39 year old, 19st 11lb male... Trying to stop emotional eating/binging!

Hello everyone! So, I’ve been using Huel for a while now and I’m onto my 7th bag. But unfortunately I’m still finding myself binging in between Huels. In fact I can’t remember a day when I didn’t binge. For example yesterday I had two caramel slices from Cafe Nero (375 calories each!), and today was even worse!

The Huel is great because it fills me up and gives me energy. But my anxiety disorder is still there and I’ve still got deep conditioning that certain foods which I ate as a kid will make me feel okay. Usually pizza, crisps, or caramel slices. I live in London, I’m in the centre most days and there are always things that “trigger” me - often it’s just reading all the bad things in the newspaper. My nervous system is very easily knocked into fight/flight/eat mode and there are so many food outlets around, so each day I’m stuck in the same pattern.

Over the past five years I had long periods of going to Overeaters Anonymous, where the starting point is to accept that you’re powerless over your addictive food behaviours, and the answer is to live life on a spiritual basis. It really works for some people but I never got the level of surrender or desperation it requires.

The standard OA diet is “three meals a day, no sugar, no white flour.” The longest I ever managed that for was 20 days, in 5 years of on/off attempts. Now I’d ideally like to do 90% Huel :slight_smile: - four 100g drinks a day + two pieces of fruit + a piece of mackerel or salmon if I’ve exercised that day. But something has to change - my anxiety or my attitude - for me to stick to that.

I don’t drink alcohol at all, and I’m on my eighth day without coffee. I see a personal trainer (30 sessions so far) and I’m also going to 4 or 5 yoga classes each week as it calms me down and helps restore my focus. I plan to swim more, as I feel that’s the best cardio for me. I’m on my second day of taking St John’s Wort and Gingko biloba, but otherwise I’m not on any medication and don’t have any history of it either.

I’m down 17lbs in the past three months but not able to make further progress. I must have a mental block around not letting myself feel my emotions, and not letting myself lose weight. I can have a day where I do two hours of exercise, but then just eat more calories so that I’m not at a deficit. I’m conscious that I’m generally dissatisfied with my life - but also that all my energy has gone around trying to make myself feel better, instead of “trying to make my life better”, or “trying to make other people feel better” - so maybe the eating’s just a reflection of that, and things will only get better once I accept I can’t actually improve how I feel.

Let me finish this with a question! Have any of you found yourselves still binging despite trying to follow a Huel diet? And have you managed to overcome it?

No one here can offer you anything, you’ve only got yourself to convince.

This change is on you, and you only. Overcome your anxiety and triggers, it’s you vs you. Be the better you and get those pesky thoughts nailed to become the best you you can be.

Perhaps stop reading newspapers, too?

One thing I found useful was thinking of how long it would take me to run off those foods that were putting me back into surplus. Pint of beer? Run for 20 minutes please.

Caramel slice? Try half an hour.

Nudges at myself like that changed me to the point that I no longer even bother with yummy crap.


Hiya, well done on your weight loss so far! You have to convince yourself to stop, the one thing that helped me was photos, I carried photo’s of me at my biggest to remind me of why I was doing what i was doing. I found on my journey I had to continuously remind myself why I was doing what I was doing, change is hard. My advice would be to take a pic of yourself in the mirror, an all revealing one that doesn’t hide the lumps and bumps and carry it round with you, remind yourself why you want to change, then keep taking pics, weekly/monthly and watch the change. Do you meditate? There is a fab guided meditation app called Calm that has all types of sessions including emotions and cravings. Good luck! You’ve got this :smiley:


I think the fact you’re trying so hard shows you’re determined, and that in itself is a huge hurdle! I also don’t buy into that “there’s nothing you can do” stuff your group was pushing; it’s nonsense. You absolutely can make this change, it’s just obviously something that needs time and work as you know. :slight_smile:

I don’t know how your relationship is with sugar, but I found cutting sugary drinks made a huge difference to how much I craved sugar. Now I have pop only on nights out or with dinner at restaurants. If you can swap out as much liquid intake for water as you can all the better (I think I’m 60% water, 30% tea, 10% coffee). From what I’ve read, I fully believe sugar to be the killer in weight gain/loss, not fats. But I’m not a dietician so feel free to debunk that.

Ultimately I can’t stick to “cut this out of your diet 100%” type diets, as inevitably it makes me want the thing more. I just try hard to reduce things or make swaps. Let’s say for example you get a mad craving for chicken nuggets, Quorn chicken nuggets would allow for you to satisfy that and they’re much “healthier” than normal nuggets are. Swap out chips for veg, fried items for baked, etc. This way you don’t deprive yourself, but you’re making a more informed decision about what goes in your body.

I relate to comfort eating though. I’m at university and I want to eat junk when stressed, and also want junk as a “reward” for doing an assignment. I think mine is more stress than emotional like yours is. I think for your situation you need to work more on letting yourself be emotional. Again, I relate to that too! Despite being a woman I have a huge mental block over crying, to the point where I held it back at a family funeral recently because I perceive it (totally incorrectly) as weakness. Work on yourself here, I’m sure you know full well yourself that emotions are normal, healthy responses, so work on letting yourself feel like yourself!

You deserve to feel better, physically and mentally, and you would be so surprised how much the mental affects the physical in terms of wellness. Reading what you’ve written you’ve done such a huge amount to achieve both of these, which is very admirable!

TL;DR I haven’t answered your question at all, sorry! But I can’t manage on just Huel, definitely. Especially if there’s bacon in the fridge. x__x


Thanks for all your feedback!

I absolutely can’t eat sugar at all, it’s like alcohol for an alcoholic. And yet my brain craves it because it kills pain, it numbs emotions I don’t seem able to feel. I know I need to tough through it, to go through the withdrawal process and allow myself to reconnect with myself and stop self-medicating.

I made it to 9pm yesterday before a big binge. So on the negative side I’ve not been able to go a day without binging, but on the positive side at least it was late in the day.

Filling myself up with Huel helps a little bit. By 9pm last night I’d had 3 Huels (each time three scoops filled to the top - so totalling 1200 or so calories) plus a couple of pieces of fruit. On reflection, probably that wasn’t enough.

I think if I’d have had 4 or 5 Huels, I’d have likely still have had the sugar but I wouldn’t have also had the pizza and crisps.

I’m going in to the centre again this evening and I’ll make sure I’m Hueled up beforehand.

Would swapping for sugar free goods help in any way with that? I know they’re not always as nice, but if you could maybe get low/no sugar or diabetic versions of things (ice cream for diabetics exists for example)? I suppose it would be better than nothing, and you could feel less guilt over it?

It’s good that you’re so mindful that even though it happened, you still achieved something by lasting all day, and that’s the right way to tackle things.

Also I think if you’re using Huel for your cravings it might be worth considering a liquid meal specifically for diets because Huel is pretty high in calories compared to some mixes. That said, I’ve had diet protein shakes and got much less in volume per “meal”, so that probably wont help when you need to just keep eating. :confused:

Good luck though, let us know how you get on. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for your reply.

Swapping for sugar-free foods wouldn’t work because when I binge it is to kill my emotions. So I only binge on the bad foods that kill my emotions, I wouldn’t be interested in something that didn’t have that effect. It is exactly the same as an alcoholic reaching for the bottle or a drug addict reaching for a fix.

I’m just watching this video for example:

Last year I did manage to stop drinking alcohol, and earlier this month I was able to give up caffeine. So I think I just need to tough it out and get through the sugar withdrawal process.

Now, I haven’t gotten my Huel yet but I do know a thing or two about emotional eating. I had a binge eating disorder for 20 years (from the age of 12 to 32) - the only thing that stopped it was Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - basically, change thought. I cleared my house of sugar - one bite of it and I would tear through the cabinets and fridge until I was uncomfortably about to burst. The CBT had me keep a journal & not diet at all, not restrict anything, and figure out my triggers. Once I knew my triggers, I could deal with them with the help of my therapist - didn’t take long for me to do it on my own. Whenever I feel like I’m going to binge, I take a walk - I have to get moving or I will eat. I won’t bring my wallet so I can’t buy anything. If it’s nasty out, I will go to the gym and walk on a treadmill. Some people can sit and read, some call a friend, some knit (if you’re using your hands to knit, you can’t use them to eat!). Try to figure out what is causing the binges (mine was moving away from home and eating the foods that once brought me comfort as a kid - since then I found a group of people to hang with & that takes up a lot of my time). Best of luck to you!


Thanks, Orion! It’s great to hear that you managed to overcome your binge eating disorder.

I generally buy into the 12-Step approach which says the root problem is a spiritual problem rather than being about triggers. Or put another way, the problem is that I’m wrong in the head and I’ll always look for triggers. Someone grabs the seat I want on the tube; someone’s talking too loudly on the bus; I get an email I don’t like; I see an attractive couple or a sportscar and I feel envious or inferior, etc. So the answer is to help other people & work on removing my character defects.

It happened yesterday that I had made it to the evening just on Huel and fruit. Then I went to a 12-Step meeting of another fellowship. The meeting was great! And I shared for three minutes and felt connected with myself, like I was sobering up from sugar and hearing my voice again. But that very feeling of connected to myself makes me panicy (I’m so used to being anxious/detached). So straight after the meeting I rushed into supermarket and got chocolate, crisps, pizza.

I did think “Do you really have to do this?” but told myself, well, good to have got this far and binged anyway. It may have helped if I’d had a Huel prepared to drink straight after the meeting, or if I knew I had some healthy meal awaiting me at home. Most of all if I just sincerely prayed for help to be able to make it home safely.

At the moment I use my bank card for public transport, but taking away the possibility of that by getting an Oyster card would be a good idea so I literally can’t binge. It’s just a matter of getting through the withdrawal process & getting used to feeling like myself again!

Hey Alex,

Thanks for sharing, I think im in a fairly similar situation as yourself, 32 year old, 19st and love a good binge!

I started Huel a few months ago but didnt last long, didnt even finish a bag off, then Christmas came etc, basically a load of lame excuses

It started well however i found myself wanting to eat even though I wasnt hungry, and when i went to buy something i would pick up loads extra to (once i got a chicken burger from Sainsburys and a chocolate bar, ate them on the way to the station then brought 2 duo chocolate bars from the station and ate them both on the train home!)

I dont suffer from anxiety (though my wife does) however I do drink quite a lot, it got to the point where I couldnt remember the last day i didnt have a drink, I dont think I was a alcoholic but i was certainly having to much. Last year I blamed it on the stress of moving from Birmingham to Essex to work in London, recently ive blamed it on being told im at risk of losing my job, then over xmas we lost our grandfather in-law and wife has been off work with anxiety.

Im struggling to find a way to stop using life issues as a reason to eat/drink loads, I applaud for going to doing everything you have done so far, I dont think i could use a personal trainer, go to yoga or Overaters Anonymous (which i didnt know existed),

If you work around Bank and fancy a walk at lunch time give me a shout, I try and get out as much as possible as otherwise Im sat at my desk all day.

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Thanks for being so open Alex!

first I think that it is not helpful when you keep drinking Huel PLUS binging at night. You will take even more calories in this combination. I used a similar product for trying to loose weight but without sport and with other sources of sugar I gained a weight very quickly.

It seems that you like to punish yourself and you use every trigger one could think off. With this mindset it is very difficult to get you away from sugar and weight.
I used to be a heavy smoker for 25 years and for the last five years I was desperate to quit smoking. I told myself what a waste of money it was and that I am only buying waste in the first place (throwing away the blister first, the the foil, then the ash during smoke and the butt at the end) but no logical thought would get me away from smoking and some days I totally liked smoking because it was social and it gave me something I didnt know what it was.

Then I told myself “Yes, I want to smoke! But I want to run some kilometers per week also” and everyone knows that smoking is not helping a runner. So I switched over to e-cigarettes with the amount of nicotin I needed and with a fancy electric device with a lot of smoke/steam and it was even more fun to smoke/steam then it was before with cigarettes. And my running attempts where better.
Then I started to reduce the amount of nicotin within my liquid (needed to smoke/steam the ecigarette). It took about 4-5 months and I was off nicotin and told myself “yeah, smoke the hell out of the cigarette even without the nicotin” but after a while I forgot to smoke/steam, because the non existent nicotin in my body couldnt tell me anymore to smoke. So my ecigarette was ready to smoke/steam for the next few weeks but I had no feelings to use it anymore and then I was off cigarettes. Next March is my 3 year aniversary.

The helpful things for you out of my story:

  • eat as much as you like and dont pretend that you can use huel only, because you cannot
  • Try to shift your focus in a slightly different way. Ideal case would be that you drink Huel to “punish” yourself whenever a trigger is coming. imagine that the taste of Huel is not the same as the delicious sweet stuff you are eating. With preventing to eat everyday it is a punishment for you and you need your regular punishment.
  • On saturday you go to places where you can get all the food you like/hate and you will eat whatever you like as much as you like. See this cheat day as your ultimate punishment or reward (depends on your mindset).
  • Shift your focus on a goal other than loosing weight. Imagine a Tour de France cyclist. They can eat whatever they want because they burn that much. There is a rumor that Michael Phelps (Swimmer) needed around 15.000 - 20.000 kcal per day when in training. Dont know whether this is true or not, but high class sport needs high amount of calories. If you can shift to any cardio sport you could also see this as your punishment (trigger comes -> you do cardio) you can eat everything you like and you will focus automaticall to things which help you to reach your goal.

Golden rule is to now to fight the obvious. Switch focus and do something else and you will automatically “forget” to punish with food.


Hi Eyean, thanks for your post and your story. Sure, I’d be happy to meet up in Bank one lunchtime - I’m actually not working at the moment but I’m in town every day. Shoot me a PM and we can arrange a day, perhaps next week.

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Hi David, thanks a lot for your post, that’s really helpful!

I really believe I am better on Huel+binge, than on “my idea of a healthy diet” + binge. I’d feel worse in my body because I wouldn’t be eating such a well-balanced diet. And I’d be going into shops/cafes for each meal (with an increased risk of buying additional binge foods each time since I find shops stressful). Or I’d be eating the same thing every day for a week if I’d cooked a batch of something up, but still having too large portions. I feel better in my body and energy levels even in my current pattern than when I was attempting to feed myself.

I should make breakfast the meal where I eat real food, because it’s never any trouble to get out of bed and stick to what I’ve bought. I live near a great fishmongers so could happily have a piece of salmon or mackerel on rye bread, plus a piece of fruit. Whereas when I’m in central London in the evening I’m not likely to make it home in one piece for a cooked meal, so I’m better off having a Huel on me to have before the journey home.

I did CBT a few years ago around another issue but I’ve not done it around my food binges and I’ve not thought to apply it. I should look into it again. I’ve had a lot of therapy already and probably not looking for more, but it would help for me to remind myself of how to apply the principles.

Actually there are lots of useful strategies I could be deploying on a daily basis that I need to get myself doing. For example meditation, which I did during the period I was attending a course on it, but haven’t done not since.

My binges are far less severe on days that I do hot yoga, which connects me to my body and calms my anxiety On a day when I don’t do any exercises, the binge can be crazy - for example yesterday that 100g chocolate bar, 150g packet of crisps and supermarket pizza added up to 2500 calories, on top of the 1500 from Huel and 200 from fruit! No wonder I’m 20 stone!

A lot of this is physiological - I’m a bit of a nervous wreck and my misinformed brain tells me that food will take the pain away. Well, in a sense my brain is right, it knows from experience that a binge does actually do that, but at the cost of everything I might want to achieve in my life - relationship, work, new friends, travel, health, self-esteem, etc.

One other thing I’ve neglected is keeping a daily journal/mood diary. I will start doing this again. Here’s what it says in Step 10 of the AA Big Book, written for alcoholics but equally useful for compulsive eaters, too:

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

This is what I mean. You focus on something else and your anxiety is lower. Focus more on something else and it could help.
Get yourself a bike for your rides to central London and if you survive the traffic you will loose your weight in no time.

Right! I need to get back to yoga. I didn’t go since Friday and I miss it! The personal trainer wrecked me too much in our session that day & needed time for sore legs to recover.

Regarding cycling, actually I was very glad to stop cycling a couple of months ago but until then it had been my main form of transport. But I found I didn’t have energy for personal trainer + yoga + 12 miles cycling in one day, and I vastly preferred the first two, especially since sorting out the anxiety is absolutely crucial. And yes, cycling through London traffic isn’t always great for serenity. Also I didn’t like always looking like shite in central London wearing the clothes I’d been cycling in, when everyone else is smart.

Swimming’s the exercise I need to push myself into doing 3, 4, 5 times a week.

Thanks again for your comments!

You may find this interesting :slight_smile:

If you’re trying to cut on carbs, it’s natural that you have food cravings. Because your body wants carbohydrates. And it does not want a ton of protein and fat. By the way, another important trick is to eat low calorie density food. Your body wants your stomach full.

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Thanks, User3532, that was an interesting read.

I managed to have an abstinent day yesterday, no binges. After nothing but Huel all day I did find myself cooking up an evening meal of chickpeas, mixed beans, lentils & garlic, since that was all that was in the cupboard!

I used to binge a lot on white bread, & enormous portions of cheesy pasta, but I’ve been able to knock both of those on the head. Though I had a couple of huge binges on bagels at the start of the year.

Looking at carby things that don’t contain white flour (which I understand acts as harmfully as sugar), I remember that if I had a packet of rice cakes I’d get through them quickly, too.

So I’m not sure what carbs I could safely eat. My plan for next week is that I’ll have breakfast of salmon or mackerel or chicken + a slice of rye bread + a piece of fruit. Then for the rest of the day I’ll have 4 Huels and a couple more pieces of fruit.

Something useful in an article I just read:

Diet and exercise only work if you combine them with a healthy attitude to rest and relaxation. Take one of my patients, a busy working mum who was exercising three times a week with a personal trainer but wasn’t carving out any time to relax, and was finding it impossible to shift her excess pounds. It was only when she switched some of her brutal training sessions for restorative yoga classes that she started to lose weight.

Do you like brocolli?