Binge Eating Or Comfort Eating? 5 Ways For Comfort Eating To Stay Comfortable

 / 

Binge Eating Or Comfort Eating? Solutions To Curb Bingeing

Have you ever demolished an entire pint of ice cream after having a horrendously bad day? Was this binge eating or comfort eating? This article is going to discuss about both, talk about the differences between the two, and how you can stop yourself from binge eating often.

I have two distinct memories that involve eating. One horrified me, the other brought a sense of being understood.

Like most others living in a dorm, I had a small fridge in my little room in college. I was beginning to develop anorexia and was eating less and less, while receiving all kinds of accolades for becoming thin – which of course, egged on my disorder.

One afternoon, I ran back to my room because I was terribly hungry; I hadn’t quite reached the stage of anorexia where you mentally and emotionally detach from your body.

The first thing I did was open the fridge door, and reach for something— anything — that might fill me up. I stuffed it in my mouth, like a dog who hadn’t been fed for days. Then I sensed something. I looked up, and my boyfriend was sitting in a chair in the corner, watching and laughing.

Never mind that that was pretty boundary-less behavior on his part. I don’t think I swallowed. I was instantly full of shame — for being seen as so very out of control.

It only made me want to have more control.

Related: The 3 Main Causes Of Binge Eating and How You Can Stop

Forward twenty years later. My husband was walking down the hall of our home, and could see me sitting on the den couch. I’d learned I wasn’t pregnant, again, after three years of infertility treatment, and was handling those feelings by polishing off a big bag of Ruffles potato chips.

I was frantically reaching into the bottom of the bag as he reached the door, trying to get the crumbs stuck to my fingers so I could lick them off.

Dried tears were on my face. Some talk show blared on the TV.

All he kindly said, after looking at me and the empty bag in my hand, was, “Do you want another one?”

No shaming. No laughter. Just empathy.

I knew I’d married the right guy.

These two events, one couched in the development of an actual eating disorder, the other — the seeking of comfort through eating — have stuck in my mind for years.

What did eating mean at those times?

Binge eating

Do I have Binge Eating disorder or comfort eating?

It’s important to recognize the difference between an actual eating disorder such as binge eating and plain old comfort eating. The first is a mental illness that tends to begin in adolescence and young adulthood.

The two major characteristics of binge eating are eating in a fairly short period of time a much larger amount of food than what most people would eat and a lack of control over that eating. It doesn’t feel like a choice. It’s a compulsion.

But it can be triggered by emotions. Studies show that close to half of those who binge eat have a history of depression. There are also links to anxiety, impulsive behavior, and other mental health struggles.

My friend Dr. Amy Sheinberg, who specializes in eating disorders (and also has a sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious Facebook page), tells us, “Each are generally associated with a trigger, but a binge suggests a compulsive need to eat large quantities of food (not necessarily comfort foods, but foods that are generally labeled “red light” foods) in a discrete period of time.

Soothing may be a sought-after effect of a binge, but bingeing can also be associated with other effects, including self-punishment. Comfort eating, while not a clinical term, is almost exclusively for self-soothing.

Foods chosen are generally associated with past memories that are recalled with fondness. There is no defined pace, and, in fact, the food consumed may be eaten in normal portions.”

So it sounds like “comfort eating,” if it happens once in a while, isn’t a problem. Having chocolate meringue pie for breakfast can seem like a great idea if you’re in a funk.

Comfort eating or binge eating?

So how do you know the difference? Here are five criteria.

Binge Eating Or Comfort Eating?

1. Eating when you’re not hungry.

Ask yourself the question, “Am I really hungry? And if so, what am I hungry for?”

Research shows, for example, that often when we are feeling hungry we are actually thirsty, and not in need of food at all. Getting in tune with what you’re hungry for lends intentionality to eating.

“I’m hungry for something really fresh tasting,” can feel very different than, “I’m hungry for anything.” “Do I want one Hershey’s kiss or do I need 15 kisses?” Going to a nutritionist can help you figure out your relationship with different foods.

Related: 7 Ways To Stop Emotional Eating And Be Mindful Of Your Diet

2. Eating when you’re bored or and lonely.

Food can act as a friend — there when you need it.

But it’s not. Not really. The more we isolate and hover over iPads, the more food may be acting as our hangout buddy. Reach out to a real person instead, and it will be much more rewarding.

3. Eating to distract from or avoid painful emotions.

Grief, sadness, guilt, anger, disappointment, humiliation – none of these emotions are easy to feel. Yet the more you avoid them, the stronger they can become.

And literally stuffing emotions down can morph into a destructive cycle. You have to eat more to handle the growing feelings. You can choose to stop that cycle.

Journal. Go to therapy. Talk to a friend. Sit with the feelings. Cry. Vent. Chop wood. Scream. Do anything that will help that’s not self-destructive or hurts someone else.

4. Eating because you don’t know how to comfort yourself in other way.

Try other ways of comforting yourself.

Read. Walk. Watch an old movie. Talk. Stretch. Meditate. Laugh. Paint. Exercise. Write. Do something else that helps you feel better.

5. Eating because you’re ashamed of or even hate your body.

Self-acceptance is paramount to good mental health. It’s not resignation. It’s accepting yourself as you are, where you are, and how you got there.

Related: Childhood Trauma And Eating Disorders: Shocking Facts You Must Know

It’s practicing self-compassion; the best way you can grow and change is to acknowledge where you are. Shame and hatred will only serve as a hurdle rather than some kind of self-punitive motivation.

Check out Dr. Margaret’s Tedx Talk on YouTube, and also don’t forget to tune into her beloved podcast, The Self Work Podcast.


Written By Dr. Margaret Rutherford  
Originally Appeared On Dr. Margaret Rutherford
binge eating disorder

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

JOMO Vs FOMO: How to Stop Worrying About Missing Out And Start Enjoying the Present

JOMO Vs FOMO: Benefits And Disadvantages To Know

Are you ready to explore the psychological battle of JOMO VS FOMO? We’ll be diving into the two sides of social connectivity and the importance of solitude.

Ever hopped on your phone and instantly felt envy? You scroll through your social media feeds and see friends having the time of their lives, while you sit at home doing nothing.

It’s what psychologists call FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out), a condition many people are familiar with in our age of smartphones. But could there be a healthier alternative? Say hello to JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out).

What Is JOMO vs FOMO



Up Next

10 Best Things To Do To Sleep Better At Night: Unlocking Restful Nights

Best Things To Do To Sleep Better At Night

Tossing and turning, struggling to catch those elusive Zs? We’ve all been there. We have a long day at work, come back home, have dinner and can’t wait to go to bed. But where is sleep? It just doesn’t seem to come, does it? Today, we are going to talk about some of the best things to do to sleep better, my sleep-deprived friend.

This article is going to help you incorporate some really good habits for sleeping, and a good night’s sleep won’t just be a distant wish, but a tangible reality. From soothing bedtime rituals to the secrets of a sleep-friendly environment, we’ll dive headfirst into the realm of restful nights.

So grab your comfiest pyjamas, fluff up those pillows, and explore some of the best things to do to sleep better.



Up Next

What’s So Great About Acceptance and Commitment Therapy? 7 Reasons

ACT is rapidly growing in influence and popularity, and has been found to be at least as effective as CBT.

Do you know about Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and how it’s fast-growing popularity says that it might be as effective as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy? This article is going to talk about the reasons why Acceptance Commitment therapy is being considered to be a great form of therapy, and what it’s all about.

KEY POINTS

ACT is rapidly growing in influence and popularity, and has been found to be at least as effective as CBT.

ACT is an evidence-based intervention that successfully integrates ancient wisdom.

Instead of trying to convince the mind to think other kinds



Up Next

How To Spend Me Time? 8 Best Ways To Make The Most Of Your Solitude

How To Spend Me Time? Best Ways To Make The Most Of It

We all know that life can get pretty hectic sometimes, with deadlines to meet, errands to run, and a never-ending to-do list. But in the midst of all the chaos, it’s really important for you to carve out some “me-time” to recharge your batteries and reconnect with yourself. So, how to spend me time, and make the most of your precious moments alone?

Well, this article is going to explore some of the best me time ideas, and how you can have an amazing time by yourself. So, are you ready to figure out what to do so that you can make the most of your alone time? Let’s get started.

Related: 10 Things That Make An Intr



Up Next

Are You Scared Of Ghosts? What Is Phasmophobia And How To Conquer Your Ghostly Fears

What Is Phasmophobia and How to Overcome Ghostly Terrors

Are you afraid of being alone in the darkness? Do unexplained noises or eerie surroundings send shivers down your spine? Are you scared of ghosts? If so, you may be experiencing phasmophobia. What is phasmophobia, you ask? Let’s find out.

Emily woke up in the middle of the night and looked directly at the dark corner of her room. As a battle raged on between curiosity and fear, Emily kept staring into the darkness. 

When the floorboard creaked menacingly, she jumped out of her bed and ran out of the bedroom. Little did she know that the culprit wasn’t hiding within the darkness, but in the darkest recess of her own mind. Her own fear of ghosts – phasmophobia. 

Today, we will delve into the depths of phasmophobia, an intense and irrational fear of ghosts, exp



Up Next

Compulsive Pulling, Picking, Biting: The What, Why, and How of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Tips For Overcoming Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors

Do you tend to bite your nails often? Do you have a habit of pulling your hair without even realizing it? Engaging in such repetitive behaviors that seem beyond your control can be a sign of body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). So, are there any self-help tips for overcoming body focused repetitive behaviors?

Yes. Most of us frequently pick at our skin, pull our hair, bite our nails without being aware of it. While such habits can seem harmless at a glance, when it becomes uncontrollable and left unaddressed, body focused repetitive behaviors can seriously affect our mental health and quality of life.

Although such behaviors can be challenging and distressing, there are ways to overcome it. Let’s explore this complex and often misunderstood phenomenon, exploring what are body focused repetitive behaviors, its roots, i



Up Next

How To Let Go Of Grudges And Live Freely

How To Let Go Of Grudges And Live Freely

Have you ever found yourself trapped in a web of negative emotions, unable to move forward due to a lingering grudge? Holding grudges can be like carrying a heavy burden on your shoulders, weighing you down and preventing you from experiencing true happiness and peace. So how to let go of grudges?

Today, we will explore the art of letting go and provide you with practical strategies to release the shackles of resentment. So, if you’re ready to embark on a journey of emotional freedom, read on and discover how to let go of grudges once and for all.

Understanding the Meaning of Holding Grudges

Holding a grudge refers to harboring persistent feelings of anger,