Have you ever wondered why I have binge eating?
If you’ve ever had a binge eating that made you feel out of control or unable to stop eating, you likely have had this thought.
Through my coaching years, I have realized that binge eating is much more common than most people think.
Binge eating is one of the most common pre-entry challenges many of our members face as part of the Mindful Nutrition Method ™ experience. Whether you experience this weekly or in certain situations, They are confused, overwhelmed, and unsure exactly what is happening, why it is happening, and how to balance their relationship with food.
Once you have a better understanding of what is triggering your binge eating, there are steps you can take to prevent it, heal your relationship with food, and restore the balance you want.
What is binge eating?
Before we talk about what causes it, we need to go through what it actually is and what it isn’t.
First and foremost, there are two levels of binge eating. We have binge eating disorder, then we have binge eating, habits or tendencies.
Binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is defined as “recurring episodes of eating large amounts of food, a feeling of loss of control during the binge eating attack, then shame, stress, or guilt afterward,” according to the National Eating Disorder Associated (NEDA).
More specifically, it is characterized in that it consumes an excessive, significantly larger amount of food than is generally considered to be a normal meal in a period of 2 hours or less. People will also experience a lack of control during these episodes. They may feel like they cannot stop themselves or are not eating on purpose.
These episodes described occur on average at least once a week for 3 months to be considered a binge eating disorder according to NEDA.
In addition, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in America. Research shows that 1.25% of women and 0.42% of men have binge eating disorder.
Binge Eating Episodes
Now let’s say you are experiencing some of the symptoms we just went through. They consume above-average portion sizes, experience a loss of control, and may feel worried or guilty afterwards.
In contrast, however, you will experience these episodes less often than described above or possibly with less severity.
Although you may not have a binge eating disorder, you still experience binge eating.
Why am I binge eating?
Then why does it happen? There are several causes for these episodes. You may be eating this way for one or a combination of these reasons.
Let’s talk about some of the most common causes of binge eating that I see as a wellness coach and registered nutritionist.
5 causes of binge eating
1. Not eating enough
One of the most common reasons people experience binge eating is because they don’t eat enough or limit their food.
Restrictions can look very different in different situations. This can include, for example, restricting entire meals, certain foods, or simply restricting portion sizes.
It is often a result of a chronic diet that leads to a recurring start-and-stop cycle. This usually happens as a result of self-imposed food rules and regulations.
To give you a little more context, if the body is not getting enough nutrition on a regular basis, it will eventually reach a breaking point. It takes willpower to restrict the body from the food it wants and needs. Because willpower is finite, at some point this willpower opens and the floodgates open.
Portion sizes shoot through the roof and self-control falls by the wayside. The body tries to make up for the lack of nutrition it has experienced.
Often times, by the end of these episodes, people feel overly satiated, bloated, embarrassed, and frustrated. This leads them to revert to restrictions in a misguided attempt to “catch up” or “fix” the last Binging episode.
It’s also important to note that some people accidentally don’t eat enough.
One of our members was studying for her law exam when she had binge eating at night. After looking into her habits, we found that the stress she was under suppressed her appetite, which resulted in her not eating anything but a protein bar all day. When she finally got home from the library after a full day, she was starved and her body made up for what she couldn’t get.
In the future, she would pack food with her and remember the food to make sure she got the food she needed throughout the day.
2. Associate morality with food and the scarcity mindset
Whether you are limiting or not, when morale is at stake, binge eating is a common addition.
When I say associating morality with food, I am referring to seeing food as good or bad, right or wrong, right or wrong.
Those who attribute morality to eating often refer to nutritious foods as good and feel proud when they consume them. They, in turn, refer to more enjoyment-based foods that don’t have as much nutritional value. They then feel guilty or ashamed when they consume these pleasant foods.
If we attribute this kind of morality to food, then foods that fall into the “bad” category are exceptionally tempting. When these foods are consumed, a feeling of scarcity or urgency may be felt. The scarcity mindset can lead you to believe that you should be eating faster or larger servings than you normally would because you should “not” have these foods.
The rationalization stems from the idea that this may be your “only opportunity” to have the groceries. Or they tell themselves that this is the “last time” they will consume these items, so they should have a large amount in order to really “get the most of the experience.”
These mindsets can inadvertently lead to binge eating or binge eating disorder over time.
3. Avoid eating well-balanced meals
Here at Nutrition Stripped, we talk about balanced, nutritious meals all the time! To describe and convey these meals with ease, we use our Foundational Five system. You can Download our free guide who walks you through our Foundational Five system to create balanced meals to use for meal prep or fresh cooking this week!
Foundational Five meals are primarily made up of whole-food sources of protein, starchy and sugary carbohydrates, non-starchy carbohydrates, fats, and flavor factors.
Each of the components nourishes the body in a different, vital way. If we miss certain food groups (intentionally or unintentionally) it can potentially lead to binge eating.
The body essentially craves these components because they allow the body to feel full and energized. They enable the body to function optimally!
If a person’s meals are primarily composed of processed foods, or if some of these components are consistently lacking, they may lose control of the food and, as a result, consume an excessive amount.
This can sometimes be triggered by hunger, but it often goes beyond the point of hunger and satiety. This puts it in the category of a binge eating episode.
4. Unaddressed emotions or stress
If healthy, successful coping mechanisms for heightened emotions or stress are not developed, individuals may begin grasping in response to food instead.
Stress and emotional eating are common, but if left unaddressed for long periods of time, it can build up and lead to binge eating.
In this scenario, eating is a way to distract yourself from the emotions or stress that you are feeling. They don’t necessarily eat because of hunger, so they ignore signals of satiety. It’s almost an anesthetic.
If hunger and satiety are completely ignored, excessive amounts of food can be consumed in a short period of time. In addition, a lack of control can be experienced as the mind-body connection is essentially turned off.
If you find that you have no coping mechanisms for stress and heightened emotions, it may be why you are eating this way.
5. Low self-esteem or poor body image
It is very common for those who engage in these episodes to have low self-esteem or poor body image. The connection between the two is often, to some extent, the result of self-sabotage.
When you find yourself reaching for food and saying things to yourself like: “I’m already dissatisfied with my body, so I can just eat more.”, “Everything is terrible, so who cares if I eat too much.” . “Or” Eating healthy never makes a difference, so I should just eat what I want and eat as much as I want.
Overcoming binge eating
To stop binge eating, the first step is to heal your relationship with eating.
Building a balanced relationship with food enables you to eat nutritious, balanced meals and to address stress and emotions. It allows you to listen to your hunger and satiety signals and step off the diet cycle. You will even develop a strong sense of appreciation and compassion for yourself and your body.
This is exactly what we teach humans in our Mindful Diet method. We’ll walk you through the steps to healing your relationship with food. We’ll show you how to build a new relationship that enables growth, stability, and support.
You can watch our free workshop to learn how to be more balanced in your food choices so that you can become free from eating and dieting obsessions, maintain a balanced weight, and maintain a positive relationship with food and your body.