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What It Is and How To Stop

What Is Binge Eating.

Do you ever eat large amounts of food in secret or gorge food when you are upset or stressed? You might be binge eating.

Bingeing is eating a very large amount of food at one time (usually in secret) to cope with substantial emotional pain or stress. You may feel out of control (often due to some stress in your life) and want to ease your pain as fast as possible. You use eating a large amount of food at one time for comfort to ease your pain.

Binge Eating Vicious Circle

You might feel better for a while after bingeing, but then typically feel guilty for eating so much food. You don't want to gain weight so you try to restrict your food intake. You find it difficult to reduce your food amounts, you worry about gaining weight, and the stress becomes overwhelming. So, you binge again to comfort your stress.

After bingeing, you feel disappointed and disgusted with yourself because you ate the food. You get more stressed out and the cycle of bingeing repeats. This pattern becomes a vicious cycle. Your eating habits seem out of control.

What Triggers A Binge

Typically, a stressful event like exams or being bullied or teased can cause a binge. Here's an example of bingeing to ease the pain of being teased. Bingeing can also occur from not eating enough earlier in the day, seeing food commercials on television, and other stresses in your life.

It's a good idea to talk to someone like a mentor, support person, or health care provider about your tendency to binge so that they can help you learn other methods to cope with stress and negative emotions other than using food.

Here Are Ways to Avoid a Binge:

1. Let the distress roll over you like a wave. We call this Urge Surfing. Urge surfing is visualizing a bothersome urge to eat and letting it roll over you like a WAVE.

URGE SURFINGFeel the pain, don't fight it. Let it sit there, just don't act on it. Realize that it will pass - the pain will get less.

Pause...feel...and be aware of your urge. RELAX, and "SURF" your urge, but without acting on it.

Breath in deeply...hold in for a couple seconds..., then, let your breath out. Most likely, the urge to eat has passed. The more you use this technique, the more it will work for you. Now, try distracting yourself with other things to keep the urge at bay. Think of this as a NEW WAY to combat using food to cope. You can do it!!

2. Squeeze your hands together for 30 seconds and then release. Repeat 3-5 times. Your urge to eat will pass the more you can distract yourself.

3. Cry, scream, or pound a pillow.

4. Chat or call a friend or support person instead of binge. Learning to cope with stress or pain without food is THE HEALTHY WAY to cope.

5. Learn to recognize your triggers and develop a plan. Dealing with the source of the stress and problems that prompt you to binge eat, will help to reduce and hopefully eliminate binge eating episodes. SEE THE CHART BELOW.

Once you recognize your triggers, you can develop a plan ahead of time for what you can do instead of binge. Write your problems down on a piece of paper or notebook with a plan for each problem.

Write down what you feel before you binge. What are you upset about? Write what you might be able to do about your problem. It's amazing how writing out a plan to a problem can help you feel less stressed!

6. Head off triggers. Get away from the food.I can do it For example: don't go near the kitchen or fridge, or don't walk past the candy jar or drive past McDonald's. Go a different direction or get outside.

Take a walk, do a fun distraction. Keep distracting yourself with fun things to do instead of using food to handle stress or pain. It gets easier to resist a binge, the more you practice doing a distraction.

7. If you do cave and binge on food, do damage control. Write down or record exactly how you feel after your binge. Write what you might be able to do to avoid a future binge. What can you learn from it, to keep it from happening again? Save this, so the next time you are about to binge you can read what you wrote or listen to your recording to help prevent it.

I was stressed out about math test Saw pizza in the refrigerator Ate all the leftover pizza and a bag of cookies, now feel mad at myself for eating all of it Avoid the kitchen, go in my room, turn on some favorite music to relax and start my homework right away, get some help from Mr. Renz my math teacher
I was bullied and teased at school Found Mom's junk food stash in cupboard I found the junk food stash Mom hides from me and ate all the candy (4 bars) and a bag of chips I will draw out an activity from my distractions/Activities Jar and DO IT. I will talk to school counselor, I can't take this anymore!
I was bullied and teased at school AGAIN! Went to room right away to avoid food triggers I did one of my distractions (played guitar) and I was able to avoid bingeing. YEAH!!!! Keep doing a distraction to avoid eating and keep talking to school counselor, IT HELPS!

The next time you feel like bingeing, follow your plan. It really does work!

Bingeing Is Treatable and there are many resources available. Talk to a counselor, mentor or support person who can refer you to a trained healthcare professional. They can help you to curb or learn to avoid bingeing and help you learn other methods to cope with stress and negative emotions.


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