When we get stressed our emotions can start to have a major impact on our eating. Even after I’d stopped restricting (a common cause of binging) I used to binge as a way to escape my emotions – emotions that I’d been ignoring for a long time.
Binging is sadly quite a common phenomenon. And I’m not talking about when we mindlessly work our way through a share bag of Doritos. I’m talking about those times when we stand in our kitchen, shovelling handfuls of food down our throats as quickly as possible, to a point of being overly full.
If you feel like you’re about to head for a binge then try these 10 methods to take control of the situation:
1) Focus on the breath: Normally before a binge we feel like our emotions are overwhelming and our instinct is to do anything we can escape from those feelings. However rather than heading straight for food as a way to escape try and focus on your breathing. I’ve talked about breathing before but it’s a great way to return your concentration to the current moment you’re in. Instead of your emotions you’re focusing in on the simplicity and regularity of breathing. This should give you some time to calm down and when you’ve finished you’ll be able to think more rationally about your next actions.
2) Embrace your emotions: After you’ve focused on your breathing it’s likely your emotions will still be there, but hopefully just less overwhelming. Rather than trying to run away from the emotions why not try and embrace them. Feel the emotions – how they feel in your heart, in your toes, in your head. And remember, emotions are not constant! They are like waves, intensifying to a crescendo but then breaking and disappearing. They will pass, and the best news is that you don’t need to binge to help that happen! If it helps then right down how you’re feeling or maybe draw something that represents your emotions. You could even write a letter to yourself, just as if you were writing advice to a friend who was in your situation. These are excellent ways of dealing with your emotions rather than suppressing them which will result in a healthier and happier you in the long run.
3) Go out and buy yourself some flowers: If breathing and facing your emotions head on isn’t helping, then try removing yourself from the situation you’re in e.g. away from your fridge! A walk out to a florist is a great to way to clear your head, and the flowers will he a lasting reminder of how you took control of the situation and prevented a binge.
4) Get colouring: Mindfulness colouring books are all the rage right now and for a good reason. When you’re colouring it’s hard to focus on anything else but the colouring, and it keeps your hands busy and away from the crisps bag.
5) Play an instrument: Piano, guitar, the good old vocal cords. They can all help you express your emotions through different channels and may help you deal with your emotions in a creative way.
6) Paint your nails: I find painting my nails super therapeutic and I always feel so great once they’re done. Try and go with something uplifting like a bright orange or something sparkly to make you feel extra special!
7) Pet therapy: Being around animals is supposedly great for reducing stress levels. So cuddle up with your cat, take your dog for a walk, or teach your parrot to say something rude. The companionship will help you feel better and the reduction in stress should make your emotions less overwhelming, and therefore the urge to binge dwindle.
8) Run a bath with some candles: I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone finishing a bath looking stressed. By getting in the bath you’ll take yourself away from the kitchen and reduce your stress levels.
9) Blast some killer anthems and get dancing: A good sing and a dance is an awesome way to dissipate some emotions! Try and find the most uplifting T-U-N-E you can like Pharrell Williams’ Happy or a bit of girl power from Beyonce.
10) Grab an apple: If you’ve ended up in the kitchen and your hand is reaching out for the food, try and redirect it to an apple. It’s hard to binge on fruit (though I have tried!) so you’re unlikely going to want to continue and it boosts your 5 a day count at the same time. It’s also nice and crunchy, and chewing something hard is a great way to take out your negative emotions.
(And an extra tip because I can’t count!)
11) Talk to someone! “Sharing’s caring” as they say, and talking about your emotions will make you feel so much better. It can be hard to open up but it’s one of the best things you can do. You’ll feel like a weight’s been lifted off your shoulders once you’ve done it once it’s always easier to talk about your emotions in the future.
If you do end up binging then no worries! You may feel a manic rush to eat as much as possible in as shorter a period of time but try and slow down your eating. You’ve got all the time in the world to eat, so take your time. By slowing down you’ll have a more calming effect on your body, and it will also give your body more time to register the food so you’ll have a better chance of stopping before you’re uncomfortably full.
Once it’s over don’t feel guilty. There should be no guilt associated with eating. Eating is just, well, eating! Try and learn from the experience: What was the trigger? What warning signs did you have? What could you do next time to help ease the situation?
I do want to point out that if you’re feeling like you’re going to binge because you’re not eating enough then PLEASE EAT! The urge to binge is your body screaming out for energy and nutrients. In this case ignore all the above and go and eat a meal. Eating is not a bad thing – we need to do it to survive! You and your body are awesome and amazing and you and your body deserves to eat plentiful and nutritious food
What are you tips? Let us know in the comments!