I’ll begin with the answer to the question I have posed: No.
Everyone binges once in a while. You know how it is—one potato chip leads to another, and then another… Afterward, when the calorie count has shot through the roof and you are feeling stuffed as a turkey, the guilt pangs hit. Hard.
Should they? Not always.
First, remember, you are not alone—almost everyone on the planet overeats once in a while. And it is perfectly normal to feel ashamed and depressed afterward. The important thing is to keep the indulgence in perspective, and not be harsh on yourself. Clinical psychologist Nancy Molitor, PhD, public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association, says,”When you turn on yourself, it’s not the food, it’s you that you’re battling. Admit you overdid it and be honest, but recognize that you’re human.”
More good news: one day of indulging in your favorite foods does not cause long-term weight gain. To gain one pound of fat, you must eat 3,500 calories in addition to your normal daily calorie intake. And to officially be clubbed as someone with “binge eating disorder,” a person would have to overeat at least twice a week for six months.
An easy way to feel better after a binge eating session is to exercise. The increase in activity will speed up your metabolism, burning off the calories accumulated.
Another effective anti-bingeing strategy: don‘t skip breakfast. Cynthia Bulik, PhD, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program and the author of a new book, Crave: Why You Binge Eat and How to Stop, says, “Extending the fasting period from the night before intensifies hunger later in the day, making it more likely that they’ll overeat and justify it by telling themselves, “It’s okay; I skipped breakfast.”
On my part, I have observed that a cheat day or a binge meal can actually help me stave off my cravings for a long time. The guilt I feel afterward lingers in memory, keeping my hands firmly in the pocket when a slice of cake or a bag of French fries beckons.