Tuesday, January 31, 2023

How To Stop Binge Eating When Stressed

Free & Low Cost Support


Everyone deserves support for their eating concerns, and NEDA wants to connect you with resources that can help in addition to professional help. These free and low cost support options offer ways to connect with others and provide tools to promote recovery.

Please note that these options do not replace professional treatment. We are listing them as additional support options to supplement recovery or maintenance.

NEDA Forums

The NEDA Forums are available for individuals and loved ones looking to connect in a safe space about the eating disorder recovery process. All participants are required to agree to the . Non-compliance may result in banning future participation on the forums. The Forums are 24/7 and are moderated by volunteers trained by NEDA.

Support Groups

Support groups, though not a replacement for treatment, are a free or low-cost way to gain support from others. NEDA’s support group finder can help locate in-person groups and online options.

NEDA Network Virtual Support Groups

The NEDA Network is a partnership between NEDA and other mission-aligned organizations dedicated to advancing the field of eating disorders and building a community of support and hope. With nearly 20 member organizations, the NEDA Network provides a unified voice in the fight against eating disorders. The following is a list of virtual support group options offered by some of these Network organizations.

ANAD Online Support Groups

ANAD Recovery Mentors

Why We Want Cookies

According to recent surveys, two-thirds of people in the U.S. say they’ve been eating more feel-good foods, such as pizza, ice cream and french fries, since the coronavirus pandemic began. Most of us learned to associate such calorie-dense foods with comfort as kids we got a cookie to soothe the pain of a skinned knee or an ice cream cone after a shot at the doctor’s office. And years of birthday parties, weddings and other celebrations cemented the link between certain foods and pleasure, says Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist and emotional-eating expert at the Cleveland Clinic. The idea that comfort food is rewarding is ingrained in our culture and our brains, so it’s not surprising that we seek it out as a way to soothe ourselves when we’re stressed, she notes.

What Is Binge Eating And What Is Causing It

Put simply, binge eating is eating uncontrollably. There are two types of binge eating episodes: objective binge eating and subjective binge eating1Fairburn CG. Overcoming binge eating. London, UK: Guilford Press 2013..

With more than one in 20 people engaging in binge eating, this isnt a problem affecting just a few.

Also Check: How Stressed Are You Test

What Are The Symptoms

From time to time, most of us feel like we have eaten more than we should. But eating too much every now and then does not mean that you have binge eating disorder. If you have binge eating disorder, you may:

  • Eat way too much in a short period of time on a regular basis.
  • Eat when you are not hungry.
  • Eat for emotional reasons, such as being sad, angry, lonely, or bored.
  • Feel like you cant stop eating.
  • Eat faster than normal when you binge eat.
  • Eat so much that you feel painfully full.
  • Feel unhappy, upset, guilty, or depressed after you binge eat.
  • Eat alone because you are embarrassed about how much you eat.

Even if you dont have all the symptoms of binge eating disorder, having even a few symptoms can be a sign of a problem that needs treatment. It is important to get help right away if you or someone you know has any of these symptoms.

Managing Overeating Caused By Anxiety

How to Stop Stress Eating

With anxiety causing overeating and binge eating in millions of individuals, the common question is how can a person deal with anxiety and stop binge eating at the same time. There are, fortunately, a variety of effective methods that can be implemented to manage overeating, and also assist with relieving symptoms of anxiety.

The first step is to identify the emotional triggers that cause you to binge eat. Also, identify what you grab for when you start craving determine what your comfort foods are. Stress is the most common factor that can cause both anxiety and cravings the cortisol released when our bodies are placed under stress causes us to crave fatty and salty foods, as well as sugary treats. Thus, identify what is causing your stress, and then see if you can limit your exposure to these triggers.

In addition to identifying and avoiding possible triggers, there are some other strategies that can also be helpful. Practicing mindful eating, for example, can help you feel fuller and make you less likely to experience cravings. You should also practice impulse control techniques to help yourself say no when a craving strikes. Other strategies that may also work:

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Strategy : Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated has many benefits, but it can also help curb unwanted cravings and reduce overeating. In one study, 24 adults who drank 17 ounces before eating consumed fewer calories than people who did not drink water before a meal.

Water can also boost metabolism and may contribute to weight loss.

Why Do People Stress Eat

Some research suggests a gender difference in stress-coping behavior, with women being more likely to turn to food and men to alcohol or smoking. And a Finnish study that included over 5,000 men and women showed that obesity was associated with stress-related eating in women but not in men.

Harvard researchers have reported that stress from work and other sorts of problems correlates with weight gain, but only in those who were overweight at the beginning of the study period. One theory is that overweight people have elevated insulin levels, and stress-related weight gain is more likely to occur in the presence of high insulin.

How much cortisol people produce in response to stress may also factor into the stressweight gain equation. In 2007, British researchers designed an ingenious study that showed that people who responded to stress with high cortisol levels in an experimental setting were more likely to snack in response to daily hassles in their regular lives than low-cortisol responders.

Read Also: How To Stop Yourself From Stressing Out

Is Binge Eating Nature Or Nurture

The short answer is itâs both. The long answer is that itâs complex it includes environmental, genetic, and neurological aspects. Impairments in:

  • Reward Processing
  • Inhibitory control
  • Emotion Regulation

These neurological factors can result in problematic binge eating behaviours, those typically associated with BED . This is why psychotherapy is still the primary treatment.

Reassess Your Urges To Binge Eat

How to Stop Stress Eating and Why You Do It

To accomplish this youll have to learn to delay binge eating and use this moment to change your perception of it.


Delaying is not stopping. Youre just making a deal with yourself to wait before a binge.

Of course, this is a moment when you will be extra mindful and


Next, welcome your emotions, fears, negative thoughts with love and acceptance and breathe deeply.

It may feel uncomfortable at first. But you have some practice under your belt now. The previous steps were leading you to this moment. If you choose to stay connected to yourself and breathe deeply long enough, you will feel some relief. The relief may be mild the first time you try it. But it gets stronger with practice.


Now that you are connected to your inner world, you can clarify what you need.

Last time, I did this, I realized I needed to exercise, meditate, get off the TV, and do some yoga, and call the people I loved every other day

You will probably need to welcome more of your emotions, and connect to that scared part of yourself. Ill be talking more about this in another post so make sure to get my so you get notified when it comes out before anyone else.

What do you need?

Reassurance, a sense of safety, .?

Keep asking yourself: what do I need? What do I feel?

You may get the answer: I just want to eat. But dont settle for this.

Ask: why do you just want to eat?

This may not be easy to do at first. But it does get easier with practice.

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Choose Filling Nutritious Foods

Stocking your kitchen with filling, nutrient-dense foods can not only help improve your overall health but also combat the tendency to stress eat highly palatable foods.

For example, filling your fridge and pantry with foods that can help fill you up in a healthful way rather than foods rich in empty calories like candy, chips, and soda is a smart way to prevent the chances of noshing on unhealthy choices.

Filling foods are ones that are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Nuts, seeds, avocados, beans, and eggs are just some examples of nutritious, satisfying choices that can help fill you up and prevent overeating (

Identify Your Emotional Eating Triggers

The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, but it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event.

Recommended Reading: Why Am I Stressing Over Nothing

How To Overcome Binge Eating

Learning how to stop binge eating isnt easy, but its certainly possible. Overcoming binge eating often relies on identifying triggers and reasons for bingeing. Once you recognize the reasons youre binge eating, you can start to find specific methods to help you control binge eating.

The following strategies can help you combat the urge to binge eat:

National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders. November 2017. Accessed February 14, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Our Bodies Are Not Machines

How To Stop Binge Eating

You cut 500 calories a day from your diet. You stick to it religiously and have complete faith in the system: You will lose a pound of fat this week!

The week rolls around and youve gained weight.

Frustrated but determined, you buckle down and start exercising even more, you cut even more calories. Surely it will work this time! Youre doing everything right!

Once again, the week is up and the scale HASNT EVEN BUDGED! This is starting to get to you. All that work for nothing?!


At this point, the worst thing you can do is to keep decreasing calories. Your body is not a machine with precise inputs and outputs.

You cannot math your way through fat loss.

The fuel/calorie value of a food outside of the body is not quite the same as its value inside the body. Your body is very complex in the way it will use and obtain nutrients and is not mechanical. It is situational, individual, and unique.

Why is this significant when we are discussing stress eating, bingeing and restricting?

Because it usually cycles this way.

  • People want to lose weight so they restrict calories
  • Feelings of hunger and stress take over and willpower recedes, you binge
  • You feel guilty and stressed. So, decide to double down and restrict calories even more
  • Hunger hormones increase, weight loss does not necessarily occur, you binge again
  • The cycle repeats itself

Recommended Reading: How To Keep Mind Calm And Stress Free

Things To Do Instead Of Binge Eating

I hear the term binge eating” thrown around alot. While Im not a fan of any label, I think what many people mean is they sometimes eat without being hungry and for other reasons like stress to help soothe. But guess what? Bingeing on comfort foods is proven to NOT lead to happiness.

Because if you emotionally eat, binge eat or whatever term you choose to use,you know that most often you do not feel happy after.In fact, you may feel worse.

Emotionally eating doesn’t have to be bad. Sometimes we eat because we are happy while celebrating special occasion and want to cheers with champagne or eat a piece of cake on a birthday. Other times we may be upset or stressed and want to munch on our favorite chips just because its a coping mechanism. If anytime you eat for reasons other than physical hunger you end up feeling guilty and ashamed. Isn’t that worse for your body than the eating itself? Shame creates a stress response and causes physical side effects that can affect your digestion and sleep, increase inflammation, lead to infections and more. Plus, you’ll likely stay trapped in the vicious emotional eating cycle: You feel guilty and ashamed for emotional eating, so you continue to emotionally eat.


1.)Call a friend, your sponsor, a support person, anyone who you can talk to who will either get your mind off of food, or someone to talk to about whatever it is that you might be feeling.2.)Go for a walk

Eat Breakfast Every Day

Starting each day off with a healthy breakfast might reduce the risk of binge eating later in the day.

Several studies have found that maintaining a regular eating pattern is associated with less binge eating and lower levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger .

Plus, filling up on the right foods can keep you feeling full to curb cravings and reduce hunger throughout the day.

For example, one study in 15 people found that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced levels of ghrelin to a greater extent than eating a high carb breakfast .

Meanwhile, eating fiber- and protein-rich oatmeal was shown to improve appetite control and promote fullness in another study in 48 people .

Try combining a few fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, with a good source of protein to avoid overeating.

Summary Eating a fiber- and protein-rich breakfast can prevent cravings and keep you satisfied throughout the morning.

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Assuming Weight Loss Will/should Occur As A Criterion For Successful Recovery

Many people with BED reach out to health/mental-health providers, saying, I want to lose weight. And many people with BED are told that they need to lose weight. Given cultural pressures around thinness, its understandable that there is a focus on the pursuit of weight loss. At the same time, conflating weight loss with recovery from BED is counterproductive on multiple levels.

There are all kinds of myths about BED and weight. Its important to recognize that people with BED come in all shapes and sizes. There are people at higher weights who do not have BED, and there are people at lower weights who struggle with bingeing. You cannot tell if someone has an eating problem just by looking at them!

When the focus is on achieving a particular weight, people often stay trapped in the diet/binge cycle. If weight loss is the goal, then manipulating foodrather than honoring cues for hunger and fullnessbecomes the pattern. The pursuit of weight loss can include overriding hunger signals, avoiding foods perceived to be bad, and overexercising. Its important to note that these are the very same behaviors considered to be symptoms of eating disorders in lower-weight individuals. Research shows that while most plans and programs result in weight loss in the short run, the vast majority of people gain it back, with two-thirds ending up higher than their pre-diet weight, reinforcing that the pursuit of weight loss is counterproductive.

As one of my clients wrote:


How Does Stress Affect Your Appetite

Stress, Overeating and Binge Eating – How to Stop | MindFoodNess

Studies show that women with high chronic stress levels tend to engage in emotional eating. In addition to psychological responses to stress, there may also be physiological responses. During a stressful event, the body releases cortisol, a hormone that helps the body protect itself. However, if cortisol levels are elevated for a prolonged period of time, such as during repeated and constant stressors, this can lead to increased food consumption, fat storage and weight gain.

Recommended Reading: Why Is Life So Stressful

Support Yourself With Healthy Lifestyle Habits

When youre physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, youre better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when youre already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating.

How To Stop Emotional Eating

Do you tend to eat to feel better? If yes, then you are a binge eater or an emotional eater – but don’t worry, you can learn to manage it, heres how.

There are many reasons people turn to emotional eating as a coping mechanism. For example, if you’re feeling unhappy and don’t know how to handle your emotions, you may start overeating to distract yourself from your feelings. However it is complex and goes well beyond being just a distraction, but we’ll come back to this.

Emotional Eating is OK, in the sense that everyone does it to a point, but it is not a solution for life’s difficulties since it only works temporarily. Worse, it causes longer-term distress if it brings about weight gain.

In this opening section, we’ll explore the causes and effects of emotional eating, as well as how to break the cycle. Awareness is half the battle, and since you are reading this, you are already on the path to creating new, better coping mechanisms. But first â¦â¦â¦

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