5 steps to conquer food binges
Many eating disorder experts will argue that binge eating can stem from unmet emotional or psychological needs, but conquering the behavior also requires a practical approach to changing habits.
In addition to working with a therapist or joining a peer-led support group (like Overeaters Anonymous), conquering food binges starts with overhauling your routine and preparing for setbacks so you may better deal with challenges as they arise.
1. Eat before you're hungry.
According to Dr. Sooji Rugh, obesity expert and founder of weight-loss company GreenLite Medicine, avoiding binge eating involves learning to eat before you're actually hungry. If you wait until you feel physical hunger pangs, you're very likely to overeat when you finally sit down with a plate of food. Regular meal and snack times, then, are critical. Eat at those regular times, even if you don't feel hungry. The idea is hunger prevention, not hunger satiation, she says.
2. Make protein your friend.
A diet rich in protein will help keep you feeling full longer, while preventing binges. Protein, along with healthy fats, helps trigger satiety cues that tell your body it doesn't need more food. Minimize refined carbohydrates and include more protein and fiber, Dr. Rugh suggests. This will help keep your appetite in check and prevent the extreme hunger that often arises when your diet is overloaded with carbohydrates.
3. Reorganize your kitchen.
Out of sight, out of mind - this is an idea you should make your motto. Arrange your refrigerator and cabinets so healthy options are front and center, while not-so-healthy choices (like your kids' sugar-filled snacks or treats) are harder to access. Putting treats in locked cabinets or in the back of shelves - or even just putting them away instead of leaving them on the counter or in front of you on the couch - will help reduce binge eating. Some studies from Cornell's food brand lab suggest that mere proximity to food can trigger binge eating behavior.
4. Make preparation a priority.
Without preparation, you're much more likely to grab fast food or unhealthy options from your own fridge. Make your weekly shopping and meal planning priority activities. Always have healthy snacks on hand - whether you're at work, in the car, or at home - so you have access to hunger-curbing eats. On that same note, make meal time important. If you can, take time to prepare your meals with care and sit down to enjoy them with loved ones. This is part of changing the relationship you have with food, Dr. Rugh explains, and realizing that you deserve to take your time with food and nourish your body in healthy ways.
5. Protect your needs.
It's easy to get triggered into binge eating by social situations, emotional hurdles, or stress. If something or someone in your life seems to contribute to the problem, put your needs first and avoid the trigger in the first place. Taking care of yourself allows you to handle life more proactively than reactively, which will help you cope with the triggers that cause binge eating.
Source: GreenLite Medicine
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