End the suffering of binge eating—one breath at a time

Self-compassion can interrupt an episode of overeating and prevent binge eating, according to a recent study.

Елена Шарипова/Adobe Stock

Binge eating feels like the ultimate loss of control. Those who suffer from it often worry that their self-destructive relationship with food will define their lives forever. However, a recent study identifies a path to healing: yoga.

The study, conducted by researchers at Deakin University in Australia, found that yoga can help obese women who struggle with binge eating. The 12-week yoga program included postures, breathing, relaxation, and meditation. All of the practices emphasized mindfulness, or non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of thoughts, sensations, and emotions. The women attended one 60-minute yoga class per week and were encouraged to practice at home for 30 minutes a day. By the end of the 12-week program, the women reported less binge-eating, higher self-esteem, and a more positive body image. The group also showed statistically significant decreases in BMI as well as hip and waist measurements.

To find out more about how yoga might have helped the women make peace with food, themselves, and their bodies, I talked to Maggie Juliano, director of Sprout Yoga, a non-profit organization that provides yoga to people with disordered eating.

According to Juliano, yoga gives people the skills to stay with what they are feeling,…