By: Nikki Nies
Every one loves a good meal, right? What’s the last meal you couldn’t resist taking another bite even though your body was telling you that it was full? For me, it was the pasta I had last night. From time to time, it’s natural to overeat, yet, for some, over eating occurs more often than “from time to time.” Binge eating is described as compulsive overeating and is a common outlet for stress and undealed emotions.
A binge can last from a couple hours into a multiple day feast. The worse one feels about themselves, the more often and longer the binge. Common features include feeling distressed after a binge and no attempts to “make up” for the binge (i.e. no vomiting, over exercising). Often times, binge eaters see themselves in a hamster wheel cycle, where they see they have a problem, but don’t know how to go about stopping regular bingeing. Common cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief.
Symptoms often arise during adolescence or into early adulthood and may include:
- Eating even when full
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later
- Eating normal amount with others, but gorging alone
- Inability to control portions when around food
- Eating throughout the day without any consistent meal times
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food
- When stressed, eating is only thing to calm you down
- Embarrassed by how much you have eaten
- Never feeling satisfied from a meal
- Feeling disgusted, depressed or dejected after a meal
- Desperate to stop over eating and/or control eating habits
- Feel numb when bingeing
- Feeling isolated and having a hard time articulating feelings
- Frequently dieting without noticeable weight loss
Those that binge eat can cause additional health risks and often leads to obesity. Medical complications that can ensue include type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, joint and muscle pain, menstrual problems, gastrointestinal problems and/or cancer.
Unlike other addictions, one needs food to survive. The challenge is to not eat to cope with one’s emotions, but to eat for health and nutrition. By creating meal plans and being prepared how to order when dining out, can be a proactive approach to healthier eating.
Here are some friendly suggestions to help you on your journey to healthier eating:
- Find alternative outlet to relieve stress: i.e. exercising, meditating, listening to music and/or relation and simple breathing techniques
- Eat 3 meals a day+ healthy snacks: Starts your metabolism with best foot forward with breakfast; schedule meal time to prevent skipping meals and overeating later in the day
- Remove temptation: By removing tempting foods in your cupboards, fridge and pantry will decrease your chances of overeating; don’t buy in bulk if that’s going to make it harder for you to resist large amounts of food
- Stay connected: Lean on friends and family for times when you’re feeling blue
- Exercise: Is a great addition to healthy eating and can improve one’s mood
- Keep a food diary: Writing down what you eat will help you see trends in when you’re more likely to binge and helps hold you more accountable for what you’re eating
- Fight boredom: Often times, we eat as something to “do.” Instead, get out of the house and take a walk, call a friend or catch up on some reading.
We all can use a refresher course on what to eat. Working with a team of health professionals can provide you with the support and guidance you may need. Search online for local support groups as well. If you’re a recovering over eater, what tips have helped you?