What Causes Bingeing?
The three biggest causes:
Particularly strict dieting that eliminates food groups or severely restricts calories. That’s not to suggest that everyone who diets turns into a binge eater, but it happens WAY more frequently than we even realize because food restriction is incompatible with the way our brains work & it sets us up for binge behaviors.
Bingeing is quite literally the act of treating one’s body like a garbage dumpster and physical manifestation of attempting to destroy it. If you’re purposely trying to jam as much food as humanly possible, as fast as humanly possible knowing it’s going to make you sick, you’re punishing it (and yourself) for something. It’s that simple.
3. Feeling empty/trying to fill a hole:
I used to physically feel like there was a hole in the center of my chest that I was desperately trying to fill with food. When I started working on recovery, I started being able to identify this feeling, and learning what was causing it. For me, it was a lack of self-love and self-trust among other things. I was abandoning myself in every conceivable way and it manifested as a huge empty feeling in my chest that I interpreted as constant hunger.
The Two Worst Things You Can Do When You’re a Binge Eater
The exact things we ALL do:
- Try to willpower and/or diet the problem away. It makes it worse.
- Beat the hell out of yourself for being such a pathetic failure (or whatever lie you’re telling yourself about your bingeing) It also makes it worse.
How Do You Stop?
You address the why – deal with and heal the causes.
Going back to our causes, in no particular order:
1. Dieting causes it so stop dieting & restricting foods.
When your body gets everything it needs and stops fearing that you cannot ever have certain foods again, you no longer gorge on everything at once because you think “I can’t have it again when I start being good again”.
2. Self-hate causes it so building a more loving and respectful relationship with yourself is job #1!
Bingeing cannot occur in someone who loves and values themselves and their bodies. It simply can’t. Those two things cannot co-exist. So if you heal your relationship with yourself, bingeing just stops because you start respecting yourself and your body enough that you cannot even fathom treating it so horribly.
3. If you’re trying to fill a hole, figure out what that hole is trying to tell you that you need.
For me, the hole was being causes by past pain that I’d never dealt with and a desperate need for my own love and support.
The three biggest misconceptions about binge eating:
- That it’s about the food. It’s not. Food is just a tool we use to numb and self-punish.
- That reflects a lack of self-control and willpower. That’s just not true. It’s a symptom of a deeply damaged relationship with self – nothing more, nothing less.
- That only person who binges are overweight and lazy — “skinny” people don’t binge. Also untrue. Some of my worst binges ever were when I was under 110lbs and busting my ass with hours of exercise a day. And I am by far not the only lean person to ever binge. You cannot tell a binge eater from a non-binge eater based on their size.
Learning to stop bingeing isn’t always easy but too often the only reason people struggle to stop is simply lack of understanding and their unwillingness to give up the things that are actually keeping them stuck in that cycle.
The first step to recovery is understanding that – that bingeing & weight gain are the symptoms, not the problems. When you address the actual, underlying problems, the symptoms are simply no longer an issue — they just go away.
Treat the reasons you’re bingeing and whammo, no more bingeing.
The second step to recovery is simply wanting to start doing exactly that. How long does it take?
Everyone is different, it’s impossible to say. The one thing I know for sure is that the longer you put off starting, the longer it will take.
I’ll leave you with one final thought on bingeing. Stop judging yourself for it or trying to force yourself to stop. I learned to stop by giving myself permission to binge. Why permission? Because only when I realized the binges were serving a purpose and stopped judging myself for them, was I able to start understanding the causes and actually healing those things.
Judgement and shame only make them worse by contributing to the self-loathing that feeds them.
Written by Roni Davis
Originally appeared in Roni Davis