We all know the feeling. Every New Year’s Day, we decide that this year is going to be different and develop a plan for exercising regularly and sticking to a clean diet. Then comes temptation in the form of a pizza, a packet of chips, a muffin or fried chicken and you are back to square one. More than losing ground that you have gained already, the accompanying feelings of shame and low self-esteem can last for ages.
Here are ten steps that you can take to avoid or at least, reduce such instances of compulsive eating in the future:
1. Identify triggers: Keep a diary where you record every instance of binge eating on a consistent basis. What was the factor that triggered such an instance in the first place. Was it an argument with your mother, a hectic day at work or watching TV at night? We generally binge when we are tired or sad. When you record such instances and are able to identify the circumstances that caused you to binge in the first place, you reduces the chances of comfort eating in the first place as you are more aware about the patterns you fall into.
2. Break the pattern: Once you have identified the triggers, the next step is to develop an alternative strategy to overcome the temptation to binge. It could be your favorite yoga pose, drinking water, listening to music or going for a long walk. Stay away from your triggers and turn to something like music or exercise which will boost your mood so that you do not find “comfort” in food.
3. Practise Mindful Eating: We all know the feeling. You open a tin of salted cashews intending to eat a small portion while engrossed in work or while watching a TV show and before you know it, the tin is empty. In order to avoid bingeing, it is essential to be conscious of what and when you eat and to minimize distractions so that you can stick to preplanned portion sizes. Try to set aside specific times and places for your meals and avoid doing anything else while you eat. And yes, this includes watching videos on your phone or being on social media while you eat. This will help you to avoid stuffing yourself and then ending up with regrets.
4. Keep healthy snacks within easy reach: If you are hungry and you have a packet of chips within easy reach but you need to get up from you seat and go to the kitchen to make yourself a healthy snack, guess what you will end up eating. This is why it is so important to clear your kitchen cupboards of junk foods and unhealthy snacks while stocking up on healthy snacks like precut vegetables and nuts.
5. Do not overindulge while dining out: The dining out culture in the UAE is one reason why obesity is a major problem here. We take full advantage of meals in restaurants with friends and families to put off our plans for healthy eating and binge. Make it a point to order healthy food and smaller portions even while dining out. Once you set a pattern, you will find it easier to stick to the habit. There are plenty of delicious options at every restaurant and you do not have to compromise taste for quality. If the portion is too big and there are leftovers, get the service staff to pack the leftovers for your next meal.
6. Drink plenty of water: Sometimes, your desire to binge is triggered not by hunger, but by hunger. Drinking plenty of water before mealtimes will help you to eat smaller meals.
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