Binge Eating

It may start off as hunger, but you continue to eat past the point of fullness. It can occur in people of all shapes and sizes, to people from all walks of life, with a variety of life experiences. It’s not isolated to those who are overweight, or struggling with emotional problems. And – it’s common. Whilst binge eating episodes are common, not everyone who has the experience of binge eating will be diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder.

Episodes of binge eating are characterised by experiencing a loss of control when eating, and the quantities of food consumed during these times are generally larger than normal. Whilst Binge Eating Disorder tends to start with binge eating and is then followed by restrictive dieting to lose the weight gained, the usual diet/binge cycle starts the other way around. Experiencing immense body dissatisfaction and strongly wanting to lose weight, one starts to diet. Strict food rules are put in place, and often this restrictive dieting leads to extreme feelings of hunger. These food rules are always broken at some point along the way, which can lead to a “stuff it” moment, triggering off a binge. What follows are feelings of guilt and shame, which leads to more body dissatisfaction and the diet/binge cycle continues.

try something different Aside from breaking food rules and dieting as being triggers for binge episodes, it is also known that a binge can occur in response to emotions such as loneliness, boredom, anxiety and stress. The eating serves a purpose of temporarily blocking any unwanted thoughts or emotions but afterwards the person may feel guilt and embarrassment about their eating, setting up the cycle for another binge.

Many people are afraid to seek help for binge eating due to this guilt and shame surrounding their eating habits. They may feel the health professional will judge them, or they may have sought help previously to lose weight and been given a diet plan only to trigger off further binge episodes. It is therefore important to seek treatment from someone suitably experienced in binge eating and other disordered eating behaviours. Someone who understands the complexity of eating behaviours and the tangle of emotions that can accompany these. An experienced binge eating disorder dietitian will not use your weight as progress. And they will not place you on a restrictive diet or continue the story of “good/bad” foods.

If you recognise that you are stuck in the diet/binge cycle and are still desperate to lose weight, you are probably feeling quite overwhelmed and confused right now. You may now see that going on another diet may not be the best option. It may be time to seek help from an appropriate team of health professionals who will help you to work through the diet/binge cycle and begin on a path of more balanced eating once again.