In this article, I’m going to walk you through these 18 different strategies to help you get back on track after binge eating for a week.
How to get back on track after a binge week
Take positive actions as soon as possible
Put your binge into perspective
Focus on having a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset
Get right back to the habits that were working before your binged
Increase your physical activity
Wait to eat until you’re really good and hungry but not overly hungry
Drink more water
Address the root cause of your emotional or binge eating
Reflect back on what you were doing to lose weight, was it too restrictive?
Focus on more lean protein, fruits and vegetables for a few days while potentially decreasing fats and carbs slightly
Improve the quality and quantity of sleep
Slow down while eating and eat with focus on enjoying your foods in your day to day meals
Reaching out for professional help
Reach out for personal support
Avoid overcompensating by getting too strict with your diet
Avoid the scale for a couple of weeks or all together
Use the red light, yellow light, green light technique to help binge eating
Binge eating is a tricky mountain to climb.
One of the biggest keys for people trying to lose weight is figuring out how to get back on track after binge eating.
Look through these techniques and experiment to figure out how to get back on track after binge eating for a week.
#1 Take positive actions as soon as possible after binge eating
The reason I have this as the first item is that it’s incredibly important.
Binge eating has large emotional components to it.
By taking some sort of positive action it will start the process of getting into a better headspace around your most recent cycle of binge eating.
Even small steps can help you to feel like you’re making progress.
#2 Put your binge eating into perspective
In my experience, the biggest reason that people struggle with getting back on track after binge eating is due to the fact that they feel like they’ve “ruined everything” with their diet.
This often leads to people feeling large amounts of guilt or shame around the act of binge eating. Ironically, this often leads to even more binge eating.
Something that a lot of our clients find helpful is trying to remember that you can’t ruin everything from a binge eating episode.
It doesn’t matter if it is one meal, a weekend or even a full week of binge eating or longer.
Successfully losing weight is all about permanently changing your habits.
If you were losing weight and getting results you were making changes to your lifestyle.
If you were learning how to consistently follow through on those new habits and changes to your lifestyle before you binged then you haven’t lost that progress.
Try to keep perspective on the fact that binge eating was just a misstep on your weight loss journey, you didn’t ruin everything. This perspective will help you get back on track after binge eating.
I’ve been coaching people on how to lose weight for about a decade and a half and I have not coached a single client that doesn’t get off track with their diet.
Even the clients who have reached their weight loss goals and maintained those results for years still get off track with their diet and at times binge eat.
Getting off track with your diet is all part of the process of losing weight and living your life.
Try to keep this perspective in mind to avoid strong feelings of guilt and shame that can continue and prolong the binge eating cycle.
#3 Focusing on growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset
There is a psychological theory that explains two different types of mindsets that you can have.
Growth mindset is when you look at your ability to do something (skill level) as flexible and able to grow and evolve.
A fixed mindset means that you look at your ability to do something (skill level) as static. Essentially, either you’re good at something or you’re not.
At first, most of our clients have a hard time seeing how this relates to getting off track with your nutrition and binge eating.
But, in reality, eating is a set of skills.
Being able to stay on track with your diet is a series of skills.
Being able to get back on track with your diet is a series of skills.
Most people simply look at sticking to their diet as something you either “do” or you “don’t do.”
If you start changing your perspective and begin trying to learn from your experiences with binge eating you’re going to start building skills.
When you’re trying to figure out how to get back on track after a week of binge eating try to stop and identify why the binge occurred and what actions you need to take in the future to be able to make binging less likely to happen again in the future.
Also, pay attention to what works to help you get back on track with your nutrition.
You can learn more about growth vs. fixed mindset by watching this video.
#4 Get right back to the habits that were working
Prior to binging for a week (or however long you binged for) you were doing great.
Assuming you were happy with your progress and how things were going.
What were the habits you were doing in your day to day life that were producing the results you wanted?
Get right back to doing those habits as soon as possible after you’ve binged.
One of the biggest problems with binge eating and weight loss is most people take far too long to get back on track to the habits that were working for them prior to the binge.
Often, this is because people get lost in a negative cycle of beating themselves up for getting off track and then eating to help manage those feelings of guilt and shame around getting off track. This can be a very vicious cycle.
Try to break this cycle as quickly as possible and get right back to what was working.
#5 Increase physical activity
After a week of binge eating try to increase your physical activity. This will actually help in a couple of different ways.
First, it helps to burn more energy.
If you're expending more energy it will help you to get back into an energy debt and losing weight again.
Second, it helps you to get a release of dopamine.
After coming off a week of binge eating your body has gotten used to getting a release of dopamine on a regular basis.
To simplify, dopamine is a chemical the brain releases that make you feel good.
When eating sugary or foods your brain releases dopamine.
A lot of the pull people feel towards food following periods of binge eating is a result of your brain wanting dopamine to be released.
The good news is that there are other things you can do to get a release of dopamine.
Exercise and physical activity (especially outdoors) can trigger your brain to release dopamine.
Exercise can really help you get back on track after binge eating.
#6 Wait to eat until you’re really good and hungry but not overly hungry
This is a technique that is incredibly helpful coming off of shorter periods of binge eating such as one meal, day or weekend.
But, can also help with more prolonged periods such as binge eating for an entire week.
What I’d suggest doing coming off of a binge is to wait until you’re really good and hungry before eating again.
Important note, when doing this make sure you have a very nutritious meal that will have you feeling satisfied all ready prepared ahead of time.
Something that is higher in lean protein, veggies and some whole food source of smart carbs.
Although you want to wait until you’re really good and hungry to eat do not wait too long.
If you get overly hungry it will have a negative impact by making it harder to break the cycle of binge eating.
#7 Drink more water
Something that can help curb hunger is making sure you get enough water.
When coming off a period of binge eating your body will often make you feel incredibly hungry.
Try to make sure you’re drinking enough water to help manage your hunger levels.
Here is a rough guideline we use with clients to help them figure out if they’re getting enough water.
#8 Address the root cause of the binge eating
A huge percentage of people who are going through cycles of binge eating can track the root cause back to emotional eating.
If you are having challenges with emotional eating willpower will not be enough to help you push through this.
If someone is struggling with emotional eating they need to develop tools to help them manage this problem.
Here is a video on emotional eating if you’re looking for tools to help with this.
#9 Reflect and reassess the strategies you were using to lose weight
Often people wind up binge eating when they’re dieting because they’ve created too much restriction in their diet in an attempt to lose weight.
It’s a very common theme I’ve seen over the years working with clients.
It can be a perception of too much restriction in terms of food choices which leads to someone feeling like they are missing out on all of their favourite foods.
This leads to a strong desire to eat certain foods.
Someone can find just the smell of certain foods to be an overwhelming trigger.
When someone is in this state of having a strong desire to eat and they get a taste of one of their favourite foods this can be enough to start a massive binge.
Also, a person can become too restrictive on calories.
I’ve seen a trend of people restricting calories too low too quickly which physiologically leads to your body giving you stronger and stronger cravings for calorie-dense foods.
In time this leads to someone using all their willpower to stick to their diet.
Inevitably, in time the person cracks and goes off their diet.
Typically, this leads to a feeling like they’ve “ruined everything.”
If you’ve gone through a recent binge stop and take time to reflect.
Did you get too restrictive with your diet? Did this play a role in your binge eating?
Do you need to make adjustments this time around?
#10 Focus on more lean protein, fruits and vegetables
After coming off a binge you want to get a lot of nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories and keep you feeling satisfied.
I’d suggest focusing on what we call lean proteins as well as lots of different types of fruits and vegetables.
Here’s an article that helps you with how much lean protein you should eat per day.
Getting more nutrient-dense foods like lean protein, fruits and vegetables will help to get you back into an energy debt while keeping you feeling mentally and physically satisfied.
Some people will find it helpful to have a slight decrease in carbs and fats for a few days after a week of binging.
However, be very careful with this strategy because it can lead to binging again if you get too restrictive.
#11 Quality and quantity of sleep
A lot of people don’t realize that sleep has a massive impact on your hormones.
Specifically, poor quality of sleep or not enough quantity of sleep has been shown to impact your hormones that affect your hunger levels. (1)
Getting a poor night's sleep is one of the hidden causes of binge eating that most people are unaware of.
Focusing on your sleep patterns is one of the most effective ways to get back on track after binging.
#12 Slow down while eating
One of the major causes I’ve found with binge eating relates to a lack of satisfaction after meals.
I have found over the years that a lot of people aren’t feeling satisfied mentally or physically after their normal day to day meals.
In my experience, when people slow down and focusing on the texture, taste and experience of eating it helps them to have higher levels of satisfaction upon completion of their regular meals.
If you are having consistently higher levels of satisfaction after your typical meals it helps to put you in a better space mentally to avoid getting pulled into binge eating.
This is especially important when you’re indulging in your favourite foods.
Often, when people are eating foods they view as “bad’ foods they eat them quickly.
For example, people who love ice cream, chocolate, potato chips eat incredibly quickly when they’re indulging in these foods.
They’re eating these foods so quickly that they don’t get a chance to actually get full satisfaction mentally or physically until they’ve overeaten.
Try slowing down and being mindful when eating.
#13 Reaching out for professional help
This is something that can be really important if you are having a reoccuring problem with binge eating.
Struggles with emotional eating or binge eating can be incredibly challenging to sort through.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to get help from someone who is experienced in helping navigate challenges that go along with binge eating.
#14 Reach out for personal support
This piggybacks off of the last point.
Look towards the people closet to you in your life.
Is there someone you feel comfortable to reach out and talk to.
Often this can help to manage feelings of guilt or shame around periods of binge eating.
If there isn’t someone you feel comfortable talking to at this point a technique that helps some people is to sit down and journal about what they’re feeling.
The important thing is to find some outlet to get your feelings out in a safe productive way.
#15 Avoid the overcompensation trap
Often, when someone is trying to figure out how to get back on track after a week of binge eating they overcompensate by getting too strict with their diet.
As mentioned earlier in the article in strategies #9 and 10 you want to avoid getting too strict with your diet because this can lead to more binge eating.
#16 Avoid the scale for a couple of weeks….or longer
A lot of people should not weigh themselves.
It’s a problem that we have noticed where the scale can elicit strong emotional responses with many people.
If you are able to look at the number on the scale simply as data with no strong emotional response to your weight going up and down you’re probably safe to weigh yourself.
On the other hand, if you find that your entire day can be positive or negative depending on the number on the scale. Then you are probably will be best served by not weighing yourself.
Many people are triggered to binge eat when they don’t get the results they expect on the scale.
So avoiding the scale often helps people get on track with your nutrition.
#17 Use the red light, yellow light, green light technique to help binge eating
One technique that we have found helpful over the years is something I learned doing some of my education through Precision Nutrition. It’s a technique called, red light, yellow light, green light foods.
It’s a very simple, but powerful technique to help people get back on track after binge eating.
If you would like to learn more about this technique I walk you through it in this article here or you can watch the video below.
How to Get Back on Track After a Week of Binge Eating Wrap Up
Getting on track after binge eating is tough.
But, as I talked about earlier it is a skill and you can get better at the process of figuring out how to get back on track after a week of binge eating.
The most important thing to understand is that different things work well for different people when it comes to binge eating.
Different strategies can work well for you at different times. What I suggest is to look at it as a science experiment.
Try different things from this list and see what works best for you!
And most important cut yourself a break, it’s really challenging learning to manage binge eating.