You just finished stuffing your face with brownies and now you feel disgusted, disappointed and more than a little depressed. Binge sessions are not only bad for your health, they are also incredibly demoralizing. It's time to shed pounds and guilt and embrace disciplined eating. Developing self-control will probably take time, and you'll need to lean on your friends and family for help. Be patient with yourself and reach out to your health care provider if you need professional counsel.
Get at least seven solid hours of sleep each night. The hormones that regulate hunger -- gherelin and leptin -- are thrown off balance by sleep deprivation. The less you sleep, the more likely you are to experience intense cravings for sugary, fatty foods the next day. Turn off your phone and close the blinds so that you can sleep without distraction.
Eat small, healthy meals at regularly scheduled intervals. Women are often tempted to forgo breakfast and lunch so that they can treat themselves to a delicious dinner and decadent dessert. The splurge isn't worth it. Your body needs food every few hours to keep your blood sugar levels stable. If your blood sugar crashes, you'll feel weak, tired and distracted and will be much more likely to binge eat later. If you have a special event in the evening, eat smaller snacks throughout the day and take a few bites of that special dessert instead of eating the whole thing.
Find productive ways to cope with stress. Make a list of calming activities that you can pull out after a hard day at work. For instance, you might take a hot bath, call a friend or go for a long walk. If you don't have a plan in place, you'll be tempted to eat half the food in the fridge when you are stressed or anxious.
Eat a diet rich in foods that have a low energy density. The Mayo Clinic describes low energy-dense foods as those that contain few calories in a large portion. For instance, vegetables such as broccoli and green beans have only a few calories per 1-cup serving. You can snack on broccoli to your heart's content and fill up on fiber, vitamins and minerals at the same time. Other good choices include lean protein and low-fat dairy foods. Chicken, fish, beans, yogurt and milk all contain a lot of protein, which will keep you feeling full. If you fill up on healthy calories, you are much less likely to overeat.
Indulge in a treat every so often. Your body is a lot like a toddler throwing a tantrum -- the more you say "no," the louder the screaming will get. Head off the tantrum by planning your indulgences. Tell yourself that after a week of healthy, disciplined eating, you'll get a special dessert on Saturday. Take time to savor the treat, and then get right back to your healthy lifestyle.
Head off temptation by discussing your diet with your spouse, coworkers and friends. If your husband snacks on chips while watching the news, it'll be hard not to snuggle up and help yourself to the bowl. Ask your husband to keep junk food out of the house and beg your coworkers to keep unhealthy snacks under lock and key. It's much easier to be disciplined if you aren't tempted.
Stop and check your biological and emotional temperature before you start to eat. Is your stomach growling? Are you really hungry or feeling bored, tired or overwhelmed? The American College of Cardiology recommends keeping a food journal to curb emotional eating. Write down the day and time, your location, what you ate, how hungry you were on a scale of 1 to 10 and how you were feeling at the moment. After a few weeks of journaling, identify trends in your eating habits, and determine what stressors trigger your emotional eating response.
Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.