How To Beat a Binge Eating Disorder

How To Beat a Binge Eating Disorder


It can be really easy to turn to food when you are feeling stressed, anxious, sad, lonely, depressed or angry… I know that it is really easy for me to do this.

Food is comforting (and delicious) and if I’m feeling stressed out, anxious or sad, one of the first things I’ll want to do is walk over to the fridge or the snack cupboard and grab something to eat. It starts with a spoonful of peanut butter and it can easily end with an entire jar of peanut butter. Why do we never binge on cucumber slices? [note to self: stock the fridge with cucumber]

When I was in my late teens, I started to turn to food when I was in need of comfort and soon it became a habit. If I felt sad I went to the kitchen and grabbed a snack. If I felt anxious or stressed out I did the same. The problem was that often after I had eaten that first snack it was easy (and tempting) to go and grab another one. Soon the “snacks” got bigger and more frequent… and soon I was eating extra meals for snacks. Eventually I was eating 4-5 meals a day instead of 3.

It is no secret and I don’t hide the fact that binge eating used to be a problem for me, and every now and again negative emotions can tempt me to want to go down that path again (and sometimes I do mess up) but I have developed a practical plan that has helped me beat binge eating and has helped me to deal with my emotions in healthier ways.

In this post I want to share some practical tips and solutions on how to beat a bingeing. I will be taking you through some easy steps on how to avoid binges and help you to develop an action plan to prevent them from happening. I will also be sharing what to do when a binge has happened, and how to deal with any feelings of guilt and shame.


What is a binge eating disorder?

An eating disorder is any abnormal or disturbed eating habit. It is viewing food in a negative way such as being afraid of food or having feelings of guilt or shame associated with food (feelings that prevent you from eating food or feelings that come after eating food).

When someone says “eating disorder”, most people think of anorexia or bulimia (which are the most common eating disorders) but there are many different kinds of eating disorders that can develop for many different reasons. Eating disorders can range from being very mild cases to extreme cases.

Not all eating disorders cause the sufferer to limit food intake or to purge after food intake, some disorders such as binge eating disorders will cause a subject to overeat within a short space of time. The sufferer will eat much more than what would be normally consumed in that space of time and will not purge after the binge session. Binge eating or having a “binge session” is often caused by emotional eating.

♥ Please take note

Just because you have the occasional binge (who doesn’t?), doesn’t mean that you have a “binge eating disorder”. It doesn’t mean that you have a “problem” or that you have “issues”. This term is definitely applied to liberally – but, the info and steps in the post might be helpful to you (for the occasional binge) anyway.

Emotional eating: eating for comfort

I find that people who struggle with binge eating often over eat when they feel stressed, anxious, depressed, sad or lonely, because it is comforting to them in that moment. They may not even be hungry and are usually not.

When I am feeling stressed, anxious or sad, I try my best to avoid all emotional eating because I know that it can lead to bingeing on food, and I try to read the situation for what it really is… a sense of having “no control”. Usually emotional eaters will turn to food when they feel a lack of control in their lives or they feel like they have no control over a particular situation. I know that it is easy for me to do this!


What causes a binge eating disorder?

To overcome a binge eating disorder, it is necessary to be honest and open with yourself about identifying the root issue of the disorder.

What is the root issue?

Binge eaters and emotional eaters often eat to avoid the present moment or their current situation. They also eat to comfort themselves when they feel sad, angry, depressed, lonely, anxious or stressed.

Sufferers of eating disorders often do not see themselves correctly – they often have a distorted perception of themselves and of their bodies. They often feel inferior to others physically and feel unattractive. Most people that suffer from eating disorders say that they do not feel beautiful, they believe that they are overweight (often they are not) and they don’t feel happy about the shape of their bodies. They often have a distorted body self-perception and generally feel negative feelings about themselves.

These feelings of inferiority usually lead sufferers to want to gain control of their situation. This often includes extreme measures to limit food intake to lose weight so that the subject will feel better about their personal appearance. This need for control is also the cause of binge eating and purging sessions.

Anorexia sufferers feel in control of their situation when they are not eating, sufferers of binge eating feel a sense of control when they are busy eating (because the action of eating makes them feel as if they are in control of something and food is also comforting for them) and bulimia sufferers feel in control of their situation when they purge/ exercise after a binge (to regain control).

The root issue of an eating disorder is almost always caused by a lack of love. The root issue of an eating disorder is any negative feeling about the self, such as harboring negative feelings about ones physical appearance or having a low self-esteem for any reason. The cause of almost every eating disorder is a lack of self love.

The most important thing to overcoming eating disorders is to change the way that we see ourselves. This is much easier said than done but I do believe that it can be done. It requires a mindset shift and an emotional shift of the way that we view ourselves and the way that we view food.

We need to love ourselves for everything that we are and be kind to ourselves.

Read more about this: How to overcome your eating disorder in 6 easy steps

♥ Avoid the binge checklist

-Love ourselves for everything that we are
-Eat a healthy and well balanced diet
-Avoid skipping meals and starving ourselves
-Not deprive ourselves of any particular food but also remember that a treat is a treat
-Not restrict ourselves, there is a difference between good self control and restriction, restriction can lead to more out of control binge eating and possible purges.
-Not hold onto guilty feelings about past binges or anything else that we have done, we must instead acknowledge anything “bad” that we have done but then we must forgive ourselves and move on from them
-Only purchase snack foods that are healthy and low in calories (we shouldn’t leave high calorie snacks and treats lying around the house if we know they could trigger a binge)
-Avoid buying high calorie snacks foods and treats too often (healthy or unhealthy)
-Avoid buying foods that we know can trigger a binge
-Only snack for real hunger & not snack for pleasure (unless we are treating ourselves)
-Exercise regularly (2-5 times a week)
-Have an action plan


What is an action plan?

I decided to come up with an action plan that I would use and implement every time I wanted to snack but wasn’t hungry – to avoid binge sessions or to put an end to any snacking session that seemed to be turning into a binge session.

For moments when you feel like you want to snack without being hungry, or feel like you want to just sit and eat when it’s not meal time.

Action plan to avoid binges

1. Get away from food. Get any food that is tempting to you out of your sight. Do not stand and stare into the fridge longingly and do not be near any food that could trigger a binge. Do not even touch food in these moments. The best thing that you can do is not eat – one mouthful can start an uncontrolled binge.

2. Distract yourself from food: go for a walk or do an activity that does not involve food.

3. Drink water (still or sparking, with ice & lemon if you like, but not flavored) or any herbal tea (make sure it’s natural and drink plain it with hot water & without milk, sugar or sweetener). Drink as much water or plain herbal tea as you like.

4. Eat a piece of gum. Seriously. Go get some chewing gum and chew on it. (I am not a huge fan of gum as it can contain lots of nasty ingredients but there have been times where I have found it extremely helpful to avoid a binge. It is all about finding a balance.)

5. Have a “go to” song or playlist that reminds you to keep going strong (remove yourself from a binge) & stay positive (see my playlist/ song suggestions at the end).

6. Do some exercise if you have not done any that day & if you have the time. Get moving!

7. Take a relaxing bath or do something else to pamper yourself (eg: face mask, manicure, pedicure) that does not involve food.

8. Get a new hobby: a new hobby that you can do every time that you want to start snacking/ bingeing on food and do this hobby instead of eating (guitar, photography, scrapbooking, painting, sketching, etc).

9. Focus on anything and everything positive in your life and give thanks for it (eg: I’m so thankful for my life, health, family, friends, pets, home, etc.) instead of focusing on the negative (eg: I wish I could eat cake right now, I feel so sad).

10. To do later: Later when you no longer feel like snacking/ bingeing… try to figure out why you felt the need to comfort yourself by eating food.


snacking for hunger + pleasure?

Snacking for hunger is eating a small portion of food (not a meal) between meals because the meal you ate was not enough food to satisfy your hunger until the next meal.

Snacking for pleasure is actually “treating yourself” and does not involve hunger, it is a want for food and not a need for food. Snacking for pleasure is sometimes a good thing as food should be enjoyed BUT can lead to weight gain/ bingeing if not controlled and moderated.

NB: A treat is a treat

A treat is a treat – I live by this motto! If you have treats all the time then it is no longer a treat and the pleasure that is found in treating yourself can be lost.

Savour treat moments and enjoy them fully but don’t make them an everyday habit. Only treat yourself when you really want something and avoid eating things that you don’t even like just because they are in front of you.

If you cannot control your “treat times” and they always turn into binges, then you should focus on only having treats when you are around others or when you have a limited amount of that specific treat at hand (one portion) – until you feel like you have recovered from emotional/ binge eating.

How to snack like a pro

So, it’s not meal time and you want to eat a snack… but before you put anything into your mouth please do the snack assessment first:

♥ Questions to answer before snacking

1. Why do I want to snack? Am I hungry, feeling emotional and out-of-control or am I bored? [only eat if you are really hungry]

2. When last did I eat? Did my body get all of the nutrients that it needed from my last meal? [If you ate more than four hours ago then you can have a snack if you are hungry – but make sure that you eat a snack that is nutritious and low in calories]

There’s no such thing as “snack time”. If you are genuinely hungry then eat something healthy that is not very high in calories. If you are just feeling peckish then do not eat anything… do not open the fridge, do not linger in the kitchen or near the vending machine and make sure that you implement your action plan immediately.


What to do when you feel like a binge is about to happen

If you can identify that you are about have a binge session and feel like you want to eat to comfort yourself then you may be about to have a binge session.

Here is what to do: Go back to your action plan and work through all of the steps so that you do not eat for comfort and binge on food. It is very important that you learn to do this so that you can avoid emotional and binge eating in the future.

What to do during a binge

If you are eating and can identify that you are eating for comfort and not for hunger, then here is what to do.

Stop eating. Right away. As soon as you can identify that you are not eating for hunger and are eating for comfort (eating to comfort emotions) then you need to put that food down and stop eating.

Get away from the food (this can be the hardest part), then go and brush your teeth so that you don’t want to eat anymore (no one likes the taste of toothpaste and food together) and if you still want to eat after brushing your teeth then chew on a piece of minty gum (or several pieces) until you feel like you have gained control of yourself.

Then refer back to your action plan to avoid any more out of control eating and bingeing.

What to do post-binge

I’m human. We’re human. We are not perfect and that’s okay. Sometimes when I am feeling emotional, sad or stressed I find myself seeking comfort from food – and a short while later I can sometimes find myself bingeing (eating a lot) of anything tempting that’s in my reach. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation then here is what to do.

1. Acknowledge what you have done (eaten a lot) but choose to love yourself anyway. You need to make peace with what has happened (this is the most important step).

2. Do not purge or over-exercise to make up for your binge session, instead carry on with life as usual (even though it’s hard). You can do a normal amount of exercise a few hours after your binge (it’s not good to exercise with a full stomach) to burn some of the calories that you have consumed but do not over-exercise or purge to punish yourself.

3. Do not starve yourself post-binge, it is best to carry on eating as per usual to avoid another binge session. If you are full from your binge then don’t eat (skip a meal), but if you are hungry then carry on eating normally.

4. If you feel sick because of your binge then you can do a detox. If I ever slip up and have a binge session, then I usually feel to sick to eat afterwards and want to cleanse my body the next day.

Take note + Take care

Always remember to love yourself and cherish yourself. Anything that you have done in the past and any present situations do not define you.

Love yourself, love your body (I know it’s hard sometimes), appreciate your life (and all the good things in it) and look after yourself – because you deserve it, no matter what has happened in the past!

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Keep your thoughts positive, because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive, because your words become your behaviours. Keep your behaviours positive, because your behaviours become your habits. Keep your habits positive, because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive, because your values become your destiny.” Gandhi

Remember to learn to love and trust yourself – there is no point in feeling shame or guilt about anything that you have done in the past. Acknowledge what you have done, forgive yourself and then move on.

Liezl Jayne xo

Ps. I’ve also got a 3 day eating plan for weight-loss that you can download here on my blog – this is what I used to lose 40 Lbs!


♥ Post-binge detox plan

When I have eaten too much and want to cleanse my body, I make my detox smoothie.

I usually make it exactly like the recipe but sometimes I will leave out the avocado if I’ve binged on high-fat food or leave out the fruit if I have binged on high-sugar food. If I’ve binged on high-fat and high-sugar food, then I will still use both the avocado and the fruit but I will just use less of each one and focus on using mostly fresh greens and cucumber.

Along with drinking my detox smoothie, I focus on eating simple foods such as lightly steamed vegetables, green vegetable soups and basic salads. When I am doing a cleanse I like to eat my go-to salad, my detox salad and my simple green salad.

Vegetables great for eating while cleansing: broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, mushroom, brussel sprouts and beetroot.

Vegetables to use in a green vegetable soup: zucchini, mushroom, onion, baby squash, cauliflower, broccoli, baby spinach, baby bok choy/ pak choi.

Salad ingredients to use: tomato, cucumber, baby spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, red bell pepper, carrot, bok choy and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Protein to eat: spiralina or a few raw/activated nuts and seeds such as almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and chia seeds (limit the amount of nuts and seeds that you eat on a cleanse though, for example: a 1 or 2 tablespoon serving size or nuts and 1 or 2 teaspoon serving size of seeds)

To drink: water, pure coconut water (not from concentrate) and herbal tea made with hot water (without milk, sugar or sweetener)

I sometimes cleanse for 1 day after a binge and sometimes I only cleanse for 1 meal post-binge, it depends on how my body feels.

Here is a 3 day eating plan for weight-loss that you can download here on my blog – this is what I used to lose 40 Lbs!


My Detox smoothie recipe

(serves 1)

1 cup papaya or cantaloupe melon (or 1 cup of each)
1 or cup cucumber (peeled)
1/4 large avocado
1 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 big handful baby spinach
1/4 to 1/2 cup filtered water or pure coconut water (not from concentrate)

Optional ingredients:

4 baby bok choy/ pak choi leaves
1 or 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds or flax seeds
1 teaspoon spirulina

My “go to” playlist

Here is a playlist of songs that inspire and motivate me to keep going strong.

And to remind me to remove myself from any emotional eating or binge session and to stay positive – because there is a lot to be thankful for.

Burning Gold by Christina Perri
Roar by Katy Perry
Human by Cher Lloyd
Brighter Than the Sun by Colbie Caillat
Brave by Sara Bareilles
Get Myself Together by Robyn
Stronger by Britney Spears
Girl On Fire by Alicia Keys
Burn by Ellie Goulding
Who Says by Selena Gomez
Hit The Lights by Selena Gomez
Firework by Katy Perry
Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars
Treasure by Bruno Mars
Shine by Take That
Come Clean by Hilary Duff
What A Feeling by Irene Cara
Feels So Good by Atomic Kitten
Happy by Pharrell Williams
On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
It’s a Beautiful Day by Michael Buble
Chasing the Sun by Hilary Duff
Fly by Hilary Duff
Break Free by Ariana Grande

Photographs by Liezl Jayne Strydom and Ross Charnock – for