How to Avoid Binge Eating

Binge eating is where someone eats compulsively, then feels invaded by feelings of guilt. In this article, we'll give some tips on how to avoid it.
How to Avoid Binge Eating

Last update: 03 October, 2021

Binge eating has become a problem for thousands of people around the world. Although at first you might not notice, over time it causes problems for your physical and mental health that significantly decrease your quality of life.

For many, eating is a way to relax in situations that cause emotional distress. However, over time, it becomes uncontrollable and problematic.

Here, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to avoid binge eating.

What is binge eating?

Binge eating is recurring episodes where the person eats compulsively and eats an exaggerated amount of food voraciously. Then, they feel like they don’t have control, which leads to a deep sense of guilt.

A woman feeling guilty from binge eating.

Binge eating and emotions

Resorting to food to calm emotions is a real disorder for many people. Several studies show that binge eating is a way to calm anxiety. However, it doesn’t mean that there is anxiety about eating, but that eating helps to channel, relax and, at times, forget about it.

Most common causes

In many cases, this eating problem is caused by:

  • Very strict diets that make you feel hungry.
  • Sudden changes in eating habits. For example, this may have happened in quarantine where there wasn’t an established routine.
  • Situations of stress and anxiety. This could be at work, with family, or in any situation where you feel like you aren’t in control.
  • Emotional instability, such as insecurities, self-esteem problems, etc.

Guidelines to avoid binge eating

There are many things to consider when avoiding binge eating. The following guidelines are the main ones you should consider. In any case, keep in mind that they are support strategies, and they don’t replace a doctor’s recommendations.

Plan your meals

Believe it or not, setting a meal schedule can work. Knowing that you’ll eat again in a few hours helps the intense desire to eat. This way, you can plan your diet better.

Avoid dieting

You should avoid all restrictive diets, especially ones that eliminate the foods you like. The problem with these eating plans is that they deprive you of what you like best. Then, it gives your brain the message to crave certain foods even more.

So, when you do eat “the forbidden foods,” you do it in a way that you can’t control. It’s not bad if you indulge a little, as long as you do it in moderation.

A woman eating a small salad.

Make more elaborate meals

Avoid anything that you can eat with your hands, like pizza, empanadas, and other fast foods. The goal isn’t to have these foods at home, but to make other options that require setting the table, setting out utensils, and sitting down to eat. In general, this helps you eat conscientiously.

Don’t overcook

Try not to overcook so you have too much food. Whenever possible, and when you have time, it’s better to cook just enough for that meal. This way, you don’t have too much food within reach in the fridge.

Take time to relax

Finding a distraction and doing something you really enjoy can lower your anxiety levels. Of course, whatever you do is completely up to you. Maybe you find painting, crafts, meditation, or writing relaxing. The important thing is it’s something you can focus on.

Get more physical activity

When you feel the most out of control, physical activity helps. As detailed in a review published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exerciseexercise helps improve mood and reduce compulsive behavior.

In general, it helps release more dopamine and serotonin, chemicals associated with well-being. It’s also useful for managing anxiety and reducing the urge to overeat. You can work out for between 20 and 30 minutes a day to feel these effects.

A woman exercising with weights.

Sleep well

Getting quality sleep is essential to control binge eating. When you alter your regular sleep schedule or are interrupted, not only do you lose your sleep rhythm, but you also lose control of your meals and usual activities.

Some strategies to sleep better are:

  • Avoid using mobile devices when going to bed.
  • Ensure a comfortable environment.
  • Don’t play loud music or noise.
  • Eat at least two hours before going to bed.
  • Limit your consumption of caffeine and stimulants a few hours before going to sleep.
  • Practice relaxation techniques before sleeping.

Final thoughts on binge eating

There are lots of factors that may make you want to overeat. The truth is that you have to identify the problem that triggers it since your treatment depends on it. In addition to following these recommendations, it’s best to consult a doctor or a professional trained in eating disorders.

At the appointment, you can figure out if your problem is due to stress, anxiety, or a different cause. Also, it will be determined if you may need other treatments like psychotherapy, medication, or behavioral weight loss programs. Keep this in mind!

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