Compulsive eating or binge eating is overeating that gets out of control. Compulsive eating is associated with higher body weight, more difficult to lose weight, and tummy fat which in turn leads to higher blood sugar levels. If you want to manage problems with compulsive eating, the first step for you to take is to keep food records.
Why to keep Food Records?
If you keep a record of what you eat then you can see clearly your patterns with binge eating and how they change as you try different strategies. By looking at your food records you can find:
- What types of food you eat during binges. You may be eating foods that are not good for weight loss.
- When your binges occur. Do they happen during evenings, weekends, or weekdays
- What triggers your binges: emotions, stress, or loneliness
Reasons for binging. Is it to relieve tension or to keep your mind out of problems?
Strategies to reduce compulsive eating
- Keep food records.
- Establish a regular pattern of eating. For best results, eat 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks.
- Do not skip meals. If you do you will be tempted to overeat.
- Eat slowly and focus on savoring each bite.
- Do not watch TV or read while eating. Focus on the food you are eating.
- Plan activities you enjoy such as visiting friends, work on a hobby, or exercise. It will keep your mind distracted from food.
- Avoid buying or making tempting food.
- Give away or freeze tempting leftovers from special occasions.
- If you buy tempting foods, get the smaller size
How to succeed with weight loss
It is also important that you check your weight once a week, around the same time of the day to evaluate if you are losing or gaining weight. Knowing your weight trend will help you evaluate your strategies.
When you try a strategy, check your food records to see what your binge episodes have been during the time you implemented that strategy. Check:
The number of binge episodes
The types of food you ate
The time of the binges
The triggers that caused you to binge
Remember that it takes time and practice to find the combination of strategies that work for you. Keep also in mind that everyone who is trying to eat healthy to lose weight is going to slip. It is okay. It is normal. It is not the slip that is the problem, but how you react to slips when they happen.
One slip is not going to ruin your overall progress. However, if you notice that you have several slips, that you have gained back more than 3 pounds, and that you are returning to your old eating habits, seek help.