Mental strength techniques for binge eating and snacking

Lost 13kg in the last 6 months and still going but the hardest thing I find is to stop the snacking, especially during times of life stress and solitude. I add a few treats into the diet to combat this, but when on a VLC diet (1700Kcals) the mental strength is the hardest discipline to sustain. Anybody use any techniques to help?


  • Lietchi
    Lietchi Posts: 4,055 Member
    It obviously takes mental discipline as well, but I have certain meal 'times' I respect and outside of those, I do not eat. This helped me enormously when Covid hit and I had to work from home, where I had constant access to food.
    For me this means:
    - breakfast (if I have any)
    - no morning snacks, ever
    - lunch
    - no afternoon snacks unless absolutely hungry: if hungry, I'll have one 100kcal snack (usually a small bag of breadsticks or some fruit)
    - dinner
    - evening snacks: I have an evening snack 99% of the time, but making sure it's within my calorie goal (I always try to leave calories left over for this purpose).
    - A bit of discipline needed at the start, but it's pretty much a habit now for me.

    Other ways to limit snacking: find a hobby that inhibits snacking - something that requires clean hands or gets your hands dirty, outdoor activities away from your pantry/fridge,...

    Something else to think about: you mention 1700 calories as a VLC diet. It doesn't seem particularly low in calories to me, unless you're male and/or very active and/or have a lot of weight to lose. But perhaps, depending on your stats, increasing your calorie goal would be an option?
  • stueyd7902
    stueyd7902 Posts: 3 Member
    Fascinating read and thanks, very insightful. Yes Male and pretty active, strength training 3-4 times a week, 10-15000 steps per day, 170g protein, 70g fats the rest carbs. Goal is to get 10-15% body fat from about 25%. I have found that in order to lose 0.5-1kg per week I need to be in this Calorie region of 1700-1800.
    Which I find is very difficult and doesn't lend to much wiggle room for indulgencies. Obviously when I reach my goal I will allow myself to back off a bit, but its this last part of the journey that I have found to be the most challenging mentally. Going from about 18% (current) down to the 10% body fat target.

    Might try saving more Calories for later in the day indulgencies and earn to live with the hunger cravings better :)
    More mental discipline needed!!
  • chanellenoble
    chanellenoble Posts: 39 Member
    You mentioned stress, do you have a good support network you can reach out to? Finding a new behaviour such as calling a friend or messaging a buddy on MFP and talking it out when you're having a craving might be the real key here. I have struggled with emotional eating and snacking. I think it's important first to not punish yourself for lacking "discipline". When we start eating at a caloric deficit and lose weight our body naturally increases our appetite, and this is a good thing, it means our body is trying to protect us. Unfortunately, if your goal is to lose fat, this can feel like an impedance and if you want to keep burning fat you may have to feel a little hungry as you get used to it.

    Try not to moralise food choices as "good" or "bad", and don't deprive yourself of things you enjoy eating. Instead, pay attention to foods that give you a high hedonic response, as this might help prevent overeating, e.g. where some people can have a few chips and stop, others end up eating the whole bag. Maybe make a note in your MFP diary of which foods you notice tend to trigger overeating and then make a plan for what you can do next time you're craving them, e.g. set a timer, go for a walk, call someone, try an alternative. I would also suggest eating foods that are very high fibre but low cal such as vegetables to maximise volume, and maybe see whether having more lower cal meals helps mentally. Sometimes you can delay having a snack when you know your next meal is in 1-2 hours.

    When I quit smoking I was always told to use the 5 D's:
    Drink Water.
    Deep Breathing.

    Also recommend:

    Good luck :) this is no easy thing you're doing!
  • nanastaci2020
    nanastaci2020 Posts: 1,044 Member
    When not feeling stressed: come up with a list of things non-food you can try when stress hits. Read a book. Take a shower. Go for a walk. Hit a punching bag. Write in a journal. Call a friend. Meditate/do yoga.

    Some ways to make snacking less tempting: brush your teeth, chew gum, hard candy, drink water.

    And then there is the idea that if the 1700-1800 calorie # for 1-2 pounds is too restrictive, add 250-500 to your daily allotment and aim for .5-1 pounds per week. Or 'allow' yourself 2 times per month to eat at maintenance. Which would be 500-1000 calories extra on those occasions based on 1-2 pounds weekly. If you have those occasions to look forward to, it might be easier to stay in your limits the rest of the month.
  • stueyd7902
    stueyd7902 Posts: 3 Member
    Truly motivational, inspirational and educational information. Some excellent mental technique’s and disciplines il be implementing immediately.
    Thanks all, good to see so many that have been… and are…. going through the same.