images3Don’t you hate it when you find your hand in the cookie jar…for the fourth time in one night? Or when you open a bag of chips (crips)/pretzels/cookie dough, and the next thing you know, its all gone?

Binge eating sucks. But what drives us to do that? And how we can stop it?

I put that question to my good friends on Turbulence Twitter in order to help a friend who was struggling with overeating.

Disclaimer: Now let me get the legal beagle mumbo jumbo out of the way…I’m not a doctor, and if you have a serious eating problem you should talk to a trained health professional…there’s probably even a medical definition of binge eater that I don’t know about…

…so for our purposes, we’ll refer to binge eating as anything that involves eating too much junk and making you feel guilty.

…And if you are just one of those folks who goes 37 days in a row without binge eating and then – POW – it shows up and kicks you in the butt…leaving you feeling guilty, frustrated, and upset, then let’s help you out.

Personally, there is no better common-sense tip for avoiding binge eating than…

Keeping the junk out of the house. dog-in-fridge

Here’s a photo of Bally inspecting the fridge ==>

Easier said than done in most homes, I know, and heck, when I take Bally The Dog to Grandma’s, I find myself with my hand in the cookie jar more than I’d like. But hey, how else am I going to eat ice cream other than by making home-made ice cream sandwiches?

So do your best on that one, but if you can’t keep ALL the treats out of the house, here are some more tips…

This is another superficial one…but you just need to stay active and find something else to do besides look through the cupboards for the 3rd time this evening.

Don’t use food as a reward or just something to do out of boredom.

Go for a walk. Run some errands. Treat yourself to a bath or download some tunes. Buy a punching bag. Put on some music and dance.

And a couple of other practical tips…if you are going to binge, do so by overeating fruits and vegetables. And also, when you are done eating, brush your teeth, makes eating less appealing for a while.

Okay, those are good, but it is time to get a little deeper.

The overwhelming response on Twitter was this…

You are probably binge eating for some emotional reason.

One person recommended keeping a diary and writing down how you feel when you eat. I think this is great advice that most folks should do even if they don’t binge eat. Just do this for a week and you’ll get a really good understanding of why you are eating.

Were you hungry? Bored? Tired? Stressed? Anxious?

The May 2009 issue of Men’s Health magazine reports that anxiety causes many people to overeat sugar. If that is the case with you, then you need to find a way to deal with the anxiety…and that will take care of the overeating. images4

I’m also reading an interesting book called, “The Culture Code”, and the author argues that most overweight folks overeat because they are mentally “checking out”. Something emotional is driving them to turn to eating so they can escape other problems.

If that is the case, and its serious, then again, professional help is in order. Either way, I think tracking your mood when you eat is a great way to identify the source of your binges, and you’ll be able to build some powerful routines and possibly overcome binge eating.

Some other “deep” responses I received on twitter had to do with the relationship we have with food. How do we view food? As a fuel? As something to be enjoyed with others? As a necessity? Or as one of the major comforts and joys in our lives?

Do we have the POWER over food or does food have the power over us?

Do we practice extreme self-denial that ends up being counterproductive because it leads to binge eating? And if so, then how can we get into a balanced eating lifestyle that allows treats but without binge eating all the time?

Like I said, the discussion on Turbulence Twitter turned serious, quickly!

Another reader recommended “Intuitive Eating by Tribole and Roesch”. I haven’t read it, but they said it was a great book that touches on all aspects of unhealthy food habits. Definitely a good resource for those of you who want more info. If you read it, let me know some big lessons.

And if you have any tips on avoiding binge eating, please let me know below.

Wishing you healthy eating,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com