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How to stop Binge Eating; 5 techniques used by therapists to help you avoid it.

Are you fed up with binge eating? No matter how hard you try you can’t stop. There is treatment for binge eating out there. By working on your food patterns but also your thoughts and emotions you can learn to stop. Here are some tips on how to stop Binge Eating and techniques used by therapists to help you. 

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Understanding Binge Eating Disorder: What You Need to Know

Binge Eating Disorder is when you eat unusually large amounts of food in a short space of time. It is usually followed by feelings of guilt and or shame. When you have Binge Eating Disorder, a binge episode is not a one-off, there will be recurrent episodes, and may happen from 1 – 3 times a week.

The difference between binge eating and overeating is overeating happens slowly. For example after a meal time and you eat too much. Binge eating can happen at any time, but has nothing to do with hunger. It is normally set off by something like an event triggering a person and the person has learned to cope with unpleasant events and or emotions by using food. People with binge eating usually feel a loss of control whilst bingeing. 

Food addiction is similar, only again people do not tend to binge, they will have food cravings and they will eat their favorite foods, usually junk food. Their eating will have a regular pattern to it, whereas binge eating will not. 

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Further Reading How to stop Binge Eating with these 9 helpful tips

Are You an Emotional Eater?

An emotional eater may or may not be a binge eater at the same time. Emotional eating is when you use food to manage your negative emotions. For example, you are bored, sad, frustrated and you find yourself turning to food. This is known as emotional hunger. You may not binge eat, but rather keep picking on food when you are not hungry. This is what causes weight gain. Emotional eating is when you have a poor relationship with food and also known as compulsive eating, because it can be hard to stop eating once you’ve started.  

Further Reading – How to manage your emotions without using food

Why do we sometimes Binge Eat?

There are quite a few reasons why we Binge Eat. A normal occurrence is that someone gets caught up in what is known as the binge eating cycle. Binge Eating might start very slightly as simply eating a few too many biscuits or chocolate at once. Overtime, it can get worse as we do not check on our emotions or deal with the cause of it. Most of the time, Binge Eating is caused by an event or a series of events in your childhood. The events might be so small that you do not recognise them as small traumatic events. 

They could be from childhood bullying in the school playground, your caregivers not being as nice and supportive as they could have been. It could look like neglect and or abuse. 

Whatever it is for you, we innately have this need to have our emotions met. We will unconsciously find a way to help us feel loved, heard, understood. If an adult is not around who can do that for us, we may find our eay to food. Food can then end up taking the place of a loving parent. 

Many people who binge eat, say that food is like a friend to them. It doesn’t judge them, it is there for them and it tastes nice and makes them feel good. 

This is how we then get caught up in the Binge Eating cycle, because when we are not feeling so great and food is there, this unconsciously sets up a pattern for us. You see it is our unconscious’s job to help us feel good. That pattern when repeated enough times, becomes an unconscious pattern. Meaning you do it again and again and over time you do not realise why you are doing it. 

Further Reading How your childhood trauma could be causing your binge eating 

How to stop Binge Eating

People with binge eating naturally want to stop the act of bingeing. Rather than focus just on the bingeing, you have to focus on breaking the whole cycle. When you start to become observant about your eating, you may notice your trigger foods. You can then learn to manage or avoid those food triggers. 

Next on the cycle is the food cravings. They are intense cravings that are hard to resist. We then give in and hence we have another binge, which is known as binge-eating episodes. From there afterwards, we experience guilt or shame for having eaten 

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How to stop Binge Eating, Techniques used by therapists

1. Plan ahead

Planning your meals ahead allows you to come away from a panic of when you are next eating and the panic of worrying about being hungry. 

Many people report leaving eating till the last minute because they don’t want to eat, but then they get too hungry and then it becomes too late to plan ahead, they want to eat now so don’t want to spend time preparing the meal, so you end up eating takeaways or getting a ready meal. 

If you are busy during the day, preparing food in a slow cooker in the morning can be a great way to save time and eat healthily. 

2. Have a support system

When you suffer with Binge Eating, it can feel as if you are on your own. When none of your friends understand you, or you get unhelpful advice from so called professionals who just tell you to stop eating, this is not helpful at all. In fact it can make you feel worse.  You are not on your own. 

This is where you need a support system. This is friends or people that you can talk to that will be able to listen, understand and not judge you. 

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3. Mindful eating

Bring in mindful eating. This is paying attention to what you are eating. It is being mindful on different levels. First the physical, paying attention to tastes, textures and how the food feels like in your mouth. So this is making you slow down your eating so you can pay attention to it. Another level is emotional, how does it feel to eat the food, does it bring you joy, comfort or satisfaction? 

Mindfulness meditation can help you to have more calm in your life, which in turn can help you to be more aware of your food intake and help you to create a regular eating pattern. 

A lot of the time Binge Eating is a coping strategy to cope with difficult emotions. What were you coping with when you were younger, that eating helped with? 

4. Be kind to yourself

This goes further than running a nice bath or reading a book. This is about how we speak to ourselves. Quite often, especially after a binge we give ourselves a hard time because we binged. This sounds like – Oh I am useless, why did I have to binge, I have no control, often said with a stern voice. The purpose is often to get us to stop doing it. If it worked, we would not be binge eating. 

If we think of a friend and the friend told us they could not stop binge eating, I doubt you would speak to a friend like that in such a harsh tone. You would probably console her, tell her it’s going to be ok and that you will help her to find help. 

If we can start speaking to ourselves in the same way as a friend, it would give us encouragement and support to help us find a way to stop binge eating. 

5. Find Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress:

Binge eating is usually a coping strategy that we develop unconsciously at some point in our lives. It can start out as simple dieting that ends up getting more and more extreme. Or it can start out as diving into the sweet cupboard and it feels good.

Developing other ways to help you cope with stress can include meditation, breathing techniques, going for meditational walks.

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Connect with a therapist and/or dietitian

If you have got to the point where you feel it does not matter what you do you still cannot stop bingeing, then is the time to find a therapist. An eating disorder therapist who is trained in Binge Eating Disorder, can help you to unravel everything that is leading up to you eating. It is picking it all apart with you, so you become consciously aware. Cognitive behavior therapy, alongside hypnotherapy and humanist therapy can help.  At the same time you are healing the hurts of the past. When we no longer feel hurt, we no longer need to reach out for food to heal that hurt. 

Further ReadingHow to stop Binge Eating in 5 easy steps 

Further Help

Binge Eating Disorder, signs and symptoms

Beat, Binge Eating

About Vanessa McLennan

Vanessa is an emotional eating expert with a passion for natural health, superfoods and psychology. She helps women from all over the world to successfully lose weight by escaping the diet cycle and end their emotional eating patterns. She holds a diploma in Hypnotherapy as well as qualifications in EMDR, EFT, Emotional Eating, IBS therapist. Check out her free guide to help you break free of the diet cycle