Binge eating disorder (BED) is considered the most common eating disorder in the US and can be a difficult problem to address.
Characterized by episodes of eating unusually large amounts even in the absence of hunger, binge eating can damage health and leave people feeling guilty and ashamed.
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple strategies you can try to effectively prevent binge eating.
Here are 15 tips to help you stop binge eating and gain back control.
1. Ditch the Diet
Not only can fad diets often be very unhealthy, but studies show that these overly restrictive eating methods may also trigger episodes of binge eating.
For example, one study in 496 adolescent girls found that fasting was associated with a higher risk of binge eating.
Similarly, another study in 103 women noticed that abstaining from certain foods resulted in increased cravings and a higher risk of overeating.
Instead of following diets that focus on cutting out entire food groups or significantly slashing your calorie intake in an effort to lose weight quickly, focus on making healthy changes to your diet.
Eat more whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and moderate your consumption of treats instead of excluding them from your diet altogether. This will prevent binge eating and promote better health.
SUMMARY Studies show that fasting or eliminating certain foods from your diet may be associated with increased cravings and overeating. Focus on eating healthy foods instead of dieting or cutting out certain foods completely.
2. Avoid Skipping Meals
Setting a regular eating schedule and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to stop binge eating.
Skipping meals can contribute to cravings and increase your risk of overeating.
One small, two-month study showed that eating one large meal per day increased levels of blood sugar and the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin to a greater extent than eating three meals per day.
Another study in 38 people found that adhering to a regular eating pattern was associated with a decreased frequency of binge eating.
Whether you prefer eating three large meals each day or smaller, more frequent meals, set a regular eating schedule and stick to it to help you stop binge eating.
SUMMARY Adhering to a regular eating pattern can reduce your risk of overeating and may be associated with lower levels of ghrelin and fasting blood sugar.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a practice that involves listening to your body and bringing your attention to how you feel in the present moment.
This technique can prevent overeating by helping you learn to recognize when you no longer feel hungry.
One review of 14 studies found that practicing mindfulness meditation was effective at decreasing the incidence of binge eating and emotional eating.
Another small study showed that combining mindfulness with cognitive-behavioral therapy may improve eating behavior and self-awareness.
Try listening to your body to recognize when your hunger tapers off. Additionally, practice eating slowly and enjoying your food to prevent binging and promote healthy eating behaviors.
SUMMARYPracticing mindfulness can help you recognize when you’re no longer hungry to improve eating behaviors and reduce the incidence of binge eating.
4. Stay Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a simple yet effective way to curb cravings and stop overeating.
In fact, studies show that increasing water intake could be linked to decreased calorie consumption and less hunger.
For example, one study in 24 older adults found that drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of water before eating a meal decreased the number of calories consumed by 13%, compared to a control group.
Similarly, another study in older adults showed that 13–17 ounces (375–500 ml) of water 30 minutes before a meal significantly decreased hunger and calorie intake while increasing feelings of fullness during the day.
Other studies indicate that drinking more water can boost metabolism and increase weight loss.
The amount of water you should drink each day can vary based on different factors. Therefore, it’s best to listen to your body and drink when you feel thirsty to ensure you’re staying well hydrated.
SUMMARYDrinking more water can keep you feeling full to decrease intake and prevent binge eating.