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How to Stop Overeating and Binge Eating

written by: LotusSnow • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 5/1/2011

Just because something taste delicious does not mean we have to gorge ourselves until we are uncomfortable. There are tips and steps that we can learn to take to stop overeating and halt binge eating. We just have to make the commitment to control our appetite.

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    Difference Between Overeating and Binge Eating

    Most of us have overeaten during different occasions in our lives, perhaps during a buffet, a Christmas party, or other special celebratory events. So how do we discern if our overeating is just an occasional overindulgence or something more serious?

    Mainly, binge eating is different from “normal” overeating in two basic ways: -

    • The binge eater consumes a larger amount food at one time, they often eat more rapidly, may hide food, or consume food in secret.
    • There is a sense of loss of control felt by the binge eater. He or she feels driven to eat and is unable to ignore the compulsion.

    During their overeating episodes, binge eaters’ feelings can range from intense pleasure to disgust. Unlike the overeater, who responds to those feelings and stops the behavior, the binge eater is not deterred to stop eating. While occasional overeating is harmless, frequent overeating and binge eating can be a physical and emotional health risk.

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    What to Do?

    So, what can one do to control the overeating and binge eating behaviors? Here are several suggestions:

    1. Focus on WHY you eat. Perhaps ask yourself “Do I eat because I am hungry?” Then, stop for a moment and think carefully about the response. Were you stressed when you overate? Whenever you are feeling sad or depressed. do you dig into a tub of ice cream or finish off bags of chips? Or perhaps when you are having a rough day, do you find comfort in eating? Start a journal to help you track when you tend to overeat or binge. Identifying these triggers is the first step in breaking the cycle.
    2. Eat slowly and evaluate your hunger at the beginning of your meal and then again halfway through. Most of the time we eat mindlessly until the food is finished. Remember, we are no longer kids! We do not have to finish every morsel on our plate.
    3. Drink lots of water. Often, we mistake thirst for hunger. Drinking water also fills you up and lessens your hunger urges. After you drink, wait a few minutes. If you are still hungry, then you probably need to eat. Further recognize that sometimes we feel hunger pangs when we are bored or need a break from some task.
    4. Pay attention to your food. Do not eat when you are distracted - like when you are in front of the TV or working at your computer. Be mindful when you eat because we are less likely to realize we are full when we are not paying attention.
    5. Make the first bites count. Researcher Linda Bacon, PhD, nutrition professor at the City College of San Francisco, suggests that maximum food enjoyment comes in the initial bites.1 By doing so it may help satisfy your taste buds thus helping you stop eating when you are physically comfortable.
    6. Use smaller plates when you eat. Our brain reacts to visual cues so fool it into thinking your portions are larger. For instance, one piece of chicken, baked potato and a side of vegetables served on a large dinner plate may make the brain think that there is not enough food. The same amount of food on a smaller place makes it appear like a full plate of food.
    7. Start exercising, or take up an activity that requires you to get out of the house. If you are eating because you are bored, get up and do something. Engaging in an activity can make you feel good about yourself. It can change the way you feel, making you feel more productive. There is also a sense of accomplishment, which can make you less likely to overeat and binge eat. Exercise is a great stress reliever.
    8. Avoid isolation, it can lead to overeating and binge eating. Go out, meet people, and makes new friends - even if you feel uncomfortable. Start by visiting grandma, or distant relatives. Volunteering your time to help others will also fill that sense of emptiness inside that often prompts people turn to overeating and binge eating.
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    Being an overeater myself, I found that it was not an easy task to stop overeating. However, I believe that if we put our minds to it, we can turn our health and life around. We do not have to be slaves to our appetite.

    Do you have tips to stop overeating and bing eating that you would like to share? If so, be sure to visit the comments section below.

    *Disclaimer: The advice offered in this article is not meant to serve as a substitute for the advice of a medical professional.

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    References

    1. "How to Stop Overeating" http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/overcoming-overeating (accessed 04/2011)
    2. "Stop Overeating, Stop Binge Eating" http://howtostopeating.com (accessed 04/2011)
    3. "Binge Eating Disorder" http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/binge_eating.html (accessed 04/2011)