It took me a long time to realize that I had a problem…an eating disorder. I knew my eating habits were unhealthy, but never realized that it had a name – binge eating. Now that I know I have a problem with binge eating, I am trying to tackle it and start my journey to a healthier lifestyle. Since it took me so long to come the realization that I was a binge eater, I wanted to write a post about some definite signs for anyone else who is struggling.
Now I am not a professional, so I definitely recommend you speak to a doctor or nutritionist if you feel you have a problem with binge eating. I am simply going to talk about some of the symptoms I had that led me to realize I have this eating disorder and my attempts to overcome it.
Eating Until You Are Uncomfortably Full
Have you ever eaten to the point that you are so full it hurts to move? Maybe around Thanksgiving or at a restaurant that was just too good? Well it’s like that, only this is something I struggle with almost every single meal. It can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety on top of being miserable and too full to move.
I’ve had instances where I have eaten a large meal, then sat on the couch and cried because of how I felt mentally and physically after eating, then 30 minutes later I’m back for round 2. It’s like you are unable to listen to your body when it is telling you that it has had enough. Because the brain is taking over and telling you that you NEED more.
It’s not like I am only binging on pizza, cookies or cake. I don’t allow myself to buy “unhealthy” food when I grocery shop. I don’t buy frozen meals or candy. So even when I’m eating food that is good for my body, I am over doing it. I still do this almost daily, but since I have recently identified this problem area I have come up with a couple of ways to tackle it.
What Has Helped Me
- Put leftovers away immediately. If you make a meal and have leftovers, put them in the fridge before you even begin eating. You are less likely to go back for seconds if you have to drag it back out of the fridge and heat it up.
- Drink more water. I already don’t drink enough water so this is a win-win. If you drink a large glass of water before eating, this will make you feel fuller and you won’t be running back for round 4. The most common rule is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. If you’re not drinking this much, try incorporating more water into your everyday diet to see if this helps.
- Identify problem foods/meals. Most likely there are some foods or meals you may have noticed you tend to binge on more frequently. If you can identify what I like to call the “trigger” foods then you can limit those. As a binge eater, I know that just because I take one thing away doesn’t mean I won’t binge on the next thing. But this is at least a starting point to removing trigger foods from the equation.
Thinking About Future Meals
Food is always on my mind…and I hate it. I wish I could see food as what it is – fuel – and not as a treat that I deserve every hour. Does this sound like you? Whether you are currently eating and thinking about seconds, or just finished lunch and looking forward to dinner, you are always looking ahead to the next meal. For me, this typically causes me to snack throughout the day even when I am not hungry. It is definitely exhausting to always have food on your mind and be worried about what you’ll be eating next.
What Has Helped Me
- Meal planning to eliminate the unknown. This has helped keep me on track with eating a healthier option instead of grabbing fast food on the way home. Knowing what you are going to eat and when the day or week before, can keep your food thoughts from getting too wild. If I don’t have a plan, you can guarantee I am grabbing a burger and fries or whatever quick, unhealthy option sounds good at the time.
- Give yourself something else to think about. If you’re at work, find a good playlist or listen to motivational podcasts to keep your mind focused. At home, this can be a little more difficult. So maybe make a rule that you cannot eat while watching TV. If you’re like me, sitting in front of the TV and mindlessly eating is like a second nature to me. Removing that option will drastically cut down on the amount of extra snacking you do at home.
Eating When You Are Not Hungry
I believe this is a result of the previous issue I mentioned – constantly thinking about food. Food is not hard to find. It’s at home, it’s at work, if you live in a big city you can have anything you want delivered to your door. Since access to food is so easy and it’s always on your mind, chances are you will be overindulging, especially when you are not hungry.
What Has Helped Me
- Start a food journal. Begin writing down everything you eat and the times you are eating. By being able to see how much and how often you are eating, this allows you to make more conscious decisions throughout the day.
- Chew gum in between meals and snacks. Chewing gum has actually assisted me with keeping my mind off food. It kind of tricks the brain into thinking you are eating something and therefore you are less focused on wanting to grab a snack. I really don’t know if this is a healthy solution to the problem, but for the time being it is giving me some peace of mind.
- Keep healthier snacks on hand. If you are having an issue with eating everything in sight, at least keep fruits and veggies as quick snacks.
Feeling as if You Have No Power Over Food
This pretty much goes hand in hand with all of the above. Feeling as if food controls your life and every thought. It is hard to regain power over food when it is something that you need to survive. Food addiction and binge eating are a special kind of hell, because unlike alcohol and drug addiction, you need food to live.
So the best thing you can do is begin taking steps to regain control. It can be overwhelming to attempt multiple changes at once. My advice is to try and take control in one small area at a time. Maybe start with a food journal so you can acknowledge the problem areas, then slowly introduce healthier snacks into your everyday diet.
The thing you have to remember to do is listen to your body. This is still incredibly difficult for me because my mind tends to take over. I will tell myself before a meal I am only going to have one serving, the next thing I know I have went back for thirds and I’m lying on the couch in pain. It almost feels as if I have blacked out (only not the good kind of blackout after 7 shots of tequila). So in cases like these you cannot get discouraged.
As with any journey there will be setbacks. The important thing is to not lose hope. Reach out to friends and family, meet with a nutritionist or doctor and read success stories for motivation. I follow lots accounts on Instagram who have struggled with eating or weight issues. It gives me a lot of encouragement to realize there are so many people that are struggling with similar issues and have overcome them. So my final piece of advice to you is – NEVER give up!
Is this something you struggle with or do you know someone who is currently struggling? Feel free to share your story or leave tips in the comment section!