Studies show that 30 percent of people on the heavier side meet diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder (BED). And since other studies say that nearly 3/4 of Americans are overweight, we can safely say that many of us struggle with overeating or binging.
If you struggle with regularly consuming more food than what is healthy for you, you are not alone. Especially in a time when the world is going through a collective trauma, it’s understandable that many of us would be scrambling for ways to comfort and soothe ourselves.
But the good news is that there are plenty of people in the world who struggle with the same thing—and there are also so many ways to fight this unhealthy way of coping. Help and hope are available, and here are some practical tips to prevent yourself from overeating and binging.
Consult with medical professionals.
One of the best and most sensible things you can do for yourself is to consult with your primary care provider, who can then connect you with the most skilled professionals, from dietitians to nutritional therapists. If your doctor deems it necessary, they will also be able to connect you with a therapist or a counselor.
Often, we don’t truly get to address the root of the problem because we only worry about the surface issues, like overeating. And you’d be surprised—overeating can be a sign of a much deeper problem, more than constantly being hungry or tired. Addressing this will taking pulling its roots from the core so that it never pops up again. If binge eating is a medical disorder, it needs medical solutions, and there’s no shame in seeking medical help and attention when you’re ill. Medical professionals will provide you with the answers, solutions, and help you need.
Know that it’s so much more than just self-control.
It’s tempting to fall into a cycle of hunger, overeating, and self-pity once we start, and when our emotions get the best of us, that’s when it’s easiest to keep falling back into unhealthy patterns. Be kind to yourself and know that there is so much going on beyond your cravings—there is a complex system of hormones that determine and influence your levels of hunger, as well as your satisfaction. Your eating behaviors are largely influenced by multiple neuro-biological factors, more than just your desire to be fit or healthy. This is why you need to speak kindly to yourself and your body about this—since that is the beginning of your journey towards healing and recovery.
Identify your triggers and eliminate them.
Determine if there are specific foods, meals, snacks, or drinks that trigger your overeating habits. Eliminating those triggers will help you lower your chances of overeating again. For some people, it’s sweets like ice cream or chocolate. For others, it’s more savory foods like chips. Removing these triggers from your pantry might help you prevent overeating or binging. When doing groceries, avoid those aisles as well. Consider replacing those triggering foods with healthier options, like slices of apples or other fruits.
Eat regular meals.
One of the reasons we tend to binge eat is that we allow ourselves to reach hunger levels or forget to have regular meals. Establish a healthy eating routine to ensure that you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with meals approved by your doctor or nutritional therapist. You should also have light and healthy snacks in between. When you allow yourself to be full in healthy ways, you fight the urge to reach for less healthy snacks.
Build a reliable support system.
There’s no shame in asking for help; in fact, being honest about your needs is worth commending. Be honest with trusted friends and family about this area of struggle and ask for their help in keeping you accountable in gentle and loving ways. If you don’t live with anyone, make sure you always have the contact information of these people so that you can reach them anytime. You can also make deals with them; ask them to only invite you to restaurants with healthy options, or you can cook for them at your home. There’s a reason why peer support groups or having sober companions is a crucial part of any addiction recovery plan—it works.
Be kind to yourself.
Last but not least, be kind to yourself. Be patient with your progress, no matter how long it may take. The journey may be difficult and long, but it will be worth it. Good luck!