What are some tips for success if you are living with binge eating disorder?

Tips for success

The following are some ideas that may be beneficial to help control or prevent binge eating:

  • An important way to decrease the urge to binge eat is to recognize your own hunger cues. Possible signs of hunger include:
    • Stomach growling
    • Light-headedness
    • Irritability/crankiness
    • Low blood sugar
  • Try using a hunger scale of 1 to 5 with 1 = lack of hunger and 5 = starving. Try responding to hunger when you are at a 3 = urge to eat is strong. Sometimes waiting until you are at a 5 can trigger binge behavior.
  • Cleanse your home of all “binge” foods. If there are particular problem foods that you usually binge on, try not to have those foods in your home. If a spouse or family member insists on having those foods around, insist that they hide them from you. You can also have your spouse or family member give you a designated portion of these “binge” foods, so you feel less deprived. It is helpful to eat these foods when you are not alone.
  • Identify triggers. For example, don’t meet someone at a bakery if that’s your weakness! Skip the all-you-can-eat buffets or potluck dinners where the temptation to overeat is overwhelming. Try to engage in more non-food social activities as much as possible.
  • Make eating a singular activity. Avoid doing multiple activities while eating, such as working in front of the computer, watching TV, driving, or reading. You want to be mindful about what you eat and how the food tastes.
  • Keep a food record and write down everything you eat and drink. This will help keep you accountable to yourself. If you know you have to write it down, you may be less likely to eat it. You may also wish to record any emotional thoughts and feelings that you’re experiencing, since these may be leading to a binge. Also, make yourself accountable to someone. Having to report to someone every day or a few times a week may help you not to binge.
  • Plan a healthy menu with a variety of foods from each food group. Remember, there are no “forbidden” foods. Having a plan is often a good way to help keep you on track. Your menu should not make you feel deprived. Set up an appointment with a registered dietitian to assist you in creating a realistic eating plan.
  • Plan to exercise. Choose an activity that you enjoy doing. Consider asking a friend to exercise with you. This will make it more enjoyable and help keep you accountable.
  • Drink plenty of water—at least 64 fluid ounces a day. Most binges incorporate a lot of sugar and sodium, both of which are dehydrating. It’s very important to be properly hydrated, especially after a binge. It is also common to confuse hunger with thirst.
  • Avoid idle time. Many times, people will eat out of boredom. Fill your time with projects or activities that you find enjoyable or work that needs to be accomplished. Having a list of things to do when bored or anxious can be very helpful in preventing a binge.
  • If you find yourself thinking about weight all the time, try reducing the number of times you weigh yourself. It may be best to check your weight only once per week. You may want to consider weight checks with a health professional, like a registered dietitian, and getting rid of your scale. Knowing weight numbers can sometimes trigger binge behavior.

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