Anatomy of a Binge

When do you usually binge? In a short survey I noticed that most bingers choose the afternoon and evening hours for their binges. I thought about many possible reasons why people binge, and came to the conclusion that your reasons cannot be pinpointed by any survey nor report. You are a unique human being, but though the reasons “why” people binge is varied, binges themselves seem to have common themes.

For those the suffer from Binge Eating disorder, Emotional Eating, or simply “overeating” the concept of being part of community can seem a bit foreign. Even those of us who are members of eating disorders websites, oftentimes feel surprised every time someone shares a similar story to ours about their binging episodes.

Binging in general leads to a state of numbness “a zone”, and within this zone a person is unaware of how they will feel just moments after their binge ends. During the binge its as if a person has given themselves permission to binge, talked themselves into binging, or simply “shut down” all judgement about their negative feelings concerning succumbing to their disorder once again. During binges people can experience many emotions: happiness, sadness, excitement, fear, frustration, confusions, and basically any emotion under the sun.

I will discuss many ways of reducing (or even eliminating) binging, but for now he is the classic “Trigger Tactic” approach. I personally feel that this tactic works for a select number of people, whereas the “Allow All” technique which I will speak about later works for others.

Trigger Tactics:

Some people binge all at once, while others binge all day until they fall asleep. Some people (the brave bunch) only binge in public like at parties or outings, while many other bingers binge only when alone (or with a close friend). If you binge with a friend, I would say to alert this person that you are learning how to eat healthier. Try creating activities together that make binging seem inconvenient (playing Kinect, sports, or other types of games/activities that require your hands).

  •    If you eat when alone, try making sure that you spend more time with friends. Promise yourself to indulge in your favorite binge foods when in public, but abstain from buying them to stock at home.
  •     Avoid watching food commercials.
  •    If you find yourself feeling bored around a certain friend, seek out activities that could lighten the mood with a feeling of fun.
  •    Brush your teeth after dinner .
  •   Make it a habit to ALWAYS turn on the kitchen light (to avoid eating in the dark).
  •   Make a list of emotions/feelings you had while binging, and find non-food ways of handling them .

What works regardless of the technique (Allow, or Trigger)?

  • Stop having food “Fantasies: The moment you notice yourself daydreaming about how a food will make you feel, STOP. Distract yourself (example: have a full cup of water, and take a deep breath). If after relaxing you find yourself craving the food, and are truly hungry then have 1 serving of vegetable/fruit first. Follow up your fruit/vegetable serving with a single serving size of the food you envisioned. Eat slowly, deep deep breaths, shut your eyes, and relax into the taste and feeling. Upon finishing the serving take more deep breaths, and have another sip of water, coffee, or tea as you relax.
  • Plan a Full Day: Make sure you are never sitting around “idle”: It is important to keep oneself busy, especially until you learn how to be alone without food. Try making a simple to-do list daily, even if it is simply filled with fun things you plan on doing that day. Nothing is too small to be included, even something simple as “have breakfast” deserves a place on the list, and can give a feeling of accomplishment. One word of caution: do not over schedule yourself to the point that you feel overwhelmed.
  • Drink : It is not only healthy to stay hydrated (water is best), but it also can give you a feeling of not being restricted from eating. There many coffees, teas, flavored waters, and other low calorie drinks that are permissible to indulge in throughout the day. When you are feeling a bit “inactive” such as while watching tv, it can help to make a big cup of tea or coffee to enjoy as you watch. It keeps your mouth busy, and in the case of plain water is hydrating as well. This being said, please do your best to stay away from alcoholic drinks! they are not generally healthful, and may even lead to another addiction in some people (alcoholism).

Those were some of the Trigger Tactic tips for those seeking to control their eating by avoiding triggers. I personally have noticed from helping those in the past with their binging that the trigger approach can cause more harm than good, and even sets many people up to binge within weeks of trying to “avoid” their triggers. The Allow All technique tackles binging in a very different way, and even frowns upon the term “binging”. If I had to list my favorite (and most effective) approach to reducing I would say the Allow All method is best! I will be updating you soon with more information on that technique. I think you will be VERY surprised by its effectiveness!


Image: Ambro /


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