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Coping Strategies : Binge Eating Disorder

Originally written by @Hope

Transferred by @emsworld

After speaking to various people in the sub-community, I saw that most people struggling with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) have a hard time finding coping strategies, so in this post, I would like to give some ideas of coping strategies for people struggling with BED.

1) Develop a healthier relationship with Food

It can be difficult to overcome binge eating and food addiction. Unlike other addictions, your “drug” is necessary for survival, so you don’t have the option of avoiding it. Instead, you must develop a healthier relationship with food—a relationship that’s based on meeting your nutritional needs, not your emotional ones.

- Avoid Temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.

- Listen to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.

- Focus on what you are eating . How often have you binged in an almost trance-like state, not even enjoying what you’re consuming?  Slow down and savor the textures and flavors. Not only will you eat less, you’ll enjoy it more.

- Eat regularly. Don’t wait until you’re starving. This only leads to overeating! Stick to scheduled meal times, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.

- Don’t avoid fat. Contrary to what you might think, dietary fat can actually help keep you from overeating and gaining weight. Try to incorporate  moderate amount of healthy fats into your meals to keep you feeling satisfied and full.

- Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you're bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.

 

2) Find better ways to feed your feelings

One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like food is your only friend. Binge eating can temporarily make feelings such as stress, sadness, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. But the relief is very fleeting.

i) Identify your triggers with a food and mood diary

One of the best ways to identify the patterns behind your binge eating is to keep track with a food and mood diary. Every time you overeat or feel compelled to reach for your version of comfort food Kryptonite, take a moment to figure out what triggered the urge. If you backtrack, you’ll usually find an upsetting event that kicked of the binge.

Write it all down in your food and mood diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened to upset you, how you felt before you ate, what you felt as you were eating, and how you felt afterward. Over time, you’ll see a pattern emerge.

ii) Learn to tolerate the feelings that trigger your binge eating

The next time you feel the urge to binge, instead of giving in, take a moment to stop and investigate what’s going on inside.

- Identify the emotion you’re feeling. Do your best to name what you’re feeling. Is it anxiety? Shame? Hopelessness? Anger? Loneliness? Fear? Emptiness?

- Accept the experience you’re having. Avoidance and resistance only make negative emotions stronger. Instead, try to accept what you’re feeling without judging it or yourself.

- Dig deeper. Explore what’s going on. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? What kinds of thoughts are going through your head?

- Distance yourself. Realize that you are NOT your feelings. Emotions are passing events, like clouds moving across the sky. They don’t define who you are.

Sitting with your feelings may feel extremely uncomfortable at first. Maybe even impossible. But as you resist the urge to binge, you’ll start to realize that you don’t have to give in. There are other ways to cope. Even emotions that feel intolerable are only temporary. They’ll quickly pass if you stop fighting them. You’re still in control. You can choose how to respond.

 

3) Take back control of cravings

Sometimes it feels like the urge to binge hits without warning. But even when you’re in the grip of a seemingly overpowering and uncontrollable urge, there are things you can do to help yourself stay in control.

- Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as “urge surfing.” Think of the urge to binge as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the urge, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than you’d think.

- Distract yourself. Anything that engages your attention will work: taking a walk, calling a friend, watching something funny online, etc. Once you get interested in something else, the urge to binge may go away.

- Talk to someone. When you start to notice the urge to binge, turn to a friend or family member you trust. Sharing what you’re going through can help you feel better and discharge the urge to binge. Even talking to a listener here might help

- Delay, delay, delay. Even if you’re unsure if you’ll be able to fight the urge to binge, make an effort to delay it. Try to hold off for 1 minute. If you succeed. Try to stretch it out to 5 minutes. If you delay long enough, you may be able to avoid the binge.

 

4) Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits

When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without binge eating.

- Manage Stress . One of the most important aspects of controlling binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings without using food. These may include meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.

- Make time for regular exercise. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and your energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to emotional eating.

- Get Enough Sleep When you don’t get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce food cravings.

- Connect with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. You're more likely to succumb to binge eating triggers if you lack a solid support network. Talking helps, even if it’s not with a professional.


Some Helpful Links:

Overeaters Anonymous

Eating Disorders Anonymous

International Eating Disorder Support

Effective Coping Skills: Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder , Self Help Guide

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