Binge Eating Therapy

Bingeing in the Car

out of timeCar binges are super common for people dealing with binge eating disorder. I’ve heard many stories of people intentionally car bingeing, by going from takeout restaurant to takeout restaurant and planning their day or evenings around their binges, to more unintentional binges, like picking up groceries and bingeing on them on the way home.

Bingeing while driving  is of course dangerous as your attention is not focused on the road. In fact, according to a 2009 study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 80% of all car accidents and 65% of near misses are caused by distracted drivers– which includes people driving and eating.

Besides it being dangerous for you and those around you, it’s also a way for you to mindlessly consume food without even noticing what your doing. Often people have a car binge and barely remember it. They were practically hypnotized by the binge. They come home feeling dazed, tired, and overwhelmed by the binge.  Create some boundaries for yourself around food and your car to prevent car binges.

1.)Make a vow that you will never, ever eat while driving. If you are hungry and need to stop for food, actually stop for food and eat it sitting down at a table.

2.)When you go food shopping, pack all your groceries in the trunk.

3.)If you get takeout, put it all the way in the back seat where you cannot reach it while you are driving.

4.)Get your car washed and cleaned and be sure to make it a no food zone. You will feel more comfortable in your car.

The other very common car binge that many of my clients have reported engaging in involves driving to the store, buying binge foods and bingeing alone in your car in the parking lot of a store or alone in a deserted area.

If your car is an inherently unsafe place, if it is the place that brings you to and from binges, it might be a good idea to make it into a safe place.

1.)Put reminders like post it notes or even little symbols that you alone will understand the meaning of.  Your notes can say something like, “call someone” or “consider the alternatives,” “drive somewhere peaceful…”

2.)It’s challenging to stop a binge when you’ve begun it, and even the act of getting into your car and being on the way to the grocery store feels like you’ve already begun the binge. However, you haven’t. Just because you made the decision to binge doesn’t mean that you have to. You can always just drive your car around the block a few times to calm down or to a movie theater, or the beach or a lake or someplace calming.

3.)Again, create a boundary around eating in the car. At this point, you won’t be able to binge in the parking lot, you’ll have to bring the food home. Once you get home with it, you can make the choice more easily. Often with car binges, there can be a ritual of polishing off the whole (pint of b&Js, bag of chips, box of cookies) thing  before you drive home. Once you bring the binge food into your home, you can still make the decision to have a serving and put the rest away and relax with a movie, bath or good book.

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