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How To Stop Bingeing or Overeating By Dietary/Exercise Methods

How To Stop Bingeing

Diet Information

How To Stop Bingeing

Overeating is rapidly becoming a national pastime. But while levels of obesity and diet-related disease continue to surge, and the media is awash with dietary advice, the causes of bad eating habits are given less attention.

Why Do We Overeat?

Overeating may occur for many reasons, both physical and emotional. The list of contributory factors is almost endless. Here are four factors that may encourage disordered eating or unplanned binges.

Comfort Eating
Food is a great comfort in times of stress or boredom. In fact, comfort-eating is an established pattern of eating for millions of men, women and teenagers. Of course, a daily diet which contains too many comfort foods may cause us to overeat and gain weight, but this will never reduce our urge to use food to help us feel good.

PMS-Type Binges
All women, especially teenage girls, experience fluctuating hormones when pre-menstrual. This type of hormonal imbalance typically leads to episodes of overeating or even binge eating.

Social Eating
A significant percentage of social activities involve eating. This alone can play havoc with our diet and/or weight loss. Neighborhood social events, church socials, mini-celebrations at work - all these activities typically involve eating. In fact, it's very difficult to have an active social life without eating plates of barbecued ribs, slaw, chips, cakes, pancakes, cookies, candy - you name it. In such situations, overeating is all too easy.

Food Advertising and Availability
Food has never been cheaper or more plentiful. A huge proportion of TV commercials involve the promotion of high-calorie foods and drinks. And fast food is a trillion dollar business. We are constantly being encouraged to overeat by ploys involving super-sizing, "eat-all-you-can-manage", as well as a non-stop barrage of food-related advertising. Most important of all, school-food and snacks for school children are rarely nutritious or calorie-controlled. In fact, high energy soft drinks and fast foods are frequently aimed at this teenage market. No wonder so many of us have a bad relationship with food and become prone to binges.

How To Stop Overeating

There's no easy answer to overeating, I'm afraid. We need to develop a healthier relationship with food, and learn to improve our portion-control as well as our diet nutrition. In short, we need to accept that a healthy daily diet is the foundation of a healthy happy life - and this ain't easy if you adore pizza and M&Ms!

Do You Really Want To Stop Overeating?

If you really want to stop bingeing and regain some control over your diet and eating habits, here are some practical tips. None are especially difficult, but all are likely to involve a change in your relationship with food.

Get Active!
The Number 1 Solution to bingeing and overeating is healthy vigorous exercise. Physical activity releases endorphins (happiness chemicals) and is believed to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Result? You feel good, reduce your general appetite and minimize the temptation to overeat. Ideally, join an aerobics group or any organised activity.

Stop Buying Binge-Foods
This includes: ice cream, popcorn, chips, candy, cakes, to name but a few. These easily digestible, calorie-dense foods, are prime candidates for a binge. After all, who binges on apples or boiled potatoes?

Don't Go Too Long Without Eating Something
If you don't eat breakfast (after 7-8 hours sleeping without food), or if you go too long without eating something, your level of blood glucose is likely to fall too low and make you vulnerable to sudden cravings and urges to eat. To avoid this, make sure there is regular food in your stomach.

Stop Eating High-Sugar or White Flour Foods
Foods with a high sugar content, or a high percentage of white flour, tend to have a high-GI value. This means they raise your blood glucose to high, too fast. This causes your body to overeact - it releases too much insulin which mops up the glucose too fast, causing you to feel hungry again within an hour or so. Instead, choose foods with a lower sugar content, and whole wheat flour rather than white flour. Nuts and fresh fruit make perfect snacks.

Plan Ahead For Social Eating
If you are concerned about eating too much at a social event, eat something before you go. Then make better food-choices at the event in question. If it includes finger-food, hold a small plate rather than a large one that fits too much food. Not rocket science, just common sense. Don't simply arrive, start bingeing and make excuses to yourself afterwards!

Find Other Means Of Comfort
Comfort-eating may be common but it's not unavoidable. Loneliness and boredom are major contributory factors, so finding friends or joining groups can help. Physical activities tend to reduce the urge and opportunity to overeat, so get physical! Again, not rocket science, just common sense.

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome Eating
PMS does cause us to eat more, so plan ahead and stock up with foods you can eat more of without ruining your waistline. Make sure you eat something at least every 2-3 hours, even if it's no more than a piece of fruit. Having chopped fruit in the refrigerator is useful. Add a scoop of low-calorie ice cream, frozen or regular yogurt for extra taste. Whole wheat sandwiches are also both nutritious and filling. In short, as far as PMS bingeing is concerned, plan your daily diet to allow you to eat more and keep a full stomach without resorting to high calorie junk.

Bingeing Can Be Controlled

Unless you suffer from binge-eating disorder, bulimia or a related complaint (in which case you should speak to your doctor or seek specialist help), you can take practical steps to reduce your urge to overeat. All these options require you to make changes to your dietary and exercise habits, but none are especially difficult - no matter how overweight you are, or how bad your eating habits may be.

Help To Overcome Overeating/Bingeing

For expert guidance, or more information about how to reduce bingeing and overeating, try these resources:

American Anorexia Bulimia Association

Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders (ANRED)

Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center
(858) 792-7463

1-800-Therapist Network
(800) 843-7274

See also: Binge Eating Disorder - Bulimia

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