Of all the behaviours associated with being overweight, or having an Eating Disorder, Binge Eating Disorder is perhaps the most complex and hardest to tackle by clients.  I won’t go into the underlying factors of bingeing here in any great detail, it is enough to say that it is a form of Emotional Eating, and an activity you do in order to comfort yourself or ‘self-soothe’, or to distract yourself from something that is more difficult to think about or deal with. 

The CBT based Delay, Distract, Decide tool is a useful strategy to use if you want to begin cutting down on your bingeing episodes.

When you feel the urge to binge coming on, many clients report going into a sort of fog, or disassociated state, where the urge to binge overtakes them, and it then has to ‘play itself out’ – so the feeling is one of not really being in control of the action when it’s actually happening.

When you can feel yourself moving towards a binge, before that urge completely overtakes you, stop and use this tool.

Delay Distract Decide Worksheet


The principle behind this tool is that an urge to do something, for example  binge, have a drink, smoke, etc, actually only lasts several minutes.  If you can distract yourself for say, 15 minutes by doing something else, the urge can pass and you can avoid engaging in the behaviour.

I tell clients when using this tool that if you still want to binge after setting your alarm for 15 minutes, then go ahead.  It’s not about succeeding or failing in avoiding bingeing, it’s about trying to find different ways that work for you.  So please treat it as a trial and error strategy, which is not always going to work, and that’s ok.

The other strength of using this strategy is that if you decide after your 15 minute delay to binge anyway, then you have made a conscious decision to do so, and are not doing it from that more usual, “unaware” state that you might normally experience.  This will help to raise your awareness of bingeing and can help you stop and think about WHY you are bingeing, which is a more empowering place to be.

If you need any suggestions around distracting activities, here is a nice chart you can refer to, and I’d recommend printing off several copies of the Delay, Distract, Decide worksheet so you have them to hand when you need them.

Change Panda’s  psychotherapist-designed confidential Feeling Focused™ program for Emotional and Binge Eating incorporates multiple exercises and tools, including CBT methods, into the program sessions which are easily accessed online in a time and place that is comfortable and private for you.

This program can help you address and begin to change the relationship between your feelings and emotions, and food. You can get back into control.

Take a look at our award-winning program here… http://www.changepanda.com/our-program/