Home » Why am I still binge eating if I am eating enough?￼
Contrary to what you might think, binge eating is not the same thing as overeating.
Binge eating consists of episodes involving eating large quantities of food in a short space of time, until you feel uncomfortably full or even sick. Those who binge eat usually do so alone, and will often experience feelings of shame, embarrassment, and guilt after an episode.
According to statistics, binge eating disorder affects up to 2.8 million adults across the USA, making it more prevalent than both anorexia and bulimia1.
A mixture of several different factors can contribute towards binge eating behaviours – unfortunately, there is no single cause that can be easily addressed.
Binge eating is often linked with psychological factors such as stress, depression and anxiety. Several studies have found that stress and anxiety can significantly increase the risk for a binge eating episode2, evidencing the relationship between mood and food.
Dietary restriction is also a big factor that can lead to binge eating episodes.
Restricting your food intake makes these foods seem more desirable and rewarding, causing you to crave them more. Continued restriction will also make you hungrier, increasing the chance of binge eating.
As mentioned, binge eating does not always stem from biological hunger or cravings – a lot of the time, the root cause is more psychological.
You may be using food as a coping mechanism to try and deal with negative emotions such as stress or anxiety, even if you’re not biologically hungry.
When we eat foods we enjoy, our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This chemical is associated with pleasure and motivation, making us more likely to seek out whatever it is causing the dopamine release – in this case, food3.
Therefore, if you find yourself binge eating even when not physically hungry, it may be because your body is seeking a dopamine rush to negate negative emotions.
The key to breaking the cycle of binge eating is to let go of holding yourself back. Not only is constant restriction going to affect your physical wellbeing, but it will also take a toll on your mental health.
Even if you do feel like you are eating enough, you may still be stuck in the restricting mentality, which can be physically and emotionally draining. Shaming and guilt-tripping yourself for eating certain foods is not healthy – there is no such things as a ‘bad’ food!
Becoming more in touch with your thoughts and feelings will allow you to get know yourself better, making you more adept at understanding what your body needs.
If you feel hungry, listen to those hunger cues, and allow yourself to eat. If you’re craving a specific food, tune in to those signals and let yourself have it. After all, your body knows you better than anyone else!
Similarly, if you’re experiencing a lot of negative emotions, try to understand why this might be, and whether you might need some extra support in dealing with them. Which brings us on to tip number three…
Recovery does not have to be a journey you embark on alone. If you are experiencing binge eating and feel that it may be stemming from a place of unmet emotional needs, there is no shame in reaching out for help. In fact, sometimes this is one of the most helpful things you can do!
Here at EHL, we provide tailored, 1:1 coaching to help you improve your relationship with food. For specialised support in your recovery from qualified healthcare professionals, get in touch with us today at [email protected]
1 Hull, M. (2022, May 26). Binge Eating Disorder Facts and Statistics. The Recovery Village. https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/binge-eating/binge-eating-statistics/
2 Rosenbaum, D. L., & White, K. S. (2015). The relation of anxiety, depression, and stress to binge eating behavior. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(6), 887–898. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105315580212
3 Bello, N. T., & Hajnal, A. (2010). Dopamine and binge eating behaviors. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 97(1), 25–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2010.04.016
Embody Health London champions food freedom, positive body image, mental health and emotional wellbeing through a uniquely blended scientific and holistic approach. The EHL team specialises in treating chronic dieting and eating disorders by coaching clients to build confidence and reduce anxiety around their eating habits and food choices.
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