List: Twelve Ways to avoid binging

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Twelve-step program to avoid binging.  

Overeating - Family style

Overeating – Family style

Overeating is one of the most common mistakes people make when they make a move toward a healthier lifestyle.  You woke up today making a plan to make today a different day and instead of having that healthy breakfast at home, you had a pastry.  The thought of the doughnuts was too much to pass up and how you have had 3-4.   Usually, people have a little splurge and head off to the gym to work out little extra to work off the hasty mistake they have just made.  The problem is that you cannot make up for indiscretion in the gym.  You could literally spend hours in the gym to burn off a single piece of cheesecake.  I love food and if you love food like me, you can prevent yourself from overeating can seem like an impossible task, but it is not. It’s actually very simple if you develop a plan to assist you from overeating.  

The below twelve step program may help you resist the urge to binge and improve your level of satiety:

  1. Make sure you are eating enough.  Trying to cut your intake to an overly low caloric level or too small portions size may do more harm than good.  Under-eating is sure to trigger constant food thoughts or cravings.  You should not eat just to eat, but you also should avoid skipping meals when you are hungry.  
  2. Know thy enemy.  There are two enemies that hinder weight loss, and both of them interact to contribute to weight gain or less loss.  The two obstacles are your triggers to overeat and the comfort foods you turn to.  Make a list all of your comfort foods and triggers as they happen and keep a journal of these and whys you were successful at avoiding them.  
  3. Be realistic about your goals and plan.  You are not going to meet your goal or change find successful plan overnight.  You will also not blow your diet or ruin your physique with a single serving of ice cream or a missed exercise time.  It’s just eating. You will have another chance to do better. Lose the all-or-nothing mentality.  Also, you need to understand and accept the fact that change takes time.  Small changes can lead to meeting nearly every goal over time.  Sustainable, long-term success is the goal and not a short-lived weight loss to fit in a dress or pair of shorts. 
  4. Find a diet you can follow for the rest of your life.  In other words, eat whole, unrefined foods when you feel hungry.  High fiber and protein foods tend to keep you full longer.  Satiety will lower your risk of cravings and overeating.  Try to avoid any habits that may lead to binging.  To be successful, you must know your triggers and comfort foods (see #2).
  5. Avoid the reward and punishment cycle.  We often use highly palatable foods such as sugar and sweets as rewards for good behavior.  Think about your mother or the doctor giving you a sucker or a piece of candy for good behavior.  Foods create satisfaction, and your brain’s reward center secretes the pleasure chemical or hormone dopamine.  Dopamine makes you satisfied with your choices.  Unfortunately, insulin levels go up, and your body becomes more and more insulin resistant.  As you become more insulin resistant and you need more and more, and your hunger grows due to the insulin levels, and thus an increased amount of fat becomes deposited on your belly over time.   Unfortunately, over time, the reward becomes punishment by increasing fat deposition and your insulin resistance.
  6. Post Binge Regret

    Post Binge Regret

    Know you minimal need for nutrition.  If your diet is too restrictive, you will have cravings and potentially binge.   Try to find the middle ground which you can eat and still lose weight and not splurge.  Learn from prior mistakes and avoid over depriving yourself of the nutrients and food you need to survive.  

  7. Avoid the elimination game.  Eliminating food groups or certain nutrients like carbohydrates or fat can drive cravings.  Cravings are your body signal that tells you that you need the food your trying to cut. You may be able to live without carbohydrates, but if it leads to a pasta binge in 4 weeks, it may not be the best idea for you.  Can you live without the food you are cutting for life?  If not, consider a moderate approach.  
  8. Pack a meal.  You should meal prep for trips and work.  The best thing about meal prepping for the future is that it prevents overeating now, at the current meal, and in the future by having a meal to bring with you to avoid the trips to a fast food restaurant or the candy machines.  There are all kinds of lunchboxes and meal prep and backpacks to make caring meals convenient.  They will pay for themselves by saving money and lowering your weight gain (as long as you pack single servings).  
  9. Make it a habit to slow down and savor your meals.  Eating fast is being tied to weight gain.  Eating slowly promotes satiety by allowing your stomach to realize it is full before you overfill it.  Stomach sensors take time to acknowledge the food that you’ve eaten.  You take the time to actually enjoy not only the meal but the company of the people you are eating with.  
  10. Plan your meals ahead of time.  But your meals on your schedule for both work and at home.  If you establish a schedule and you’ll avoid deviating from the schedule, you will be less likely to overeat.  Planning ahead will help reduce your appetite.    You will need to plan both your meals for the week and any meals you might have on the ride.  This goes beyond packing meals as indicated in step 8.  
  11. Drink water!  Drinking water can help fill your stomach and expand the food you just have eaten.  Drinking water before-and-after meals promote satiety.  If you’re thirsty, you can confuse feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger.   Water not only soothes thirst, but it also helps flush your body of toxins.  Some people turn to food when they feel this way, so it’s another way that drinking water could prevent overeating.
  12. Eat only when you are hungry.  Setting a meal clock is important, but don’t eat if you are not hungry.   I used to eat according to a schedule.  A schedule is important but eating if you are not hungry conditions you to eat a meal when you are not hungry. Every three hours. In other words, if you eat every 4-5 hours, you will teach yourself to be hungry on the same schedule.

The bottom line: Overeating is one of the most common health mistakes people make.  A healthy weight is made in the kitchen and these steps will help you avoid binging.  You can spend countless hours at the gym and stock your house with heart-healthy foods, but if you don’t know when to stop eating, you’ll never reach your weight loss goals.   Reclaim your healthy by developing a better relationship with food.  

    photo by: julianlimjl
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    About the Author

    ChuckH
    I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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