Binge Eating: Breaking The Cycle

Written by Beth Marlin Lichter
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The human body requires sustenance. Without ample water, we become dehydrated. Without adequate nutrition, health deteriorates. The ideal way to maintain health is to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning including some whole grains and fruit, then follow that up with some lean protein and a salad for lunch, along with a light dinner, vegetable-rich, in the evening. Unfortunately, most of us do not eat this way. Breakfast is often skipped, hoping that a nutrient-deprived morning might lead to weight loss throughout the day. But that is not the way it works. By mid-day, too hungry to make smart choices about eating, fast, fatty foods are grabbed on the run, ravenously consumed in quantities much higher than desirable. Sluggishness prevails all afternoon and upon returning home after work, feeling tired and low, comfort food binging begins.
It’s a temporary fix, in an effort to combat depression, fatigue and anxiety. The body reacts to foods high in fat and unrefined sugar by releasing certain chemicals such as seratonin and endorphins, which make us feel good…for a little while. Once the eating stops, a slow reversion to lethargy and guilt over having consumed so much, sets in and the cycle is ready to repeat itself.
What can one do to regain a sense of control over food consumption, and improve one’s well-being?

1. Do you binge while dieting, starting off the day with a plan and then breaking down at night due to feeling deprived and underfed? Revise your diet. Allow yourself some healthy snacks throughout the day, like pieces of fruit or carrot and celery sticks. Don’t reach the point of feeling starved. That’s when trouble begins. Eat 6 small meals throughout the day, loaded with whole foods (not junk food) in small portions, to assure your system that its needs are being adequately met.
2. Is your house full of unhealthy food? What are you eating at home? This is a place where you can control what you put into your body. Instead of potato chips, buy rice cakes. Instead of ice cream, buy fruit popsicles. Peruse the market for healthy substitutes. Do you eat a whole bag of microwave popcorn while watching the evening news and then launch into the salted peanuts? Bite into a big juicy apple from a whole foods store and then unwrap a piece of part-skim low-fat mozzarella string cheese. Eat slowly. And drink water.
3. Add more exercise to your life. Bring sneakers to work and take a walk at lunchtime. Schedule workouts. Put them on the agenda. Figure out a way to combat being sedentary. This will not only help burn calories, but exercising releases endorphins. It helps relieve stress. Take a yoga class or engage in any other type of physical activity you have been wanting to try. Any increase in movement is a positive step forward. Buy a couple of 1 pound weights and do 15 minutes of exercise at home per day. Start small, but make a commitment to move that body. The benefits will be immediately apparent.
4. Seek help for dealing with depression. Many health plans allow for psychological therapy. Open up to friends you trust and engage in honest dialogue regarding Life’s stressors. Communication is very therapeutic. Try to deal directly with the underlying problems which trigger binge eating. Without confronting them head-on, the perilous food binge will continue to undermine your health, both emotional and physical.

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