3 Strategies to Stop Binge Eating and Say Goodbye to Cheat Meals
Binge eating is a problem many people struggle with and it can often be the single most important factor that prevents people from reaching their diet and fitness goals.
In my 30s, I thought that if I could eat healthy and disciplined during the week, this would allow me to “cheat” all weekend long. I’d eat faultless for five days (maybe six, if I was feeling like a self-controlled Jedi) and then binge until I was close to sickness. I thought, “I deserve this cheat day”.
If I was especially “good” during the week and I had a lot of exercise that week, my cheat day could start as early as Friday night!
The problem was that I was never reaching my diet and fitness goals. I was just staying the same, week after week, month after month.
Have you ever felt like this?
For a long time, I wondered if there was a better way. And friends, I’m glad to say I’ve found it.
Learning about and understanding my Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) and counting macros finally set me free from binge eating and thinking that I deserve a cheat meal or a cheat day.
Three strategies to help you stop binge eating or cheating.
Here are the three main things a macro diet taught me about binge eating and how to stop doing it.
1. Learning the Practice of Moderation
We buy a book, read about a diet, and become indoctrinated to believe some foods are good and some foods are evil. Some are “clean” and some are “unclean”.
Ok, it’s obvious some foods are more nutritionally dense than others and some should be eaten regularly while others more sparingly.
But unless you have allergies, intolerances or other health issues, I don’t believe you should have to exclude any foods out of your diet 100% of the time.
If you’ve struggled with an “all or nothing” mindset that’s led to an unhealthy relationship with food, then moderation in your diet may just be the thing you need.
Having foods you enjoy regularly, in moderation, allows you to be consistent and stay on track with your health goals long-term. I never understood this and for years I was spinning my wheels wondering why nothing was working.
The key: It’s not about being more strict, but being more relaxed (and strategic).
2. Learn How Much You Should Eat and How Much You Are Eating
How much you eat will often determine more about your size and health than what you eat. Don’t believe me? Recently a science teacher set out to eat only McDonalds for 3 months.
He could eat whatever he wanted on the menu, he just had a daily calorie goal to keep too. He tracked how much he ate. The results: He lost weight and more surprisingly, gained health.
I’m not telling you to go eat McDonald’s for months (though I believe fast food can be eaten, in moderation, while still staying healthy and lean).
I want you to just become more aware of how much you need to eat and how much you are eating.
I’ve learned that I can eat more on days I exercise and less on days that I don’t exercise. I also understand how much more and how much less since all of this is calculated.
For years I was gaining weight while eating what was said to be a really nutritious diet. I didn’t understand being in a calorie deficit is the key to weight loss.
By tracking how much you eat you can be flexible, have your favorite foods in moderation, all the while knowing they won’t derail your progress or health.
I love the way I eat now. It’s sustainable long-term and helps me reach my goals. It has also helped me to quit dieting for good.
Keep track of what you eat 7 days a week and make sure this aligns with how much you should be eating on a given day.
I also personally track everything I eat and I enjoy it because it gives me a lot of control over my health and body. There are many great smartphone apps for this that make the whole process so much easier.
Remember this: One bowl of ice cream won’t make you fat just like one salad won’t make you skinny.
3. Practice the 80/20 Method
I’ve tried (almost) every diet under the sun and I’ve finally found something that works for me.
I follow something similar to what blogger and author, Chris Kresser, calls the 80/20 rules.
80% of the time I’m strict with how I eat. 20% of the time I kick my heels up. (More specifically I follow a way of eating called flexible dieting)
These percentages may change day-to-day but I try and keep the principle the same.
If I’m enjoying foods I love on a regular basis, I’m way less inclined or tempted to cheat or binge on these foods during the weekends or during a moment of weakness because I’ve been depriving myself of these foods.
By learning how much energy your body needs, how to eat in moderation, and how to ensure you are allowing room in your diet for the food you love, you will finally be able to stop binge eating and letting cheat meals ruin your diet and fitness progress.