop binge. That just anchors in food shame, and makes emotional eating even harder to work around. Instead, we are going to put a good habit in front of it. You will tell yourself you absolutely CAN go to the fridge and emotionally eat, without guilt or shame, as long as you do the following things first: 

  1. Take 15 breaths in meditation. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing for 15 slow breaths. 
  2. Eat a fruit or veggie FIRST. 

If you still want to emotionally eat and can’t figure out how to stop binge eating after doing these two steps, just have at it. Without guilt. These will just slow you down, and start inserting good habits into your emotional processing. 

how to stop overeatingTips to Stop Binge Eating in Social Situations

There are some environments that will make it difficult to practice how to stop overeating. Eating is stress reducing. It just feels good. When people are in social situations, we eat more, and wonder how to stop binge eating. The more people, the more we eat. Fascinating, huh?  Think about your natural tendencies to not know how to stop binge eating when you are in a social situation. Maybe you hover near the food buffet at parties, maybe you splurge and order an appetizer and a dessert when out with friends, maybe you eat way too many potato chips when you watch the game at your neighbor’s house. 

Whenever you have a BIG habit, like overcoming how to stop overeating in social situations, it is too big to tackle all in one sitting. We are going to call these MACRO habits. Macro habits are impossible to take on in one sitting . . . it is trying to eat the whole elephant. Instead of taking on the elephant, we are going to break it down into tiny steps, and work on the easiest of the steps first. We are going to call these, you guessed it, micro habits. 

Think about the MACRO habit of eating a lot of chips while watching a football game with friends. This habit is directly tied to how to stop binge eating. Here are some of the micro habits that may contribute to the MACRO habit: 

  • Bringing the bag of chips from the snack table to the couch
  • Keeping the bag of chips in your lap
  • Bringing chips to the game with you as your food contribution
  • Getting up at each break time and perusing the snack counter
  • Drinking a beer or two too many so you don’t pay attention to your food intake
  • Nervous energy in the game so you look for something to do with your hands

How to Stop Overeating: Mini Habits

Once you have determined which mini habits contribute to your social eating MACRO habit. Today we are going to break that concept down further. 

What is the easiest, most simple, least-resistant mini habit that you could start on to learn how to manage binge eating? You don’t want to start on the hardest one to tackle. Habits to learn how to stop binge eating are ALWAYS about starting with the easy. We are going to work WITH ourselves and not against ourselves! Choose the EASIEST mini habit to work on. In the chips at the football game example, I would choose bringing something healthier to snack on as the easiest step to tackle. In fact, if I just brought a whole tray of crudités instead of a bag of chips, that one micro habit may tackle the entire MACRO habit and you’ll be on your way to learning how to stop overeating. Since it doesn’t matter how much veggies you eat, you could eat the entire tray of crudités and be doing good things for your body. 

Then you would choose the second easiest micro habit to work onto learn how to not binge eat. Maybe that would be giving your hands something to do. Maybe you could bring a fidget spinner or something to knit to the next football game, replacing your eating hand movements with moving them for another reason. 

how to stop bingingHow to Stop Binge Eating when Starving

Ummmmmm . . . remember that whole human body you have? How it comes with 40,000 years of programming that keep you alive? One of those programmed functions that you really DON’T WANT TO override is your desire to eat to stay alive. When you have had nothing to eat for breakfast, and worked through lunch with nothing but a cup of coffee at work, and come home at 6 pm starving, your body will overeat. End of story. You will never learn how to stop binge eating if you are starving. 

You might even eat the equivalent of three dinners before your body decides it is no longer starving, and it has protected itself enough from the possibility of starvation. If you are eating throughout the day, let’s say a packaged lunch from yesterday’s dinner, you will not be famished at the end of the day and you will not be as prone to overeat. Starving yourself through the day and getting all of your food in at dinnertime is a good way to train your body that you are starving. Let’s be good to ourselves!

How to Stop Binge: Overeating when it is Sooo Good

The next time you consider how to stop binge eating, consider your natural size as well. I personally won’t ever be smaller than a size 6 (and usually am a size 8 and sometimes a size 10). If I were to drop to a size 4, it would mean I was either ill, or miserable. My natural body frame isn’t small-sized. I am a medium-sized girl. I naturally have a medium-sized body. Some people have naturally small-sized bodies. Some people have naturally bigger-sized bodies. When did this become something to fight against? Stop wondering how to stop binge eating if what you are really trying to change is your inherited natural body size. That is a no-win battle!

I also really enjoy food. It is one of the stuff of life that is AMAZING. If I am always wondering how to stop overeating, I miss out on one of the good things in life. Good food, a massage, drinks with friends, sitting in front of a fire, reading a good book, laughing with my kids, sex. These are the wonderful things that fill life with joy. Why would I want to obsess about how to stop binge eating if enjoying food, occasionally a little in excess, if it is one of my favorite things? 

Let’s pretend for a second that I completely mastered the concept of how to stop binge eating. If the promise of being a size 4 means that I wouldn’t be able to occasionally indulge in a really good bread pudding, or have a second serving of dinner when it is really, really, good, then I don’t ever want to be a size 4. And I don’t ever want to be a size 4. I have heard the thought of “I would rather be happy than thin!” logic explain away really unhealthy eating habits. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the occasional indulgence to overeat when the food is really, really good. Really, really good food won’t come along every day. It might not even come along every week. But when it comes along, I want you to indulge a bit. And have a second serving. And NOT WONDER how to make yourself stop eating. 

And just to recap, when I am feeling emotional and want to EAT, I first recognize that this is normal. Food is comforting and I want to be comforted. 

how to stop overeatingI give myself permission to emotionally eat without any guilt or shame, as long as I do the following first: 

#1 Do 15 breaths of meditation.

#2 Eat a serving of a fruit or vegetable.

If I still want to emotionally eat after these two steps, I do so without guilt or shame.

Master this habit, and you will be on your way to never having to ask yourself again how to stop binge eating. For more on the topic of overeating, read this article on how to avoid overeating without dieting. 

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