How to stop binge eating. A question I have asked myself for years.
I want to share with you the strategies I used to help me not identify as a perfectionist, all or nothing thinker, and overcome my binge eating challenges.
My struggle with binge eating
Every morning I wake up at 4:30 am to walk my dogs. Then I get into my car for a 20-minute commute to work with my first client of the day. I spend the next 5 to 6 hours in the gym training clients. At noon I get back into my car for a 20-minute ride to my apartment in Huntington Beach.
I review my online clients’ work for the day, take care of a few emails, and maybe work on an article. But I definitely make sure to procrastinate a little. Sometimes pretending like I have some cleaning to do, Netflix to watch, or ceiling starring to take care of. Basically, anything that keeps me from doing more work.
Around 3 pm I’m back in my car for another 20-minute commute to finish up with some more clients. My day wraps up around 8 pm and I’m in my car one last time. When I get home around 8:30 pm I really wish the song Glorious by Macklemore was playing as I open my apartment door.
Because you know that feeling of taking off your shoes at the end of a long workday? It’s glorious, isn’t it?
When I get home sometimes I’m hungry and sometimes I’m not. But I always find a way to open my fridge and cabinets to take a look around. As if some special grocery gnome magically came in while I was away and stocked me full of goodies.
But nothing has changed. No new food or drinks. Yet this is a habit I’ve built over the years.
- Get home
- Take off shoes
- Kiss my pups
- Aimlessly look through the fridge, freezer, and cabinets in hopes that a magical grocery gnome brought me new food and treats.
If I have almond butter or dark chocolate on hand there’s a good chance – and by a good chance I mean 100% – that they’re both going to take a flight from my hand (or spoon), with a layover in my mouth, on route to my belly.
Sometimes I have a piece of dark chocolate. Sometimes I have a scoop of almond butter. But most often I have a few pieces of dark chocolate and half a jar of almond butter. Yes, I’m serious. I can easily eat a half jar of almond butter in 2 minutes and 11 seconds. Very specific I know…
And I’m not even hungry. I ate a filling meal of grass-fed lamb, veggies, and healthy fats an hour before. Then why do I do this? Is it because I don’t have any willpower or discipline? Is it because I’m craving them? Is it because I had a tough day and am rewarding myself with food?
Honestly, I have no fucking clue.
But it also doesn’t matter. If I keep buying those foods I’ll keep coming home and binge eating them. I don’t binge eat any other foods in my fridge, cabinets, or freezers. Just those two – I love them.
So I never buy them anymore. And by never I mean most of the time. Because every once in a while I walk down a Whole Foods aisle and I swear I can hear someone or something whispering…
“Justin…Justin….we miss you”
And I think to myself. Dark chocolate and almond butter I miss you too. So I buy them again and convince myself that this time I won’t binge eat them. I’ll just NOT do it. I’ll just try harder. I’ll just use my willpower and flex my discipline muscles.
And every time the same thing happens. I work a long day. I get home. I binge eat dark chocolate and almond butter. FML!
When it comes to binge eating willpower and discipline are overrated.
Willpower and discipline are overrated. When you want to make a real lasting change in life look to two things instead.
- Your environment
- Your systems
The only way I’m not going to binge eat dark chocolate and almond butter when I get home is if they’re not there. And the only way they won’t be there when I get home is if I stop buying them.
Therein lies the issue. The whole not buying the part. I have to go grocery shopping and everywhere you get groceries has dark chocolate and almond butter. What’s a guy looking for his fix to do?
So here are my ideas for ending my dark chocolate and almond butter debauchery. Feel free to use these ideas for your own guilty pleasures.
Idea 1: Buy the smallest amount possible
If I’m going to buy almond butter and dark chocolate I’m going to buy the smallest amount possible. For obvious reasons. The less I have… the less I eat.
Idea 2: Get the best possible versions of it and throw it away that day.
If I am going to buy dark chocolate and almond butter I’m going to buy the highest quality and healthiest versions of them. And they’re only allowed in my house for one night. Immediately after eating them, they will be thrown away. No matter how much is left. Yup, a total waste of money and that’s the point.
Idea 3: Plan when I’ll enjoy those things
And no. I don’t call these cheat days or cheat meals. They are days I eat dark chocolate and almond butter. No need to label them something ridiculous that makes me feel guilty, bad, or just weird.
When I hear the word cheat day it makes me feel like I should turn off my phone, lock myself in my room, and sit on my bed with my hand in a jar of almond butter and chocolate all over my face.
If I want to eat these things it will be on Sunday and Tuesday. These are the two days I don’t feel exhausted at the end of the day and am less likely to gorge on them.
STOP BINGE EATING: IF ALL ELSE FAILS I’LL GO CODE RED
If these ideas don’t help I’ll have no choice but to go code red. Code red simply means taking extreme measures. Like hiring the almond butter police to follow me around all day. Making sure that goodness doesn’t touch my lips.
- Too bad that isn’t possible. But here are some things I can try to go code red
- Grocery shop where they don’t sell those things.
- Tell Whole Foods not to sell me these things. I’m serious. I’ve done this at Starbucks when I wanted to stop drinking caffeine for a few weeks.
- Recruit an accountability partner, coach, or join Almond butter anonymous to make sure I’m not diving into AB and DC.
But most importantly I’ll accept that I binge ate dark chocolate and almond butter. Realize that it doesn’t mean I don’t have self-discipline or willpower – And commit to the “never two in a row philosophy.” This means if I binge eat dark chocolate and almond butter today I won’t do it tomorrow (see idea #2).
Will this help me stop binge eating right away?
And it probably won’t solve it in a week, month, or 3 months either. But I’ll commit to the process, get better and make adjustments as I go, and eventually not be eating as much at the end of my day.
Question of the day: What’s a food or two you tend to overeat at night? Are you capable of trying some of these ideas? Let me know. I read and reply to every email that I get.
Read more articles to help you stop binge eating
- How to stop mindless snacking
- The most satiating snacks: How to use snacks to help you feel satisfied.
- Getting started diet guide: Improving your nutrition
- Hi. I’m Justin and I’m a recovering binge eater