Everyone overeats from time to time, but there is a significant difference between emotional eating and occasionally overdoing yourself. This one form of overeating is vastly different and much more dangerous than simple overeating. Binge eating is a medically classified compulsive eating disorder which accompanies emotional stress. Often, the binge eater will feel out of control and powerless to stop eating, even though he or she realizes the damage that is being done.
This often includes eating when not hungry, hiding away food to be secretly eaten later and eating long after you are full. However, since binge eating derives from an emotional and mental state, you can fortunately do some things to change your mindset and your emotional levels that help you keep this disabling disorder in check. The next time you feel a binge eating attack headed your way, replace that dangerous behavior with these 10 tips and tricks that help you regain your control over your eating disorder.
Power Up Your MP3 Player
Music is an amazing mood enhancer. Everyone has certain songs that uplift them and help them feel powerful and self-assured. These are the types of songs you want to listen to on your MP3 player when you feel an attack of binge eating about to take control of your actions. Crank up the volume, get up and get moving, and enjoy your favorite tunes while you rock away the stressful emotions which cause you to overeat, and leave you feeling frustrated, embarrassed and full of shame.
Take a Hike, Go for a Walk, Jog Around the Block
This is a wonderful activity to enjoy instead of binge eating and can be combined with the previous tip for a powerful and empowering 1 - 2 punch. Even moderate exercise in the form of walking or hiking releases powerful endorphins that send oxygen coursing throughout your cells. You begin to feel invigorated and aware, two feelings that are not usually present in the binge eater.
Aside from burning calories and fat, 30 minutes of brisk walking at least 3 times a week is recommended by the American Heart Association as the minimum for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. When you walk, hike or jog around your block or neighborhood, you are visually and audibly stimulated as well, and these distractions are just what you need at a time like this.
Drink a Glass of Water or Milk
Cigarette smokers are recommended to drink a cup of milk when they are itching to smoke. The lactose in milk coats your stomach and mouth and makes smoking less desirable. The same trick can be used to combat your binge eating episodes. Aside from the fact that you need 6 to 8 glasses of water every day to keep your body functioning properly, drinking milk or water can help you feel full.
Although some binge eating sessions continue well after you are full, the physical act of drinking water, milk or some other liquid, combined with your dedicated attempt to distract your overeating triggers, can often be just what you need to defeat your binge eating habits.
Take This Time to Clean up and Organize Your House
Think about how much physical and mental energy is required when you do the laundry, organize your closet, or sit down to a stack full of monthly bills and balance your checkbook. All these activities require your visual and tactile commitment. It is kind of hard to eat when you are sorting your laundry or cleaning out your closet.
Many doctors and psychologists also believe that a clean, organized environment can help calm stress and give you a more orderly and peaceful frame of mind. The binge eating attachment to stress, powerlessness and a host of other negative emotions simply can not thrive in a situation where you feel good about yourself and your surrounding environment. Literally "get your house in order" to not only conquer a binge eating episode, but to also make you feel good about yourself.
Reward Yourself in Some Way
Since binge eating is directly related to a negative emotional state, why not put your mind in a positive place? You have so much to be thankful for, and so many different things that you deserve recognition for as well. Did you recently receive a raise or promotion at work? Perhaps you just recently joined your very first 10,000 Steps a Day program and began walking your way to better health. Maybe you are a casual athlete and recorded some significant achievement participating in your favorite sport.
All these things and so many more deserve a pat on the back, and you can give that gift to yourself. Reward yourself with a selfish hour of reading one of your favorite authors. Go to your local movie theater and enjoy the new blockbuster movie you have been anxiously waiting to see or buy that latest item of clothing you have been putting off purchasing. All of these are emotional rewards, and they put you in control of your mindset, replacing negative feelings that lead to binge eating with positive, feel-good feelings.
Practice Yoga or Meditate
The human mind is truly an amazing natural miracle. Capable of total body transformation simply by altering your mindset, you are equipped with the greatest computer which has ever been designed. Yoga is an ancient Eastern practice clinically proven to reduce stress and improve overall body health in several ways, and it uses mental conditioning to do so. Meditation can also calm you and eradicate any stressful, negative feelings you have.
If you practice yoga in a structured class away from your home, you further remove yourself from the temptation to draw the blinds and raid your refrigerator. And meditation can be practiced anytime you have a few free minutes on your hands, at work, at home or on the go. Benefit spiritually and mentally from the emotionally positive practice of yoga or meditation, and calm your binge eating desires while also improving your mental and emotional states.
The basic definition of aromatherapy is the "use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils in scents and baths." But the wonderful, sensual experience of aromatherapy is so much more than that. Referred to as a viable alternative medicine in many cultures, this aroma-based activity works off the basis that smell is the sense most closely and directly linked to memory. Years after the fact, a smell can bring on incredible childhood memories.
And scents like lavender have been clinically proven to reduce anxiety levels. The smell of coconut has been proven to slow your heart rate and soothe your response to stress, and Cary Caster recommends frankincense, sandalwood and vetiver for calming your mind. Caster is a founder of the 21 Drops essential oil line and is a licensed clinical aromatherapist. She says that orange and jasmine are two scents which are uplifting and calming, aiding you emotionally in your fight against binge eating.
Spend Some Time with Your Children or Grandchildren
Being around young children is a rewarding activity on so many levels. It can also help you focus on what is important in your life. Binge eating is unhealthy and dangerous. When you spend time around your children or grandchildren, you realize that you want to be as healthy as you can be, so you can spend as many years with them as possible. And the physical exertion that often accompanies playing with children won't do any harm either.
Have a Cup of Tea
You probably have heard that there is a lot of evidence which shows green tea is a very versatile health enhancer. Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, green tea has been scientifically proven to increase brain function and even help you burn fat. Some doctors believe that green tea may even act as a "brain guardian" in old age, lowering your risk of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
But if the green variant isn't your cup of tea, no need to worry. When you drink a cup of caffeinated green, black or oolong varieties of tea, you slowly and naturally return to a more alert state of mind. The Journal of Nutrition has shown that there is an amino acid present in those specific tea varieties, theanine, which works together with caffeine to accelerate your focus and improve your attention. This provides you with the mental clarity you need to choose not to binge eat, and sipping hot tea also delivers soothing and peaceful side benefits.
Keep Some Peppermint Candies Handy
Researchers at the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia found that peppermint can combat hunger. While binge eating is an emotional and usually not a hunger-based activity, inhaling the powerful peppermint scent has also proven to have energizing and focusing properties. You can keep a peppermint plant on your desk or at home, or simply enjoy some peppermint gum, candies or mints several times throughout your day to stave off binge eating episodes.
You probably noticed that the key here to conquering your unhealthy binge eating is keeping distracted. Since you always move towards your most dominant thought, force yourself to concentrate on something other than the emotional state or mental stress which triggers your binge eating attacks. Remember, if you continue to make an aggressive attempt to engage in some healthy and distracting activity to replace your binge eating episodes, you will begin to feel a burst of self-esteem for your efforts.
Habit is developed through continual and repeated behavior, and the self-pride you will continue to experience will make you want to feel that way habitually. By practicing the 10 positive habits listed above instead of binge eating, you begin to regain control over your mental and emotional outlook. Your health is positively affected, and your feelings of self-control will effectively arm you against any binge eating episodes in the future.