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Discover & Overcome Your Binge Eating Triggers

Of the various eating disorders, Binge Eating Disorder is the most common. It’s defined as the recurring overconsumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time, usually to the point of pain or discomfort. Those who suffer from binge eating, or food addiction, usually feel out of control and helpless, and the struggle often coincides with immense feelings of shame and guilt, as well as a tendency to socially isolate.

Finding Your Binge Eating Triggers

The first step to recover from binge eating or food addiction is to identify your triggers, so that you can overcome them and disrupt the pattern of behavior that results in a binge. Some triggers are emotional, such as work stress, boredom, social anxiety, or trauma, and some triggers are environmental, such as an office party, a night out with your friends, or prominent displays of junk food at the grocery store.

Most people experience the same few triggers over and over again that fuel their struggle with binge eating, which is why it’s so important to identify your own triggers. Once you become aware of what sets you off and causes you to turn to food in the first place, then you will be able to implement a new way to react to your triggers that doesn’t involve food. Having these new, non-food strategies will eventually help you heal your triggers altogether.

The best way to discover your binge eating triggers is through observation. Observe yourself, your intentions, and your behaviors. It’s important to do this without judgment. Instead, get curious. It can be helpful to keep a food journal in order to recognize when you’ve been triggered. After you eat, take a few minutes to reflect on the following:

– What did you eat?

– When did you eat?

Why did you eat?

– How did you feel before eating?

– How did you feel after eating?

How to Overcome Your Triggers

The most important thing to discover is why you eat. What is your intention behind consumption? It is that you were genuinely hungry? Or was it more emotional – were you feeling bored or sad or did you get into a fight with your partner? Over time, you’ll begin to understand your intention behind eating, especially in different scenarios, environments, etc.

If you eat for any reason other than health or hunger, it’s likely you were triggered in some way. Once you know your triggers, you can combat them. For example, if boredom triggers you to binge eat, have a list of things you can do to counter boredom, such as calling a friend, going for a walk, or running errands. If your stressful job is a trigger, be sure to balance it out with things that make you happy and feel good, like meditating, taking a vacation, or volunteering for a cause you care about. If you tend to binge eat when you feel lonely, look into some new activities, classes, or groups you can join so that you can be more social and occupy your time in a way that lights you up.

Remember that it’s important to be patient with yourself as you do this work and traverse the path of recovery. When you perform the same pattern of behavior for years and years, like binge eating when you’re stressed or lonely, it becomes part of your conditioning. It’s almost like second nature, which is why so many people who struggle with binge eating often say they don’t even realize they’re doing it until after the fact. It takes time to break this kind of programming, so patience, persistence, and self-compassion are key.

Discovering and overcoming your binge eating triggers are usually the first step in recovering from Binge Eating Disorder or food addiction in general. It’s not something that will happen overnight, as it takes time to figure out what fuels your struggle in the first place, but the knowledge and insight you will gain from thisself-reflection and commitment can be life-changing. The better you get at recognizing and countering your binge eating triggers, the more progress you will make on your journey, and the closer you’ll be to healing and recovery.


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