Of course, binge-eating can lead to weight gain—two out of three people with binge-eating disorder are obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases—but it can take a toll on your mental health as well, causing guilt, shame, and even depression. If you suffer from bouts of uncontrollable eating or binge-eating disorder, try using several strategies to help you kick your habit to the curb
1. Drink water before meals.
Drinking water is a calorie-free way to fill up before meals, making it easier to eat fewer calories. A study published in 2009 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that drinking 2 cups of water before meals effectively helped study subjects eat less at meal time.
2. Don't eat alone.
Eating alone may boost your risk for binge-eating because nobody is watching or judging how much you eat. In fact, wanting to eat alone is one of the criteria for binge-eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders. Try to eat meals with family or friends to help make healthy choices.
3. Keep a food diary.
When you write down what you eat, you're more likely to eat fewer calories, according to a 2013 review published in The Academy Today. The author of this review suggests that food journals help you monitor what you eat, eat less, reduce mindless snacking, and lose weight. Track what you eat the old-fashioned way with a pen and a notebook or try using a calorie-counting app.
4. Fill half your plate with veggies.
Vegetables are low-calorie foods that boost satiety, so filling half your plate with leafy greens —think broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts—is a great way to avoid binge-eating. That way, even if you're eating a large volume of food, you won't be consuming a large amount of calories.
5. Don't skimp on protein.
Getting plenty of protein at each meal is a sure way to keep you feeling full and curb junk food cravings later on. Protein also helps boost your body's metabolism. To help prevent binge-eating, choose at least one protein-rich food per meal or snack. Pick from grilled chicken breast, turkey, salmon, seafood, lean red meat, tofu, egg whites, Greek yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese, legumes, nuts, or seeds.
6. Manage stress.
It's not uncommon to want to binge during stressful or emotional times in your life, but turning to food when times get tough is a major problem for binge-eaters. Instead, cope with stressful situations in a healthy way; turn to faith or friends and family instead of food, or simply go for a nice, relaxing walk.
7. Seek professional help.
If you have binge-eating disorder or find yourself eating uncontrollably, it's time to seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in eating disorders. The specialist may use behavior-change therapy or refer you to support groups. Self-help books are also available for people who struggle with binge-eating.
The bottom line is: If you suffer from regular bouts of uncontrollable eating or binge-eating disorder, you're not alone. Fortunately, professional help or individualized coping strategies can help you overcome this treatable condition.