After 10 years of dealing with an eating disorder, I know a thing or two about getting stuck in the very painful Restrict-Binge, or Diet-Binge Cycle.
I also know a thing or two about how to get out of it since I've been helping people heal since 2017 and if you're reading this, I truly want to help you, too, because I know how good it is to be free from it.
Chances are you've spent a lot of time believing that willpower and control are the solution to binge eating, but I am willing to bet that trying to rely on either of those has not been successful for very long. And that's because a lack of willpower or control are not why you can't stop binge eating.
Below are 10 reason why you can't stop binge eating.
1. You think that there is a "right" and "wrong" way to eat
And whenever you think you've eaten the "wrong" way, you say "to hell with, I'll just keep eating everything that isn't nailed down and start over tomorrow." The guilt and shame of slipping up sends you into a binge with the promise of making up for it.
2. You think there is an amount of food that is "okay" to eat and an amount that is "not okay" to eat
When you eat an amount that is "not okay," you judge yourself harshly and feel deeply bad about it. Judging the amount of food you eat from a place of fear and shame contributes to the diet-like way of thinking and thus binge eating.
3. You are afraid of the idea of gaining weight or not losing more weight
If you are not okay with the way you look it's unlikely you'll be okay with the way you eat. And if you are only okay with yourself if you look a certain way, you will only be okay with yourself when you eat a certain way. The two feed off one another. Body image work is a requirement for real freedom from binge eating.
4. You are trying to control your food to control your weight
Any attempts at controlling your food means you are on a diet and diet means restriction which means binge eating is bound to happen eventually.
5. You believe willpower is the answer to no longer binge eating
Willpower is like pulling back a bow-n-arrow. The tighter you pull it in one direction, the further and faster it will shoot in the other direction. Restrict --> Binge. Willpower has nothing to do with your problem with food.
6. You believe emotional eating is a huge problem
Like if you could just stop eating your feelings you'd be good. But if you are judging yourself as a failure for turning to food to cope, you are actively engaging in a restrictive thought pattern. The subliminal message is "this is bad, I need to be better tomorrow" - which often triggers more eating. Thus turning a benign coping mechanism into shame eating aka binge eating.
7. You hate your body
Whenever we have judgment and shame around our body, we can't help but be obsessed with food. So even just feeling bad about your body or weight can trigger a binge very quickly.. Additionally, it's also what keeps us going back to dieting or restricting following a binge, putting us right back in the restrict-binge cycle. Making some level of peace with your body is required to make peace with food.
8. You have unhealed emotional wounds and pain
Dieting at it's core is a coping mechanism, it's a way to manage the discomfort of living in a size-biased world. Some of that discomfort is a direct result of Diet Culture like repeat exposure to pictures of thin women, fat jokes in movies, comments from family, etc. Sometimes we project the weight of our problems, including unhealed trauma, onto the weight of our body. We can turn to food (restrict it or binge on it) to suppress, numb, avoid and cope.
9. You earn your food or make up for your food
For example, you ate cake today so tomorrow you have to only eat salad and work out extra hard. Or since you worked out and ate salad today, tomorrow you can have cake. This way of thinking and relating to food contributes to the diet-binge cycle.
10. You do not use your hunger and fullness signals from your body to drive your eating
You often do not eat when you are hungry or eat enough to fully satisfy your hunger. Conversely, when you binge eat you are likely eating way past the point of being comfortably full which makes you feel like you need to eat less or "be better" tomorrow just keeping you stuck in the restrict-binge cycle.
Notice how this list doesn't include things like "you keep binge foods in the house," "you can't stick to a diet," "you don't have enough willpower," "you haven't tried this special diet," and so on.
Maybe you noticed that all of these reasons relate to a way of thinking about food, yourself and your body in a specific way.
Which reasons resonate with you the most?
Binge Eating Recovery Resources
To learn more about healing your relationship with food, check out my free video training series HERE.