As they say, acknowledging a problem is the first step. Not the step, right? There's more to it. Next is addressing it. So, let's address my binge eating at night.
Let's start with a confession: I can easily consume 3 or 4 times as much food as a regular person.
Here's some binge eating I regularly do:
- When I make a meal, especially pasta, I will eat the equivalent of a whole meal out of the pan as I am preparing it, so that I can also eat a semi-large "meal" and make it look like I am eating normally.
- Sometimes I will make myself two cheese and mayo sandwiches as a "snack" and eat them both in 3 or 4 bites each. (Note that is like a 1000 calories in 3 minutes.)
- Sometimes I eat so fast that food packs down into my throat because my esophagus can't get it into my stomach as fast as I'm swallowing it -- I'll have to stop and guzzle water to flush the food into my stomach so I can keep eating.
- If I am really, really hungry when I eat a meal, I eat so fast that I am already eating a second full helping before I even start to feel like I ate at all.
- I secret-eat. The eating out of the cooking pan as I prepare is secret eating. In general, that is my secret-eat MO: I eat large portions of the food I am preparing for dinner before it ever gets to the plate, and I will follow up with a few bites every time I go into the kitchen during and after the meal, too.
- With some foods like pasta, chips or crackers, I will eat them until they are gone. I will even try to stop and I can't. I'll be shoveling it in and even though I am thinking, "I have to stop," I just can't make the fork stop going into my mouth. (NOTE: with this one, I am having a lot of success changing, I have been able to stop or avoid all together lately.... gotta keep that track.)
- Alcohol. Sometimes I will have a glass of wine after work, before dinner, and it kills my appetite. I sometimes end up drinking all night instead of eating, because the calories from alcohol fool your body into thinking you ate. So then one of two things happens: either, I am just destroyed apocalyptic hung over the next day (which is getting harder and harder on me as I get older) or -- maybe worse -- just before bed, I will tell myself I need to eat something so I'm not crazy hung over tomorrow, and because I'm drunk and have no willpower, I eat some marathon like 2000 calories or total garbage then go immediately pass out.
- I start with water. Drink down a nice big glass of water, fast. I get the visceral satisfaction of swallowing a large portion of something. And water filling your belly does satisfy your hunger pangs long enough for your brain to evaluate if you're really hungry or not. It is also a true fact that your brain has a difficult time differentiating between hunger and thirst, so sometimes you really are just thirsty. Luckily, I also love water, it is my #1 favorite beverage, always has been. So I have a lot of success using water to help me get through triggers.
- Exercise. This one is new for me, and I discovered it organically. (Another thing I had to discover empirically for myself, couldn't just take everyone's word for it...) I'll feel a hunger pang when I know I should not be hungry (like I already ate...) and I'll grab my free weights and do a couple reps. Next thing I know, I've forgotten all about eating.
- Try willpower. As my nutritional health is increasing, I find this one to be a lot easier. Sometimes simply telling myself, "I'm not actually hungry, it's just a trigger," actually works. I'm actually not hungry, because I'm eating enough dietary fiber and vegetables that increase my satisfaction with meals, I am not nutritionally starved so these triggers are more readily identified as merely culprits, not legit hunger.
- Still can't totally stop? Maybe I am actually hungry. Eat something that is not a binge food. Some grapes or other fruit, or a couple spoonfuls of low fat cottage cheese, or one turkey-cheese roll-up. And immediately drink some water and get the f**k out of the kitchen. This one is a last resort. Stopping binge behavior with food is a slippery slope for the obvious reasons.