Binge eating disorder (BED) is considered the most common eating disorder in the U.S, and one that affects nearly 2% of the population worldwide. The condition revolves around food, but more than that, it is a recognized psychological issue that can have a significant negative impact on those who struggle with it. As such, those who have BED will most likely benefit from specialized medical treatment, especially in light of the fact that binging can lead to weight gain thus contributing to serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
What exactly does BED entail? BED involves more than simply eating too much. It is characterized by instances of consuming unusually large amounts of food regardless of hunger level. After doing so, it is not uncommon for binge eaters to feel shame or guilt.
If you or someone you know is struggling with this disorder, it is wise to seek professional help. There are several standard strategies for addressing BED that you may encounter in therapy and some of these tools you may want to consider applying in your own life.
Here are some ideas that may help with binge eating:
Keep a journal
More specifically, maintaining a food and mood journal can help identify potential eating and emotional triggers and shed insight on your eating habits.
For example, the results of one study showed that writing in a food diary was linked to fewer episodes of binge eating.
If you’ve never kept a journal, the great news is that it couldn’t be easier! To get started, all you need to do is keep a record (electronic or old-fashioned pen and paper) of what you eat and how you feel afterwardS.
Review your journal after a few days and you should start to see a pattern emerging in regard to your eating behavior. Maybe you eat to seek a feeling of comfort, maybe you eat after certain uncomfortable experiences? Before you can apply solutions to binge eating you need to identify what precipitates these events, and a journal is a good way to track triggers.
Don’t skip breakfast
Starting the day off with a healthy breakfast could reduce the risk of binge eating hours later.
Studies have shown that establishing and sticking to a regular eating pattern is linked with fewer binge eating episodes.
There is one caveat: in order to be effective in reducing binge eating, breakfast should consist of healthy foods such as those full of fiber. Besides being good for you, fiber moves gradually through the digestive tract, leading to a longer feeling of fullness which may cut the food cravings that lead to binge eating.
Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are just a few of the fiber-rich foods that can keep you feeling full.
Avoid sleep deprivation
Studies have shown that lack of proper sleep may be linked to binge eating. For example, a study of nearly 150 individuals revealed that those with self-reported BED experienced a significantly higher level of insomnia symptoms than those without BED.
Experts recommend trying to get roughly 8 hours of sleep per night in order to curb the effects that can influence the risk of binge eating. This is because depriving the body of sleep can alter the levels of hormones which influence appetite and hunger.
Drink plenty of healthy liquids
Water is great not just for keeping the body hydrated but also for promoting a sense of fullness which can help ward off food cravings that lead to binge eating.
One study of mature adults showed that the intake of as little as 13 ounces (375 ml) of water before eating provided a feeling of fullness while also significantly reducing hungry feelings as well as caloric intake.
So, how much water is enough to have the desired effect?
Your daily water intake depends on several factors. Obviously, a sedentary day requires different hydration levels than one in which you’re exercising strenuously.
As a rule of thumb, it may help to remember that in addition to getting eight hours of sleep each night, experts recommend drinking eight glasses of water each day (what is it with health and the number eight?!).
But it’s always a good idea to heed what your body is telling you and drink plenty of healthy liquids whenever you feel thirsty in order to maintain a proper hydration levels.
Get rid of trigger foods
How do you identify the foods that can trigger binge eating? Here’s where your food and mood journal will come in handy!
Keeping track of the foods you eat based on your mood state will help to identify the items you consume that lead to binge eating.
Different people have different emotional triggers that lead to seeking out different kinds of food: junk food, comfort food, fatty food, etc.
Eliminating these types of foods from your home can go a long way toward impacting the frequency of binge eating, e.g., making it harder to seek immediate gratification through eating.
Processed snack foods like potato chips, microwave popcorn and store-bought cookies taste great in the moment, but who hasn’t wished they’d chosen a healthier alternative after the fact?
Do yourself a favor and make it easier to choose a non-trigger food by minimizing or eliminating their presence and replacing them with easy to eat, healthy alternatives you enjoy such as packaged salads, nuts, seeds, and fruits.
Seek professional help
All of these strategies are meant to give you an idea of how you can begin to address problematic eating patterns. If you think you or a loved one has BED, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for expert help and guidance.
Lifelong recovery is possible: all you need to do is reach out. Starbent Recovery was founded on the belief that people suffering from addictive disorders, trauma, and other co-occurring issues can thrive in the right environment.
Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs, and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.
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To learn more about our premier women’s recovery residence, call us at (800) 673-0176.