Updated: Oct 6, 2020
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I try to block it out, but I remember waking up an hour after going to bed and running to the bathroom. During probably the darkest stage of my eating disorder, I binged a lot. That time, I ate so much right before bed that my body tried to throw it back up after an hour of sleep. I was disgusted with myself.
The after-binge feeling was one of my biggest motivations. I got tired of the shame and stomach aches. When I was healing, I waited until I felt hungry. It took a lot of trial and error. I didn’t know what hungry was yet, but I knew I wanted it. Every set back pushed me to figure out my body’s natural signals.
If you came to this article, you want to stop binging too. The best advice I can give you is you need to find the right motivation. The one that will provide you with the will power to change. My motivation was enough to push me through hard times. For example, I didn’t binge after a friend committed suicide because one) I knew it wouldn’t help and two) I knew I didn’t want to experience the guilt and shame again.
Is binging not solving your problems anymore? Is binging getting in the way of your life? Is it ruining your relationships? Does it cost you too much money? Is binging leaving you feeling guilt and shame? Are you fed up with your behavior?
The Goal is Normal
Binging is extreme, so our automatic reactions are also extremes - over-exercising, fasting, or even more binging. Binging creates new problems in that average doesn’t exist anymore. The apparent solution to binging is to stop the extremes. Reinstate healthy eating, regular exercising, standard time in between meals, etc. The problem is we don’t know what normal is! What is typical?
A few rules of thumb:
The body is hungry every three to four hours.
Most humans eat four to six meals a day.
Most meals are five hundred to six hundred calories or one twelve-inch plate of food.
The average human should workout three times a week for half an hour.
Research your own rules of thumb. It helps put into perspective how much you should be eating. Figure out how many calories you should eat a day and only eat those calories for one day. You may be hungry for a few days, but remember, your hunger signals are messed up. If calories are triggering for you, obviously don’t do this.
Only time will make it better. There is no overnight fix. Your body’s signals are very messed up, and it will take time to get those back to normal. So don’t give up. You are going to have some setbacks, but you need to get up and try again.
There are strategies to help prevent binge eating. Here are some tricks used by myself and other eating disorder survivors. These are specific to binge eating disorder.
Different diets. Try a high-fat, low-carb diet, or high-carb, low-fat diet. Though I never recommend any restrictive diets, eliminating the food group that triggers you to binge can be a legitimate way to recover. These diets can also satisfy your body in a way other diets don’t.
Normal Food. When you go to the grocery store or out to eat, get food that you want to eat. When restricting causes you to binge, you need to stop regulating. Stop limiting what you have access too. Nothing is off-limits. When you end binging, you can work on eating healthy or portion control.
Trigger Food. When you go to the grocery store or out to eat, stop buying trigger foods. If there are foods that cause you to binge, you shouldn’t have them in the house. This point is the only exception to the strategy above. When you stop binging, you can reintroduce those foods back into your diet.
Therapy. A professional can help you talk through your eating disorder. Sometimes we don’t know why we binge, so talking to a professional can be helpful. A therapist can help us figure out what we are dealing with or what we need to do to recover. I recommend talk therapy as part of any recovery plan for mental illness.
Recovery Center. If you need 24/7 help, this is for you. A center might be the last resort for some people, but it is still a legitimate option. Recovery centers can provide products and services for binge eating that no one else can.
Journal. When everything is in your head, it isn’t real. Once you write it down, it becomes real. Light is the best disinfectant. Just like talking to someone, journaling can help you sort through your thoughts. Here are a few from Biblio.
Author: Sophia Side Publish Date: July 19, 2019 Price: $9 (Paperback)
*Description: "EATING DISORDER JOURNAL to help you on your journey and can be used to supplement your therapy (skip any sections that are not helpful to your recovery) and help overcome your eating disorder. Track your meals, triggers after mealtime to help with purging or binge eating, mood, energy, symptoms and comes with mindfulness eating worksheets and other FOOD TRIGGER TRACKING worksheets as well as blank symptom sheets where you can customize your own trigger tracker, there are also gratitude prompts and motivational quotes!"
Author: Catherine L. Ruscitti, PsyD.
Publish Date: August 1, 2017
Price: $25 (Paperback)
*Description: "If you have anorexia, there is hope for a full recovery.The Anorexia Recovery Skills Workbook offers an integrated and comprehensive program to help you rebuild a healthy relationship with food, gain a sense of autonomy and independence, develop a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, and set healthy goals for the future."
Self-help books. There are many books out there about eating disorders. Some written by professionals, others written by everyday people. I recommend these for binge and emotional eating:
Book: Tasting Grace
Author: Melissa D'Arabian
Publish Date: September 10, 2019
Price: $22 (Hardcover)
*Description: "It wasn't until Melissa d'Arabian evaluated her relationship with food in light of her relationship with God that she began to appreciate food as not only a gift from him but also as a deeper invitation into his love. As she prayed, studied Scripture, and reflected on the stories from her own life, Melissa saw how God had used food to draw her into community, to redeem her moments of greatest tragedy, and ultimately to connect her more to him."
Author: Joyce Meyer
Publish Date: September 6, 2011
Price: $23 (Hardcover)
*Description: "In LIVING BEYOND YOUR FEELINGS, Joyce Meyer examines the gamut of feelings that human beings experience. She discusses the way that the brain processes and stores memories and thoughts, and then - emotion by emotion - she explains how we can manage our reactions to those emotions. By doing that, she gives the reader a toolbox for managing the way we react to the onslaught of feelings that can wreak havoc on our lives."
Book: Brain Over Binge
Author Kathryn Hansen
Publish Date: March 23, 2014
Price: $17 (Paperback)
*Description: "Brain over Binge provides both a gripping personal account and an informative scientific perspective on bulimia and binge eating disorder. The author, Kathryn Hansen, candidly shares her experience as a bulimic and her alternative approach to recovery. Brain over Binge is different than other eating disorder books which typically present binge eating and purging as symptoms of complex emotional and psychological problems. Kathryn disputes this mainstream idea and explains why traditional eating disorder therapy failed her and fails many."
Author: Connie Sobczak
Publish Date: June 10, 2014
Price: $20 (Paperback)
*Description: "This book’s message is rooted in the belief that people inherently possess the wisdom necessary to make healthy choices and live in balance. It emphasizes that self-love, acceptance of genetic diversity in body size, celebration of the unique beauty of every individual, and intuitive self-care are fundamental to achieving good physical and emotional health."
Author: Sunny Sea Gold
Publish Date: January 1, 2011
Price: $17 (Paperback)
*Description: "Bingeing, compulsive eating, food addiction, emotional overeating—no matter what you call it, too many women wrestle day to day with what they eat. It’s a love-hate relationship that always seems to be spiraling out of control. Food: The Good Girl’s Drug is one recovered binge eater’s attempt to inject some sanity back into the discussion about food, body image, and overeating."
Book: Never Binge Again
Author: Glenn Livingston, Ph.D.
Publish Date: October 10, 2015
Price: $14 (Paperback)
*Description: "If you struggle with binge eating, emotional eating, stress eating, or if you repeatedly manage to lose weight only to gain it all back, you may be approaching things with the wrong mindset. Most contemporary thought on overeating and bingeing focuses on healing and self-love. But people who've overcome food and weight issues often report it was more like capturing and caging a rabid dog than learning to love their inner child...Open the cage even an inch—or show that dog an ounce of fear—and it'll quickly burst out to shred your healthy eating plans, undoing all your progress in a heartbeat. From his perspective as a formerly food-obsessed psychologist—and previous consultant to major food manufacturers—Dr. Livingston shares specific techniques for isolating and permanently dis-empowering your “fat thinking self.” He reveals much of his own personal journey in the process."
*Descriptions taken from Amazon.com
Eating Disorders Anonymous. There are special groups for people who struggle with every kind of eating disorder. It’s another way to talk to someone about your issues, but this someone is going through the same thing you are going through. Another method of recovery is accountability partners.
Let me know if you have any other tips to stop binging!
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