The Top 3 Reasons Why You Binge EatMay 11, 2022
I want to start by saying “I see you!”. I feel your pain and I know you probably feel like nothing will ever help you overcome binging. You might feel helpless, isolated, shameful and guilt-ridden. I get it. I was in your position… for 10 years… so I know that feeling all too well.
But what I’m here to tell you is, change is 100% possible. The dream life of yours in which food is at the bottom of your worries and you’re not at constant war with your body – it’s all just a few steps away.
I would love to sit here and tell you that there is one golden rule which will help you stop binging. Of course, this isn’t the case. But honestly… it isn’t far wrong. In this post I am going to share with you the 3 most ESSENTIAL lessons which allowed me to end my 10 year struggle with food and my body.
So, without further ado – lets dive right in.
1. Physical Restriction
Physical restriction is the number 1 cause of binge eating. Ultimately, you cannot recover from binge eating whilst still engaging in restrictive tendencies.
Our bodies are smart. Far smarter than we give them credit for. Their sole purpose in life is to keep you alive. This means that when you enter into a caloric deficit, especially a substantial one and for prolonged periods of time, your body will simply go into survival mode.
This is because, obviously, our bodies don’t engage in the diet culture mentality.
Your body isn’t thinking “I need to be 2 dress sizes down for that wedding” because this is a societal concept which has corrupted so many of our minds. So, when we enter yet another diet, our bodies simply perceive this as a famine (hence: survival mode activated).
Ok, so let me explain: Imagine a caveman whose sole purpose in life is to survive. They are out hunting for food and they realise that there is NOTHING to eat due to a famine. This famine continues for months and the caveman is hardly eating enough calories to survive, let alone function at full capacity.
But then one day the caveman comes across a bush full of berries. Do you think they will continue to restrict what they are eating, despite now having food available to them? Or will simply delight at the fact that food is available to them and eat them all in fear that there may be another famine around the corner?
I know this is a strange analogy but honestly – our bodies are no different today as they were back then. So, when we restrict our calories, our bodies simply think we have entered a famine.
My point is: when you start a diet your body suddenly makes finding and eating large quantities of food its main focus. This is why, mid-diet, you have constant food thoughts. It is also why, every time that you restrict after a binge, you are simply assuring that there will another binge to follow.
And let me explain one more time, it is because your body can never trust that it will receive enough food if you are constantly entering into caloric deficits. And because of this distrust, your subconscious brain simply overrides your conscious brain and binges every time food is available to ensure that you survive.
What can I do about this?
By now, I would imagine that I have made the answer pretty clear. Eat more and eat regularly.
I know how counterintuitive it feels to eat when ALL you can think about is wanting to lose weight. But we need our bodies to trust us before we start worrying about what our bodies look like, so set this concern aside (just for the time being).
Focus on eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. Whether you binged the day before or not, whether you’re feeling uncomfortable in your body or not, whether you’re having thoughts telling you to restrict or not – just eat enough for your body and allow the trust to be re-built.
This is a sure-fire way to ensure that your body will begin to trust that food is always available for consumption. When you are eating enough, a binge is simply rendered useless and your body won’t be in survival mode 24/7.
2. Mental Restriction
Ok, so maybe you recognised a while back that you were stuck in the binge-restrict cycle. You increased your daily calorie intake yet you’re STILL binging!
Firstly, I want to congratulate you on increasing your calories. I know how scary it can be to overcome the fear, but you did it! Now let’s dive into what mental restriction is and how you can begin to undo it.
Mental restriction is any form of perceived restriction you may have. You know those times when you are really craving that slice of cake but you tell yourself you can’t have it because it’s “bad” for you. That’s it. That is mental restriction.
When we tell ourselves that certain foods are off limits because they are “bad” for us, we are only making our subconscious brain want them more.
This mindset also has a similar effect as under-eating. Our subconscious views this off-limit foods as a sign of a famine. So, yet again, our bodies go into survival mode and, you guessed it…we binge.
This is why when you allow yourself to eat one of these “bad” foods, you find it so hard to control yourself around it.
Your subconscious brain essentially thinks “I don’t know when this food will be available to me again. I’ve already been bad today so I may as well finish the pack and eat all the bad foods in sight and start again tomorrow”.
How can I unlearn diet mentality?
In order to lessen these mental restrictions it is important that you work on neutralising all foods. Allow yourself to enjoy foods in moderation. Begin to embrace the grey area of life.
Eat that cookie for dessert, knowing full well that you can eat one everyday for the rest of your life if that’s what you want. When you begin listening to your body, honouring your cravings and allowing all foods, your body can begin to trust you and food will really lose its power over you.
Eventually binging will be pointless because why eat past fullness when you can simply eat what you fancy and move on?
3. Emotional Eating
Perhaps you’re still binging even though you know that you have healed your relationship with food eg. you allow all foods and you’re eating enough. Yet you’re STILL binging.
Now it is worth considering whether there is an emotional component to your binging.
Perhaps food is your coping mechanism. Often, we use food to suppress and numb our feelings rather than recognising and processing them. Or perhaps, food is one of your only sources of happiness at the moment (hence why the dopamine hit from the first bite is so good!)
Sometimes we binge to deal with huge emotions like trauma, stress, sadness etc. But it is also possible that you binge to cope with more common emotions like loneliness, boredom or even happiness!
It’s highly likely that you weren’t effectively taught how to deal with your emotions in childhood. Or perhaps you didn’t feel free to express them.
How can I overcome emotional eating?
In order to break this habit you need to start implementing better coping mechanisms. I would recommend that you spend some time devising a self-care routine. Additionally, habits such as meditation and journaling can also be extremely useful in helping us identify our emotions.
It may also be that you are craving certain experiences (eg. intimacy, soothing, connection etc.) which you don’t feel like you deserve until you reach a certain weight or look.
This belief will only keep you stuck in this habit for longer as you will continue to use food to fill this void rather than receiving what you actually need.
To learn how to offer yourself the emotional support you need and breakup with emotional eating for good, head over to my FREE masterclass ‘How To NOT Binge Eat When Stressed, Sad Or Tired’.
Ok, so there you have it! The top 3 reasons why you struggle with binge eating.
If any of these points have struck a chord with you then I highly recommend you check out my FREE masterclass which explains why you binge and how to stop.
Alternatively, if you are looking for more extensive, long-term support then why not sign up for the 30 Day Reboot. This course will walk you through everything from inner-child healing to emotional regulation to lifting food restrictions. It really is the full package!
Lots of love,
Start your food and body healing journey with the FREE masterclass
"Why You're Still Binge-Eating & How To Stop"