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.
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Treatment For Binge Eating Disorder
If you think you may be struggling with an eating disorder, the first step is to speak with your GP. It is important to seek professional treatment right away to avoid serious medical problems. Usually, the recommended treatment for B.E.D is psychological therapy, along with healthy eating, stress management, and exercise. The good news is that many people with an eating disorder make a good recovery, although it takes time and effort.
We asked Georgie to explain a little about her approach when treating clients with B.E.D at Positive Mind Works. She answers:
Treatment is about:
How To Limit The Impact Of Stress On Your Diet
Before you whip up some mac n cheese at the end of a challenging day, ask yourself whether your craving is coming from your belly or your brain. Rate your hunger on a scale of 0 to 10, suggests Jenny Taitz, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles and author of End Emotional Eating. If you’re on the lower end of the range, think of ways you could deal with anxiety more directly, like listening to uplifting or calming music, going for a brisk walk, calling a friend or snuggling with your dog, Taitz advises. Just delaying eating gives that feeling of urgent need time to pass.
It also helps to pay attention to your food choices throughout the day. A healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables, fruits and protein, can keep your body and mind on an even keel, whereas sugar and caffeine cause more ups and downs in your mood and energy and exacerbate stress, Albers says.
And here’s a comforting thought: As long as you’re not a compulsive stress eater, one way to make peace with occasional cravings is to accept that stress eating can be part of a normal, healthy diet, says Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, D.C.based nutrition counselor and author of Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out and Never Say Diet Again. If you don’t look at comfort food as forbidden, you’re more likely to be able to enjoy the experience periodically and not overdo it.
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Signs Youre A Stress Eater
If you respond to stress by eating, youre not alone. Chronic stress has become an epidemic in the U.S., and the American Psychological Societys Stress in America survey revealed 42 percent of people report being stress eaters.
How do you know if stress is driving your urge to snack? You might
- Eat when youre not hungry
- Eat more when you feel overwhelmed
- Eat to make yourself feel better
- Think of food as a security blanket in times of stress
- Have difficulty staying away from food when stress levels are high
If you only engage in these behaviors on rare occasions, its not likely cause for concern. However, if food is always your go-to when life gets out of control, you could be at risk for serious health problems.
Eating in response to stress can cause physical, mental, and emotional side effects, including:
- Cravings for comfort foods high in sugar, salt, and fat
- Weight gain
- Increased insulin and HbA1c levels
- Higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases
- Feelings of guilt, shame, or self-hatred
In some cases, stress eating may result from or progress to an eating disorder like bulimia or binge eating disorder . Both disorders involve episodes of uncontrolled eating triggered by a variety of factors, including feeling overwhelmed.
Some Of The More Common Signs Of Binge Eating Disorder Are:
If someone is developing binge eating disorder, often changes in behaviour are noticeable before changes to physical appearance. Signs include:
- Buying lots of food
- Organising life around bingeing episodes
- Hoarding food
- Compromise of education and employment plans
Binge eating disorder is a mental illness, and you might notice changes in the way you or someone you know feels before physical symptoms become obvious. Psychological signs include:
- Spending a lot or most of their time thinking about food
- A sense of being out of control around food, or a loss of control over eating
- Feeling anxious and tense, especially over eating in front of others
- Low confidence and self-esteem
- Feelings of shame and guilt after bingeing
- Other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety
There are several physical consequences associated with binge eating disorder:
- Poor skin condition
Like any eating disorder, binge eating disorder can have long-term physical effects, some of which may be permanent. These include:
- Damage to the oesophagus and stomach
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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 can’t 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 don’t 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.
Binge Eating Can Be Coping Mechanism For Trauma
When trauma underlies a patients binge eating disorder, recovery cannot begin until the binge eating stops and long-term remission cannot occur until the trauma is addressed and alternate coping mechanisms are developed.
The underlying trauma may not be from an incredibly dramatic event such as witnessing a death, suffering a sexual assault, experiencing a serious car accident or being deployed in combat. It could be having a family pet die, losing a job, being forgotten at school or going through a divorce or difficult breakup. All can have the same effects: an increase in anxiety and frustration and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder with its associated symptoms of nightmares, dissociation and avoidance.
Eating disorders, particularly binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and the restrictive form of anorexia nervosa, all serve to alter mood and distract the person with the disorder from their trauma. The planning involved in hiding the purchase and consumption of vast quantities of food, creating excuses for missed meals, disguising purging, if that is a component, and avoiding social outings create a preoccupation that suppresses other thoughts and memories while providing a sense of control shattered by the traumatic event.
Lifelong recovery depends on working through each of step at the start of treatment and mastering them in the years that follow.
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Scientific Causes Of Stress/binge Eating
People respond to stressful situations differently. There are many scientific reasons for why some individuals are more predisposed or more likely to engage in emotional eating in times of stress.
- Females are more likely to report binge eating than males according to research published in Eating Behavior4.
- Genetics/ Environment/ Brain Changes
- Individuals who are genetically susceptible are more likely to perceive stressful situations differently and thus may be at risk for developing eating disorders like BED5. Furthermore, genes can influence how the body responds to various environmental cues and thus modify the risk for BED5.
- People with BED may have certain neurotransmitter genes that are upregulated and this disorder could be inherited. Specifically, they seem to have a heightened activity of dopamine, which could manifest as a heightened desire for reward or pleasure6.
- Individuals with BED or those prone to emotional eating may have structural brain changes that research says can cause increased sensitivity to food and less control when around food7.
Why You Stress Eat
People look for comfort in food for both physiological and psychological reasons.
The hormone cortisol rises with chronic stress and can lead to increased appetite, says registered dietitian Allison Knott. It can be true hunger if you have extended stress that is promoting this cortisol production to the point of impacting your appetite, she says.
But just as often, food is used as a numbing strategy, says Amanda Baten, a nutritional psychologist. Its a distraction strategy in the same way that people might use alcohol or drugs or sex or TV as ways to create a buffer between themselves and whatever difficult feelings they might be experiencing.
Eating can even spark some of the same neurological reactions that drugs do, albeit to a lesser extent. Brain imaging research has shown that when people binge on carbohydrates and sugars, it can actually activate the pleasure centers of the brain, Baten says. Research has shown that sugar, like heroin or cocaine, can cause the feel-good chemical dopamine to flood the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain responsible for pleasure and reward. Sugar can also release endogenous opioids, the bodys natural painkillers, which creates a pleasant effect.
But just like drugs and alcohol, emotional eating is a bandage for stress, rather than a cure. A healthier response, Baten says, is recognizing that stress and negative emotions happen, and that we have to find sustainable ways to cope with them.
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Learn To Accept Your Feelingseven The Bad Ones
While it may seem that the core problem is that youre powerless over food, emotional eating actually stems from feeling powerless over your emotions. You dont feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you avoid them with food.
Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary. You may fear that, like Pandoras box, once you open the door you wont be able to shut it. But the truth is that when we dont obsess over or suppress our emotions, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power to control our attention.
To do this you need to become mindful and learn how to stay connected to your moment-to-moment emotional experience. This can enable you to rein in stress and repair emotional problems that often trigger emotional eating. HelpGuides free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can show you how.
Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms
There are many ways that binge eating disorder can impact a person’s life. Often binge eating disorder can cause weight gain, and in terms of physical health, it is associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. People may also find that their mood is impacted binge eating disorder is linked to low self-esteem and lack of confidence, depression and anxiety. As with other eating disorders, its likely to be changes in behaviour and feelings that those around them notice first, before any physical symptoms become noticeable.
While binge eating disorder can affect anyone, the condition tends to be more common in adults than in younger people, often starting in someones 20s or older. It may develop from or into another eating disorder.
A potential effect of binge eating disorder is that the person will become overweight or obese. Obesity is linked to serious physical health risks, and can affect multiple areas of an individuals life. It is important to keep in mind that the diagnosis of binge eating disorder is not limited to overweight individuals it is possible to suffer from binge eating disorder and be within the healthy weight range.
Although not an eating disorder, Beat are passionate about ensuring that the complexity of obesity is understood. Beat have addressed campaigns aimed at weight loss and language used in relation to obesity in our campaign: Public Health, Not Public Shaming.
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Try These Tips To Avoid Binging:
At Positive Mind Works, we provide online help for eating disorders and weight loss. Our services provide easy access to trusted and evidence-based support through our experienced psychologists from the comfort of your own home! Contact us today to book an initial 20-minute consultation to see how you could benefit.
Why Do Academics Stress Eat During The Semester
Women in academia make no exception from stress-coping actions. Stress during the semester also seems to affect food preferences. While during summer, the usual diet consists of fruits and vegetables, from September until the spring, the preference is towards carbohydrates. Also, according to studies, physical or emotional distress , increases the intake of high-fat foods as well as foods high in sugar, and sometimes both.
However, we are aware that overeating at the office isnt the only stress-related action that can add unwanted pounds. Stress causes academics to lose sleep, exercise less, and over drink, all of which can lead to excess weight.
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What To Do When Anxiety Makes You Overeat
Anxiety disorders are some of the most prevalent psychological conditions to affect the worldwide population. There are numerous conditions classified within this category, and the symptoms experienced by individuals affected by one of these disorders can range from mild to more severe, life-altering complications. At least 19.1% of all adults in the United States are estimated to experience symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder on an annual basis, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It is also estimated that approximately 31.1% of all adults in the country will experience symptoms associated with anxiety disorders during their lifetime. Statistics have also provided evidence that women are more likely to develop anxiety and depression, when compared to men.
You Are Hungry For Something Other Than Food
If, after you try these strategies, you still find you are overeating, then it may be time to dig a little deeper into your own Dynamic Eating Psychology and really explore the situations that surround your overeating experiences.
Perhaps you are having a stressful day, or youre in the middle of a major life transition, or maybe you are just really exhausted. Perhaps you are fighting with your partner, so you pick up a pizza and eat it all because you feel confused or upset. Food is a wonderful symbolic substitute, but many foods, especially carbohydrates, increase production of serotonin and tryptophan, allowing us to experience a much needed, but temporary, feeling of calm. In this case, your body is reacting to food like its a drug its literally changing your biochemical reactions. Your body isnt actually craving nutrients or calories its craving comfort.
Its okay to let yourself receive comfort in this way from time to time, but relying on excess amounts of foods to regulate your mood is a dangerous habit. Ultimately, you will create a vicious cycle of depending on food to calm you, and your natural stress response system will stop functioning.
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What Is Stress Eating
Stress eating or emotional eating is a way of responding to negative emotions by turning to food. Obvious, right?
Many people who stress eat are not overweight but stress eating can contribute to weight gain and eventual obesity and the health concerns that come with it.
However, theres more to stress eating than a risk of being overweight. A deeper concern is why you are turning to food in the first place. The root of the problem is psychological and that is where you need to focus your efforts to stop the loss of control around food.
Many people who stress eat end up feeling powerless and guilty afterwards, adding to their emotional distress.
They may follow up this loss of control by restricting their eating. Unfortunately, this can result in more stress, hormonal disruptions, and a greater change of stress eating and bingeing again.
So begins the cycle of bingeing and restricting.
If You Honestly Just Need That Cookie Eat One Or Two
Try not to exceed two. Its okay to treat yourself if youre feeling down, sad, angry, stressed etc. As long as youre not going overboard!
Please keep in mind that Im not a dietician or nutritionist. These are all my own opinions and what help ME when it comes to binge eating.
And, well, if youre in the mood for cookiesI highly recommend this recipe by Alison Roman! Theyre salted shortbread chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. And theyre to die for. They taste just like the English shortbread cookies you get at Christmas. Except theyre a tad bit saltier. And they are coated in raw sugar. And they have chocolate chunks in them. Yup, they live up to the Internet hype that has been surrounding them.
Anyway. Thats all for now. Ill keep you guys updated on the house and I cant wait to show you pictures once everything is moved in and decorated!
Love you guys! xo.
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