Why Do People Binge Eat?

Binge eating is an eating disorder which causes regular consumption of unusually large amounts of food often without control and ability to stop eating. This post will take a look at why people develop this eating disorder. There are many reasons that result in a person’s desire to binge-eat, and the severity of the disorder changes with the reasons.

Not eating properly is a form of self-harm. Individuals must eat to maintain peak physical and mental satisfaction and health. Some people are often rushed, stressed out, and not able to plan healthy meals. Three reasons for unhealthy binge-eating are as follows:

  • Emotional Eating
  • Lack of Control
  • Triggers (Emotional+Environmental)

Emotional Eating

People who eat while their emotions are heightened in distress often eat excessive amounts of junk food, which is not healthy for anybody. Emotional eating is usually described as using food to fill an emotional void. Those that feel like this may need to reassess their life and their relationships.

The act of emotional eating is basically filling a void in your life and avoiding negative emotions. The consumption of junk food is usually viewed as the only method of coping with negative emotions.  Self-sabotage and a lack of self-care can lead to this form of eating. At this point, no diet will work or help because one needs to find the pain behind their overindulgence and process it in a healthy way in order to be able to overcome their emotional eating.

Lack of Control

Binge eating is enjoyable and guilt-inducing at the same time. Underacknowlegdement leads to binge eating, which is seen as messy and gross and disgusting and out of control. When people binge, their brain blanks out. They often have no control over what they are doing and it is difficult to stop once it begins.

Extreme stress or even body insecurity can result in binge eating as a coping mechanism. Shame about one’s body or about random memories that are painful or embarrassing which results in one’s willingness to binge-eat.

The saddest thing is that people use this term kind of loosely, like “I binged last night on chips.” This misuse of this term creates a connotation that it is intentional and it is fun, but in reality it is not and people, even as children, would use this to suppress uncomfortable, painful or sad feelings.

Trauma is not only a cause of binge-eating but also a result. It is like a fog: you cannot see what you are doing but continue to go forward with it anyway, taking in more food than your body can actually hold.

People use the term lightly, but in reality most people feel like the ‘most disgusting, despicable piece of trash on the planet’ after a painful binge-eating session. Worthlessness and powerlessness are scary feelings, but people still do not understand the issue of binge-eating because it’s not as simple as drugs or alcohol.

Triggers (Emotional+Environmental)

Certain triggers, whether they’re words, actions, body language, or even memories can be enough to start a regretful binge-eating session. Helplessness and lack of control will result, unless people understand what their triggers are and professionally deal with them.

One can arm themselves with tools to lessen the chance of falling into a binge-eating habit. It may occasionally be okay to give in to these feelings every now and then, unless it leads to excessive consumption of large amounts of food rapidly within a short period of time.

Binge-eating is characterised by eating when not hungry, regularly eating alone or in secret, and feeling not in control of eating patterns. Feeling disgusted, depressed or ashamed with one’s eating habits impacts people of all sizes and ages and sizes, so understanding personal triggers is extremely important, so that these feelings can be dealt with in a more healthy way.

Genetics, psychological concerns or acute stress can all be triggers for binge-eating. Common triggers, either emotional or environmental, can initiate a session of binge-eating. Emotional triggers are driven by the need to be comforted, and people try to find that comfort by bingeing on foods such as ice cream, pizza or fried foods.

Environmental triggers are external things that trigger the need to binge-eat. Parties and social gatherings are examples in which even if you are not hungry, you often eat for the sake of eating, or out of respect for the hosts. You know a candy dish or box of donuts in your office should be avoided, but because you are around people, you will eat them to show respect, making it difficult for you to stop eating even when you are full.

Declining food, having your food wrapped up, and hiding your junk foods like cookies, candy or chips in difficult-to-reach locations are good ways to avoid environmental eating. Other strategies are to replace the cookie jar with a fruit bowl, store foods like vegetables and fruits towards the refrigerator’s front so you can always be inclined to grab them first, and separate prepared foods into portioned containers for easier meal planning. So long as you control and notice what, how much and where you are eating, as well as finding other healthy ways to process emotions, binge-eating can be controlled.

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