Binge-eating: 5 Crucial Things You Need To Know


For more than 10 years, I suffered from Binge Eating Disorder (BED). You see, growing up I had a pretty messy relationship with food and struggled with my weight and anxiety

Binge eating disorder controlled my life and impacted on my self-esteem, my health and happiness. It controlled me. And the problem is, that no one was talking about it. There was no guidance about what I should be doing... 

Considering hundreds and thousands of people are still suffering (mostly in silence, like i was for so many years) from this frustrating disorder, and because I've been there, done that and recovered, I wanted to shed some light on some of the things I know about binge and emotional eating. 

 A hard to find pic of me during my always dieting yet out-of-control binge eating days. I deleted most of the others... 

 A hard to find pic of me during my always dieting yet out-of-control binge eating days. I deleted most of the others... 

The pathway to Binge Eating Disorder

So, you're trying to lose weight.  You've spent the whole week eating 'clean' because you believe "summer bodies are made in winter" (that's wrong - but that's a whole other blog post). Unlike previous times when your willpower let you down, this time you are determined to succeed, lose weight and finally have the perfect body like {insert dream body type here}. 

You made a commitment to yourself that this time will be different. According to #instafamous fitness models, you are doing all the right things... 

Is this how you lose weight?

You have been working out rigorously. Sweat is fat crying, isn't it? You signed up to a 6-week bootcamp to help get your sexy back. You hate waking up at 5am in the morning but you are willing to sacrifice your sleep-ins until you get a concave stomach. 

Its all about inspiration, right?

  • You made an album on Pinterest of what you want your body to look like and you've started following bikini models on Insta. Whenever you feel unmotivated, you will look at these images and remind yourself how far you still have to go. 

You've quit sugar/fat/fun

  • You haven't eaten any junk food in 7 days, 11 hours and 4 minutes. Not a granule of sugar has passed your lips. You read somewhere that sugar is more dangerous than riding a unicycle naked so you avoid the stuff like the plague. 

You are embracing calorie counting and/or meal plans

  • You are strictly adhering to a calorie meal plan that includes six small meals a day. The founders of the Instagram/Facebook account who you bought the plan from look so good in a bikini so it must work. She also makes millions of $$$ off your desperation but you ignore that. Apparently, unlike all the other diets - this diet actually works! You hate protein shakes and they make you fart a lot but you're willing to drink them to look hot.

You're hungry ALL the time

  • You've gotten accustomed to feeling lethargic and moody but you don't mind. When you feel hungry, you suck on ice-cubes or have a nap because that's 'healthy'. Perhaps having a fast metabolism makes you very tired? You blame it on sugar and carb and everything withdrawals and decide to sleep more. 

Your diet is going really well (in your opinion) and in just over a week, you have already lost a bit of weight on the scales. Hooray!

All is going well until...

One day you find yourself home alone, probably watching TV and then something takes over your being and suddenly, your willpower has been replaced by 3 pieces of left over pizza, 2 peanut butter sandwiches, some stale chips, yoghurt from the container and several large mouthfuls of cookies and cream ice-cream. And then some... 



Does any of this sound familiar? 

As a dietitian and someone who has felt completely out of control around food and suffered through binge-eating for more than a decade, I want to be able to share what I have learnt through my journey and education. It wasn't easy to overcome binge-eating but I invested in fully creating a body I love. 

So if you are sick of binge-eating (like I was) and want to feel in control around food, then read on. Today, I am going to be sharing with you what I have learnt about binge-eating and give you some key tips to break the vicious binge-eating cycle.  

5 things you need to know about binge-eating

1. Most often, diets cause Binge Eating. 

Binge-eating is caused by dieting. When we diet, we restrict and feel obsessed by food. But the body doesn't like being underfed. A very important role of the body is to ensure we don't starve. Unfortunately, diets simulate starvation which aggravates binge-eating.

In some cases, binge eating can be caused by other underlying issues like anxiety and depression, not dieting. But dieting is a big one. A very big one. 

The worst triggers for binge-eating are extreme diets, like the examples I shared above. Diets and exercise programs where we make ourselves do things we dislike such as eating celery when we really want a sandwich or waking up at 5am when we are not really a morning person.

Quitting diets is the first step to stoping binge eating. 

2. You must enjoy what you do

Binge-eating happens when we stop listening to our body. Starting a restrictive diet that dictates when and what to eat, regardless of how you are feeling is a sure fire way to binge eat. 

Don't cut out foods you love. Don't do exercise as punishment for eating. You must eat well and move your body because you love yourself, not because you hate yourself. 

3. You can't starve yourself skinny

Binge-eating is your bodies way of ensuring you do not starve. As I've mentioned, before, when you diet, your body thinks you're starving. 

There is a reason you binge on unhealthy food. Junk food like chocolate, ice-cream and chips is high in sugar and fat. Your body loves sugar and fat when it thinks it is in starvation mode because it knows it will get the energy it needs. If you begin to feed it properly, you body will begin to trust you again and you'll stop being able to eat the whole pantry. Stop starving yourself and cravings will subside. 

I share how I eat everything in moderation on Instagram. Come check it out. 

 Via The Nude Nutritionist Instagram - @nude_nutritionist

 Via The Nude Nutritionist Instagram - @nude_nutritionist

4. You are not lazy or have 'poor willpower' if you binge

Bingeing does not make you weak or lazy. Nor does it mean that you have no willpower. It means that your body has developed a very powerful defence mechanism to combat your under eating. When you restrict what you eat, your body decides to 'turn off' the rationale parts of your brain that self-manages food intake and you are not longer in control. 

Ironically, telling yourself that you are weak and lazy (and feeling guilty after eating) only encourages more binge eating. Leave the food guilt at the door. Embrace everything in moderation. 

5. Binge eating loves being home alone

Binge-eating most often happens in private. Secret eating is very common in binge-eating. In a world where fat is feared, it is really hard to admit that you can't control what you eat. People are judgemental. The problem is that the more we eat in private and the longer we keep our eating a secret, the worse binge-eating gets. 

So how about this. Let me give you permission: Junk food is not off limits to you anymore. But, when you enjoy treats - try and make sure your with people, at a social occasion. Don't eat in secret anymore. It's scary to think that people will 'judge' you if they see you eating junk food but it's crucial and so worth it. 

As I've said in an earlier post, stop waiting for the weight. f you want to lose the weight, stop waiting. Get out. See friends. Make plans. Buy a bikini. Go to the beach. People who do fun adventurous things think less about food because they are too busy having fun to care.

The chances of the weight coming off when you’re out living your life is much greater then when you're at home alone, watching TV (next to the kitchen). And even if you don’t lose the weight by getting out there, at least you wouldn’t have missed out on your life whilst you waited for nothing.

I know what it's like to struggle with food, binge eating and body image. If you're sick of yo-yo dieting and always chasing that constantly moving goal post, then let's do something about it. Check out my BodyLove eCourse, filled with useful info about creating a body you actually love. 

If you are in the midst of binge eating, chat to a dietitian who specialises in binge-eating and/or the non-dieting approach. I'd also recommend speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist just like I did. 

Lyndi Cohen