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How I Bounced Back from a Binge Eating Episode

Recover from a Binge Eating Slip Up

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It always starts out innocently: "I'll just have one," you say to yourself as you salivate over the package of cookies. Before you know it, you've scarfed down the whole bag. We know it's hard, but try not to beat yourself up. On any weight loss journey, the occasional binge is inevitable—especially this time of year, when it feels like Aunt Susie's potato bake is lingering around every corner.

Indulging every once in a while is OK, even healthy. After all, you don't want to deprive yourself of your favorite foods. But don't allow a slip-up to turn into a major slide. Instead, take inspiration from these women. Between the seven of them, they've lost 540 pounds—and they're sharing their post-binge strategies to get back on track. (Psst... Count This Instead of Calories to Lose Weight In 4 Weeks.)

Photo: Corbis Images

Identify the Physical Symptoms

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For 34-year-old Emily Ho, identifying the physical symptoms she experiences after overindulging is the key to maintaining her 100-pound weight loss success. Instead of shaming herself for giving into trigger foods like pizza and potato chips, the Lexington, KY resident knows bloating, lethargy, and aches are signs that she needs to clean up her diet. (Try our Post Pig-Out Plan to clean up your diet.)

"Paying attention to how my body feels afterward is a strong indicator that kicks in faster for me than shame or reflecting on the amounts I've eaten," says Ho, who blogs about her body-positive, health-over-scale approach at Authentically Emmy. She relies on those feelings to prevent future binges, and if she still can't kick a craving that she worries might lead to overeating? "I'll look up a new recipe to try that I can get excited about as an alternative," she says.

Photo: Emily Ho

Ditch the Junk Food and Move On

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"The mental game around weight loss is the hardest part of it all," says Mary Thompson of Memphis, TN. When she began her weight loss journey, the 29-year-old quickly identified her sweet tooth trigger. Thompson, who has lost 60 pounds, has since learned to keep candy, cakes, and sweet cereals out of the house to prevent binges.

But while the A Merry Life blogger can control what's in her own pantry, those triggers may still crop up at parties or at work. When she does momentarily fall off the wagon in her eating plan, she doesn't allow it to turn into a binge. "It's easy to get into an all or nothing mentality, where overeating at one meal leads you down a path of thinking you've failed, and you continue to binge and eat poorly," she says. Her get-back-on-track plan of attack involves accepting that the binge happened, then simply moving on.

Photo: Mary Thompson

Get on the Scale Right Away

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Before Tammy Kresge started tracking her food, the 40-year-old from Buffalo, NY thought she was a healthy eater. It wasn't until she downloaded MyFitnessPal that she realized how much she was overeating.

Food journaling has since become part of a routine that has kept Kresge on track throughout her 40-pound weight loss, which she documents at Organize Yourself Skinny. But "as long as there is chocolate, there will be setbacks," she says. So when an overindulgence of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups occurs, the first thing she does is hop on the scale. "It helps keep me accountable," Kresge says. "I can't argue with numbers." (Just Don't Let the Scale Wreck Your Self Esteem! 4 Rules for Weighing Yourself.)

Photo: Tammy Kresge

Go Back to Basics

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Binging does not define a weight loss journey, but the actions that follow certainly do in Jackie Nagle's experience. The 26-year-old from Sewell, NJ lost 80 pounds, and now that she's gained some of it back over the last year and half, she's returned to the basic habits that first spurred her weight loss success: avoiding convenience stores; ditching restaurants that tout her trigger foods, like a Reuben sandwich and French fries; and sticking to the perimeter of grocery stores, out of reach from the junk food that lines the aisles. (Just don't forget about the Healthy Food You'll Only Find Inside the Supermarket Aisles.)

"If you want to lose weight, you have to stay away from the source at first," says Nagle, who writes about her experience at Fatso: A Weight Loss Blog.

Photo: Jackie Nagle

Be Honest with Your Tracking

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Honesty is one habit that has helped Katie Foster lose 115 pounds. She's well aware of her struggle to control portions, especially with favorites like ice cream, graham crackers, and cookies (which makes sense when you hear the name of her blog: Runs for Cookies), so she doesn't keep those items in the house.

But that doesn't necessarily stop her cravings—or overindulgences. When the 33-year-old from Newport, MI has one too many treats, she doesn't make any excuses. "I track my food, even when I overindulge," she says, "and by logging it, I don't feel quite so guilty." (P.S. Here's How to Make Food Journaling Work for You.)

Photo: Katie Foster

Remember Why You Started

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Chelsea Bridenstine of St. Louis Park, MN lost 75 pounds by drinking tons of water, smart snacking, and making time for at least an hour of exercise every day. But she knew from the start of her health journey that depriving herself of her favorite treats—"anything chocolate!"—would set unrealistic expectations.

But just like her carefully crafted plan to lose weight, she's also prepared to get back on track when a binge rears its head. She reminds herself of her motivators. "Why am I doing this? What are my goals? How will I feel at my goal weight?" she says. "Being reminded daily about things that motivate me—fitting into clothes better; buying new, smaller clothes; not feeling tired when I walk up stairs—gives me that boost of confidence that one binge isn't going to take power over me or derail me from my ultimate goals."

Photo: Chelsea Bridenstine

Find the Healthy In Every Day

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If there's one thing Kelly Guy has a hard time saying "no" to, it's cake. That's where the inspiration for her blog, No Thanks to Cake, came from. But she doesn't expect herself to be perfect. The 38-year-old from Denver, CO knows there will be moments of weakness, but it was her ability to make each day healthier—and not let a binge take control—that spurred her 70-pound weight loss.

"There are moments in every week where I could have done better, but I try not to dwell on it," she says. Instead, each morning is a new opportunity for her to make time for her yoga mat, avoid the chocolate brownies in the break room at work, and challenge herself to find healthy versions of her guilty pleasures. "Staying positive and allowing myself to hit that reset button over and over again has been the secret to my success for the past five years," she says. "I'm sticking to it."

Photo: Kelly Guy

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