We use the term “binge eating” to refer to episodes of rapid and excessive food consumption. Those episodes are usually not driven by hunger and based on research binge eating is a complex human behaviour that could be the result of psychosocial stressors and not merely a metabolic need.
Sometimes though, binge eating is the result of pure nutritional habits and lack of time. If you find yourself tormented by constant cravings for something sweet, here are some helpful tips tips to help you regain control of your appetite.
1. Avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry. I know that you have heard that before but you will probably end up buying more stuff than you need and most of them are likely to be junk food!
Tip: If you really need to go to the supermarket when you are hungry, chew a gum or a healthy candy before your visit. Their sugar taste will stop your hunger for a while.
2. One of the biggest challenges is what to do when you have to go to dinner parties (seated or buffets).
Tip: Do not just fill your plate with whatever is on the table. Start with the healthy options. Fill your plate with veggies and salad; then, choose a small quantity of rice, roast potatoes or white meat. Of course, you will enjoy the “less” healthy options as well but make sure you only leave a small space at your plate.
3. Healthy eating does not mean you can not visit your favourite restaurant and enjoy your usual meal.
Tip: Some restaurants give you the option to choose between a small or large portion of the same course. If you are lucky enough to have the option, make sure you choose wisely!
4. Culinary shows are all over the place and do you know why? Because they are fun to watch!
Tip: Avoid watching when you are hungry! You will feel hungrier and rush to the fridge and unless you have a healthy snack available, you will end up consuming more of what you do not need.
5. Big plates=more food! When I instruct my clients on healthy eating, I usually tell them to eat on a small plate (the one used for dessert serving).
Tip: Use smaller plates. When you put a small amount of food on a larger plate, your mind tells you that you have not eaten as much. If your plate looks full, you will not feel the urge to re-fill.
6. Sometimes people tend to eat uncontrollably, due to various reasons that are not related to hunger.
Tip: Distract yourself! Whenever you feel the urge to act this way, engage yourself for even 10 minutes doing something that you enjoy before digging into food.
7. How often do you feel that your meal was not enough because it ended so quickly?
Tip: Eating slowly. It’s very important to take your time when you eat since it helps digestion and makes you feel more satisfied with your meal. This way your brain will have the necessary time to perceive that your stomach is full and you will not feel the urge to eat more than you need.
Gluttony is a tricky enemy and it takes a lot of will and discipline to fight it. Still, if you find yourself engaging in such behaviour often enough, please consult a professional (nutritionist, doctor, mental health expert) that will help you identify the cause of your behaviour.
Alexandra Koukouraki, Nutritionist, Fitness Expert.