Eating can be a comfort for a lot of us. If we are going through a breakup, had a long day, or are celebrating something, we can find ourselves indulging in all kinds of foods. We all have our own comfort foods and can use them as a way to make ourselves happy. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with eating for comfort, as long as we maintain a healthy mindset in doing so. When we go too far, we can cross the line into “binge eating”. Binge Eating Disorder(BED) is characterized by the National Eating Disorder Association as “recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards.”. BED is a part of other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa, however, unlike those disorders purging is not present. Those who indulge in binge eating experience intense feelings of shame, depression, and guilt. It can feel like a runaway train and leads to individuals being unable to stop themselves. This is problematic for those of us in recovery because not only can this negatively impact physical health, but it can also harm mental health. Binge eating can often exacerbate any underlying psychological issues, so it is essential to understand what causes binge eating and ways to avoid it. 

As weird as it may sound, avoiding dieting can help you prevent a binge eating disorder. If a person is dieting, they cause their bodies to go into a state of perceived starvation, which can lead to episodes of binge eating. If you limit your body excessively, it will begin craving food. This can cause you to consume way more food than you need. Instead, it is vital to engage in healthy diets that aren’t extreme. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables, proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains. An excellent method to follow is what is called an “80:20 diet”. This is where you engage in healthy eating 80% of the time and treat yourself to less healthy foods 20% of the time. By letting yourself have smaller moments of dietary freedom, you can prevent binging while also receiving the dietary benefits you seek. 

Identifying what causes you to binge is also paramount to avoiding it. Many people will binge when responding to loneliness, boredom, or sadness. Identifying these things and how they affect you will help to avoid those situations. This can significantly decrease your risk of binging. You may consider removing any temptations that trigger you to binge, such as removing any sugary and processed foods from your home and replace them with healthier alternatives. If binging is an issue when out of the house, keep healthy snacks with you. You can implement a mindfulness practice such as mediation as well. Remaining mindful can help steer you away from your triggers and temptations. 

Knowing When It Is Too Much and How to Handle It

People who binge eat often confuse thirst for hunger. If you are experiencing intense feelings of hunger, try drinking water. Water can help curb your appetite and stop binge eating from happening. If the symptoms of hunger don’t subside, then pick up a healthy snack. Ultimately, drinking plenty of water is a healthy habit to pick up. The fact that it curbs your appetite is simply a bonus. 

Finally, get enough sleep. Sleep does a lot to regulate our appetites and bodily systems. As such, obesity and binge eating are both related to insufficient or inconsistent sleep patterns. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Regular sleep, along with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, can help curb binge eating and obesity. 

There are several treatment options for binge eating. If you or someone you know is suffering from binge eating, seek professional medical advice. Psychotherapy can help identify triggers and develop lifestyle changes to avoid binge eating. It is important to note that minimal binge eating is okay. There is nothing wrong with occasionally treating yourself and indulging. It’s just important to know when it is going too far. As with everything, awareness, control, and moderation are vital to living the best, healthiest life possible.

     If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us today at (866) 399-6528.