What is binge eating and is it something real? Those of us that have never experienced it don't understand this disorder or how it works.
It's really hard to understand things that you have never experienced, especially when it comes to disorders related to mental health and food. Our expert today helps us deep dive into the binge eating phenomenon.
Coach Jon is a weight loss coach and emotional eating expert who has lost 100lbs. From nanotechnology researcher, to Navy marine engineer, to globetrotting nomad, Coach Jon spent most of his life running from his true calling, until one question changed his life. Now he's on a mission to help others lose weight for good and leave BS diets in the rearview mirror.
With Freedom Nutrition Coaching he marries the Science of Metabolism with the Psychology of Behavior Change and the Compassion of Human Connection to create life-changing transformations with his clients.
Grab his free Crush Your Cravings ebook!
Definition of Binge Eating
Binge eating is an eating disorder, meaning eating that we don't normally see as human behavior.
It is defined as episodes of rapid uncontrolled eating in a short window of time. It is a repeated pattern, happening around once a week for probably a few consecutive months.
There is a difference between overeating, emotional eating and binge eating. We overeat and emotionally eat when we binge eat but not all overeating and emotional eating is binge eating.
Binge eating falls more into the extreme end of overeating and binge eating.
So ultimately we ask ourselves what drives this kind of behavior? This is important so that we can fully understand it.
Some potential causes can be:
- Genetics- this is often overlooked because it isn't clearly understood, but there are some things we are starting to understand that can be carried down through our genetic history.
- Family history- having a parent that had a disordered relationship with food can form patterns we learn as children.
- Mental health disorders like depression, low self esteem, stress and anxiety- although cause and effect isn't entirely established as we don't know if the mental health caused the binge eating or the other way around. Everyone will be different in how these play a role.
Signs to Look Out For
There are many signs that you can look out for when it comes to binge eating. If any of these define you, it's really important you seek professional help.
- Eating in secret.
- Hoarding food.
- Eating food when you are already uncomfortably full or feeling the compulsion to keep eating.
- Disordered eating patterns- things like eating tiny meals in public but large eating episodes in private.
- Unhealthy emotional patterns- examples are if someone is a people pleaser and suppresses their own emotions to keep others happy and avoid conflict, identifying as needing constant control, and all or nothing type mindsets.
- Cognitive distortions- a thought pattern that creates an exaggerated view of reality in our head, such as catastrophizing (thinking the worse will happen)
- Generally feeling out of control around eating
There are many strategies you can use to help with binge eating. Binge eating is rarely not associated to an event or cause, so trying different strategies can help connect the cause and bring these behaviors to our conscience awareness.
Here are a few things you can try:
- Don't beat yourself up- easier said than done!
- Keep a food diary- this can be simple and is great to help connect to the cause or event.
- Eat in a regular rhythm or pattern- this can help stabilize your blood sugar to prevent spikes or crashes and trigger a binge.
- Put road blocks to the foods that you may binge- you can do things like making it harder to get to them, hiding them behind things so it takes effort to get them, etc . All of this makes you put effort into getting to the food which in turn brings the thought to a conscious level and can help you decide if you actually want it.
- Consider removing trigger foods for a short period of time- it doesn't have to be forever but this may help until you are ready to have the food that triggers you around.
Cognitive tools that can help
Coach Jon uses a few tools with his clients to help them work through episodes of binge eating. One of them is called FAST, based on the concept of what do you feel in your body and where are you feeling it.
Feel Accept Acknowledge- not feeling a sense of guilt around this emotion, desire or urge because it didn't appear based on your conscious choosing.
Speak- trying to put words into what you are feeling, whether written or out loud.
Time- recognize that most emotional urges and impulses have a short life span even though it feels like it will ramp up and your head will explode if you don't give into them, but in truth it's more like the waves of the ocean.
If you put 10 minutes of space between you and the impulse, you are less likely to act on it. You can do things like move to get your blood circulating, bring oxygen to your brain and make you feel more alert.
You don't have to wait until a binge strikes, you can preemptively set yourself up for success and do things to help like movement and meditation.
You can also do a mindset shift and move away from feeling like a helpless victim. Take yourself away from I am a binge eater to saying I experience episodes of binge eating. It does not define you.
If you struggle with practicing self care, you don't need to go from zero to 100. Even 10 minutes a day can help.
Binge Eating and Losing Weight
People who attempt something like losing weight, don't always go in a straight line from start to finish.
Since you're trying to change a pattern of behavior connected to powder emotions and identity, it takes time to get there.
Losing weight is a journey and can take many attempts before you find success.
But overall you can save struggle and time when working with a qualified professional. We can only truly step into change when we feel safe in being vulnerable.