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You head to the kitchen with good intentions. “I’ll just have one small snack,” you assure yourself as you rummage through the pantry or fridge. An hour or so later, you’ve somehow devoured multiple bags of potato chips, a giant tub of ice cream, a slice of chocolate cake, and a fistful of cookies. Shame and frustration sets in, and you realize that your binge-eating habits are spiraling out of control.
Making healthy food choices is critical to our health, not only for everyday living, but also to help our bodies heal from trauma and promote good mental health. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to eat a healthy diet. If you can relate to the scenario above, we’re here to help. You can help motivate yourself to stop bingeing on junk food by executing the actions below.
Determine Whether Your Binges Happen Regularly
Approximately 2.8 million people in the United States have Binge Eating Disorder, commonly called BED. It’s the most common eating disorder in America, and it affects men, women, and even adolescents. People with BED typically have at least one binge-eating episode per week for a period of 3 months or longer.
If you fit that criteria, you may have a medical condition that requires a treatment plan from a licensed healthcare professional. You can still practice self care, but it’s important to let your primary care physician or another medical expert know what’s going on with your dietary habits. More than 43% of people with BED eventually seek treatment for their condition. If your binge-eating sessions occur less often than someone with a formal BED diagnosis but still have a negative impact on your life, you may be able to address them on your own, either with or without a doctor’s assistance.
Get Rid of Unhealthy Food
Which snacks are you most likely to reach for during a binge? If you crave chocolate, give your candy bars and cookies to a friend or neighbor, and try cacao nibs or a rich cup of coffee instead (just don’t load it up with cream and sugar). If potato chips satisfy your desire for something crunchy and salty, snack on lightly-salted kale chips or carrot sticks dipped in hummus. If you can’t resist ice cream, try nice cream (a vegan substitute made with fresh bananas or other produce).
Keep your fridge and pantry stocked with healthy, convenient snack options for when cravings strike. If you keep fresh produce, almonds, and other good-for-you foods readily available, you might find it easier to resist the urge to binge on junk.
Tell Loved Ones About Your Goals Notify your friends and family about your plans to avoid junk food if you haven’t already. You don’t have to mention that you experience binge-eating episodes if you aren’t comfortable divulging that information, but you should let them know that you’re changing your dietary habits, effective immediately. This may make them less likely to surprise you with bags of candy or boxes of donuts, and they might think twice before inviting you to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Unfortunately, there might be people who do not respect your plans to avoid bingeing on junk food. Know that this is a possibility, and prepare yourself for this situation. Practice what you’re going to say if someone shows up on your porch with several tubs of ice cream claiming the two of you need to bond over the sugary sweets. Have an excuse or explanation ready when someone asks why you aren’t ordering a giant tub of popcorn at the movies, or why you skipped on the appetizer special at trivia night. You don’t owe anybody an explanation for your actions, but you may want to offer one so the subject doesn’t continue to be brought up.
Avoiding junk food requires a significant amount of self-control, especially if you often find yourself bingeing on unhealthy snacks. Think about how you feel after a binge-eating session, and ask yourself if that’s a feeling you enjoy. If the answer is no, it’s time to make some changes.
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