Free & Low Cost Support
Everyone deserves support for their eating concerns, and NEDA wants to connect you with resources that can help in addition to professional help. These free and low cost support options offer ways to connect with others and provide tools to promote recovery.
Please note that these options do not replace professional treatment. We are listing them as additional support options to supplement recovery or maintenance.
Support groups, though not a replacement for treatment, are a free or low-cost way to gain support from others. NEDA’s support group finder can help locate in-person groups and online options.
NEDA Network Virtual Support Groups
The NEDA Network is a partnership between NEDA and other mission-aligned organizations dedicated to advancing the field of eating disorders and building a community of support and hope. With nearly 20 member organizations, the NEDA Network provides a unified voice in the fight against eating disorders. The following is a list of virtual support group options offered by some of these Network organizations.
MEDA Recovery Community
The MEDA Recovery Community provides resources to support eating disorder recovery, available 24/7 from your phone, tablet, or computer. There are resources to support all levels of recovery with new content added each month. In addition to all the tools, Community Connections forums provide a safe space to connect with other folks who just get it.
ANAD Online Support Groups
Physical Impact Of Stress
There are also some physical reasons why stress and strong emotions can cause a person to overeat:
- High cortisol levels: Initially, stress causes the appetite to decrease so that the body can deal with the situation. If the stress does not let up, another hormone called cortisol is released. Cortisol increases appetite and can cause someone to overeat.
- Cravings: High cortisol levels from stress can increase food cravings for sugary or fatty foods. Stress is also associated with increased hunger hormones, which may also contribute to cravings for unhealthy foods.
- Sex: Some research shows that women are more likely to use food to deal with stress than men are, while men are more likely than women to smoke or use alcohol.
It is very easy to mistake emotional hunger for physical hunger. But there are characteristics that distinguish them.
Recognizing these subtle differences is the first step towards helping to stop emotional eating patterns.
Keep A Food And Mood Journal
Keeping a food and mood journal that tracks what you eat and how you feel can be an effective tool. It can help identify potential emotional and food triggers and promote healthier eating habits.
One study in 17 people showed that using an online self-help program that involved keeping a food diary was associated with fewer self-reported episodes of binge eating .
Several other studies also suggest that tracking your intake may be linked to increased weight loss and aid long-term weight management .
To get started, simply start recording what you eat and how you feel each day using either a journal or app.
Summary Food and mood journals can help identify triggers to address potential problems. Studies show that using a food diary is associated with fewer episodes of binge eating, as well as increased weight loss.
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Stress Eating Hormones And Hunger
Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies granted, many of them in animals have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a “hunger hormone,” may have a role.
Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.
Of course, overeating isn’t the only stress-related behavior that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight.
Disengage From Black And White Thinking
Black and white thinking is evident in phrases like always,never, or ruined. It is a hallmark of perfectionism, which is linked to eating disorders. If it is difficult to imagine any outcome other than total success or failure, jot down at least three other possible outcomes that would be in between.
About the Author
Barbara Spanjers, MS MFT is a therapist and wellness coach who helps people feel more attuned with food and their body. Learn more.
Lethbridge, J., Watson, H.J., Egan, S. J., Street, H., & Nathan, P.R. . The role of perfectionism, dichotomous thinking, shape and weight overvaluation, and conditional goal setting in eating disorders. Eating Behaviors, 12, 200-206. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.04.003
White, S., Reynolds-Malear, J., & Cordero, E. . Disordered eating and the use of unhealthy weight control methods in college students: 1995, 2002, and 2008. Eating Disorders Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 19, 323-334. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2011.584805
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This Interview Is A Must Watch For You If Youd Answer With A Yes To Two Or More Of The Following:
- You second-guess yourself around food. Did you eat too much? Were you allowed to eat that?
- You often find yourself wanting to eat something, but stopping yourself from doing it because you shouldnt
- You take diet advice too seriously. Sugar is bad? Cut it ALL out. Carbs are bad? Swear them off now.
- You feel guilty about what you ate.
- If it happens and you break your dietthen hell breaks loose and you eat EVERYTHING.
- Cravings. You constantly have them and constantly fight them.
- You eat when you feel tired, stressed, or sad, and then feel very guilty about doing that.
- You feel youve tried EVERYTHING. Every diet on the planet. Yet nothing has given consistent results.
How To Stop Binge Eating At Night
Late night eating is a common problem amongst a lot of people . But what causes it and how can you stop binge eating at night? The first step is learning why it happens:
- Over restriction we have a tendency to over-restrict ourselves during the day. However, when diets become too rigid, our brains start to fire off signals telling you to be less discriminating of foods at night and to start eating .
- Lack of self-care when you are subjected to constant pressure and decision-making , this can wear down your willpower to the point that when your brain fires off those signals to feast you cave. If this sounds like you, try to give yourself two 5-minute breaks where you can escape from everything including people, electronic devices , and decision making. These mini breaks can help to revitalize your willpower and clear your mind, so that when temptation beckons, youre able to say no. TIP: a good way to detach, clear your mind and escape pressure is to meditate or to do some free-writing . Both can be very freeing.
- Lack of sleep being sleep deprived can affect your health in so many ways, including night time eating. If possible, try to give yourself a set time to go to bed, as well as make your bedroom somewhere where you only sleep . Any attempt to get more sleep will help you to stop binge eating at night.
See what we mean? Luckily, there are steps you can take to stop binge eating at night:
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Our Bodies Are Not Machines
You cut 500 calories a day from your diet. You stick to it religiously and have complete faith in the system: You will lose a pound of fat this week!
The week rolls around and youve gained weight.
Frustrated but determined, you buckle down and start exercising even more, you cut even more calories. Surely it will work this time! Youre doing everything right!
Once again, the week is up and the scale HASNT EVEN BUDGED! This is starting to get to you. All that work for nothing?!
At this point, the worst thing you can do is to keep decreasing calories. Your body is not a machine with precise inputs and outputs.
You cannot math your way through fat loss.
The fuel/calorie value of a food outside of the body is not quite the same as its value inside the body. Your body is very complex in the way it will use and obtain nutrients and is not mechanical. It is situational, individual, and unique.
Why is this significant when we are discussing stress eating, bingeing and restricting?
Because it usually cycles this way.
- People want to lose weight so they restrict calories
- Feelings of hunger and stress take over and willpower recedes, you binge
- You feel guilty and stressed. So, decide to double down and restrict calories even more
- Hunger hormones increase, weight loss does not necessarily occur, you binge again
- The cycle repeats itself
How To Stop Binge Eating When Stressed
Stress and binge eating is an endless cycle. On the one hand, we overeat to compensate for our anxiety and stress. Yet in doing so, we are left feeling guilty, anxious and more stressed than we were to begin with.
The truth is overeating doesnt fix stress, but causes it. So what can you do?
The first step to learning how to stop binge eating when stressed is to research the physiological effects of the foods that your crave .
For instance, by learning how long sugar highs last 18-36 minutes and taking into account the fact that it can take hours for your blood sugar to recover this information will help to gain you a new perspective. That being that sugar will only give you a brief high, before messing up your blood sugars and energy levels .
Similarly, by recognizing that excess sugar can lead to depression, anxiety and the jitters it will make you think twice.
Next, it is also helpful to remind yourself that when you overeat, it is NOT for comfort. For many of us, we seek out forms of sugar, starch, salts and oils because they basically give you doses of pleasure i.e. highs a little like drugs do to be honest.
And thats it! By bearing these two points in mind and learning more about the foods you eat and how they will impact on your body this will make you hesitant to overeat whilst stressed.
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Ways To Prevent Eating Disorders
Eating disorders and disordered eating are dangerous behaviors that hurt not only a persons health, but their self-esteem and self-worth as well. Its especially heartbreaking when eating disorders manifest at a young agethe overwhelming majority of people who have an eating disorder, more than 90%, are females between ages 12 and 25. That doesnt mean that males cant suffer from an eating disorder in fact, these disorders can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, race, or socioeconomic background. That is why eating disorder prevention is criticalif not treated promptly and properly, these disorders can have devastating effects.
There are several types of eating disorders, which each have their own characteristics and symptoms. With bulima nervosa, a person will binge eat uncontrollably and then follow that up with purging, intense exercise, or some other action to counterbalance the excessive eating. Binge eating is like bulima in terms of excessive food consumption, but there is no purging that follows it this disorder carries a high risk of obesity. Anorexia nervosa is almost the opposite of binging or bulimainstead of eating vast amounts of food, someone with anorexia will hardly eat at all. The goal might be a slender figure, but anorexia often leads to malnourishment, dangerously low weight and damage to the organs. Two lesser-known dysfunctional eating behaviors include rumination disorder and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder .
Food Is More Than Fuel
Weve all heard the old adage calories in, calories out. Weve been told thats the key to real weightloss. This is not false! However, so many people still dont believe this, and with good reason.
Note: the following is for people who binge due to restriction from dieting and denying themselves foods they love, not for people who binge without restrictionIll cover that further down!)
It seems that fat loss is much easier for some people than others.
There are a LOT of variables that can determine how quickly, easily, or permanently someone is able to achieve weight loss.
Calories in vs. calories out is a far too simple way of describing the complex mechanisms that the body possesses to deal with food energy.
The body is not a bank account and you cannot budget calories or assume that your body will respond exactly like a calculator.
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Behavioral Symptoms Of Binge Eating And Compulsive Overeating
- Inability to stop eating or control what youre eating.
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food.
- Eating even when youre full.
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret.
- Eating normally around others, but gorging when youre alone.
- Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes.
Bring Out Your Inner Chef
Some good things come along with being stuck at home. Not having the option to eat out at restaurants makes you cook more meals yourself, which has been shown to improve overall health.
For example, a study in 11,396 people found that eating home-cooked meals more frequently was associated with a greater intake of fruits and vegetables.
Plus, it found that people who ate home-cooked meals more than 5 times per week were 28% less likely to be overweight and 24% less likely to have excess body fat, compared with those who ate home-cooked meals less than 3 times per week .
Whats more, planning your meals a few days ahead can help you kill time and has even been shown to improve diet quality and reduce obesity risk (
To combat dehydration, add a few slices of fresh fruit to your water to boost its flavor, which may help you drink more water throughout the day without adding a significant amount of sugar or number of calories to your diet.
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Binge Eating Disorder According To The Dsm
The DSM-5 specifies diagnostic criteria that one must meet for a full diagnosis of a mental disorder. For BED, the following criteria are required for diagnosis:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time , an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
- A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode .
- Eating much more rapidly than normal.
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
Figure Out Why You Want To Stop Binge Eating
Here are my two lists, which were semi-helpful in helping me stop binging. When I made these lists I didnt realize how tightly interconnected binge eating and feeling out of control were. Thats why feeling out of control is way down towards the bottom of this list.
Bad Things About Binge Eating
How to Stop Binge Eating
I showed you mine now you show me yours! Im kidding, you dont have to show me anything. But I encourage you to make your own list of reasons of why you want to learn how to stop binge eating.
Then and this is the piece I missed 10 years ago when I was trying to stop binging focus on one or two of those reasons. Really dig into it!
For example, one reason I really wanted to learn how to stop binge eating was because of how gross I felt the rest of the day, as well as the day after. It was such a waste of time, energy, and resources.
Good Things About Not Binging and Purging
Heres my list of reasons I really wanted to stop binging:
Again, make your own list of reasons to stop binge eating. Then pick one or two reasons that stand out to you, and focus on them. Really examine and highlight them, and make them part of your life.
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How To Stop Binge Eating
First, you can employ the following basic tips: