How to stop a binge

If you’re like me, you find yourself occasionally caught in a whirlwind of eating that might be called a binge, or at least might be called “over-doing it” (most of us like to think we don’t “binge” eat, but for the sake of getting to some good advice, bear with me on the language).

Binges tend to make us feel out-of-control and not great about ourselves, and they’re unhealthy.  So, it’s worth learning to stop mid-binge.  But, binges aren’t all bad: you can learn a lot about yourself…what was happening just before you binged?  What is causing your binges?  What issues in your life might really be bothering you that you might not want to deal with head on?

First things first: how to stop a binge.  Let me tell you, it’s hard at first, but like a muscle, it’s an ability you can build up, with the hope that you eventually won’t binge at all.  Most people are surprised to hear the practical advice (because it’s so simple and obvious): get away from the stimulus, right now!  Leave the room where the candy/cake/pizza/ice cream/donuts are…go to a different part of the house or office, for at least a couple minutes!

Better yet: leave the house or your individual office or cubical: get out in public (your car doesn’t count).  It’s harder to binge in public, and I, for one, tend to get distracted in public and I often no longer want to binge!

Another thing to keep in mind when you binge: for me, bingeing is like temporarily giving up.  I think to myself “I’ve already screwed up my diet; I might as well squeeze as much into this failure as possible.”  As we all know, that’s a dangerous attitude.  I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, and I recently read an anecdote that really helped me:  Even good drivers get flat tires sometimes.  When you get a flat tire, how do you respond?  Wouldn’t it be silly to get out of the car with a pocket knife and puncture the other three tires, instead of fixing the one that went flat?  That’s binge eating.  You get a tiny flat tire (for example, you eat a cookie), and instead of fixing the tire (getting on with your day: no more cookies), you slash the other three tires (you eat the whole box of cookies).  Yikes!  Give yourself a break!  A flat tire is not big deal!  We ALL get them!

Finally, remember to make good use of your binges and urges.  Make a note in your journal or on a piece of paper what was happening when you felt a loss of control.  In addition to working on your underlying issues (with self-help or with a therapist), you can prepare for binges by keeping a stock of delicious healthy snacks nearby: carrots with low-cal dip, fresh fruits, or low-cal versions of your favorite snacks.

Before I sign off, as always, I want to encourage you to visit HealthyWage, which provides health incentives for everyone.  Incentives make accountability fun, and studies show that incentives increase your odds of success.  Check it out!  Best wishes everybody

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