We’ve all been there. We are going along just fine with our established meal prepping routine just to instantaneously fall off the plan and into a binge eating session*. And it usually isn’t a binge on healthful foods, but rather foods with lots of sugar, starch, and calories, UGH!! Once we come out of our food coma, we are left trying to understand why it happened in the first place. This is the key to finding our solution.
GK Chesterton once said, “It isn’t that we cannot see the solution, it is that we cannot see the problem.”
In this article, we are going to take a long, hard look at some of the problems that can lead to a struggle with binge eating*. Once we identify the problem and your particular triggers, we will have taken the first great step towards taming out-of-control eating.
Maybe you have struggled with one of these six common binge eating triggers?
The “I’m mad and want revenge!” Binge-This type of binge is triggered by an underlying anger as a way of venting it. It could be anger at a situation or some other person, or even yourself. You might be angry for letting yourself down, failing in some way, or mad at your body for “not cooperating” with your plan. So instead of facing the anger appropriately, we pig out on 2 bags of chips and leftover birthday cake. But this can have a cyclical effect. Though we might feel temporarily consoled, we get angry at our lack of self-control and binge again. Could it be that anger is at the root of your problem?
The “I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed out!” Binge-When we are feeling this way, we want distraction mostly to help us forget our troubles. And stress also seems to affect our food choices. Stress releases the hormone, Cortisol, which tends to give us more craving for calorie dense/high fat foods. We tend to want comfort and this comfort often comes in the form of Mom’s chicken pot pie! Can you relate? Are you overeating out of stress? If so, maybe that stress needs to finally be met head-on or needs to be distracted at the gym instead.
The “Am I finally alone?!?” Binge-Though anyone can relate to this trigger, mothers with young children seem to really identify with this one! The trigger for this type of binge is having access to alone time that seems rare. To celebrate, we can often fall into this trap. It can be an excuse to relax for a bit especially if we have been under pressure to get lots of things done. Or it can be a response to boredom. There is a secretive aspect to this type of overeating. There is an opportunity available with no one around and no one will ever know. But, of course, YOU will know and know that you might be undoing weeks of careful food planning. Is there something else that you could do to celebrate ME TIME that would be just as satisfying as an entire box of Fiddle Faddle? Something to think about…
The “I’m just craving something yummy!” Binge-Do you find yourself spending lots of time fantasizing about dessert or some savory/cheesy meal? At the end of the day do you realize you have been grazing all day on poor food choices? Do you find yourself drawn to food videos that are simple, but extremely fattening? Then you might be setting yourself up to go on a pleasure binge. Perhaps a reordering of routine or spending a conscious few minutes pondering what REALLY brings you pleasure. Maybe the real pleasure, if you think about it, is the rewards you get from sticking to your sane, yet satisfying meal prep plan.
The “I’m feeling deprived” Binge-And maybe you are. Have you ever thought about that? Have you become legalistic in your food choices and restricted yourself so tightly that you have sucked every bit of joy out of eating? Don’t do that! If there is one thing that we hope you have learned by reading MPOF is that we are all about taste and deliciousness. Make sure that you are giving yourself grace and a little indulgence from time to time. Be good to yourself and make sure you lace your meals with great tasting, yet nutritious food. These two things, flavorsome and healthy, do not have to be mutually exclusive.
And last but not least, probably the most common cause of bingeing:
The “I’m Crazy HUNGRY!” Binge-Physical hunger ranks high on the reasons many fall into being out-of-control with food. They have not been feeding themselves on a regular basis only to become ravenous and lose track of what they have eaten. Before they know it there are Little Debbie wrappers strewn around the family room and the secret stash of the kid’s Halloween candy has been breached. If this sounds vaguely familiar, there needs to be some adjustments made. Make sure you are getting your macros! Keep some healthy snacks available and take the time to eat them when you need to. It is ok to be a little bit hungry for the next meal, but if you find yourself indulging your thoughts on foods you will regret eating later, it is time for a little bite.
So, we just went over the six top reasons that people binge eat and some ideas to curb that temptation. If you are finding that your struggles are more intense than what was described here, or you just can’t pinpoint the reason for your last food bender, you might consider getting a professional’s advice. We all need a little help from time to time.
*Binge eating is defined as, "The consumption of large quantities of food over a short period of time, typically as part of an eating disorder." However there is a difference betwen binge eating and binge-eating disorder.
Binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating.
Almost everyone overeats on occasion, such as having seconds or thirds of a holiday meal. But for some people, excessive overeating that feels out of control and becomes a regular occurrence crosses the line to binge-eating disorder.
Most people with binge-eating disorder are overweight or obese, but you may be at a normal weight. Behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder include:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a two-hour period
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Eating even when you're full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you're uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Have binge-eating episodes more than 3 times per week
If you find that your episodes of binge-eating are happening more than 2-3x per week, please contact your medical professional as soon as possible.