If you’re anything like I was, you’re looking to pinpoint why you binge eat and you may be coming up with all kinds of answers. I did it when I was bored, stressed, tired, or especially when I felt lonely. That lonely one was the kicker. But what I thought was odd was that I would also do it when I was happy. I’d be out with friends, having a great time, and the urge to binge would strike. It didn’t make sense to me because I thought that if I was connecting with people I was ok, but nope, that wasn’t the case. It seemed like there were too many emotions or situations that could trigger me and being aware of them didn’t really help me.
What did help me was learning what the real, simple reason is.
You binge eat because you have an urge to do it.
Urges are composed of any thoughts or feelings that make you feel compelled to binge. Without those urges, there are no binges. So to stop binge eating, you don’t have to identify every single emotional or environmental reason why you think you do it, thank goodness, but instead just learn how to deal with the urges.
Why do you have these urges?
At some point in your life you developed them and there are two common ways you may have done it.
One is from restricting food intake, either calories or “bad” foods. If you were restricting calories, your brain started urging you to eat a ton of food because it thought you were going to starve and thought you needed it to survive. Your brain is all about keeping you alive and when you’re restricting and not giving your brain and body what it wants and needs, its going to keep pushing you to eat a lot. If you were restricting “bad” foods, you may have felt deprived and overly compelled to eat all those foods on your “do not eat list” and just went nuts. This can keep happening if you forbid yourself from eating foods you really want to eat.
The other is from excessively overeating, over and over, and eventually transitioning to binge eating. This one is similar to when a smoker goes from smoking on occasion to a pack a day.
Either way, in the beginning, it was probably pleasurable and a temporary relief, so you kept repeating the behavior to get those feelings again. It became your go-to action.
I personally was a mix of both of these. I never had good eating habits so I went from overeating too often, to a restrictive diet, and then to a mix of the two in conjunction with binge eating.
You taught your brain that binge eating is something you do to avoid pain and gain pleasure so it continued urging you to do it because that’s exactly what your brain wants.
The urge became an automatic response and habit within the brain and each time you gave in to the urge and binged you strengthened that habit. But the good news is, habits can be broken! So this, can end.
To wrap it up, you binge because you developed urges, you created a habit by continually giving in to them, and habits, including this one, can be broken. It takes time and practice to break it, but it can be done. Be patient with yourself throughout the process.