Binge Eating: A Vicious Cycle
I used to binge eat. Man, did I used to binge eat. For me, the pattern was severe restriction followed by insane levels of bingeing on all of the food I’d denied myself for days or weeks beforehand - food that was ‘junk’, ‘bad’ food, food that didn’t appear on whatever crazy diet plan I was following at the time. Pizza. Doritos. All the carbs.
Classic binge eating, I’ve since learned. You see, binge eating differs from overeating because of genuine hunger or emotional eating. Bingeing comes from trying to control yourself around food; instilling a discipline so strict that your inbuilt biological impulse to desire what you can’t have goes into overdrive and the result is a binge of epic proportions. Think ‘drowning in Popeyes Chicken boxes’ or ‘I think I’m actually going to puke’ levels. Been there, done it, puked on the t-shirt.
In my experience - and I appreciate everyone’s experience is different, but my friends and clients have led me to believe I’m not alone - binge eating is often triggered by diet mindset. And here’s the newsflash: YOU DON’T EVEN NEED TO BE ON A DIET TO SUFFER FROM DIET MINDSET Say what?
So let’s get this ‘diet mentality’ thing straight. Raise your hand if any of the following apply:
You have a tendency to divide foods into good and bad, right and wrong, hell YES and hell NO, never, never ever EVER.
Your food control strategies have been - and can still be, depending on which diet altar you’re currently worshipping at - compulsive and extreme: cutting out entire food groups, saving up calories for ‘treats’, periods of starvation, having a small group of ‘safe’ foods or meals that you can’t deviate from, obsessive measuring etc.
And when you fail on your (crazy strict, totally unsustainable and unrealistic) rules around food and binge big-style, you feel shame, guilt and embarrassment - I’m talking Catholic guilt on acid.
Sound familiar? There’s a lot of us diet mindset sufferers out there ;)
Emotional eating, which I mentioned above, is actually a pretty normal reaction to life, stress, hormones, whatever - and totally different from a full-on binge. Often if you’re locked into a diet mindset and obsessing over not being able to eat x (for me, x was always Doritos, but substitute your own equivalent), you’ll eat other stuff...and then eat some more...and then some more. Maybe if you’d just eaten the thing you wanted, you’d have had the damn bag of Doritos and the whole ordeal would be over. But with a binge, you end up overeating, the guilt kicks in, you make the vow to NEVER eat Doritos EVER again...and the whole sorry cycle begins all over again.
And there’s the rub. The thing with diet mindset? It’s boring. And oh-so predictable. You’re smarter than that. And you’re sure as hell worth more than that crappy circuit of restricting, bingeing and self-hatred.
Finally - and it took a long time, believe me - I came around to the idea that I didn’t need a new diet; I needed a new mindset. And I find that many of my clients have reached the same point before they reach out and get in touch about helping them reprogram their attitudes towards food.
Ready for something different? Check out my services page and see what LVL Holistics could do for you.