Friday, October 9, 2015

5 Tried and True Strategies to Avoid a Binge

Happy Friday, y'all! 

Today I wanted to talk about some strategies I use to avoid binging (bingeing?) when I start to feel that urge. Over the last year and a half of recovery, these are the strategies I use most often because they’ve worked the best for me.

1.   Journal. Journaling is hands-down my number one go-to method to avoid a binge. My binge triggers are almost always emotional, stemming from trying to block uncomfortable emotions like sadness or anger. When I journal, I just start writing (think stream of consciousness) and by the time I’m done, I’ve gotten to the root of what I’m feeling and the urge has passed. I have a couple of journals, so there’s always one nearby—I keep one in my purse, and one at home. Often times, I’m surprised when I go back and read what I wrote because the root cause is almost always something I didn’t even realize I was feeling.

2.   Occupy yourself. If you’re feeling bingey because you’re tired or bored, occupy yourself! Read a book, do a puzzle, go for a walk, call a friend… this is helpful in the afternoons between lunch and dinner when I’m tired and want to eat even though I know I’m not hungry. I wouldn’t recommend this strategy if you want to binge because you’re avoiding feeling something, but for something benign like boredom or “just because,” this is great.

3.   Meditate. Full disclosure—prior to therapy, I thought meditation was something only Buddhists and hippies did (hey, just bein’ honest!). The first time my therapist suggested doing a meditation, I was definitely skeptical. Turns out, the woman’s a freaking genius! I’ve mentioned the boat meditation before, but simply sitting down with your feet on the floor, taking long, deep breaths and focusing on where you’re feeling that anxiety or sadness or anger is pretty amazing and calming. It only takes a few minutes, but it’s a wonderful exercise for centering yourself and coming back to the present. With the first meditation I ever did, I learned that I feel my anxiety in my upper chest at the top of my sternum, in the space between my collarbones at the base of my throat (technically called the manubrium, if you must know). I connected that with a tendency I have of rubbing my chest in that area when I feel uncomfortable—I’ve done it for as long as I can remember! I also occasionally feel it in the back of my jaw, under my ear (causing me to tighten and clench my teeth).

4.   Talk to someone. Don’t hold those feelings in, especially if things could be resolved just by talking to someone. I used to be such a people-pleaser, always trying to keep the peace, never letting anyone know when I was unhappy with something—but you know what? There’s a time and a place for that, and it’s not when I’m on the verge of a catastrophic binge. Talk to anyone who will listen and get those feelings out!

5.   Eat well-balanced meals. Eat to avoid a binge? That’s preposterous! Except it’s not. My nutritionist suggested this and helped me set up a meal plan—nothing too specific, just how much of different food groups to eat at different times of the day—and it was crazy how spot-on she was with this! (I guess that’s why she’s the professional and I’m the patient, huh?) When our bodies are well-nourished and satiated, we are less susceptible to giving in to that urge to binge AND we are less likely to make poor choices as the day progresses. This means NOT skipping meals to try to “make up” for previous bad choices. It means we move on, and don’t give food that power over us. It means packing healthy snacks when you know you have a lot to do and may not be able to eat full meals when you’re used to eating.

Last Thanksgiving, I made sure to go for a walk in the morning, eat a good, balanced breakfast and a healthy snack before the big meal, and you know what? Thanksgiving dinner was no big deal. It was just another meal enjoyed with family! I didn’t scarf down everything in sight, I didn’t allow myself to feel pressured to try everything just to avoid hurting feelings… I ate exactly what I wanted, nothing more and nothing less, and went for a walk later in the day. It was probably one of the best Thanksgivings I’d ever had in terms of food and how well I handled it.

These strategies have helped me so much over the last 18 months; I hope you can find something useful in this too!

What steps do you take to avoid a binge or overeating in general? What strategies have been the most useful for you?


  1. Nothing seems to work for me...when I want to binge/eat too much I just do it. Hoping one day it sinks in.

    1. Give journaling a try, or when you want to binge, just stop and ask yourself--"why am I doing this? Do I really WANT to do this?" Taking a moment, just for a few seconds, can sometimes make all the difference and help you be more mindful in your decisions. It's not easy.... not at all... when I started this journey, I had to constantly remind myself "I can do this just for today." Thinking about it in terms of "today", rather than next week or next year or ever again, made it seem so much more doable. And even when you do give in, make it YOUR choice to eat that food. You call the shots, not your food. I found that when I did choose to overeat on something, and I OWNED that choice, I was far less likely to beat myself up about it later. It's not an easy road, and it definitely takes a lot of determination from within yourself. You CAN do it!

  2. Hi, I just found your blog and I found a lot of very helpful posts here.

    Bingeing is definitely one of the hardest things I've had to resist - and of course I can't ALWAYS resist. Sometimes, I'll go on pinterest and read motivational weight loss quotes, or ready success stories of people who have lost a lot.

    Saturday is my hardest day, Saturday night, really. During the week, I eat dinner, OP snack and try to go to bed early. But weekends really test me, and I'm trying really hard to build up my inner strength when it comes to saying NO to myself.

  3. I'm never sure about the spelling of binge-ing either. I find it helpful to have a go-to ritual that distracts me, like making a cup of warm tea or coffee. Having something to do that requires a set series of steps calms my mind and the combo of the warm cup/something I can't drink/eat quickly helps quiet those monkeys a bit.


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