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I am currently working on a Master's Degree in Nutrition and requirements for Registered Dietician R.D. I plan to run my first full marathon in 2009. This blog is about everything I learn, eat, and do along the way. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Discussions Topic: Ways to Conquer Bingeing

So I have had friends that have dealth with over-eating, binge-eating disorder, etc. I would love to work with people with eating disorders someday, and I thought this would be a helpful post for anyone that may be interested.

I know with Thanksgiving less than two days away, lots of people are travelling or at home expecting lots of food, family, and travelling. For me, this is usually a source of stress for several reasons. It is always a struggle for many to view food as fuel, eat to nourish yourself and socialize to nourish relationships- To be in a situation such as holiday eating, throwing that out the window, "endulging" without guilt associated can be quite difficult for many people.

Focusing on getting to know your family, catching up with the people you may not get to see so often, meal preparation and how fun it can be to "get in the kitchen" with the family can be more rewarding than gobbling up enormous amounts of food.

I usually try to eat what my favorites are so that I fill up on what I truly want instead of just a bunch of food for the sake of its availability. As in, you end up with piles of mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole but you don't really like potatoes. Three quick tips for healthy holiday eating:

1. eat favorites first
2. never deprive yourself
3. don't go overboard - enjoy everything that the holiday is about, not just the food!

There WILL be leftovers, there WILL be another opportunity to eat, you CAN try something and NOT like it and NOT eat the rest of it.

You do not need to clean your plate to be a successful person, you do not need to please people by eating the food they made.

Below is my adapted version of a post from the amazing, inspiring Seeleelive over at For the Love of Peanut Butter ( on my blog list! ) I wanted to add some more tips that I think are very helpful to conquer bingeing behavior. I truly feel that a resource like this list should be available as much as possible, everywhere, anywhere, it can only mean thereis a better chance someone who needs it will read it.


  • Call a safe friend and explain your problem.
    “Safe” can have different meanings for everyone. There are people in your life that are fantastic people, great shopping buddies, fun going-out pals. But that does not mean they would be the right person to support you at this time.

These are examples of NON SAFE:

  • a person that would say “I can’t believe you ate that much, I know you were working hard, I wish you wouldn’t have…” (defaulting blame onto you)
  • a person that automatically gives advice “ You should throw out all your food, You should run off all the calories, You need some serious help” (while they are trying to help, they are only making judgements, which are not helpful)
  • These people may be great friends to hang out with for shopping but they are not the people that can help you get through a binge.

Examples of SAFE:

  • A person that does not avoid phone calls, that will answer your call when you need them and listen to what you have to say without placing judgement or their suggestions on you
  • A person that has recovered from an eating disorder and has offered to help others should they need it
  • A therapist you trust
  • A non-objective friend or relative that you trust

More Immediate Tips:

  • Postpone the beinge for 15 minutes. Set your timer. Brush your teeth. Do your nails…Clean the bathroom toliet, kitchen floor, garbage etc.
  • Remove the binge food or Remove yourself from the situation.
  • In panic situations, relax with deep breathing on the spot. Then think it through. What are you feeling? Can you handle what is going on? Are you safe?
  • Leave the environment that is encouraging the binge- go to the bathroom, take a walk around the shops, office, sit in your car, get out of your car- leave that toxic environment if only for a few minutes to boost your self-esteem, reset your mind!
  • Get your mind on something else. Turn on the radio, check the weather, do a load of laundry, play a game of cards, play Suduko!
  • Get some physical activitiy. Punch a boxing bag or scream into the pillow. Beat your bed with a tenis racquet. Tear up useless catologues. Give your body healthy expression!
    Crying can be a great release.
  • Write in your journal or tape record your thoughts. Think: what is the pay off to this binge? What will I achieve? Say out loud to yourself: THE ANSWER IS NOT IN ...THIS (BAG OF CHIPS)
  • List the foods you are fantasizing about, tear up the piece of paper, then seal the pieces in an envelope and throw it away.
  • Create panic cards with step-by-step directions on what to do in difficult situations.
  • Stop yourself in the middle of a binge. This may seem impossible, but it can be a very powerful accomplishment. Breathe peace into your body.
  • Stop yourself and idenitify your REAL hunger. Write down your most spontaneous answers. These are your legitmate wants and needs. Often we try to fill the emptiness from the wants and needs with food, find what you are really “hungry for”
    Are you hungry for love? Find something like a pet or someone you can love ( doesn't have to be a boyfriend/girlfriend, how about an elderly person at a nursing home, a terminally-ill child, maybe someone at a homeless shelter).
  • Improve yourself and love yourself so that others can love you more fully.
  • Are you stressed out? Will eating that cake take away the deadlines, bills, lack of appreciation or only delay it longer and make everything worse?
  • Are you giving more of yourself than you want? Give back to yourself in ways you need it- NOT FOOD- give yourself attention as in a new haircut, a magazine subscription, exercise, manicure, a bath, meditation time
  • Are you not challenging yourself? Are you bored? Challenge yourself with more work, new work, new activity, new situations- challenging yourself to eat plates of food is not going to make you feel like you achieved anything but stomach pains and weight gain.

  • Pamper yourself: get a manicure, a facial, a massage, new clothes, a hot bath. Take care of your body: don’t abuse it! You only have one body in this lifetime, reminding yourself that your body is a temple and should be treated with the best nutrients can often help.
  • Relax with yoga, meditation, or another technique. Let your mind be still and your emotions calm.
  • Cultivate more friends who are sensitive, compassionate, and capable of uplifting you. Sometimes it is good to talk to someone who has worked at overcoming an eating disorder
  • Give yourself permission to eat what you crave. Eat what your body needs and wants, not what you want to shove into it to avoid something else. If the food is a trigger and has a high probablity of setting off a binge, avoid it until you can feel 95% safe that you will not binge afterward.
  • If you really want to eat something that may trigger a binge, or know you will be in a situation that “requires” it ( think work party or a food oriented get together) do it with a capable support person who understands your goal is to increase self-awareness, and not to binge.
  • Talk to your family members about your childhood. Work towards healing issues that are rooted in resentment, anger, etc.
  • Eat what is considered “healthy and normal”. When you are hungry, think “Would a healthy-minded, normal person eat this?”
  • Go to a cultural activity. Check out your local free newspapers for happenings, you can check out your city website for events also.
  • Make lists about your life-values, beliefs, accomplishments, dislikes, needs, and priorities.
  • Practice saying NO to others. It is your fundamental human right! It also gets easier with practice. You are the one who knows your own limits and boundaries. Be assertive.
  • Get busy with a project after eating a normal, healthy meal. Collaging, crafting, reading, writing, anything that you can enjoy and be engaged in while your body digests its fuel.


  • Begin a long-term journey:
    Focus on those areas of hunger from the immediate list and short term lists- add to them and expand on them.
  • Get involved in volunteer work, helping others will help you feel better about yourself. Feeling better about yourself will decrease the chance of bingeing
  • Learn something new. A foreign language. CPR First aid. Musical Instrument. Painting. Clay- Pottery Making. Writing. Yoga. Dance. Intramural Sports. Knitting. Crafting. Scrapbooking. Photography. Blog Writing! Home Improvement- rewiring electricity, interior design, feng shui. Pilates. Power Walking.
  • Think about what you can spend your money on, other than binge foods. Spend it, expand on your interests because the more you spend on other interests the less you have to spend on binge food- be careful though- don’t go bankrupt!
  • Read, magazines, research articles, internet sites, browse stores online for more ideas that can foster a healthy relationship with something OTHER than food!
  • Buy a pet! Taking care of a pet can be very challenging but very rewarding. Make sure you research prior to choosing a pet.


HangryPants said...

You can do it!

I noticed you said as one of the tips something about doing things that do not relate to food. I am curious (not judging, just honestly wondering), how does reading "food blogs" fit in. I mean, is it something you talk(ed) about in recovery. You totally don't have to answer, but I am really curious if you're willing.

B_Hlthy said...

No worries! Under Long Term Tips, you see that "Learn Something New"... and examples could be millions of things, different for each person, sewing could be new, blog reading could be new. I find reading blogs can help by modelling healthy relationships, create a frienship, sense of community and support, give inspiration for new meal ideas, new ways of thinking/eating/living-In essence, it can help by turning an unhealthy pattern of boredom/avoidance bingeing ( mindlessly numbing with food) into a healthier outlet for what you "should" do with food ...cooking ideas, meal planning, creating nutrient rich dishes, etc.

ANOTHER long term tip you noticed is to create and expand on things in your life that DO NOT revolve around food. Fostering an interest that is un-related to food long-term can help make you a better "whole" person, and help make you feel like food is NOT the only thing you can rely on ( which is a tenency in binge-eating, and bulimia binge/purge cycles- relying on food to fill up areas that may be "empty").

Make Sense?

B_Hlthy said...

Of course blog content is un-edited, and every blog may not be a "good" source. However, writing and reading can take your mind off diving into that cookie dough package and hold the possibility of finding a new interest in ... nutrition, cooking, fitness, etc. Some blogs are fantastic, some crappy ones can support negative habits- I tend to find great inspiration in lots of blogs!

Not everything will work for everyone, some people may hate blog reading. Finding out "new" ways of creating healthy interests outside food so that you are not relying on food to replace what other interests could AND creating healthy food relationships to diminish the negative bingeing patterns.

Madison said...

great list!!

i like hangrypants question, and also love your answer

in a way i find blogging and food blogs (though not all of them are food blogs) make me focus a lot on food (naturally), but on the other hand, it really has made me feel more in control of my food. i think there are pros and cons to it. one thing i know is that even before i read food blogs i was very focused on food. but i was very out of control with my eating. after starting my own blog (i don't think it is exclusively a food blog, though there is nothing wrong about "just" being a food blog) i'm still focused on food, but don't feel so out of control around it. so i guess it is a trade-off?

strongandhealthy said...

Love your tips! Thank you!