Have you ever ended up with your face buried in a pint of ice cream, a box of Oreos, or both and then lived in an emotional state of shame and guilt? If so, you might be facing binge eating problems. After reading this article, you’ll know what causes binge eating and how to overcome it
I don’t think you would disagree with me when I say that we, humans, have a bit of a weight problem… Surprisingly, we do EVERYTHING possible to lose it but…
We do our best for five days but then fall off the wagon, and end up binge eating raw cookie dough in the late hours of the night.
Does that sound familiar to you? I bet it does.
Binge eating has spread throughout the weight loss community like a hooker’s legs. Not only it leads to weight rebound but an unhealthy relationship with food and, in some cases, suicide.
After reading this article, you will learn what causes binge eating and how to stop it from happening.
Let’s take a bird’s-eye view of why you shouldn’t ignore binge eating if it happens.
P.S. Make sure to sign up for FREE 14-Day Fat Loss For Life Course at the end😉
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Binge Eating
You might already know what binge eating (BE) is, but the majority of the public does not. So…
Binge eating is characterized by discreet episodes of rapid and excessive food consumption not necessarily driven by hunger (source).
During binge eating, people will eat until they feel uncomfortably full. Binge eating is often accompanied by feelings of loss of control, guilt, shame and psychological distress (source).
Also, binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal;
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full;
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry;
- Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating;
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
P.S. Never try to “work off” calories you have eaten during the binge. It only makes the situation worse by making you feel like a failure and guilty. Just get back on track!
You might also have a question brainstormed:
“Why should I give jack shit about it?” Well, here are some of the reasons:
- Frequent BE can cause a weight gain of 15.1 pounds during the year (source);
- Among BE patients, 27.5% refer to suicide ideation and 12.5% previous attempts of suicide (source);
- BE impairs quality of life (source);
- BE is associated with greater expression of depressive and negative feelings, disinhibition and anger (source)
Sure, just learning to cope with BE won’t get you ripped. Or cure cancer. And autism. And poverty. And white people not being able to dance.
Nonetheless, it’s still important to know not only how to overcome BE but never face it in the first place.
Which brings me to the next point – what causes binge eating & how to overcome it?
Reason #1 – Food Deprivation/Too Rigid Diet
Food deprivation has been demonstrated to increase the risk of binge eating more times than you could imagine and yet, people still jump on the latest FAD diet (keto in particular) that has the best before & after pictures in hopes that it’ll deliver similar results for them, preferably in the shortest amount of time possible.
Here’s a cut from my book “How to Lose Weight in 40 Pages”:
Paleo, low-carb, keto, Atkins, low-glycemic, clean eating, whole30, etc. All these diets have rules that you can’t break.
Back in 1999, the prof. Westenhoefer found that a rigid diet is associated with higher scores of disinhibition, with higher body mass index (BMI), and more frequent and more severe binge eating episodes (source).
You see, all these rules the diets impose on you get tiresome after about two months. That’s why we see people ditching diets right around that time and regain all the weight back.
Rigid control makes you become fixated on foods that you can’t eat. When you tell yourself that you can’t eat ice cream, it becomes of higher value to you. Your mind starts to focus on what it is that you are missing out on.
It drains your willpower the fuck out. Relying primarily on willpower to get someone to stick to a diet is a losing strategy. Willpower is a limited resource, and people can only use so much of it before they start making poor decisions.
Eventually, you will have that one taste of something forbidden and go on a Blizzard binge that makes you sick.
The Solution: Become Flexible Dieter
The flexible restraint represents a more graduated approach, in which less nutritious foods are part of the diet in smaller quantities without triggering emotions of guilt and anxiety.
Flexible restraint and a reduction in rigid restraint when losing weight are related to better weight loss maintenance, well-being and BE (source).
It’s not for the diet to decide what you can and can’t eat. It’s up to YOU. Sugar isn’t inherently bad (source). Nor carbs, sweeteners or wheat.
The DEVIL is in the DOSE.
Food freedom comes from learning to celebrate food instead of fight and eliminate it.
If you’re struggling with achieving food freedom, shoot me an email at email@example.com and let’s talk about it.
The truth is, when total calories and protein are controlled, there’s hardly ever a reason to eliminate one or more of these things from your diet.
Reduce? Sure. Eliminate? Big no-no.
Let’s say you deprive yourself of carbs. Will you be able to keep up with it long-term? Are you up for avoiding carbs until comes the day to go to a retirement home?
Because if not, you’re going to struggle with your weight and binge eating year after year after year…
Like I said in order of priorities for fat loss article, if you’re controlling your total calories, staying active outside the gym, and eating heaps of whole foods, then there’s no reason to eliminate a food or food group from your diet.
That’s the law that I live by and teach my online clients.
Reason #2 – Stress
That’s one of those “well, duh…” statements but it’s still valid.
Stress plays a crucial role in binge eating.
Just like you see in the picture by my fellow Australian Astrid Naranjo, stress alone is shown to decrease caloric intake but when you combine too aggressive calorie deficit with stress, you have a ticking bomb machine (source).
The Solution: Chill Out Brah!
First, DO NOT put yourself on a diet consisting of 6 slices of white bread per day, and watch yourself dwindle to an emaciated pile of bones in a matter of months (or a matter of weeks).
Create a MODERATE calorie deficit that I wrote about.
Like I said in my book, a slow and steady approach allows you to learn to love the journey so it doesn’t seem as if you have sold yourself into weight loss slavery.
Losing fat, staying lean and being healthy takes both time and effort. So, stop worrying about how quickly you are losing weight.
Just by applying a moderate calorie deficit you have already won part of the battle. Cause, I like I said, stress can only trigger binge-type eating when combined with too rigid dieting methods.
Also, make sure to get 7-9 hours of sleep.
Again, that might sound to you as the biggest “well, duh!” in the known universe but studies show those who get little sleep tend to have higher amounts of body fat.
As Marie Spano, nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team puts it…
If you are sleep deprived, you shouldn’t brag about it. There is no medal for being the most run-down, drained person.
Sleep loss makes you less productive. Whether in an office or on the field as an athlete.
And, it lowers testosterone, a critical hormone for both men and women. Men and women need testosterone for strength and muscle size, bone health, reproduction and generally feeling good.
Reason #3 – Dichotomous Thinking Toward Food
Dichotomous thinking is defined as the tendency to think in terms of binary oppositions such as “good or bad,” “black or white,” “healthy or unhealthy” (source).
Calling a food “bad” or “good” gives it undeserved power. “Bad” foods become perceived as forbidden fruit. This is a setup for overconsumption and binge eating because the dieter swears this will be the last dance with this morally reprehensible food.
IT’S JUST FOOD. Give the power to yourself, not the food (Alan Aragon).
Binge eating aside, a prospective study with weight regainers, maintainers, and people with healthy weight showed that dichotomous thinking was one of the best predictors of weight regain (source).
That said, evidence suggests that there is a link between dichotomous thinking, more frequent binge eating and weight regain.
If you’re not sure how to stop seeing food as “good” or “bad”, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll fix that.
The Solution: Stop Viewing Food As “Good” or “Bad”
STOP VIEWING FOOD AS “GOOD” or “BAD!
Some foods are nutrient-rich and highly satiating. Others are the opposite and thus, more conducive to fat gain when they comprise THE MAJORITY of the diet.
“Majority” is the word we want to hyperfocus on.
It’s pointless to label food as “good” or “bad” in isolation from the whole diet. It’s the whole diet that matters rather than a single food. Ice cream can contribute to a healthy or unhealthy diet depending on how much you eat and how the rest of your diet looks like.
DOSE & CONTEXT matter!
Let’s say you are on a quest to drop some pounds. You put yourself in a calorie deficit (go you!).
Every day you spend 200 calories on three cupcakes that you LOVE! Aside from that, the rest of your diet (1600 kcal) are mostly whole foods.
Do these two cupcakes flush your healthy diet down the shitter? Of course not!
The majority of your diet is still based on whole foods. So, these three cupcakes contribute to a healthy diet even though people tend to label them as “bad” foods.
Like I said in can you eat junk food and still lose weight article, the goodness or badness of certain foods depends on whose mouth they land in, and how aware that person is.
Binge eating sucks balls. However, in most cases, it’s our fault that it happens.
We put ourselves through highly rigid dieting methods and no wonder why we can’t keep up with the demanding rules they impose on us.
Binge eating can be prevented if we stopped demonizing certain foods while deifying others and sticking the “bad” food stamp on dessert.