I have a bit of a binge eating problem. What are some strategies for times when I really want to snack, but know that I shouldn't? How can I avoid it? I'm feeling helpless.
The reality is:
this is a topic that deserves far more detail than can be presented here, but a few basic truths can get you started.
1) The desire to eat is often some other need, not actually hunger. We live in a culture raised on instant gratification and food is now used as a source of distraction when stressed, anxious or fearful, blind routine when studying or watching TV and sports, diversion when bored and there is nothing else to do, reward when we think we "deserve" it because of how hard things are, and comfort when we are lonely, sad, or depressed. It is always a good idea to take time to figure out what it is you really want, not just what you think you want at that moment because it is habit. It is almost never because you truly are hungry.
2) Don't make snacking "easy"-- it should take work to consume calories. Don't have ice cream in the freezer, cookies on the shelf, candy in the desk drawer. You bought it, you put it there, you'll eat it. So don't buy it to begin with. Prior to sixty years ago, there really was no such thing as processed packaged food that sat in the cupboard or icebox waiting to be consumed without any effort at all. Even the most basic snack took work to either physically go purchase, or prepare, so expending calories were involved in consuming calories.
3) Always try drinking a glass or bottle of water first--to put something in your stomach and wait 20 minutes to see if the feeling of needing to eat passes. Flavor the water with fresh lemon or orange slices so it feels like more than water. Don't drink soda, not even the 0 calorie stuff. Eating/drinking sweetness creates a chemical cascade of thinking you want more.
4) If you are absolutely going to snack, then snack wisely. If you need the binge, then binge on carrot sticks and fresh pea pods so you are consuming more fiber than calories. If you can control the quantity but need a healthy snack that will stay with you metabolically, then a handful of nuts works well.
5) Meet with a dietician to find some other reasonable approaches that work well for you.