How to stop binge eating
What exactly is binge eating disorder?
Binge eating is compulsively eating large amounts of food in a short period of time. These episodes are followed by feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. For an official diagnosis this has to occur at least once a week for at least three months. Millions of people suffer from a binge eating disorder. BED was only recognized as a disorder recently, in 2013. Anorexia and bulimia tend to be what people think of when they hear about eating disorders but BED is much more common.
I don’t know about you but this doesn’t quite make sense. We live in a world that is overflowing with health information and thousands of different diets all claiming to be the answer to weight loss and happiness.
So why then are there millions of people sat feeling sorry for themselves, ashamed and disgusted in themselves that they’ve eaten yet another super size pizza and a tub of Ben & Jerry’s …?
Well they work. Until they don’t work.
Let’s be honest, binge eating sucks! It not only affects your quality of life, how you feel about your body, your sense of well-being and your health, but it basically makes you feel like a crazy person… There you are sat in your car parked up down the street from your house, frantically shoving food down your throat before someone catches you in the act. You feel like the biggest failure there ever was.
Yet, despite all that, it feels impossible to stop! But I have good news for you my love because it is possible to finally break up with binge eating once and for all! There is just some work to be done to get you there… and it has nothing to do with training your willpower or sewing up your mouth!
People often confuse binge eating with emotional eating but they are actually two different things. However, it is extremely common to struggle with both emotional eating and binge eating. Read about my take on emotional eating here.
The causes of binge eating disorder
I’M BEING SERIOUS!
(I’m not laughing at you not liking your body, I’m laughing at the simple route cause that I know isn’t easy to just ‘fix’)
Ok so let me be more clear…
I believe that that for 99% of women, diets and restriction cause binge eating. (More about that in a moment.)
But why do we even diet in the first place?
I believe that the only reason we diet is because we aren’t happy with the way we look.
Think about it;
If we didn’t feel the pressure or the need to change our bodies then would we diet?
If we loved ourselves exactly the way we were, would we frantically be trying to make ourselves smaller?
If we had no society ‘ideal’ of body shape and size to compare ourselves to, what would we be striving to look like?
If we hadn’t learnt to fear fat like our lives depended on it, would we feel shame and hatred towards the fat on our own bodies?
If none of the above were a reality, would millions of people even struggle with their health and weight to begin with?…
…Or would they just go about their lives, eating intuitively and moving their bodies in a way that was natural to them without even thinking about it?!
Binging is a natural response to restriction…
Let me say that again…
Binging is a natural healthy response to any form of restriction.
Physical restriction– aka; not physically eating enough food OR only eating processed foods with empty calories, therefore leaving your body malnourished. You’re a grown-ass woman, you need way more food than the diet industry leads us to believe. Most of the time we binge because our bodies simply are not getting enough food and your “cavewoman” gene kicks in and she thinks you’re literally slowly starving to death! The second part of physical restriction is malnourishment. I know this may sound a bit dramatic but it’s true. If you’re not nourishing yourself with fats, carbs, proteins and fibre – including vitamins and minerals – your body will keep driving you to eat as an attempt to get what it really needs.
Mental restriction – aka; those cookies are NOT going in my mouth no matter how much I’m drooling right now because they are bad for me! You’re probably extremely familiar with this kind. This is why I hear women say to me over and over again: “I gave up dieting and now I can’t stop eating Nutella out of a jar…” (Basically was me!)
And I can’t help but say back, But did you REALLY give up “dieting?” Or did you just start eating chocolate again, and thought that would “fix” it?
Let me explain… One thing I find over and over again is that 9 times out of 10, women who “give up” dieting, are still thinking like dieters — their emotional response to food is the same as it would be if they still were actively restricting their food.
They’re still conscious of everything they eat (and usually extremely judgmental of what they eat). They feel ashamed whenever they think they’ve “eaten too much.”
They’re often still trying to control themselves around food even if not “technically” following a specific plan of eating.
And generally speaking, they maintain a moralistic and fear-based perspective on food, rather than feeling gratitude, joy, and pleasure from the life-sustaining force that food actually is.
You see, “dieting” (and the compulsive behaviours associated with it), has little to do with what you are or are not putting in your mouth — and everything to do with how you feel and think about what you put in your mouth.
So if you’ve given up dieting, yet you’re judging the shit out of yourself when your eating pizza, wondering why you don’t feel all happy and liberated yet, it’s because you are not mentally allowing the pizza. You’re allowing the physical act (eating the thing) but you’re not mentally allowing it (constantly thinking “this can’t be ok”).
And when we see food as bad or wrong, it’s almost impossible to sustain from doing it! Because food is pleasurable. Food is delicious. We need to eat food to survive, it’s a survival instinct (more about that in a moment.)
And if you’re sat there nodding your head but still unsure why you can’t just eat fresh whole food as nature intended, then keep reading, that’s coming!
In a nutshell, unless your thinking changes, neither will your behaviours.
Emotional restriction – This is not allowing yourself to feel your emotions and instead, you reach the food in an attempt to make you feel better. This is, of course, emotional eating – but it’s still a form of restriction as you are restricting yourself from feeling and processing your emotions.
Dieting is not an action, it’s a state of mind.
Forced restriction – It’s heartbreaking to say but some people are forced to restrict food from a young age. Being abused as a child in the form of starvation or food restriction in some way can cause harmful consequences in adult life.
This type of restriction is usually paired with forced exercise or constant weighing, measuring of the child and harmful words thrown around such as, “You’re too fat to go to school.” “When you’ve lost more weight you can eat again.”
It’s inevitable that the child will grow up to have issues around food and the desperate need to attempt to manipulate their body by dieting. And we all know that dieting and binge eating go hand in hand.
Unwilling restriction – Some people can’t afford to buy the food their bodies need and crave. Some people have to live from day to day and eat whatever they can afford.
When these people then get the opportunity to eat with no limitations, they will eat to excess and most likely with urgency. (Sound familiar?)
The reason why you can’t stick at clean eating…
If you’re a chronic dieter and you’re stuck in the diet-binge cycle, there’s a reason why you can’t stick to ‘clean eating’.
It doesn’t matter how many times Nancy from Instagram tells us that; “It’s easy, just quit sugar then you’ll stop craving sugar!” Well, it’s not that easy for us Nancy! And I’m going to tell you why…
It’s not your lack of willpower which is the reason that you can’t stop daydreaming about giant houses made of chocolate, filled with all things deliciously sickly and sweet, all waiting for you to indulge until your heart’s content… (just me?!) and so you take yourself off to the nearest shop in an attempt to satisfy said craving…
Maybe your thing is cheese or chips, but you get the gist.
Do yourself a favour and just imagine that you were in a real life famine. Everything in your life would become about food. Your body would be sending you extreme signals to find food, hoard food, eat a lot of food and whenever possible, eat as much fat and sugar as you can! (Sound familiar…) If your body didn’t do this, you would DIE!
This is what happens when you either go on a diet or even think about going on a diet!
It happens even quicker and even more intensely if you’ve already been dieting for a long time. THAT’S why you totally rocked that first diet all those years ago and now you can’t stick to a diet for even a day!
When your body thinks its being restricted of food in any way, when you do find food and start eating, everything inside you overrides whatever rationalizing willpower you’ve had so far.
If you tried to stop half way through you probably wouldn’t be able to.
This is what your body is wired to do for survival!
Let me ask you this; how does your body come up with all this nonsense?… Because of your thoughts and restricted actions about food… “I must restrict this. I can’t have too much of that. I’m not allowing myself to eat carbs. I’m starting my diet tomorrow…”!
Maybe your thinking, yes but I’m not in a real life famine and there’s plenty of food in the shop down the road…
Your body doesn’t know that!
When the body gets signals from the brain that there is either a famine happening or a famine on its way (you guys are completely underestimating the mind here), it automatically gets to work organizing all of your hormones and biochemical reactions (cravings etc) to be set for a famine. And you know what happens when your body thinks it’s in a famine or about to be in one… HINT: Read the passage above!
That’s why people who have never really dieted or restricted their food, don’t have a problem with binge eating!
They don’t think like a dieter (and dieting is not an action, it’s a state of mind!). Their bodies have no reason to demand that they eat a whole jar of Nutella in one sitting. These are called ‘normal eaters.’
The power of the mind
Before I let you in on the secret on how to STOP thinking like a dieter and therefore STOP binge eating, I just want to convince you about how powerful the mind is…
There is a true story about Nick Sitzman, a strong, young bull-of-a-man, who worked on a train crew. It seemed Nick had everything: a strong healthy body, ambition, a wife and two children, and many friends. However, Nick had one fault. He was a notorious worrier. He worried about everything and usually feared the worst. One midsummer day, the train crew were informed that they could quit an hour early in honor of the foreman’s birthday.
Accidentally, Nick was locked in a refrigerator boxcar, and the rest of the workmen left the site. Nick panicked. He banged and shouted until his fists were bloody and his voice was hoarse. No one heard him. “If I can’t get out, I’ll freeze to death in here,” he thought. Wanting to let his wife and family know exactly what had happened to him, Nick found a knife and began to etch words on the wooden floor. He wrote, “It’s so cold, my body is getting numb. If I could just go to sleep. These may be my last words.”
The next morning the crew slid open the heavy doors of the boxcar and found Nick dead. An autopsy revealed that every physical sign of his body indicated he had frozen to death. And yet the refrigeration unit of the car was inoperative, and the temperature inside indicated fifty-five degrees. Nick had killed himself by the power of worry. 🤯
Your mind is so freaking powerful!
This is why negative thinkers always seem to have everything go wrong for them and why positive thinkers always seem to ‘get lucky’ as others with suggest.
Mindset is EVERYTHING!
So in short, even when you THINK “I’m starting my diet tomorrow.” Your body reacts to these thoughts and sends you into a crazy person around food and acts like you are actually already IN a famine.
Your body thinks; “Best get it all in now before I go without.”
Your body has learnt to strengthen this behaviour from the past million times you’ve restricted or dieted. I was Anorexic when I was a teenager and so my body TOTALLY FREAKS OUT whenever I think about restricting.
Now I’m freaking out! What can I do?!
Ok so don’t worry too much because you can learn how to stop binge eating by learning how to think like a normal eater.
I’m not even going to pretend that it’s easy but I will tell you that it is 10000000% worth it!
You’ve heard me talk a lot about mindset… but the answer to this really is a mindset change and shifting your perception around food and your body image.
I would love to tell you right now exactly how to do this process but it’s not something that can just be written down.
It involves you listening to audio lectures, completing worksheets, practicing using tools and strategies that work to shift your perception. It means you taking guided bold action steps towards ditching the diets and learning how to make friends with your body whilst being supported and coached the tough times… and a whole lot more!
Oh wait, I just described what happens when you work with me!
But seriously loves. Honestly… it’s quite a simple process but it’s not easy. It does all make sense though when you start to understand why and how you got in the position you’re in now and what to do next.
You can get yourself out of this diet-binge cycle for good. and it is AMAZING when you do!
Lets me show you how beautiful. Click the button below for a free consult call. During this call, we will have a chat to see if my program is right for you.
Remember, I’m not sat here preaching like Nancy from Instagram..(I’m sorry to any Nancy’s out there – this is purely a made-up example) I’ve been exactly where you are now and come out the other side.
If I can do it, so can YOU!