Anti-Binge Plan: What to Do When the Urge to Binge Eat Strikes

The urge to binge can be overwhelmingly powerful. You try to resist, but the next thing you know you’ve ransacked the kitchen and eaten everything in site. Suddenly you’re overcome with guilt and spend the next hour feeling badly about yourself and beating yourself up for your lack of willpower.

There’s a lot going on physiologically that’s driving that urge – and no amount of willpower can override biology. So when it comes to bingeing, the old adage “prevention is better than cure” certainly rings true. The ultimate goal is to prevent the urge to binge in the first place.

Bingeing has two parts: physical and emotional. Psychologists always ignore the physical part, and this is a huge mistake because it’s actually quite easy to remove the physical desire to binge when you follow the right steps. And once the physical urge – which, for the record, is a much, much stronger driving force than the emotional – is removed, it becomes so much easier to tackle the emotional part of bingeing (i.e. bingeing as a coping mechanism).

Once my clients have tackled the physical part, I like to give them a plan that helps when the urge to binge as a means for self-soothing strikes. I call it the “Anti-Binge Plan” and it looks something like this:

1. Drink a glass of water.

2. Check in with yourself. Identify what emotion you are feeling and ask yourself why are you feeling that way.

3. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish by eating. How do you want to feel right now?

4. List some options for what you could do right now. Do you want to eat or would you get more utility out of something like:

  • Playing an instrument
  • Drawing
  • Calling someone you love
  • Sipping on a cup of your favorite tea
  • Knitting
  • Doing a crossword puzzle
  • Watching your favorite TV show
  • Taking a really indulgent bath
  • Doing your nails
  • Meditating

5. If you decide to eat (which is totally fine!), have something that’s both delicious and nutritious and that contains both protein and fat. Some examples of what you could reach for are:

  • Flax or seed crackers dipped into mashed avocado with salsa and cilantro
  • Apple with almond butter
  • Baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, or any other veggie with hummus or salsa
  • Roasted chickpeas drizzled with olive oil
  • Grain-free granola with coconut yogurt and cinnamon
  • Baked sweet potato wedges with avocado

6. Serve yourself generously on a plate and let yourself really enjoy the food and the experience. Stay present and do your best to eat mindfully.

In my 6-month program, I help women stop bingeing, obsessing over food and their weight, and letting food interfere with their happiness. Instead, I teach them how to eat to shut off hunger and cravings, improve mood, balance hormones, reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and so much more. In six months, they can repair their relationship with food and their bodies and make amazing strides in their health and happiness. Learn more about the program here.