I have binge-eating disorder. Here are 5 things that allowed me to stop letting it ruin my goals.

iStockIt took decades for me to realise I had a binge-eating disorder.
  • My binge-eating disorder led me to consume excess calories and weigh more than 300 pounds.
  • To stop binge eating, I started counting calories and cooking my meals at home.
  • I found it helpful to not have junk food in the house and to find healthy distractions.
  • Visit INSIDER.com for more stories.

Editor’s note: this post contains information that could be triggering to those with binge-eating disorder.

It took decades of being seriously overweight for me to finally face the fact that I was – and to some extent, still am, – a binge eater. The disorder led to me consume thousands of excess calories I never burned off and by my early 30s, I weighed more than 300 pounds. Not only that, but I was pre-diabetic, had high blood pressure, and was on the verge of some serious weight-related health problems if I didn’t get my act together.

I was tired of letting food control me instead of it being the other way around, so I made a concerted effort to overcome my compulsion to binge. Over the past year, I’ve lost more than 130 pounds and have only binged a couple of times. It’s an ongoing process, but here’s what helped me the most.

It’s worth noting before I start that everyone’s body and mental health is different. While these tips worked for me, they may not work for you. Even if they do, if you’re experiencing binge-eating disorder, talking to your doctor and/or a therapist can be an important step.

I cooked all of my own meals

CookingDavid Silverman / ContributorCooking my own meals allowed me to make filling and nutritionally dense meals.

This one is major. There was no bigger trigger for me than eating outside of the house when it came to binge-eating. The unlimited quantity of food at fast-food joints or even the bodega made it way too easy to overindulge and I did so frequently. Shifting to cooking all of my own meals not only allowed me to prepare recipes with calorie counts I could plainly see and account for but also helped me stick to portion control.

Also, since the recipes I was making were healthier and more nutritionally dense, I was less likely to want to binge on them anyway.

I started tracking what I ate

When my binge eating was at its worst, there was no way I was paying attention to calories in any form. It was no surprise, then, that at my heaviest, I weighed 335 pounds. I didn’t think twice about eating an entire box of macaroni and cheese by myself or even 20-piece nuggets meal.

Once I decided to start getting my bingeing and my weight under control, I started tracking my food in MyFitnessPal religiously. Doing so gave me a clear picture of my daily intake and while it didn’t necessarily make the urges to binge disappear, it did make it easier to resist them if I could see how much I’d already consumed on a given day.

This is, of course, my personal experience, and for some, food tracking and restricting calories can be triggering and actually cause more bingeing. If this is something you’re interested in, it’s worth talking to your healthcare provider about what type of plan may work best for you.

Read more:Researchers compared 5 popular apps for calorie-counting, and the winner is clear

I stopped keeping triggering food in the house

This is perhaps the most obvious move but it was definitely one of the most helpful. If there was junk food in the house, I was going to end up eating it – all of it, and likely in one sitting. Whether it was chips, cookies, or even oven fries in the freezer, I was unable to control myself for very long around this type of food. Removing it from my fridge/freezer and my kitchen cupboards took away much of the temptation and pretty much all of my ability to black out and go on a calorie spree.

Of course, I could always go to the store to buy stuff if I was feeling desperate, but keeping it out of my house created a barrier.

I found other distractions and got more mindful about my eating habits

Reading in bedflickr/seth sawyersI turned toward distractions — like reading a book — to stop me from binge eating (author not pictured).

When I had the urge to binge, I started being more present in the feeling and tried to determine where that urge was coming from. Was I actually hungry or was I just bored, stressed, or otherwise emotionally off-kilter?

Although thinking logically alone isn’t enough to overcome binge-eating disorder, it really helped me to focus and center myself when I was preparing to binge. I could then distract myself with something else, be it reading a book, taking the dog for a walk, or switching on some music for a while. The more I did this, the easier it got to overcome my impulses to binge.

I cut myself some slack

At the end of the day, binge eating is a compulsion that will likely always be there in my life in some form. Though I can happily say that I experience the urge to do so pretty rarely and a relapse into giving in even less frequently, I know I will always have to remain vigilant if I want to keep beating it.

When I do happen to fall back into old habits, the best thing I’ve found is to give myself a break. I’m only human and I don’t need to be perfect. Giving myself room to make mistakes and realising they’re not the end of the world has been a great help in allowing me to overcome my tendency to binge.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call NEDA’s Helpline (1-800-931-2237) on weekdays for support, resources, and information about treatment options. In crisis situations, NEDA offers 24/7 support – just text “NEDA” to 741-741.

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