September 25, 2019

Quitting Binge Eating: 6 (Fresh) Activity Ideas That Helped Me To Stop Bingeing

6 Fresh Activity Ideas That Helped Me To Stop Binge Eating

As you all know, my weight is up quite a bit from my goal--I've been hanging out in the mid-160's for several months. I'd love to get my weight back down to where I feel comfortable (about 145 is the maximum I'd like to be; when my weight gets higher than that, I start to feel the negative effects).

However, despite the semi-recent weight gain, I've stopped binge eating. I don't know exactly how long it's been, but I literally can't remember my last binge. I've certainly eaten more than "normal" occasionally, and portion control is an issue sometimes; but I've not had an actual binge in a very long time.

Over the years, I've learned to use new activities to help me stop binge eating (both when I was losing the weight in 2009-2010 and currently). I hate reading these types of lists, because they normally are very typical--each list is the same: go for a walk, read a book, call a friend, take a bath, etc. Those things rarely appeal to me! So I hope my list is a bit more unique.

Here are some things that I found useful in keeping my hands and/or mind busy:

1) Playing solitaire with a real deck of cards. 

I like using actual physical cards to play solitaire, especially when playing my favorite game, Grandma's Game. There are some games I play on my iPad, but I absolutely LOVE that particular game--so much so that I actually made a video for my blog about how to play it. I didn't know the name of it for about two decades! My mom taught me when I was little, and I loved it right away. I've only won once in my life.

Anyway, the benefit to using a real deck of cards (or two decks, in my case) is that it keeps your hands busy. You don't want to get food on the cards, obviously, so eating + solitaire = mess.


2) Completing projects around the house (and learning new skills in the process).

As you know, this has been my latest pastime that I just can't get enough of! While making over my entire house (DIY-style), I learned SO many new skills--drywalling, painting, cutting and installing trim, making my own countertops, installing new doors, building custom shelves, and lots more.

I discovered that I love painting (furniture, trim, doors--anything other than walls). There are very few things left in my house that haven't been painted recently, haha. A fresh coat of paint makes a huge difference in how something looks, but it also keeps my hands busy. I like to put on a good true crime podcast and take my time painting. (My current favorites are Morbid and True Crime All The Time)

I also learned that I love woodworking. This is my new favorite hobby. I learn more each time I make a project, and I'm getting better at it every time. I discovered power tools that I'd never used before and now those are pretty much my favorite things that I own. I would choose a trip to Lowe's over a mani/pedi at the salon any day!

It can be an expensive hobby, so I am limited as to how much I can do. I also have a small car, so transporting materials isn't easy--the maximum board length that I can fit is 8 feet; and sheets of plywood have to be cut down at Lowe's. Anyway, once I get started on a woodworking project, I don't want to stop for anything--I hate leaving projects half-finished. Even if I am starving, I would rather skip a meal than quit in the middle of a woodworking project.

The past couple of days, I've been working on a set of steps for my side door. We had a small porch there, but it was a waste of space because we rarely use that door; not to mention that the wood was starting to rot and it was in really bad shape. I'll post photos of that soon.

Another household project that I loved working on was replacing the trim along the floor and the casings around the doors and windows. There are several windows and doorways that I haven't done yet (again, it's an expense), but when I do them, I love the process of measuring and then cutting with my miter saw (that I bought used on Facebook Marketplace for cheap!). And then using my Paslode (again, Facebook Marketplace) is embarrassingly exciting for me, hahaha.

building a kitchen island

3) Organizing a drawer or closet.

If you're not into organizing, this obviously isn't for you; but I absolutely love the result of taking something that is very messy and making it very neat. It's super satisfying! It's also not something that I can do while eating, and it makes me want to continue until it's finished.

If you're unsure where to start, I'd start by going through your closet and finding clothes to donate. For me, this takes up a lot of time and energy because I try on almost everything as I decide whether or not to keep it. After reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was inspired to reorganize my clothes and to ditch 95% of my clothes hangers.

It truly was "life changing". The day I organized my clothes (including socks and underwear) into neat folds, I haven't had a messy drawer since! It's very easy to keep up with once it's done. The original process was a HUGE project, but I found it fun to work on and again--it kept me from binge eating.

folded clothes

4) Making my own recipe book.

This was a long project, and always ongoing. First, I created a Pages/Word template so that all I had to do was fill in the boxes with recipe name, ingredients, and directions. Then, I gathered all the recipes that I used frequently or were family favorites and I typed them into the template. After that, I printed them, put them into page sleeves, and organized them in a 3-ring binder.

I use it all the time when meal planning and cooking. (Actually, I will include the template below, in case anyone wants to use it! You may want to change the font to your own liking and save the template as your own, so you don't have to change the font for each recipe.)

This project was very helpful in two ways--one, I kept myself very occupied by initially making the book. It took several weeks of working on it for a couple of hours here and there. Also, as I mentioned, it's super helpful in everyday life! When I need meal ideas or when I'm making a grocery list, I don't have to find each recipe on my computer or search through cookbooks. I just pull out my binder. Occasionally, when I make something new and we enjoy it, I'll add it to the book.

Recipe templates: Here is the template to type in and print recipes. Just save it to your computer as a template.

recipe book

5) Organizing photos on my computer. 

At this moment, I have over 30,000 photos on my computer. It's insane! Since I wanted digital copies of all of my photos, I started by either scanning or taking photos of the photos I had copies of. Obviously, taking photos of photos isn't ideal, but it's certainly more than adequate. You can't even tell that it's not the original on most of them.

After all photos were digital, I saved them to a folder on my computer from every source I had (flash drives, external hard drive, my phone, etc). Once they were all on my computer, I put them in a folder and saved them all to my external hard drive (just in case something should happen to my computer, I have a back-up).

Then, I started to go through them and change the dates on the ones that I'd scanned in (otherwise, the date on the photo will be the date you scan it rather than the date it was taken). To do this, I used a very cool app called ShootShifter that allows you to organize photos in a folder. On ShootShifter, you can drag photos to the order that you want and correct the dates, filenames, and other things. This is my favorite app for correcting dates/times, because all you have to do is drag the photos in the order you want, and it will automatically correct the dates based on your preferences.

Then there was a problem with duplicate photos. SOOOO many of them! I downloaded an app called Duplicate Photos Fixer Pro, which allows you to use your preferred settings to find duplicates (or near-duplicates... like when you take 2-3 pictures in a row to make sure no one is blinking, etc).

When all of the photos were corrected and duplicates deleted, I created a brand new folder and saved them there--both on my computer and my external hard drive.

The next step was finally organizing them. Since I have a MacBook, I have the Photos app on my computer (I'm not sure what the Microsoft equivalent is). I uploaded all of my photos into Photos (I hate that they didn't come up with a slightly more creative name than "Photos" for the app!).

From the Photos app, I started tagging the faces in each photo. Once you tag several of the same people, the app itself will search for people that it believes are the same, and you can accept or deny the tag (it saves you from having to tag every single photo).

I also created keywords for things like pets, races, travel, food, etc., and I added the keywords to the fitting photos. I created albums of photos using the "Smart Albums" feature--you list a guideline or two, and the app will take all of those photos and put them into an album.

For example, I can make a Smart Album with photos that include "kids" and "pets"--so the app will automatically take all of the photos with those keywords and put them into the album. Then I will have lots of pictures of my kids with our pets. I have Smart Albums for things like races, food, holidays, etc. Then, when I need a photo (let's say I'm looking for a race photo to use on my blog) I can just sort through that album until I find what I need.

screen shot of Photos app

6) Knitting or crocheting.

This one isn't a very unique idea, but during the beginning of my weight loss, this was a huge help to me. I obviously didn't want to eat while knitting or crocheting because I didn't want food on the yarn I was working with! This was also something that I could do at night when watching TV after the kids were in bed. Prior to that, I would put the kids to bed and then dig out the binge food to eat while I watched my shows.

I also started to choose more complicated patterns (like lace) because you have to pay very close attention to the pattern while knitting. One missed step or dropped stitch could be detrimental while working an intricate pattern. Now that I've been really into podcasts (which weren't really a "thing" back then), I can listen to a podcast and knit or crochet at the same time.

lace baby blanket

Well, there you have it! Hopefully these are some helpful ideas. If you have more ideas, I'd love to read them. It basically boils down to finding things we enjoy doing MORE than binge eating. And the things on this list fit the bill for me. Despite the weight gain, I'm thrilled that I'm free of binge eating (hopefully for good)!


  1. Some great ideas! I also love Marie Kondo's method of tidying! I keep my clothes folded the same way. Also thank you for the receipe template! What a great idea to have your favorite recipes in one place. I'm going to start working on my own recipes!

  2. These are all good ideas. Cleaning is a good distraction for me. You've reminded me that I need to organize the photos on my computer.

  3. I sew/repair dog toys (stuffues) to keep my hands busy. I don't have to be careful with my stitches and the greyhounds are overjoyed to play with a toy that they haven't seen in a while!

  4. Hi Katie, thank you for these fresh new ideas! I really appreciate the effort you put into finding new and fun activities to keep ones mind off of binge eating.

    I have been struggling with this for the past 20 years and was eating way more than my body needed. I was stuck in a stressful job and was just craving comfort food all the time. I really found that finding something to do and get invested in is the only way to stop thinking about food.

    Even though it might not be for everyone, I personally got into music and started practicing every time I felt like overeating. Now I can play three instruments reasonably well, have joined a band, playing guitar and actually started losing a lot of the extra weight.

    What I feel like has also contributed immensely to my weight loss is a resource I have stumbled upon some time back. I was positively shocked by the initial results! Being healthy was my main goal, but now I am amazed at the confidence this is giving me. Now, when I look into a mirror, I am finally proud of my reflection. Here is a link to the page that started it all for me:

    I really hope I will be able to push on and reach my ultimate weight loss goals. Please Katie, if you are reading this, let me know if you have any other advice or any other resources I can use to get just a little bit closer to my goals.

    Thank you so much and keep rockin' it!

  5. This isn't really an activity (nor is it terribly unique), but the biggest factor in stopping my binge-eating has been just going to bed early. I used to stay up til all hours of the night, and I would binge-eat junk food while everyone else was in bed. Now I go to bed at the same time as everyone else and I hardly ever binge anymore.

  6. I used to watch mindless TV in the evenings and because I really didn't care for what I was watching I would eat junk food. Now I go into the bedroom when my husband goes to bed and I read. I am not near food and it would take effort to actually quit reading and go into the kitchen to eat something. It has really been a great change for me.


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