Tips for Binge Eaters

Tips for Binge Eaters

Athletes get hungry. Sometimes they need to devour very large portions to satisfy their appetite. Sometimes they binge eat in a way that feels out of control. There’s little doubt that dieting athletes who deny themselves of their favorite foods can easily end up “eating the whole thing.” Emotions also contribute to binges; smothering your feelings with ice cream and chocolate sauce can quickly distract you from pain and sorrow. Fatigue plays a role as well; a tired brain is unlikely to make smart food choices.

If you find yourself routinely binge eating, you want to work with a registered dietitian (RD) who can help you find peace with food. Put aside your shame and embarrassment (RDs have heard this all before), and use the referral network at www. SCAN to find a local sports dietitian. This health professional can help you stabilize your eating so you will enjoy better sports performance as well as sanity and less time thinking about food.

If you want to try to resolve binges on your own, here are a few tips gleaned from the book Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It by Rachael Rose Steil.

• Keep notes about your binges. Write down some of the reasons for your binge. Are they emotional? Psychological? Physical (due to extreme hunger)?

• Have you ever tried to find a “cure” for your binge eating? Make a list of everything you have tried. How well did it work?

• If you are binge eating “quality foods” that are nutrient-rich, your body is probably hungry and needs fuel. Give yourself permission to eat these foods—and enough of them to resolve hunger. Don’t stop eating just because you “think you should.”

• Think about a food you desperately wanted but didn’t allow yourself to eat. Could you have enjoyed a small amount of that food when you first craved it—and then observed how it made you feel? (Maybe that donut wasn’t as wonderful as you had thought?)

• Is your “perfect diet” contributing to food obsessions? Write down your fears about eating certain foods? Separate fears from facts.

• Draw a horizontal line and write binge eating on the far left and restricting on the far right. Where do you think you are along this spectrum? How close are you to the middle (eating in a balanced way)? What can you do to work towards that happy medium?

• What would your life look like without thinking about and obsessing over food? Is your binge-eating life consuming? Is your drive for eating a perfect diet actually taking you down the path to self-destruction?

• Write down what you learn from each binge. The binge is not a failure but rather an event you can use as means to better understand yourself and your body, and to move forward.

With best wishes for finding peace with food,


Chocolate and Hungry Athletes: A Dangerous Duo?

Chocolate and Hungry Athletes: A Dangerous Duo?

“Between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, I feel surrounded by chocolate. It’s everywhere!!!” reported a self-proclaimed chocoholic. “I try so hard to not eat it, but I inevitably succumb, and I inevitably gain weight. Thank goodness for January First!!!” If you share the same love-hate relationship with chocolate, keep reading. And be thankful this so-called “bad food” offers benefits. Continue Reading

How to manage foods that have power over you…

I know, I know. You say you are addicted to chocolate because you have an addictive personality. Maybe yes, but maybe no. Maybe you are just doing “last chance eating”? You know, “Last chance to eat chocolate so I’d better eat all of the Hershey kisses today because I am back on my diet tomorrow.”

When a food like chocolate (or cookies or donuts) has power over you, that power stems from the fact that you like the food and want to eat it more often. You should indeed eat that food more often, so that you get bored with it and it loses its power over you. The solution to managing “binge foods” is to eat the food routinely, not try to stay away from it. (Think about it: Do apples have power over you? Why not?)

When you next go home for the holidays and get confronted by your favorite dessert (Granny’s chocolate cake?), plan it into your meals and eat it INSTEAD of your meal. That is, if you have 600 calories in each meal, you could enjoy two chunks of came for breakfast, lunch, dinner … and still not “get fat.”. You also will not die from malnutrition in three days.

You will not gain weight if the portion fits within your calorie budget. You might get sick of cake, and realize that when you eat smarter, you feel better … The benefits of feeling better might overpower the urge to splurge on yet another piece of cake the next meal.

Worth an experiment? 
Eating MORE of the food that has power over you is a tactic that works. You just have to trust this experiment. That is, when you have an “I need cookies” day, simply plan cookies into your meals and have cookies for lunch INSTEAD OF real food for lunch. You might end up feeling lousy and discover that when you eat better foods, you actually feel better. You will look forward to enjoying quality food at your next meal.

Learning how to control “trouble foods” is a management issue, not a food issue. There is a possibility you just need to learn how to manage your binge foods, not deny them and ban them from your menu. For help learning that skill, make an appointment with a local sports dietitian. To find one, use the referral network at

Best wishes for finding peace with food,



Resource: the chapters on Snack Attacks and Dieting Gone Awry in my Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

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