Psychological And Emotional Triggers To Binge
Binge eating can also happen in response to psychological and emotional triggers: to satisfy a desire for comfort, numb feelings, or provide something to focus on , all of which are greatly reinforcing.It can also be the case that physiological and psychological triggers interact: if someone has been restricting calories for a period, and then something negative happens, whether this is something external or internal , it makes it much more likely that a binge will occur.
When these types of urges come, they can feel all encompassing, with the feelings building in intensity until they are overwhelming. When this occurs, individuals sometimes feel the only way to reduce the intensity of the feelings is to binge.
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Sometimes it feels like the urge to binge hits without warning. But even when youre in the grip of a seemingly overpowering and uncontrollable urge, there are things you can do to help yourself stay in control.
Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as urge surfing. Think of the urge to binge as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the urge, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, youll see that it passes more quickly than youd think.
Distract yourself. Anything that engages your attention will work: taking a walk, calling a friend, watching something funny online, etc. Once you get interested in something else, the urge to binge may go away.
Talk to someone. When you start to notice the urge to binge, turn to a friend or family member you trust. Sharing what youre going through can help you feel better and discharge the urge to binge.
Delay, delay, delay. Even if youre unsure if youll be able to fight the urge to binge, make an effort to delay it. Try to hold off for 1 minute. If you succeed. Try to stretch it out to 5 minutes. If you delay long enough, you may be able to avoid the binge.
Can People Be Addicted To Food
In recent years, food addiction has become a popular idea among some scientists. Those researchers say that certain foods high in fat, sugar, and salt are addictive, causing changes in the brain similar to those made by drugs. Studies in animals have shown that rats that binge on sugar, for example, can develop signs of dependency.
But the idea of food addiction is controversial. For one thing, the standard treatment for addiction is abstinence, and thatâs not possible with food. Also, âdieting is a very strong component of the binge eating cycle,â May says. âFrom that standpoint, itâs counterproductive to label certain foods as negative.â
Thereâs no doubt that eating can stimulate the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain, Hudnall says. âBut that doesnât make food an addictive substance. Thereâs evidence that itâs actually the behavior — the restrict/binge cycle — that causes the signs of dependency, not the food itself,â she says. Some researchers have even stated that the term âeating addictionâ is a more accurate term than âfood addiction.â
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Keep A Food And Mood Journal
Keeping a food and mood journal that tracks what you eat and how you feel can be an effective tool. It can help identify potential emotional and food triggers and promote healthier eating habits.
One study in 17 people showed that using an online self-help program that involved keeping a food diary was associated with fewer self-reported episodes of binge eating .
Several other studies also suggest that tracking your intake may be linked to increased weight loss and aid long-term weight management .
To get started, simply start recording what you eat and how you feel each day using either a journal or app.
Summary Food and mood journals can help identify triggers to address potential problems. Studies show that using a food diary is associated with fewer episodes of binge eating, as well as increased weight loss.
What Causes Binge Eating
I dont believe there is a just one answer as to what causes people start binge eating, but it seems that one common cause is having a restricted diet at some point in your life.
This could have happened when you were a child, if well-meaning parents attempted to limit your food intake to help prevent childhood obesity, or it might have happened later in life, when you attempted to diet to lose weight.
Not surprisingly, depression can also play a role in binge eating. My suffering hit its peak when I was working from home in Los Angeles, as I felt very isolated and didnt have a lot of human interaction each day. I also had a nutritionally poor diet, which probably contributed to those feelings of depression, and that left me feeling malnourished. This combination led to more serious bouts of binge eating like youll see below.
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Effects Of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating leads to a wide variety of physical, emotional, and social problems. Youre more likely to suffer health issues, stress, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts than someone without an eating disorder. You may also experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as well as substantial weight gain.
As bleak as this sounds, though, many people are able to recover from binge eating disorder and reverse the unhealthy effects. You can, too. The first step is to re-evaluate your relationship with food.
My 6 Strategies To Stop Eating Sugar
Im not saying I managed to avoid added sugar completely through the holiday season. But I did come up with a few ways to not relive the Halloween binge.
I checked in with UVA nutritionist Katherine Basbaum, RD, to get her feedback on the choices Ive been making. Because, you know Valentines Day is coming. And Easter Mother-in-law or not, theres a lot of opportunities for me to shove too much chocolate in my mouth coming up.
A lot of the things youre doing are right on the money, Basbaum says. Lowering or limiting added sugars is a hard thing to do. Foods with added sugars might have good things in them. Or foods without added sugars might have things that will derail your diet in other ways. She underscores, for instance, that cutting out added sugar doesnt equal weight loss.
Still, Basbaum applauds my effort. Added sugars are one of the number one things I work with patients on, Basbaum says. Heart disease, diabetes, inflammation sugar is a detriment to all chronic diseases. If you have cancer or an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis, its like adding fuel to the fire.
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S To Stop Binge Eating
Step 1: Stop dieting
As discussed above, you have got to stop restricting and depriving yourself, whether physically or psychologically, in order to stop binge eating. You have to eat enough, regularly, until your body and brain start to trust you again. That means just eating, probably more than youre used to, and definitely more than dieting ever told you was okay.
It also means you might gain some weight. But dont freak out. Gaining some weight after periods of restriction and deprivation is very normal and healthy. And before you curse me out and slam your laptop shut, or throw your phone across the room, theres typically a pendulum swing that begins.
You might feel a little out of control at first. You might eat so much it scares you. But eventually, youll start to feel disinterested in some of the foods that used to trigger binges. Youll start to be satisfied with less, and youll start to crave things like vegetables, as well as cookies.
Your body will find balance again and your weight, instead of yo-yo-ing and weight cycling for the rest of your life, will finally settle at a healthy, natural range for your body and stay there.
P.S. You can get help right here by booking a free Breakthrough Session.
2. Begin to Practice Intuitive Eating
When you do make the commitment to stop dieting, there is no better framework out there to help you heal and come back to Earth than the framework of Intuitive Eating.
3. Build a Positive Body Image
How To Stop Binge Eating: Understanding Why You Binge Eat
For the most part, all of the various programs I tried to stop binge eating suggested that binge eating was a self-containedpsychological defectthe result of a spiritual malady, or bad habit, or perhaps some childhood trauma.
In other words, they all suggested that if I could just fix the underlying emotional problems that triggered binges, I would be healed.
Doing everything in my power to get this problem under control, I went to therapy, I went to church, I journaled, I made up with my motherand for years, I just couldnt stop bingeing.
It wasnt until years into my healing journey, that someone finally suggested that perhaps my bingeing wasnt just a response to difficult emotions or neurological junk in my brain
perhaps my binges were a natural responseto countless years of dieting and feeling deprived around food as a result of innumerable attempts at weight control throughout my life.
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Getting Help For Someone Else
If you’re concerned that a family member or friend may have binge eating disorder, let them know you’re worried about them and encourage them to see a GP. You could offer to go along with them.
Read more about talking to your child about eating disorders and supporting someone with an eating disorder.
What Is Emotional Eating
Emotional Eating, on the other hand, is eating for emotional pleasure or to soothe uncomfortable feelings.
A normal eater may eat emotionally from time to time, but will likely do so far less often than dieters and restrictors, for reasons that I explain here.
That being said,
the reality ismost people eat emotionally sometimes
As my friend Wendy Shankar says,
there are only 6 people who eat food righteously as fuel and nothing elseand all six of them are Kenyan marathon runners.
The difference between a person who has a bowl of ice cream after a hard day, and the person who flies off the handle into a week-long binge
is whether or not they were trying to control their food and weight to begin withis whether or not they struggle with diet-mentality around that experience.
Folks who are not emotionally attached to being good around foodthat is, folks who are not on a wagon around foodwill not fall off the wagon when they eat emotionally. Dieters willand falling off the wagon is ALWAYS more intense than an easy bowl of ice cream to self-soothe.
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What Is Considered Binge Eating
Binge eating is defined as the consumption of a large quantity of food in a short period of time. In many cases, the person binge eating feels out of control and eats WAY past their comfort level. For a person suffering from Binge Eating Disorder, there is no purging after the binge
I would imagine that almost everyone has experienced some level emotional eating, or comfort eating, at some point in his or her life, but its the eating far past your comfort level or feeling out of control that sets binge eating apart from simply splurging.
A binge can vary from person to person, as its kind of up to self-interpretation. For some, they may tend to binge eat at night, after a stressful day at work or after a day of a low-calorie dieting. For others, it maybe a full day of binge eating, particularly on days leading up to starting a strict diet. One thing that most binges have in common is that the eating is done in secret, as the person is ashamed of his or her actions.
Heres an example of what a full day of secret binge eating looked like for me:
A binge day like this would usually occur anytime that I was planning to try a super-strict diet, like a juice fast, an all-raw diet, a candida cleanse, or a low-carb protocol . The more strict my diet, the more drastic the binge would be.
Binge eating, in general, doesnt make logical sense, which is why its so hard to explain it to others who havent experienced it.
Ways To Kick Sugar For Good
Sweetness is a compelling and powerful taste sensation. You arent weak, craven, or a bad person because you enjoy the taste of sugar. But, like a drug, sugar can be addictive. When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar spikes, and then crashes, which makes you crave even more sugar. Whats more, sugar that is not burned as fuel by the body gets stored as fattriglycerides specifically, which have a predilection for your midsection. To conquer sugar cravings, lose weight, and reclaim your health, try these interventions:
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How Long Does It Take To Stop Craving Candy And Sweets
Believe it or not you can stop craving candy and sweets immediately. Like most addictions a majority of the problem exists in your mind rather than in any physical withdrawal-like feelings created by the body.
Cravings are created in, and perpetuated by, your mind the result of thought processes associated with trigger moments when it might normally cross your mind to have something unnaturally sweet or full of processed or starchy carbs. If you re-wire your brains thought processes by understanding how sugar, candy, and sweet treats & carbs have manipulated your moods, your emotions, and your feelings you can actually thoroughly enjoy thinking about NOT having those sugary things rather than suffer any cravings or feelings of loss.
How To Stop Binge Eating: Plan Nutritionally Balanced Meals
8. At the very beginning, I went to a dietician and followed a meal plan. The meal plan made me eat 6 times a day, a lot of food, and a lot more variety than I was used to. In truth, it wasnt a lot of food, it was around maintenance level and it really helped me cut down on overeating and binging and relearn portioning and hunger and fullness cues.
9. One thing that was very helpful about meal planning was the safety of knowing that if I was eating a food I liked and was worried I wasnt going to eat enough to be satisfied, I knew I could eat the food again tomorrow as part of my plan.
10. Theres a book for children with anxiety that I really love called Sleeping with Bread that tells the story of how children rescued during World War II had trouble sleeping because they thought they would wake up somewhere unsafe again. The solution was to give the children bread to hold while they slept, so they had the security that when they woke up, they would have food to eat. This is kind of the same concept and I way I delay using eating disorder symptoms which, as insane as it sounds, make me feel safe. When I wrote in my notebook what I was going to eat tomorrow, I felt more relaxed. When I felt like I wanted to binge or purge or weigh myself or something, I could write down that I was allowed to do it tomorrow. Knowing that I didnt have to do it right now, but I could still do it another time made me feel like I had a safety net.
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Why I Need To Avoid Sugar
Im a middle-aged woman, so Ive had time to learn a few things about myself. One of those things is that Im never going to be a skinny person. Its not that I couldnt develop the discipline to eat only steamed broccoli for the rest of my life. I just dont care enough to do it. Ive got short, dumpy Irish potato farmer written all over my genetic code, and Im fine with it.
What I DO care about is avoiding:
Sugar threatens to make all of these horrors come true.
How To Stop Binge Eating: Talk To A Therapist
35. I have a lot of very difficult conversations with my therapist. When it comes to conflict, Im an avoider. I hate talking about difficult topics and I cry and feel upset and anxious when I do. But the way to get rid of a monsters power is to shine the flashlight in the closet and see it for what it is. Talking about a bad thing gets rid of any power that bad thing has.
36. A surprising thing about therapy is that every time I tell my therapist an insane thing that Ive been too embarrassed to tell anyone before, she tells me how normal it is and how its in a cause and effect relationship with other things in my life . WHAT A FUCKIN RELIEF.
37. I started keeping a compliment journal. I screenshot texts or emails that are nice and I save them privately to my Tumblr. I scroll through them when Im having a difficult day.
38. One day I dumped out all the old letters and cards I have in a memory box in my closet and got some colorful markers and wrote a list of nice things people have said about me. I felt like a little bit of a baby for having to do it, but it did make a really dramatic change to my self-esteem to spend some time seeing myself through the eyes of people who love me.
39. I went to group therapy and listened to a lot of people name all the same fears and experiences that were swimming through my head. There was such a surprising amount of power in just realizing I wasnt alone.
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