Tips for Stopping Binge Eating in its Tracks, by Jessica Gilliland, MS, LAMFT

At one point or another, all of us have turned to food to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Some of these instances are minor, like grabbing a bag of chips to munch away the stress of a difficult work day, or downing a milkshake to feel better after an upsetting event. Chocolate chips are my traditional pick-me-up treat. It makes sense that we often turn to food for comfort, or to numb emotions. Eating can feel good, and it is meant to be a pleasurable experience. However, when turning to food becomes a compulsive, habitual means of coping, and when emotional eating (eating to deal with feelings rather than to satisfy physical hunger) starts to become uncontrollable, the consequences can be physically and emotionally distressing. If you have ever found yourself swept up in an eating binge without knowing how to stop yourself, here are a few tips that may be useful for interrupting a negative interaction with food.

Tip 1: Check in with your gut

Sometimes a quick check-in with your body when you feel the urge to binge can be very effective. Pay attention to how you feel, and try to notice if the signs of physical hunger are present in your body. Do you feel hunger pangs, emptiness, or growling in your stomach? Are you feeling lightheaded or irritable? If you are physically hungry, then by all means, eat! Responding to physical hunger cues before you feel ravenous can actually help you regulate your eating. If you are not physically hungry, give yourself a chance to reconsider your choice to put food into your body when you might not need it, then think about why you might be reaching for food. Could it be boredom, habit, emotional distress, loneliness, or some other reason? These are often starting points for a binge. For more helpful strategies for recognizing hunger and fullness cues, see the Appetite Awareness Workbook.

Tip 2: Name your feelings

Perhaps you know very well that you are not physically hungry, but are instead trying to avoid or numb an uncomfortable emotion. Before stuffing your emotions down with food, try to take a moment to name the emotion you are experiencing. Perhaps “disappointment,” “helplessness,” “loneliness,” or “shame” is driving your craving for comfort. Identifying the discomfort you feel can give you a chance to take care of what hurts, rather than going for the “quick fix” binge that will likely leave you feeling worse off than you started. For more tips on coping with emotions without turning to food, I highly recommend the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.

Tip 3: Seek connection

At times, what you may be seeking through binge eating is comfort and connection. When connection seems out of reach, food can become an easily accessible caretaker. Eating while alone can also make it easy for compulsion to take over. When you feel the momentum of a binge beginning to sweep you away, reach out to find connection somewhere. That may mean going into a room where other people are, calling someone, making a spiritual connection through prayer or meditation, connecting to nature by walking or looking outside, or even connecting with your own body by noticing your breathing or the temperature of the air on your skin. As you begin to consciously choose to connect, you may notice yourself feeling more grounded, calm, content, and no longer in need of the numbing effects of a binge.

Conclusion

These are just a few tools that may be helpful in managing the urge to binge eat. Frequent compulsive or emotional eating can feel like an impossible obstacle to overcome, but it is possible to heal your relationship with food and eating.

Simple Ways to Improve Mood by Alberto Souza, MSN, APRN, FNP-C

We all have those days when it feels like we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. For whatever reason we are just in a bad mood. Often times these bad mood feelings are associated with difficult or stressful events in our lives such as trouble at work, financial problems or disappointment. Sometimes these bad mood feelings last for only a few hours, but sometimes they might linger for days at a time. There are many simple strategies to improve one’s mood in spite of what it is that might be bringing us down.

Be With People

Often times when we are feeling low just being with a trusted friend or family member and talking about our feelings can make all the difference. Having a sympathetic listener or someone that can get us laughing or looking at the bright side of things can make all the difference. We shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about our mood or admit that we need help. In fact, many times isolating ourselves can be one of the biggest culprits in a lingering bad mood.

Get Out

Whether its a brisk walk through the neighborhood or a trip to the grocery store, getting out of the house can do wonders for improving our mood. Sometimes we just need a little sunshine or to breathe in some fresh air. The sights and sounds of everyday life can get our mind off of things and be a beautiful distraction.

Enjoy Yourself

When a bad mood strikes we might find ourselves not even wanting to do the things we normally enjoy, but doing them anyways can take our minds off of negative thoughts and often times will help us feel better overall. Think of simple pleasures like reading, exercising, cooking or baking, shopping or just watching a funny movie or show.

Talk to a Professional

Feeling sad or moody are normal human emotions that we all experience from time to time.  Depression is different from these emotions primarily because depression is a pervasive feeling of sadness that impacts our entire life and doesn’t just go away even when things in our lives are good. We should not hesitate to reach out to a professional to help us understand our feelings and deal with them appropriately.

Source: Psychology Today

About the Author:  Alberto has worked in healthcare for over 10 years. He began as a CNA and then worked as a registered nurse until completing his Master’s Degree in Nursing.  Alberto has been been working as a Nurse Practitioner since April of 2013.  In addition to his work as a Nurse Practitioner, he also teaches online classes for the Dixie State University Nursing Program.  He is currently working at the St. George Center For Couples & Families.