H.A.L.T. before taking that first bite

stop sign

When you feel a binge coming on, try the HALT binge busting tool.

HALT means STOP, so when you feel yourself about to tuck into food, immediately say the words HALT through you head, it stands for the following:


Step 1

H = Hungry
Before you binge ask yourself: ‘Am I really hungry?’, If you are not hungry but you feel yourself reaching for food then chances are you are about to eat for another purpose.

Step 2

A = Anxious
Research has shown that stress can increase our appetite. When you are about to eat ask yourself if you are feeling stressed or anxious, is this driving you to eat?

If you are anxious then try to do something that relaxes you like going for a walk, painting, taking a hot back or even doing a short breathing exercise. Once stress and anxiety are reduced you should notice a significant decline in binge urges.

Step 3

L = Lonely
Loneliness can cause binging; the reason is that food is used as a comfort and distraction from feeling alone. When you are about to binge ask yourself, "Am I lonely? If you think you are, think of something that you can do to help combat your feelings of loneliness, like calling a friend, emailing your support buddy, tracking your progress, writing your own story, writing a letter to someone, or visiting a relative.

Step 4

T = Tired
Sometimes we can confuse tiredness with hunger, and research shows that we receive a boost of the hormones responsible for hunger when we don't get enough sleep.  So when you know you are tired or  not quite as alert as you normally are, it is important to check if you are hungry or simply sleepy.

Tips & Advice

Other common triggers for "false hunger" and binge urges are things like boredom, stress, unstructured time and any situation or experience that heightens your emotions. 


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adiajolie's picture
Typo, 'Taking a hot back'

Typo, 'Taking a hot back' (under "a")

"Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain"-Ralph Waldo Emerson

min's picture
For me it dont work

it is a very good idea linnymac..
About to say HALT, I have tried to say stop to me and ask my self why Iam eating etc. but it didnt work :(
I dont really understand how some people say you dont loose weight if you purge and some people say you do.. I know you cant purge ALL the food you ate but the most of it. Can someone please explain?

amandajean's picture
The timer things has been the

The timer things has been the most successful part in distracting myself from the preoccupied thoughts of food when I'm not hungry.

iva21's picture
I can't stop my self!

I am losing weight every week because of my eating dissorder and some dark place within me it feels good to lose that weight but i can't stop eating too much and then vomiting it all out. This is now effecting my study,social life, my family I'm obsessed. and i want it to stop I really want to have my control back what can i do? Dose anyone have some idea how i can fight this urge of eating and vominting? hel me plzzz

Amee6700's picture
I know what that feels like,

I know what that feels like, and I'm still not perfect.You can't give up though. If I can keep fighting so can you. This goes out to any relapsers. We have to stick together.

missalaizabelcray's picture
My favorite thing to do

Make a list of your favorite things to do if you know you're going to binge. Then write them on slips of paper and put them in the jar. When you feel the need to do so, draw out a slip of paper and do the thing suggested. Repeat as many times as necessary until the urge to binge fades or until you feel legitimately hungry.

sab4life's picture

I noticed that the more I am away from my kitchen and the easier it is for me to not even think about bingeing. There are certain hours in the afternoon when it is more difficult for me, but maybe all I need to do is to create new habits, like taking a mid-afternoon break to go somewhere and then come back home (I work from home).

linnymac's picture
Walk away and set the timer!

Something that has worked for me is once i feel an urge to binge to just walk away immediatly and set my timer on my watch. To start I set 5 mins and if i still want to eat it when the timer goes off then so be it. However, i have learned that if you distract yourself it's easier to evaluate your feelings and real hunger if you walk away. Now I'm up to 20 mins!


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The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.


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