Whether it’s binge eating or binge watching, we use overindulgence as a way to deal with emotions. And these kinds of binging can impact your life—and your health.
Here are some moments of weakness where you’re more likely to binge:
1. Eating a late lunch
Cortisol and adrenaline plummet by 3 p.m., as do energy levels, because your body is preparing for the end of the day. That’s fine if you’re shutting down, too, but it’s not so fine if you’re trying to wrap up a project or meet a late-day deadline.
Focus wanes and that’s when a candy bar or sweet treat sounds mighty appealing. The alluring high-sugar, high-fat foods rev up your appetite, setting the scene for more diet destruction.
Solution: Eat lunch by 1 p.m.
When eating lunch after 4:30 p.m., people burned fewer calories while resting and digesting their food than if they ate at 1 p.m. — even though the calories consumed and level of activity was the same. Also, people who ate late couldn’t burn off carbohydrates as well as those who ate earlier.
2. Being stressed out
The most common causes of binging are anxiety, stress and depression—a lot of the time, it’s simply a way to numb unhappy feelings.
Solution: Understand your emotions.
If you are feeling stressed, try using an emotional journal. Write down your emotions as they occur. Reviewing it will help you understand the patterns of your emotions. Or, try meditation. Learning to block out external stressors and deal with your internal emotions is great for controlling stress.
3. Restricting too much
If you’re holding yourself to a strict diet, you might be more likely to go off the rails in a weak moment.
Solution: Allow yourself some leeway.
You are only human. A sweet treat once in a while will not ruin your entire diet. Allow yourself occasional indulgences or even “cheat meals” to keep you on track in the long run.
Binge eating can be a serious disease. If you think your binging is more than an occasional moment of weakness, consider enlisting help.