Rather than starting this blog post with what you will find here, I’d like to start off first with what you will not. This post will not talk about how “willpower” or “determination” will resolve binging or if you “just avoid” certain foods you will feel more in control. As a matter of fact, it is the opposite. Learning how to stop binge eating is deeper than that. Let’s discuss how you can explore your binge behaviors and how to stop binge eating.
Understanding the Binge Restrict Cycle
One does not have to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder to experience binge eating behaviors. Binges are often described as “eating a large amount of food, in a relatively short period of time, associated with a sense of lack of control and distress” (Dr. Gaudiani, Sick Enough). Binging can stem from many things such as dieting, food insecurity and deprivation, trauma, weight stigma, genetics, and more. Whenever our body is physically or emotionally restricted, our body goes into “survival mode.” When this happens, we may feel out of control around food or have a strong sense of urgency to eat. This cycle, known as the binge restrict cycle, can produce feelings of guilt and shame with food.
Understanding your Triggers
As we’ve learned, binge eating can stem from many things including emotions. Exploring the emotions that are associated with binging is just as important as the physical. I recommend working with an eating disorder specialized therapist to support this work. Below are a few questions that you can ask yourself to start to explore these patterns.
- Does binging feel connected to certain emotions? Such as boredom, guilt, or anger.
- Does binging occur at certain times of the day or week?
- Did anything happen before I felt the urge to binge? Stress at work, relationship conflict, fatigue.
- Is there something else I felt I needed in that moment when I was binging? Time with a friend, increased sleep, a meal or snack.
Feeding your Body
Despite what diet culture tells you about binge eating, we need to nourish through the behaviors. Meaning, that whether our body is feeling emotionally or physically restricted, consuming an adequate amount of food can help our central nervous system feel safe again (remember your body is in survival mode). There also might be specific types of food that you binge on. Re-introducing these foods into your diet actually can make them feel less problematic. The foods that we binge on are commonly the foods we restrict. Seeking help from an eating disorder dietitian can help explore this relationship with food.
Some additional nutrition tips include:
- Keep snacks on hand so your body does not get to an urgent state of hunger
- Keep foods you actually like in the home (Yes, that means any food if accessible)
- Add your favorite foods into your day such as ice cream as part of a snack
Binge eating is not about a lack of willpower or determination. Binge eating is serious and can result in both medical and psychological complications. Understanding where your binge behaviors come from can help reduce your behaviors.
Working with a team that includes a binge eating dietitian is an integral part of recovery. We provide nutritional guidance so you learn what your body needs. And help you break the binge restrict cycle. Therefore, you learn how to stop binge eating.
Courage to Nourish is a group of eating disorder specialized dietitians. We have in person locations in Alexandria, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland. and College Park, Maryland. We offer virtual services across the state of Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. We offer individual nutrition therapy. As well as support groups. We would love to guide you in building a better relationship with food.
Emilee Young, RD, LD, is an eating disorder dietitian who serves Alexandria, VA, Richmond, VA, Charlottesville, VA, Norfolk, VA, Virginia Beach, VA and Roanoke, VA. She provides in person services in our Alexandria, VA office and virtual services elsewhere. Emilee also sees clients who live in Maryland and DC.
Take one of our eating disorder quizzes:
- Binge Eating Disorder Quiz
- Anorexia Quiz
- Bulimia Quiz
- ARFID Quiz
- Body Image Quiz
- Disordered Eating Quiz
- Chronic Dieting Quiz
- PCOS Quiz
- Orthorexia Quiz
- Compulsive Exercise Quiz
- RED-S Quiz
I am a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping those in recovery. I enjoy helping individuals work towards body acceptance and find food freedom. I am a fat-positive and anti-diet dietitian practicing from an intuitive eating lens. I enjoy working with folks who struggle with binge eating disorder (BED). I serve clients virtually and in person throughout DC and Maryland. Growing up in Virginia, I am passionate about supporting clients throughout the greater areas of Richmond, Virginia Beach, Charlottesville, and Roanoke.