Uncontrollable snacking, overeating, overindulgence, whatever you want to call it, eating too much can be a difficult habit to break. For some, it is much more habitual and detrimental than others and will require outside, professional guidance to conquer. For others, it’s a matter of taking control, forming healthy habits and changing one’s mindset. Whatever the case me be, if eating too much is holding you back from accomplishing your fitness goals, it’s always better to take a realistic, more gentle approach. Stop expecting to be perfect immediately (because you won’t be) and go easy on yourself. Instead, aim to make overindulgence less frequent, with less volume of food consumed each incident. How you ask? Here are 10 tips to help you minimize binging and start reaching your fitness goals.
- Tell someone about it. Rather than keeping it your hidden secret that you share alone, it helps to share information with someone. Someone understanding that you trust. A coach, mentor or close friend is a good start. Choose someone that will (firmly yet gently) hold you accountable.
- Acknowledge when it happens, then move on. Don’t dwell over it. In other words, don’t make it a huge deal. This could possibly be the hardest part. The more guilt you feel, the more likely you are to keep eating over these type of feelings. This becomes the never ending, viscous cycle of binging and guilt. Instead, accept the fact that you slipped up, literally say “oh well” and make a choice to do better next time.
- Stop buying in bulk. Tubs of red vines, family size chip bags, a box of cookies large enough to feed a family of 10 – stop buying things in large quantities if you can. Consider buying pre-packaged items that come in small numbers. It helps to even bag food items in snack-sized bags yourself. You are less likely to keep eating if you have your portion pre-sized and predetermined for you ahead of time.
- Get rid of trigger foods, for a while. Although a restrictive diet is not something I usually suggest, for someone who has a habitual binging pattern, it may help to get rid of certain foods temporarily – just until things are a little better controlled. Trigger foods, or whatever you want to call them, are things that are difficult to stop eating. Ice cream, fast food, alcohol, whatever it may be, make a conscious effort to not buy them or hide these things from yourself for a while. That top shelf in the pantry you can’t reach? That could work.
- Change your mindset. When you feel yourself losing control, tell yourself, “I know I can have this food, but not right now.” If you follow flexible dieting, that’s the beauty of this lifestyle. It’s not restrictive. You can still have these foods, just not at the moment. You can have that piece of cake when it “fits” your macros. Adjust your numbers for tomorrow, and make it work.
- Write it down. What time of day are you normally binging? Is it when you are winding down from a long stressful day after work? Is it when you bored? Are you overly emotional? Take note of these feelings, write them down. If you see a pattern, it will help to address these issues head on.
- Fill your time with something different. Pick something new to fill your time when you would normally start eating. Get out of the house. Start a project. Attend a yoga class. Go for a run. Do something hands-on. Occupy your mind so that you stop thinking about food. If it’s snacking while you watch TV, buy yourself a cheap stationary bike and hop on to peddle while you watch your shows. It’s proven that exercise can reduce cravings and thus, binge behavior, so I love recommending this idea.
- Set a short term goal. Normally we focus on long-term fitness and nutrition goals, but this will require something different. How many days in a row do you think you could not over-eat? Three? Five? Seven? Start small and pick a realistic number. Write it down, and put it somewhere that you will see every-day.
- Take it one day at a time. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Same concept here. Well, except we aren’t going to eat the whole elephant. Now that you only have to concentrate on a small, short term goal, focus on hitting that, instead of being overwhelmed with the big picture.
- Reward yourself. Buy yourself something small, but nice. Something that you want (but not food). Buy it now, wrap it. Put it away until you hit your short-term goal. For your next goal, make it little longer than the first. It seems silly, but this is when I’ve seen the MOST success.
So there you have it. 10 useful tips to help you take control of your eating habits. And remember, take it one day at a time and think of every day as a victory. You’ve got this! What are some ideas that keep you from over-eating?