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How many of you can finish a whole pack of chips or a bowl of popcorn while binge-watching on Netflix without even realizing it? For many people, it is a perfect way to unwind after a hectic day. Binge-watching not only affects our sleep pattern, eye health, or mental health but also our eating habits. It often leads to mindless Binge-eating or overeating.

Not only while watching, but there are other reasons also why one may binge eat. We often tend to eat more when we are happy or sad. This is called emotional binge-eating.

For some, it is a way to reduce their anxiety. While celebrating an occasion, we sometimes overeat our favorite foods. Similarly, some people often turn to their ‘comfort foods’ when stressed in order to cope with it.

Food cues and food cravings

Sometimes people get an urge to eat a certain food by the smell or an image of it or a TV advertisement of it. These are called food cues. They can appear in the form of food cravings or salivation. Eventually, it can lead to eating calorie-dense foods even when the stomach is full and hence, increase the risk of obesity.

Why do we get food cravings?

These cravings develop due to reasons such as:

  • Eating an unbalanced diet or a diet lacking in essential nutrients
  • Having longer gaps between meals
  • No physical activity
  • Hormonal imbalance in the body
  • Erratic sleep schedule
  • Taking too much stress

Generally, people crave or binge on high-calorie or unhealthy foods only. This is because when our body doesn’t get the proper nutrition from a balanced diet, it requires energy to work. So, for instant energy, we tend to eat sugary or high-calorie foods. Also, when the hormones that control our hunger are imbalanced due to an improper sleep routine or stress, it increases our hunger and we tend to overeat.

Binging on food once in a while is okay, but it becomes a habit, then it can lead to many health problems. Such as:

  • Feeling guilty after eating a large portion of an unhealthy food
  • It can lead to overweight and obesity
  • It can lead to a psychological condition known as Binge-eating disorder. It includes frequently eating large portions, not being able to control portions and then feeling guilty.

So, what can be done?

Here are some tips in order to prevent ourselves from binge-eating:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Include all the food groups.
  • Do not follow any fad or crash diets
  • Have small and frequent meals throughout the day. Don’t skip breakfast
  • Have adequate protein and fibre in our diet as it provides a feeling of fullness
  • Practice mindfulness i.e, paying attention to what we are eating
  • Remove all kinds of processed food from our diet and our kitchen.
  • Stay hydrated and have at least 8-10 glasses of water
  • Be physically active.
  • Learn to manage stress by doing any activity that you enjoy like listening to music, gardening, yoga or meditation
  • Keep a food and mood journal. We can write what food triggers us and the cause behind it.
  • Get adequate sleep and sleep on time.
  • Get social support like someone to talk to.
  • If needed, seek professional help

Mindful Eating

Mindfulness is a way to build a connection with the food we eat. Practicing mindfulness will help us have control over what and how much we eat. Mindful eating means making conscious food choices, developing an awareness of physical or psychological hunger and satiety cues, and responding in a healthy manner.

Some ways to eat mindfully:

  • Engaging allour 5 Senses while having a meal
  • Eliminating Distractions i.e, not eating while watching Tv or mobile
  • Listening to our gut
  • Reducing our eating rate
  • Appreciating our cuisines and traditional food culture

Hence, once in a while eating something while watching is fine. But when it becomes a habit, then it can create problems. Even when we want to snack on something, we should avoid processed packaged foods or sugary bakery products.

Here are some healthy snacking options:

  • Dry fruits and nuts. We can make date and nut bars, dry fruit ladoos, etc
  • Raosted chana or makhana chaat
  • Sprouts
  • Unsalted homemade popcorn (not instant ones like Act2)
  • Fruits or fruit chaat
  • Homemade fruit yoghurt or smoothies

In conclusion, there has to be a balance; both mentally and physically. We should not let our moods or feelings get in the way of what and how much we eat. Hunger and satiety should be the only signals. And for those to work, our exercise pattern, sleep schedule and stress should be in control.

Hence, in order to avoid food cravings and binge-eating due to any reason, eating a healthy balanced diet along with being physically active is the way.

For customized healthy diet plans,

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