Binge Eating is hard to control. Trying to control it with willpower is overrated. Willpower alone is not going to help you to stop binge eating.
In fact, it could be making your eating worse by causing you to binge and then restrict yourself. Willpower is the power to resist something in the short term and use your self-control to abstain to gain something in the long term. I hear so many times over, what I need is more willpower. If I had more self-control I could stop bingeing. We are focussing on the wrong thing.
Willpower is a fallacy
The perception is that people who are good at not giving in to temptation have much stronger willpower. Those who can say no to the cake, are much better at exercising self-control. When we compare ourselves to others and focus on our perceived lack of willpower, we feel shame, a lack within ourselves that feels negative, and not good, and fuels us to turn to food to feel better within ourselves. The thing with willpower is that it is like an emergency brake on a car. It is there if we really need it, but if we keep using it there are times when it is not going to work.
I have read studies that show that people who perceive they have a greater sense of self-control or willpower, do not actually possess any more or less willpower than others. What they do possess, is the ability to forward plan, and avoid. A weird phenomenon was that those people thought they possessed stronger willpower. If you can avoid using the emergency brake in the first place, you actually get stronger when you do need to use it. The people in the studies who thought they were good at self-control, also created a lifestyle where they enjoyed activities that led to a healthier life so they did not put themselves in a position to use the emergency brake. To read more about willpower, read this post here.
So here’s how you can do that to help you to stop using your willpower to stop your binge eating.
1. Focus on long-term goals.
When we focus on the long term, the positive helps us to restrain ourselves in the short term. When I say restrained, I do not mean be very restrictive, because that often causes us to binge. What I mean is by focussing on what we want in the positive, in other words – I want to eat in a balanced way. I want to eat according to my hunger. I want to be able to manage my emotions rather than binge when I feel anxiety, stress, or depression. By keeping this in mind, allows us to plan better for what we want instead of continually putting ourselves in positions where we have to use the emergency break.
2. Avoid using willpower
Instead of deploying your emergency brake, make planning a new thing so you actually avoid temptation in the first place. Instead of having cakes, crisps, and chocolate in your cupboards, do your best to avoid buying them. That might mean not walking down the aisle of the supermarket. It might mean buying healthier alternatives and planning what they could be if your kids want some of those things. It could be teaching your kids to go for fruit and healthier snacks as well. If you do have those things, keep them out of reach or out of eyesight. If you deploy this with your long-term goal which might be to be a certain weight, it helps you keep to your goal.
3. Inject fun into it
Those who had more willpower actually used it less, because they actually enjoyed activities where they did not need to use it. So they found ways to eat healthier and enjoy it. They found ways to enjoy exercising so it was not a chore.
Start finding healthier foods that you can start to like. Start finding things that you like about yourself more to help you not go so high and low when bingeing and restricting. Allow yourself to enjoy some of the foods on your no list so you do not fall off any wagon and it becomes balanced out. Focus on enjoyment instead of deprivation. Focus on your strengths, what you do have instead of what you are not or what is not good about you.
If you’d like more tips on how to change your eating habits, read the link here.