Binge eating is something that many of us have struggled with at one point or another in our lives. And for some of us, the cycle of binge eating can lead to a major disorder and serious health problems. Fortunately, there’s hope and a lot of help out there if you’ve struggled with this issue and the accompanying feelings of helplessness and guilt.
I’ve joked with many of my clients and peers that I’m a professional dieter. Preparing my body for collegiate sports at an elite level and transforming my physique for the subjective sport of figure competitions has given me several years of experience with eating! I love food, and I know I need it to change my body.
The challenge, however, has been to figure out how I control food and not let it control me. And in our current fitness culture, there is an unfortunate obsession with concepts such as meal prep, Paleo and IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diets, and juice diets or detoxes that I feel only add fuel to the fire of binge eating. I’ve also noticed that most of my clients, especially at the beginning of a “diet” or physique transformation, set themselves up for failure by thinking that they must eat a specific way all the time. They begin a very strict regimen of eating and working out that’s almost impossible to maintain and then find themselves struggling to keep up when life inevitably gets too difficult to control.
Ultimately, I believe binge eating has many causes, and we have to look at various catalysts such as hormones, emotions, stress, self-image and goal setting to truly know why we’ve lost control of our eating habits. I’ll spare you the tedious details at this time. Let’s simplify the process for purposes of this blog post and try to find a few helpful tips that you can start using right away.
3 Helpful Tips To Stop Binge Eating
- Ditch the black-and-white/all-or-nothing approach: I really can’t think of a time in my life when this type of thinking and behavior has helped me. When we start trying to follow a perfect meal plan, I believe binge eating is in the near future. Learning how to find balance, flexibility and a bit of flavor in your diet is a surefire way to avoid pitfalls and stay the course. Truly, it isn’t a sprint. Healthy eating is a long and steady marathon. Do you really have to count every calorie or balance all of your macros? Is this the best approach for you in the long run, or can you ease up a bit and work on simplifying your approach (i.e. slow down while eating, stick to whole foods, allow for a weekly cheat meal, etc.)?
- Don’t use your workouts as a punishment or eraser: If you start using your time in the gym to fix all your perceived “sins” during mealtime, you’ll be setting yourself up for a whole host of problems, such as overuse injuries and burnout. You also have to give your body time to change and heal from workouts, so avoiding rest time or days off because you feel guilty for eating so much is only defeating the purpose and further damaging your body.
- Get help: Please read this. This post should never take the place of medical advice or treatment, especially if you feel that your eating habits are harming your health, relationships and/or ability to work. Even if you don’t believe your binge eating is noticeable by others around you, if it’s causing you any bit of distress you might be surprised at the immense relief you could experience just by asking for help. Often binge eating is the result of unresolved emotional turmoil or mental anguish that a licensed professional can help you sort out.
Food shouldn’t be in the driver’s seat. It needs to be viewed as fuel, necessary to help us achieve daily activities and conquer our physical tasks. It helps us recover and repair. It doesn’t need to make us feel guilty, out of control or ashamed. Ditch the extreme diet efforts, the latest diet fads and any other toxic factors that could be leading to your binge eating behaviors. Seek out balance, and never be afraid to ask for some help with this matter. You deserve to regain control, and you don’t ever have to do this alone.