7 Ways to Stop a Binge Before it Starts


stop a binge - close up image of hands clasped in front of a body with dark red nailpolish on the nails

For anyone who has struggled to stop a binge, I am willing to bet that you understand what I mean by ‘that racing feeling.’

When the urge to binge strikes, it’s common to feel your heart rate and thoughts speeding up. Your palms get sweaty, your breathing becomes shallow, and it feels like nothing will stop that racing feeling until you follow through with a binge.

When my binge eating was a huge problem, I experienced that racing feeling often, and I always gave in to it.

As I started to recover, I was able to, at times, avoid bingeing even when that racing feeling kicked in.

Over time, as my recovery improved, the racing feeling was not as strong. This made it easier to ignore it.

However, even now, I occasionally experience that feeling. For me, it is a sign that something is out of balance. In life, things will never be perfectly in balance. However, I do not want to allow having that racing feeling tip me into relapse with my eating disorder.

I am here to tell you that it is possible to move forward with your day even if that racing feeling comes up.

Here are 7 Strategies you can employ when the urge to stop a binge

1. Take deep breaths

I learned in yoga that as long as I am breathing, everything is going to be OK. I am in control of my breath. No matter what is going on, I can always breathe. Slow, deep breathing calms. For me, the racing feeling is a reminder to take full, deep, slow breaths.

2. Just be

Even if your body is telling you to ‘do’ something, you don’t have to listen. Just being is enough. No action needs to take place without my permission.

3. Know that this feeling will pass

Most feelings don’t last very long–and certainly not forever. In spite of how it may feel, usually by 15 minutes max the feeling will go away on its own. I realize that if I can just hold tight until then, I will be set. Realize that this feeling will pass.

4. Think: ‘You can binge later, but not now.’

Sometimes it feels scary to feel that your go-to coping mechanism is no longer available. ‘Never’ is a terrifying thought. Sometimes when I am dealing with that racing feeling, I tell myself, ‘I can binge later, if I want to, but not now. I almost never want or need to later, but the thought that I can if I really need to helps me get through that difficult moment.

5. Think: ‘I don’t react that way anymore.’

Many times, our coping methods stick around even when we have really grown past them. They stick around out of habit more than anything. Sometimes I remind myself that I used to ‘need’ to do that, but I have grown past it and I no longer need to. I remind myself that things have changed–that I have changed. That behavior no longer serves me.

6. Think: ‘Isn’t it interesting that I used to react that way?’

When you are able to observe yourself almost from an outsider’s perspective, it can take away some of the raw emotion. Observe without judgement. Sometimes when I get that racing feeling I think, ‘When I feel that way I used to react by bingeing. Isn’t it interesting that I no longer react that way?’ It seems to give me a boost of willpower to think in this manner.

7. What do I really need?

For me, I think this is the biggest key. That racing feeling indicates to me that I have an unmet need. I can tell you, food never was the real solution--it just seemed that way at the time. Many times, I need rest. Sometimes I need to connect with a friend. Other times I need to journal or go for a walk and think about how my life is going. Once in a while I just need to do something different to shake things up. Sometimes I need to cry. Whatever it is, do what you really need to feel whole again.

These 7 Strategies should go a long way toward helping you stay strong in spite of ‘that racing feeling’ all of us binge eaters know too well.

Image Source: Flickr

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  1. says: Beth

    For me, my binge eating can be triggered by periods of restriction. Sticking to my meal plan and slowly adding more variety to my snacks and meals has helped reduce my binging. Please consider changing the image that was selected for this article, the messy faced cake covered person is an overused stereotype of binge eating. Not all anorexics are waif teen girls and not all binge eaters are messy-faced food holes.

  2. says: Gina

    Hi Beth,

    Thank you for the comments. I agree that periods of restriction can be another trigger for binges. That would make a great article in and of itself. Also, the fact that eating disorders are surrounded by stereotypes is so very true. I don’t wish to perpetuate that. I wish you the best with your recovery.

  3. says: Sherri

    Hi. I have struggled with type 2 diabetes on top of a binge eating disorder. I agree that binge eating follows or sets me up for binge after restricted eating. I’ve been working very hard to eat more healthfully since April 27, 2016. I found a diabetes nurse educator that uses the HAES concept. (Health at Every Size). I also visit a dietician at the same hospital. I’m trying not to berate myself for going through a 2 day binge. But since reading this article I see that I’m not alone and too much restriction is not good for you. It’s just so hard with type 2 diabetes and having a disordered eating problem.

  4. says: Astrid

    Dear Sherri,
    I am diabetes 2 and only found out recently that there is a name for what I thought was just an uncontrolled person (me) eating too much…
    I binged badly after seeing my doctor this week. She told me to quit carbs and eat meat-vegetable pies when I binge…great…feel fat and stupid and ate even more…happily I am still on pills only…
    I wish we had the Healthy at any size thing in germany already…
    Very glad to be able to share and inform myself here.
    Take care.
    Astrid from Cologne

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