Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stopping Binge Eating Tips and Tricks

(originally posted 02/2013)

I'm been thinking about this post for a few days. Sometimes I want to talk about my binge eating…the reasons why and the things I do. So maybe we’ll talk about it a little today. I am a diagnosed binge eater. Binge eating is different for everyone. What I have found personally is that when I am upset, I sometimes choose to eat. I can down a bag of chips in one sitting, and then go looking for something else to eat. I once ate an entire deli chicken because I was working in a job with difficult people, was incredibly unhappy and had a worse than average day. I struggle with it every day.

I've working with an Eating Disorders Clinic, seen a therapist and dietitian. I've taken medication that sometimes helps people with binge eating disorders. I eventually left therapy due to cost, and because I felt like there were some things I needed to work on with myself...I was making progress in therapy, but I felt like a plateaued. I actually made some progress using MFP. At one point, I’d lost 26 pounds using MFP. But then life got hectic and I was tired of logging every single thing I stuck in my mouth. I thought I was doing so good that I could just stop. But the truth is…I haven’t made any of my good decisions into habits and this is something I’m probably going to struggle with forever. I’ll never be that person who can just eat whatever they want.

I see a lot of requests on the My Fitness Pal boards about binge eating…how to curb it, stop it, and fix it. So…here are my tips for cravings and binges. I’m hoping it will help someone who might be having the same problems, and I’m hoping that blogging my tips and truly thinking about the things I did for success before will get me back on track with my own eating.

-The first thing I needed to learn when I started on my journey is to not punish myself for bad days, and set small goals. I’ve said this before, but here it is again because we all need to hear it: Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither were you. The extra weight you're carrying, the bad eating habits, the self-destructive behaviors (and we all have them)....those things didn't happen overnight. Many of us have been perfecting "fat" as a lifestyle for a long, long time. If you haven't given up in spite of a bad day or a bad week, if you've made just a few good choices in a week of bad ones, if you changed one old habit or are doing one thing differently then you are doing great. We can't reasonably expect to be different after 20+ years after doing something because we've decided to be. So, even if your scale didn't twitch or your measurements stayed the're still building something new, and you're doing great. Changes will happen, we just have to remember it took time to get will take time to get to where we want to be as well. Hang in there.

-Set small goals. They’re important and if you only make one small change a week, that will add up to big changes. I started by logging everything. Every single binge, every piece of hard candy I took off a desk at work, every bite off a kid’s plate. Then, I opened my diary to my friends. Being accountable to someone really helps. My next goal was to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Then I worked on staying under my calories.

-Drink water. What I found when it came to my bingeing was that if I drank all of my water (minimum of 8 glasses a day) and then some, when I binged I couldn’t binge as much because I was already so full.  Read how I get my 8 cups minimum in.

-Smart swaps…sometimes I think bingeing is more about the absentminded hand to mouth action. I’ve found that while I prefer to binge on junk food, if all I’ll allow myself is carrots then I’ll sit there and eat carrots until I’ve had enough. I’ve found it is best to go with something smaller and acidic, textured or crunchy. Things like grapes, popcorn, pickles, carrots, popcorn that isn’t completely loaded with salt and butter. Bingeing isn’t good any time, but chomping down cups of vegetables beats a bag of chips.

-Find a food less hobby. I snacked a lot at night. A LOT. Go home and eat a snack because I was hungry from my day, then make dinner and taste and nibble while preparing, then munch on some snack while watching TV for an hour or two. What I found was that if I found something to do where I couldn’t have my hands in food, I wouldn’t eat. So I started making jewelry again (an old hobby that I’d stopped doing), and I started giving myself weekly pedicures and doing nail art with hand painted designs that took a lot of time. I ate enough at dinner, and sometimes I allowed myself a snack when I was done, but I wasn’t able to eat my way through my favorite night shows.

-Invest in measuring cups and a food scale. Go to your local dollar store and buy extra measuring cups and spoons. I went and bought 2 more sets (1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 1 cup plus teaspoons/tablespoons guessed it. $1 each). I suggest this because then you always have something to measure your food out with. I've also heard of people buying extra sets and then leaving whatever size they need right in the container ...for example: leaving a tablespoon in the Chia seeds (1 serving=1 tbsp), 1/2 cup in the cereal, 1/3 cup in the oatmeal. It varies for everyone but if you do this you will always have the measurement you need and maybe that will help you. Learn what your glasses really hold. Just because you bought glasses that are 8 oz, does that mean you fill them to the top for 8oz or an inch below? All styles are different. Grab your glass and a measuring cup and figure out what is a cup in your glassware....after you have an idea, you can eyeball it instead of measuring out a cup of milk every time. It is also a good idea to do this with yogurt and cereal. After a while, you won’t need to measure everything out and it will help you when you go out or eat elsewhere to be able to eyeball how much you REALLY have (people tend to think they have less than they really do). Food scales will help you with raw ingredients.

-I try not to keep treats in the house…and by treats I mean sweets, savory goodies and those things I can’t leave alone (like Tostitos). I can’t keep them in the house or I’ll keep going back and nibbling until they’re gone. If I’m craving something sweet like ice cream, I will buy a single serving. No, this is not the most financially practical thing….everyone knows the bigger package is usually cheaper. But, it is what I have to do to not pig out. Sometimes I’ll buy better quality so that it feels like more of a special splurge and I will treat it as one.

-Eat the serving size if you can’t buy an individual serving. Even in the middle of a terrible binge, I try not to just eat out of the container. I’ll measure or weigh one serving of whatever I’m eating and put it on a plate or in a bowl. Then I put the container away completely (close it up, put it back where it was in the cupboard or the fridge…not leave it on the counter). I then go and eat my snack. When I’m done, if I think I want more…I get a glass of water first. If I still want more in 10-15 minutes, then I go get another serving, put the container away and repeat.

-Cravings happen. I get ridiculous cravings for things and I try not to always give in, but I’m not restricting myself either. If I want chocolate…I indulge in sugar free cocoa, have a few pieces of Dove chocolate, a bowl of Fiber One chocolate cereal, chocolate steel cut oats , Tofu chocolate pudding for a snack. Sometimes you just want a certain thing…and when I have those cravings, I try to ignore it and if it is persistent I’ll give in and let myself have it. I try not to make it an everyday thing, and I try to keep it to one serving.

-Snacking at work. I work in an office where there is food CONSTANTLY. Someone will bring in a treat for a special occasion, we’ll have potlucks before the holidays or someone will get goodies on sale. There is food around here constantly. I do nibble. Sometimes I graze. But I try to limit myself to what looks healthy and log everything the best I can. Drink my water. And chew gum…mint gum completely ruins the flavor of just about everything for me so when there is snacks, I try to chew gum. I also keep a stash of healthy, low-calorie treats in my desk and a couple in my purse as well.  Get some great work snack ideas HERE.

So….that’s what I have for now. I hope this helps someone out there. You can overcome it. I can overcome it. It is just going to take some time and hard work. We can do this!

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