Beat The Bingeing

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 19 May, 2014

As most dieters know, the most promising weight-loss regime can be totally de-railed by a crisps and chocolate binge. Binge eating is a complex topic that is closely related to your psychological wellbeing, so it's hard to give a 'one-size-fits-all' solution to this problem. Consider some of the following issues that may help you kick your cravings once and for all:

Practical solutions

The problem with cravings is that the more we obsess about them the more likely they are to grow. Try these tips to break the cycle:

  • Banish binge foods from the house until you have a healthier relationship with food. You might be able to start reintroducing them after your diet is well established and you feel psychologically positive about eating. Then you could buy individual treat sized portions so it feels safe and controlled.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol as it inhibits your self control.
  • Writing a list of distraction activities to do when a binge beckons.
  • Work out what triggers the over-eating event. This is where the Nutracheck food diary approach of documenting what you eat is so helpful.
  • Break up your routine. For example, try coming home from work at a different time.
  • Go for a high protein, low carb lunch to stave off mid-afternoon blood sugar crashes.
  • Bring evening meal forward so you eat a balanced meal at the time of your craving rather than unhealthy biscuits or cakes.
  • Find a taste for dishes with plenty of fill capacity but few calories such as vegetables, salads, wholewheat pasta and soups. Feeling genuinely satisfied by healthier foods will reduce your urge to binge.

Give yourself a break

You may need to be less of a perfectionist – we all slip up occasionally! A lot of binge eating is related to 'all or nothing' behaviour: you believe that once you've started being 'bad' you might as well just continue. It also tends to be related to the idea – perhaps enforced in childhood – that there are 'good' and 'bad' foods (nutritionists prefer to believe there are only 'good' or 'bad' diets). The odd small treat is perfectly acceptable.

Professional help

Only you know how much of a problem bingeing is and what level of help you might therefore need. There are a number of self help books to tackle psychological eating problems or if you feel you need further help seek out a dietician who deals with psychological eating problems. The eating disorders website at may also help.

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.