Why can’t I stop eating?!

We have all experienced some form of overeating, whether it is a huge delicious holiday meal or just a Saturday night at home where suddenly everything in your kitchen looks amazing and must be in your stomach immediately (Anyone? Just me? Super…).  A binge eating session every once in awhile is not the end of the world, it isn’t great, but not horrible.  It starts to be a problem when those sessions of stuffing as much food into your face as possible becomes the norm.  So why do we do it?  I’m pretty sure that we all know eating our weight in chips and candy is not a good thing, but in the moment sometimes it feels like we just cannot stop ourselves.  Over eating or binge eating is a real problem, and it’s not just a physical one, but a psychological one.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m a girl who likes to have control over my life.  But when you have a problem with constantly overrating you feel like you have anything but control.  For some reason you just have to keep putting food into your mouth and it seems like you won’t stop until your brain/body says so.  It’s unnerving, frustrating, and disheartening.  For a long time, binge eating was not considered a legitimate disorder.  The medical realm held the belief that eating was all a matter of willpower.  People who overrate just lacked self-control and essentially needed to just suck it up.  And in some cases this is very true, but all too often there is something else behind the eating.  Finally scientists began to look closely at people who consistently overrate and began to question why these people overeat.  As it turns out there are many reasons, but there is definitely more to it than lack of self control.

This doesn’t let you off the hook though.  No blaming your constant feasting on deeply rooted psychological problems.  If you truly want to get better and stop the endless chow down, you are going to have to really work at finding your reason or triggers.  This is tough!  I went through it and have to work at it all the time.  Like many disorders, the problem never completely goes away.  And what makes eating disorders even tougher is that you need food to live, so you will always have your disorder in front of you.  But it doesn’t have to control you.  And there are things you can do to fight the binge.  I am not a doctor or an expert of any sort, just a girl who has dealt with this problem and after many (and I mean MANY) failures has found a way to overcome.

I want to share some of the tips and techniques that worked for me and maybe you will find one that will help you with your own struggle.  The first step for me was wanting to stop.  Brilliant first step right?  But it’s true.  You have to REALLY want to stop your overheating before you can go any further.  There were many days when I told myself this was the last time I was going to do this only to find myself eating away a few hours later.  My final straw was seeing a number on the scale and in my clothes that shocked me.  I knew I couldn’t keep doing this and not end up obese, or worse, with some health related disease.  I don’t know what your final straw will be but you have to get to that point before you can change.  After that I had to try and figure out why I over ate.  Whatever was happening leading up to my binges?  For me, it was a combination of boredom, wanting the taste of a certain food, and being alone.  I tended to eat copious amounts of food when no one was around because I was of course ashamed and didn’t want anyone to see me.  I also ate a lot while watching TV and I used to watch A Lot of TV.  Once I identified my eating “triggers” I went about tackling them one by one.  I started to write down every morsel of food that went into my mouth.  It helped to see the often huge list of food that went into my body.  Once I saw how big the list was, I was eager to start scaling it back.  I also tried to find something else to do when I found myself alone.  I would read or listen to music, anything to not be tempted into lying down and eating.  And finally I got rid of TV, and no I’m not crazy.  We don’t have cable, and while we do have Netflix instant (see I’m not totally deprived),  I rarely watch more than an hour of TV a day.  The television doesn’t even get turned on in our house until after dinner.

Those are a few of the things I did to stop binge eating.  Will they work for you? Maybe.  But you have to start somewhere.  And if those tips sounded a little too much like a 12 step program, you’re right.  It’s a little like an addiction and you have to work through it slowly to get to a healthy relationship  with food and yourself.  Make sure that you know that it’s ok to fail.  I still have times where I eat too much and have to grab myself mentally and give myself a good talking to.  It will be an ongoing battle but you can be victorious. Start with baby steps and don’t stop moving forward.  One day you’ll look around and realize your miles away from your old self and in a much better and healthier place!