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Madrid Personal Trainer David Hughes explains how to combat binge eating


Binge eating disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop. A binge eating episode can last an hour or more, or happen periodically throughout the day. 

Binge eaters are not eating because they are hungry, they are eating as a reaction to an emotional issue. This is why binge eating is tied to emotional overeating.

People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies, especially the weight gain, and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They feel as if they can’t stop and don’t think it’s a serious enough problem to get help.

According to the National Institutes of Health, two percent of all adults in America (not sure of number in Spain) suffer from compulsive overeating-making binge eating disorder more common than bulimia or anorexia. Unlike other eating disorders, which primarily occur in women, binge eating disorder also affects a significant number of men. If a binge eater happens upon a box of donuts in the break-room, they can react by eating several in one sitting for no apparent reason other than the fact they see the food there. An emotional eater would react to the food only if an emotion leads them to feel the donuts will numb their feelings.

To determine if binge eating is the cause for weight gain, examine the emotional reasons for it. Processing these emotions are hard and takes time, but there are some good techniques that can help you modify behavior and combat binge eating while working on the underlying issues. Here are a few:


Stay clear of binge foods. Don’t buy or let into the house anything that triggers a binge– whether it’s cookies, chips, pretzels, cheese, or ice cream. If it’s not there, it won’t be there for a binge. Avoiding binge foods at work and other social situations may take some patience, but if that includes avoiding break-room goodies and missing out of social events, do whatever it takes to protect your health. 

Decorate the fridge with images that motivate you. Clip pictures of fit bodies from your favorite magazines and keep them right where you can see them before you grab some food. Even having a picture of your fit self (or unfit self to stay motivated) will keep you from binging on some of your favorite foods.

Call a friend. Instead of grabbing that bag of chips (which should not even be in the house) reach for the phone a call a friend. Distract yourself with lively conversation. If you really want the chips, pour out a couple and put the bag in a location where they can not be ready seen.

Grab your journal. Write about all the good things you have been doing for your health lately. Write about all the positive comments others have given you. Jot down notes on what you can do better with adjusting to a new healthy lifestyle. Draw pictures! Anything that gets the mind off eating saves inches off the waist.

Go pamper yourself. Do something positive versus destructive. Paint your toenails, take a bubble bath, get a massage or facial, Go to the gym and burn up a sweat. There are many places to go and healthy activities to take part in can lead you away from the temptation of food.

It takes time to break a bad habit. The weight did not appear overnight and it won‘t disappear that way either. Each day is a new learning experience, so there are no slip-ups, back-slides, falling off the wagon, or do-overs. If you do have a binge, don’t beat yourself up about it, pick yourself up, and work even harder to finish the day strong.


If you’re the type of person who simply can’t go to bed hungry – or without that late-night bite of popcorn, pizza, ice cream, or snacks, then you may take some comfort in knowing you are not alone.


A recent survey conducted by Massive Health tracked the daily eating habits of thousands of people over a five-month period. What they found was that most people start the day with good intentions, but every hour that passed corresponded with a 1.7 percent drop in healthfulness, on average.

Researchers said people who skip breakfast or other meals fared worst of all. The production of hunger hormone ghrelin goes into overdrive when people do not get enough food, which leads to wild cravings and poor decision-making later on. Even though many have tried and failed, there are three helpful strategies that can get dieters out of this late-night binging bind.


Strategy #1: Eat Breakfast Every Day, Without Exception!

The Massive Health survey confirmed that people who skipped breakfast ate significantly more food throughout the day. Yet, that doesn’t mean breakfast should be a free-for-all smorgasbord either. “The message should be that you want a ‘good’ breakfast, rather than a ‘big’ breakfast,” clarifies Dr. David Heber of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. Some people chow down on fatty, sugary options like sausages, butter, and marmalade-smothered pancakes that offer little nutritional value. Instead, opt for a combination of protein and fiber – like an egg-white omelet stuffed with steamed vegetables. Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and skim milk are other great sources of breakfast protein.


Strategy #2: Eat Vegetables With Your Lunch To Fill Up Your Tank! 

Vegetables are healthy, filling, and low in calories – which will help you feeling satisfied until dinner. Try a tofu stir-fry, a salad topped with grilled chicken or hard-boiled eggs, or a sweet potato topped with black beans / salsa / light sour cream. Cornell University researchers found that people who ate portion-controlled lunches like Chef Boyardee Pasta or Campbell’s Soup consumed 250 fewer calories per day and lost 1.1 pounds over the course of two weeks – which can accumulate to at least 25 pounds in a year. So the message is: keep your lunches light.


Strategy #3: Fill The Gaps With Healthy, Thoughtful Snacks!

Sometimes the stretch between lunch and dinner can feel like forever. While research shows that people can easily add an extra 500 calories snacking just for the sake of snacking, it is a good idea to have thoughtful options in the house if your stomach begins to grumble. Have a protein shake, apple slices with peanut butter, a handful of nuts, or a bowl of lentil soup on hand to combat any pre-dinner or post-dinner cravings that may arise.