Ten Tips to Prevent Binge Eating

  1. One of the most important ways to decrease the urge to binge eat, is to eat a small meal when you first get up, and to eat regularly throughout the day.  Ideally six small meals distributed equally throughout the day will allow the body maximum energy.  This approach would decrease physiological urges to uncontrollably binge eat.
  2. Develop a list of what you could do to delay a binge or to help yourself stop eating once you have begun.  Such activities could include telephoning or visiting a friend, getting yourself out of the kitchen, taking a walk with someone.
  3. Structuring your life in other ways may help.  For example, restrict yourself to a single room in the house, or eat specific amounts and put the rest of the food away.  Buy foods packaged in small quantities and allow yourself one small package as opposed to taking larger portions of food out of a large container.
  4. Recognize that most desired weights are arbitrary.  Our society has an unrealistic expectation that the ideal weight is less than what most women weigh naturally.  Women in the United States wish to weigh below 110 or 120 pounds.  It is acceptable to challenge this arbitrary “ideal.”  Establish an ideal sense or well-being: physical health, activity level, and personal esteem rather than focusing on an irrelevant weight goal.
  5. Recognize that the more you skip meals or fast, the more you are lowering your metabolic rate and increasing the likelihood that your body will store a larger portion of your next meal as fat.  If you want to reduce the tendency for your body to send food to fat, then begin eating in the morning when your metabolic rate is most susceptible to being increased.  Then provide it with food throughout the day.
  6. When you are feeling fat and all your thoughts focus on your shape and weight, allow yourself to more accurately identify what your thoughts are and what your thoughts mean.  For example, “I feel fat” may have various meanings including, “I am overweight,” or “I look overweight,” or it may refer to unpleasant [experiences] that make you feel “unattractive” (Fairbaum, et al., 386.)  Ask yourself, am I actually fat or am I feeling fat?  Are there issues that I do not want to focus on right now?  Am I focusing on my body shape to avoid other issues?
  7. After you binge eat it is common to experience extreme concerns and anxiety about your shape and weight.  If this happens, allow yourself to identify your exact frustration.  If possible, write it down or say it aloud.  Allow yourself to clearly express your frustration.  For example, if you feel fat you may say “I am getting fat.”  More accurately stated, the real point is “I feel frustrated about how fat I feel” or “I feel frustrated about this exam and I don’t really want to think bout it, so I focus on my body shape.”
  8. It may be a good idea to plan your days more carefully.  Try to avoid both long periods of unstructured time and overstructured time, which could contribute to increasing stresses.  Plan your meals in detail so that you know that and when you will be eating.  Identify time you are most likely to overeat and have a list of alternative activities that are enjoyable and comforting to you to substitute.  Ideals:  meeting with friends or watching your favorite video.
  9. If you find yourself thinking about weight all the time, try reducing the number of times you weigh yourself.  For example, if you weigh yourself once a day, try altering that to once a week.
  10. Allow yourself one goal or expectation for the day that could realistically be accomplished during that day.  Do not expect many goals.  Anything that happens beyond your goal is accumulated success.  Try to prevent over-expectations of yourelf.  You could be setting yourself up for failure that could then justify seeking food for comfort.

Source: Fairbaum, C. Marcus and G. T. Wilson, 1993.  “Cognitive-behavioral therapy for binge eating and bulimia nervosa: a comprehensive treatment manual,” in Binge Eating: Nature, Assessment, and Treatment, Fairbaum and Wilson (eds.).  New York: Guilford Press.  361-404.

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