How I overcame Binge Eating: Ride the Craving Wave

Hi everyone. In this long post, I go over how I overcame my Binge Eating. I used to have very problematic eating in the evenings (a common problem) and could easily munch on 1000s of calories to the point where I felt absolutely stuffed/sick. I had no idea how much I was consuming. This would also happen to me in the mornings, (which may be less common) and would stop by the drive-thru on my way to work and order over 1000 calories for breakfast. Anyway...

Two years ago, I attended a 6-week workshop called "Craving Change" to help overcome overeating. I learned a lot. The first two weeks were about taking note of emotions before, during and after eating. Interestingly, like addicts with drugs, the brain lights up most in the moments immediately BEFORE we consume. It's not about the actual eating/food. We also worked through what triggers the overeating - a time, place, person, feeling, etc. We identified if hunger was really "stomach hunger" (physical hunger) or if it was "mouth" (all about the taste/texture) or "heart hunger" (filling a need that has nothing to do with hunger, often emotional, but also could be a habit or wanting to please others, etc.)

My workshop had a repertoire of skills to try out and choose from to help stop problematic eating behaviours. The one that worked the best for me was to visualize an ocean wave and "ride the craving wave." Like a wave on an ocean, a craving slowly builds up. It then becomes very big, powerful, overwhelming. But then with time, it crests, falls, and the ocean returns to calm. You can imagine your craving like a wave. It will pass with time.

Day 1, wait 30 seconds before giving into the craving. Then give yourself permission to eat whatever you are craving with no judgement. The next time, add 30 seconds to your wait time. Then eat the food. Keep incrementally adding time each time you feel a craving. Each time you feel a craving is a new learning opporunity and chance to practice your skill. Eventually you will wait 5 minutes, 10 minutes... Research shows that a craving can pass after 15-20 minutes, so you may not even want the thing anymore! During your wait time, actually picture the ocean wave in your mind, picture it as it gets stronger, and visualize the moment when it will return to calm.

While I am riding out the wave, I also like to repeat to myself my favourite mantras and quotes. What is your favourite motivational quote/mantras?

The time is going to pass anyway, you might as well spend it working towards your goals.

You will never always be motivated, so you must learn to always be disciplined.

There is no one big step that does it. It is a lot of little steps.


I pair all this with even more strategies: have a big glass of water, tea, or flavored seltzer water while you are waiting. Remove yourself from the place (go for a walk, get off the couch and tidy up, etc.) Call a friend. Work on hobby (something that involves hands is best.) Brush your teeth. Journal.

Also a big one: don't keep junk food in the house! My house is now a no-chip and no-candy zone.

The biggest first step is to PAUSE before eating. Take note of why you are eating, either mentally or actually writing it down. Then choose to eat if you want, but now at least you know why you are doing it. Eventually, with practice, I am able to keep my goals in mind and have those be stronger than any cravings. Now that even more time has passed where eating in the evenings isn't a thing for me anymore, the cravings often don't come at all. I have a much healthier relationship with food.

The hardest part about weightloss is not diet or exercise - it's PATIENCE. It takes a long time. I constantly remind myself that we are in this for the long haul. We are in this for life! If I have a bad day, I log it and move on - the most important thing is getting right back to it the next day. It's about sticking with it. Dedication and persistence will pay off over time.

Good luck everyone. Try this out and remember to be patient with yourself. It really works!
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