How to Stop Binges With Urge Surfing: The Ultimate Guide

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If you’re like most people, then you have probably experienced the urge to binge eat at some point in your life. This can be a really difficult thing to overcome, but luckily there is a technique called “urge surfing” that can help.

Urge surfing is a great way to stop binges for good! Here’s how it works: when you start to feel the urge to binge, you surf the urge by riding it out like a wave by letting around 30-minutes pass. You don’t try to fight it or resist it, you just let it flow over you, and eventually, it will pass. This may take some practice, but it’s worth it because it can help you overcome your urge to binge eat!

In this article, we will discuss what urge surfing is and how you can use it to stop binges for good!

What is Urge Surfing?

Urge surfing, also known as urge riding, is a technique that can be used to manage and eventually overcome urge-related behaviours, such as binge eating. The basic premise is that urge surfing can help you to “ride the wave” of an urge for around 30-minutes, rather than trying to fight it or resist it. This can be a difficult thing to do at first, but with practice, it will become easier and more effective.

This technique can be broken down into four simple steps:

  1. Step 1: Brainstorm different strategies you can use to stop being bored.
  2. Step 2: Play out each strategy in your head.
  3. Step 3: Choose the best or most effective strategy.
  4. Step 4: Implement the strategy to ride the urge out.

What is very encouraging is that if you are struggling with urges to binges, they actually come in waves and they usually disappear in 30 minutes so what we need to do is to find the best strategy to get your brain out of the urge to binge. You will find that while it may be difficult at first, it does become easier and the urges slowly get shorter as you start to preoccupy activities when the urge to binge comes. 

Here are two things that need to happen to stop binge urges

  1. Time must pass, urges are only temporary so 30 minutes may be long enough the urge to decline for you to resist it easily
  2. You need to engage in something distracting for the 30 minutes – something that is active, enjoyable, and realistic for you to do

The 4 Step Method to ‘Urge Surf’ Through Binge Urges

Step 1: Brainstorm different strategies you can use to stop being bored.

The first step to avoiding urges to binge eating is to think of additional strategies that can help you cope with your emotions (in this case, that emotion is boredom).

Brainstorm at least 4-5 ideas. You will want to choose activities that you enjoy, that are sufficiently distracting and make you feel better overall. The possibilities are endless here, but ideally choose activities that don’t have any negative health risks.

Here are some examples of activities that could work well for you. But don’t be afraid to come up with a few yourself as well:

  • Going for a walk outside
  • Calling a friend or family member
  • Journaling
  • Going for a drive
  • Creating art
  • Taking a bubble bath or long shower
  • Cleaning around the house
  • Listening to a podcast or music
  • Watching your favourite movie or show

Step 2: Play out Each Strategy in Your Head.

Next, I want you to play out each strategy in your head. What will happen when you try this activity? How effective will it be? Do you anticipate yourself being bored when completing the activity? How long will you be able to sustain the activity?

Be as realistic as possible. It may seem like a wonderful idea to go for a walk, but it may become a not so wonderful idea when you realize you don’t have a safe path or walk on or it’s below zero outside.

Don’t choose the activity that sounds the most effective, choose the activity that will actually be the most effective based on your individual circumstances.

Here are some examples of what this step might look like:

  • Idea #1: Journaling. I think I could journal for a few minutes, but after that I would get bored and probably want to have a snack.
  • Idea #2: Coloring in a coloring book. I just bought a new set of pens so I’m excited to use them. I think I could color for at least 30-45 minutes without getting bored.
  • Idea #3: Baking a pie. This sounds fun but being around all the ingredients may be too hard. I think that would result in a binge.
  • Idea #4: Cleaning around the house. I think this would be distracting, but I really hate cleaning.

Step 3: Choose the Best or Most Effective Strategy.

Once you have listed out a few coping strategies and picked the best one, now it’s time to choose one. 

When looking at the examples laid out in step two, it’s clear that idea two is the best option. It seems like it is the most distracting and enjoyable out of all the four options, therefore it’s a good idea to try out colouring.

In some scenarios, there won’t be a clear best option. In this case, choose one of the best options and save the other good options as back-ups in case the first option doesn’t work out.

Step 4: Implement the Strategy.

Finally, the last step is actually implementing the strategy. Ideally you will want to complete the activity undistracted for about 30 minutes. Of course, everyone is different. Some people feel better in 10 minutes, others may need a full hour.

Complete the activity until your cravings dissipate and you feel like you are in a better place mentally. If you aren’t sure, continue on for 10 minutes longer and then check in with yourself.

It’s also important to mention that sometimes the strategy won’t work. And that’s ok. I want you to view everything as an experiment. If a strategy didn’t work, why didn’t it work? Did you not complete it for long enough? Was the activity itself not effective?

Always reflect and do better next time. There is always room for improvement and there is no such thing as failure.

How Can Urge Surfing Help Binge Eating?

Urge surfing is a technique that can be helpful when you’re trying to stop a binge. The idea is that when you feel the urge to binge, you ride it out like a wave. You don’t try to fight it or resist it, but you also don’t give in to it. Instead, you let it come and go. You observe it and surf on top of it. This can be a helpful way to deal with the urge because it can help you to become more aware of it. It can also help you to learn how to ride the wave instead of being pulled under by it. urge surfing is a tool that can be helpful in dealing with the urge to binge eat, and it’s something that you can practice on your own.

Studies on Urge Surfing and Binge Eating

There have been several studies conducted on urge surfing and its effectiveness in treating binge eating. A study by Telch, Agras, and Linehan (2001) found that urge surfing, a skill from dialectical behaviour therapy, was an effective treatment for binge eating. They found that after eight weeks of treatment, participants who used urge surfing had significantly reduced the number of binges compared to those who did not use urge surfing.


Urge surfing involves riding the wave of urge, allowing it to crest and then dissipate. This can be done by focusing on the sensations in the body, observing the thoughts and emotions that arise, and then letting them go. By surfacing the urge in this way, we can let it go more easily and prevent it from taking over. Urge surfing can be a helpful tool for anyone who struggles with binge eating or other forms of disordered eating.

Furthermore, a study by Kristeller and Wolever (2011) also found that urge surfing was an effective treatment for binge eating. At 4 months post-intervention, 95 % of those individuals with BED in MB-EAT no longer met the BED criteria vs. 76 % receiving PECB; furthermore, binges that occurred were likely to be significantly smaller.


These studies suggest that urge surfing is an effective treatment for binge eating.


Urge surfing can be a helpful tool in overcoming binge eating, but it is important to be patient and keep practising the technique until it becomes easier. If you find yourself struggling, there is no shame in seeking help from a professional. Remember, you are not alone in this! The goal of urge surfing is to ride out the urge until it passes, much like you would surf a wave. With practice, this can become easier and more effective. If you want to learn more about how to overcome binge eating using urge surfing, check out our Binge Eating Recovery Course or this blog post on the 3 main triggers to binge eating.. This course provides tips and tricks for managing urges as well as detailed information on how to use urge surfing as part of your recovery plan.

Urge surfing takes practice, but if you can do it, it can be a powerful tool in breaking the binge eating cycle. So the next time you’re feeling the urge to overeat, try urge surfing and see how it goes! You might be surprised at how well it works.

Happy urge surfing! 🙂

❓Are You Ready To Improve Your Relationship with Food and Get Your Hunger Cues Back?

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