What Is Binge Eating Caused By? Is It Caused By Restriction?Apr 24, 2022
If you know that you’re binge eating, but you just can’t work out what may be causing it then this blog post is for you. Below I have listed the 4 most common reasons why so many of my clients binge. So with out further ado, lets get into it!
1. Mental Restriction
As a result of simply existing in society, you are likely stuck in the diet mentality which is so normalised. If you are confused as to why you are still binge eating whilst truly eating enough food for your body, it is VERY likely that mental restriction is to blame!
Labelling foods as “good” and “bad” and assigning moral value to foods means that you also assign these morals to yourself when you consume them. Eg. One day you eat salad, fruit and smoothies and you tell yourself “I’ve been so good today!!”, the next day you eat one cookie and tell yourself “I’ve ruined my day by eating this bad food, I may as well eat them all and I’ll be good tomorrow”.
This “good” or “bad” mentality also encourages the all-or-nothing approach to food. Instead of embracing balance, the all-or-nothing mindset forces us to either abstain from “bad” foods entirely OR totally over-eat because our bodies fear they will never be available to eat again.
And the thing is, neither option is sustainable! Nobody is perfect and our bodies will simply rebel against us if we force them to ONLY eat “good” foods. Likewise, our bodies also won’t be thriving if we ONLY eat “bad” foods.
To work on letting go of this mindset around food I absolutely recommend that you work on embracing the grey areas of life. Nothing is black and white (ESPECIALLY food!!).
You can begin to work on this by finding balance with all foods. By allowing yourself to eat ANYTHING, the “bad” foods will simply lose their novelty. You will teach your mind and body to trust you, binging will be rendered useless because why binge on 10 cookies when you could just eat the amount you are craving and then move on with your life, knowing that you can very well eat a cookie everyday of your life if you do so desire!
2. Physical Restriction
I am certain that the majority of people who have struggled with binge eating ended up there as a result of restriction. Diet culture sells us this notion that we will have our perfect life, perfect body and perfect diet when we finally reach our “goal weight”. Yet, what it fails to tell us is that 95% of diets fail.
Raise your hand if you have been there?! I know I have… countless times.
So, what happens when these diets fail? Well, our bodies go into survival mode and more often than not we end up binging on food. This is because our bodies simply can’t function at full capacity when we only allow ourselves such low-calorie intake.
Restriction, when struggling with binge eating, really is what is keeping you stuck! The minute you restrict after a binge you are entering into the “binge-restrict” cycle. You binge -> feel guilty -> restrict -> your body “panics” and sends you the urge to binge -> you binge and the cycle starts again.
‘So how do I get out of this cycle’ I hear you ask! You STOP restricting. You remove a cog from the cycle and guess what, the cycle stops spinning. It’s easier said than done, I know. But really, it works!
If you’re calorie counting, excluding whole food groups from your diet or simply just not eating enough food as an attempt to lose weight or “make-up” for your last binge – then this is for you.
Focus on eating enough EVERYDAY. Aim for 3 meals and 3 snacks as a rough guideline. If you need more, eat more! Even if you binge, wake up the next day and eat 3 meals. At first your mind might be screaming at you to restrict just one more time. But trust me, the quicker you stop the restriction, the quicker your body can trust that food is in no short supply and the urge to binge will begin to subside.
The 30 Day Reboot will guide you through this process. So if it feels like a little too much to tackle alone, check out this masterclass for 100% understanding and guidance throughout your healing process.
3. Emotional Eating
As well as restriction, eating to cope with your emotions can be a fundamental cause of binge eating.
From a young age we are conditioned by media, those around us and society in general. If, as a child, food is used as a symbol for love then this belief will stay with us in adulthood.
For me, I ate to satisfy my emotional needs rather than my physical needs. Over-eating was the only tool I knew how to use when attempting self-care and it was also my only emotional coping mechanism. Instead of recognising that I was lonely, bored, happy, sad etc I would simply eat until the point of sickness. All of this could have been solved a lot sooner had I of learnt to process my emotions and take care of my inner child!
If eating is your only source of stress-relief/comfort/enjoyment/coping mechanism etc. then I urge you to explore other ways in which you can fulfil your needs. Perhaps create a self-care evening routine which will occupy the time in which you usually binge. Or perhaps you can reach out to more friends and plan days/evenings out with them. As easy as it sounds, a busy and fulfilled person simply won’t have the time OR need to binge!
For more support on caring for your inner-child, processing and dealing with emotions and living your life TODAY rather than when you achieve your goal weight check out the 30 Day Reboot for abundant guidance through this! Alternatively, check out my FREE masterclass which explains how not to binge EMOTIONALLY.
Okay, so if you KNOW you are not restricting your diet (mentally or physically) and you really think you’ve got good emotional awareness and coping mechanisms BUT you’re STILL binging here’s why that may be…HABIT.
If, like many others, you have been binging for a long time (several months or even years) then binging is likely a HUGE part of your life. Unfortunately, it is very easy to build a habit but incredibly difficult to break one. That being said, it is totally possible!
It is possible that your brain has just simply got used to expecting you to binge. Our bodies are still rather animalistic, so if you perform a behaviour enough times your subconscious brain will simply learn to view this behaviour as necessary for survival. This is why you continue to receive urges to binge even when your conscious brain KNOWS that the behaviour is not in-line with your goals and that it is DEFINITELY not necessary for your survival.
The best way to break a habit is to simply STOP acting on the urge to perform such behaviours. I know how impossible it feels to reject an urge to binge in the moment but if you simply work on recognising an urge to binge (or times when an urge will show up) and rejecting it, then your subconscious brain will learn that binging clearly isn’t a necessary part of your life and the urges will diminish over time! Learn to ride out the urge to binge. Remove yourself from your current state (the urge to binge) by changing up what you’re doing. Go for a walk, see a friend, play some music – whatever it is you need to do to separate yourself from the urge (I promise it will pass with time! <3)
So there you have it. Binging isn’t JUST caused by restriction (however it is a HUGE contributing factor).
As always, you can always reach out to me on Instagram if you have any questions or are simply looking to be heard by someone who understands. If you’re finally ready to leave binge eating behind and start you knew life, click here to start the 30 Day Reboot today. Alternatively, if you're not quite ready to commit why not try out my FREE masterclass which goes into more detail on why you binge and how to stop!
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