Stopping a Binge with Music

By Robyn Priebe on 12/29/2010
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I spent time at my parents’ home this past weekend for Christmas and the stereo was basically on 24/7.  Music is so important in our family; we are all huge fans and it brings us a lot of joy.  Whether it was watching musicals like Camelot, dancing around the house to the Black Keys, stifting through my father’s 33s to listen to on the record player he still owns, or pulling up random songs on YouTube to sing along with, something music-related was always going on.  Music does such an amazing job of changing one’s mood.  Interestingly enough, a strategy we discuss in one of the binge eating classes at our all women’s health spa and fitness resort, (we’re not one of those adult fat camps or fat farms!)  is to use music to help stop binge eating.

This strategy comes from Dr. Christopher Fairburn’s book Overcoming Binge Eating. While the book didn’t mention specific music that was helpful, I’m certain most people could think of music that would work for them. As someone who used to struggle with binge eating, I could honestly say bingeing wouldn’t have “worked” for me if there was some classical music on in the background. Binge eating is usually anything but calm and relaxing, and to me, that’s how classical music makes me feel, calm and relaxed.
As odd as this strategy may sound to some, I always suggest trying something first before deciding if it does or doesn’t work for you. If you struggle with binge eating, try using music proactively to change your mental state. Don’t wait until you are at your breaking point and incredibly focused on the urge to eat. Instead, consider your problem times or “hot spots” that trigger binges. If you find yourself making a bee line for the kitchen as soon as you get home from work, develop a habit of heading directly to the stereo, or better yet, listen to specific music on your commute home. If work-day stress is a trigger for afternoon eating at your desk, try listening to a favorite Pandora station while you do your afternoon work.
In the end, if this isn’t the strategy that works for you, what have you lost? If it does help catalyze a change, then great! What music could you see being helpful in lifting your spirits and improving your mood? Are there certain situations when/where you are more likely to binge, if so, how could you experiment with using music during these times?

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