This one sucks. Please note, I am not a psychologist, dietitian, nutritionist, nor an eating disorder focused trainer. This article is merely an exploratory one to help point you in the right direction.
Binging is a scary topic spoken about in hushed tones. It is associated with disordered eating as it is considered outside the normal parameters of what a healthy view and use of food. It affects those who are famous and those who are just getting by. It has deep roots in people who have negative body image, among other things.
Binge as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1 a: drunken revel : spree
b: an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence
c: an act of excessive or compulsive consumption (as of food)
2 : a social gathering : party
Binge as explained in the American Psychological Association article, “Binge-eating disorder: What’s the best treatment?:”
Those with binge-eating disorder carry distorted attitudes about eating, shape and weight, as well as mood symptoms such as depression and personality disorders. The disorder affects about 2 percent of the general population and 8 percent of people who are obese.
What binging means in “regular” terms
Binging is an eating disorder.
Binging is a partner in crime with purging, though they can be separate. Having the two together specifically means eating large amounts of food then eliminating it, either by throwing them up or taking laxatives to excrete it all is an eating disorder.
Eating large amounts of food and then exercising very hard is called gymorexia, which is not officially considered a diagnosis by the American Psychological Association, but it is noticed by fitness professionals and getting more attention year by year. However, the similarities of needing to remove the calories consumed by working out as hard as possible, which may include needing to change clothes a couple times during a workout because you sweat through them, or working out almost immediately after eating, or losing your shit if you can’t get to your workout, or…. you get the idea. It’s a disordered health view.
Are you thinking of people you know that fall into one of these three categories of binging? Maybe you’ve gone through a time where one of these applied to you, even while you’re reading this article.
What Leads to Binging?
Binging, like other forms of eating disorders, are a self-imposed form of control. It can “run” in the family or it can develop on its own. Whether it is a nature or nurture remains to be seen through research. Regardless, this affects 3.5% of women and 2% of men in the United States each year. Utilizing the US Census 2010 data, that’s around 5.5 million women and over 3 million men.
The exact cause is hard to pinpoint, though there are psychological commonalities that binge eaters share. Whether you are at clinical levels of binging is up to a psychologist; my job as a trainer is to help those not at levels needing medical intervention find healthier habits that will create a more enjoyable lifestyle.
If you feel you may need medical attention via a medical doctor or psychologist, please seek help with the National Eating Disorders Association which will point you in the right direction. You can call their helpline, 1-800-931-237, or live chat with them on their website.
If you do not feel you need medical attention, read on to find ways to cut down on bouts of overeating.
One of the most common food hurdles I hear of is late night and evening snacking. It’s almost zombie like, grabbing cereal or other snacks from the cupboard then shuffle over to the couch or bed with a book or screen before bed. This can last for 20 minutes or as much as four hours.
This late night binging is including alcohol consumption. Even wine.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, these common reasons behind the late night snacking may apply to you.
You need something to do! After a long day of work, family, and responsibility, you feel that it’s time for a break. Apparently, your brain has other plans.
Break this habit by trying a new hobby or something you haven’t done in awhile. Call your friend you’ve been meaning to chat with beyond Facebook messenger. Go for a walk.
Not eating enough during the day
Find yourself skipping meals then spending the night eating? Time to make time for eating, if you have an active job, pack healthy snacks in your bag. Overschedulers, it’s time to say no to just one more meeting. This is about your health. Stay healthy and you’re better prepared mentally for your coworkers and clients.
Packing a lunch bag is a great way to make sure you get food to you. It’s with you already! It saves a ton of time, too, by avoiding lines at restaurants and traffic on the road.
Not eating enough “good” food during the day
The “bad” snacks! Why do they have so much powdered cheese? Why are they so delicious and handy?
It’s okay to have those things, but they cannot be your main form of nutrition! They are empty calories, to use an archaic term. They are something you eat, but the stuff they are made of don’t do much for you other than fill your stomach and supply your body with ample fat creation supplies.
Combat this with buying the good stuff. Fruit can be kept in a bowl by your computer. Granola bars can hang out in your glove compartment of your car. Look for yogurt or fresh foods at your coffee shop as you refuel in between meetings.
link: the healthy snacks blog post
Lack of Execise
This point is somewhat in line with the boredom. Our bodies are made to move! Yes, even when all we want to do is stay in bed and watch cartoons. When we don’t move, our body act out.
If exercise is not already part of your week, start with ten minutes of walking each day. Your walk should be intense enough that you start sweating but not so much that you have to shower. Two weeks later, up it to twenty minutes.
A great way to force yourself to go on walks is to A get a friend to go with you or B get a dog. If your dog doesn’t get its daily walk, it will never leave you alone. How’s that for reinforcement?
Each one of these points comes down to habit. What you do every day. Breaking habits are hard. Adding incremental changes that overtake the former bad habits will help you cut down on intaking large amounts of food or alcohol in the evening. Instead of a bottle of wine at night, try for half a bottle. After a week, go for a walk during the day with your phone signal off AND only drink half a bottle. Then… you get the idea!
Obviously that example is a hyperbolic one. Ultimately, working with a professional will help you work with your addictions or disorders and can help you maintain slow, healthy habit change which will result in a healthier you.
If you feel these ideas will not help you and you regularly binge in some form, please seek out a therapist who specializes in binge treatment. They are in the business of helping you get well and provide the health information you need to change for the better.
Age and Sex Composition: 2010; 2010 Census Briefs by Lindsay M. Howden and Julie A. Meyer Census.gov
Are Models On Instagram Promoting Gymorexia? A Look At All Those Gym Selfies And What They Mean For Mere Mortals by Elaheh Nozari Bustle
Binge eating disorder The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt
Binge eating disorder fact sheet Office on Women’s Health
Binge-eating disorder: What’s the best treatment? by tori DeAngelis American Psychological Association
Recovery; You can live your life free from an eating disorder. Recovery is possible. National Eating Disorders Association