Binge Eating at the Airport Binge eating and binge drinking at the airport is extremely common. Long airport layovers are recipes for compulsive behavior because:

  • Traveling is stressful and binge eating is a stress relief
  • You are bored and it’s a way to fight boredom
  • Although you are traveling among several thousands of people, if you are traveling  alone, you are in a city where nobody knows you and this can feel very isolated and anonymous and secretive.
  • There is a bounty of fast foods and “forbidden foods” in relatively small radius.
  • You can secretly slip away from your travel companion and have a quick and secret binge. 

Long, multi-hour layovers are rough,  but there are many other things that you can do besides binge eat before a long flight.

1.)Make sure that you have a plan.

2.)Figure out how to get your three meals in that day without restricting or bingeing. Know that because you have a long day of flying ahead of you that you need to prepare with snacks. Have a full meal before you get on the plane (breakfast), or if it’s too early, make sure that you bring snacks on the plane. I like to bring nuts and Lara bars. There is also often an option to buy food on the plane.

3.)When you get to the airport, actually have a meal there. You will need to eat lunch anyway, so find a place that you feel comfortable getting a meal at, and have a sit down meal. Eat something that feels safe. Being in a challenging situation is probably not the right time to be challenging yourself with trigger foods.  Eat it slowly and mindfully.

4.)Let some people know that you will have a long layover and that it’s a good time to chat and catch up. You might have some safe people who you call who know that you are afraid of bingeing at the airport, so you might want to “bookend” your arrival and departure with them.  “Bookending” is calling someone at the beginning of a challenging situation where you think you might binge, and then calling them at the end of the situation. Knowing that someone is there supporting you can help keep you safe.

5.)Find out of this airport has any fun amenities before you go, such as a place to get your nails done or to get a massage and plan on that for your layover.

6.)Bring (or buy!) an awesome book to read. Camp out and read somewhere away from the food court.

7.)Make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout your layover. It’s important to stay hydrated and it will keep you doing something with your mouth.

8.)Bring something to do with your hands like knitting or beading or sketching.

9.)Bring some movies to watch on your computer or ipad or portable dvd player.

10.)Decide that you’re going to explore all the different terminals. O’Hare is huge. And you’ll even get a little exercise in.

11.)Remember that  cinnabon, pizzeria uno, starbucks, taco bell, tcby, chili’s, et al. will always exist and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and just because you are in the airport, it’s not your last opportunity to eat at them. You can always make that choice when you are empowered to, not when they are seducing you by keeping you a captive audience.

12.)Peruse the bookstore, thumb through magazines, be a window shopper. There are lots of different and fun stores in the airport where you can just look and not have to buy.

13.)Do some personal grooming so that you feel more comfortable after your long flight and before going on another long flight. Brush your teeth, wash your face, brush your hair, try to freshen up a bit. It will generally pull you out of the binge trance.

14.) Remind yourself that sitting through a flight after a binge is no fun and arriving at your destination feeling bloated and uncomfortable will be a hard start to your vacation. 

Take good care of yourself and Happy Holidays!!!!!!!!!

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  • sunshine

    Hi! I have a question, please~

    What is your take on Weight Watchers? I just am confused what to do, when it comes to eating. Should I count calories, join Weight watchers or what? I do stuggle daily with binge eating. I get so mad at myself for doing it. But I just don’t stop. I am going to download your meditation tapes also. I am female, 5’6 and weight 270#. UUGH!

    Sometimes I think I overeat because I don’t get the attention I want from my husband. He doesn’t sleep in bed with me anymore because of my snoring. That really hurts me. We rarely are intimate because I believe he is not that attracted to my body and I guess I can’t blame him. Please help me, I don’t know what to do. I sure wish I had your book to read right about now!! Thanks so much!

  • Leora Fulvio

    Hi Sunshine,
    That’s a good question. I did some research on Weight Watchers, and though I don’t think that dieting and calorie counting is a good idea, I think that Weight Watchers has evolved into a really solid lifestyle support program. Neither plan is restrictive, but the Simply Filling plan advocates whole foods with additional treats. The points plus plan is a bit more calorie counting. The new 360 plan is a lot of planning, tracking, and some mindfulness based approaches. Danica from Danica’s Daily sums is up. Along with the support you will get from inperson meetings or online forums, it doesn’t seem like a bad move to me.

    I’m sorry to hear about your relationship. That’s rough. I can see why you would feel very hurt and rejected by his behaviors. I understand why you would turn to food out of loneliness. I think that you mentioned in another post that the two of you were thinking about doing couples counseling. Have you begun that yet? You might look for some support outside of your relationship (ie: friends or support group) to help you find some solidity so that you’re not pushed to food when you feel alone.

    Please keep me updated and happy holidays.

  • sunshine

    Thanks you! Thank you ! for your reply!! I sure appreciate it more than you know! I definately will keep you updated. I sure appreciate you! Happy Holidays!

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