Five reasons you can’t stop binge-eating and how to stop it for good

Stef Jung shares her experience with binge eating and some tactics to use if you face an episode of it.

Binge eating was my nemesis for years. No matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get out of the binge eating cycle. I felt weak, broken, undisciplined and was consumed by debilitating feelings of shame and guilt.

After every binge-eating episode, I would restrict my food intake and exercise excessively to try burn off the calories I had just consumed. But, of course, this only kept me stuck in the vicious cycle. It felt like I never learnt from my mistakes and was running into the same problem over and over again.

This is my story. A version of it is also the story of so many of my clients. As a Holistic Health Coach focused on helping women heal their relationship with food and their body, I have seen countless women struggle with this.

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If you too struggle with binge eating, consider the following reasons that are keeping you stuck:

You are fighting the binge without learning from it

Your unwanted food concerns are there for a reason, and until you learn what you are meant to learn from it, the binges will keep happening. What is it that you are unwilling to feel? What are you ignoring, suppressing, rejecting? In every binge there is a nugget of wisdom.

When I work with clients, this is the first mindset shifts I work on. Together, we work on working with the binge, not against it. If you can entertain the idea that this seemingly mad, out-of-control thing you’re doing is actually serving you, you’re already halfway there.

A binge is never wasted time if you learn from it.

You are physically restricting

Binge eating is a natural response to dieting and feeling deprived around food. If you aren’t consuming enough calories throughout the day, chances are you’re going to binge eat at night.

Trying to control binge eating by asserting more control and discipline doesn’t work. You can’t stop binges with the very behavior that causes them in the first place. Step 1 is always healing physical restriction.

You are mentally restricting

Binge eating is a natural response to both actual famine or perceived famine. You may not be physically restricting, but if you don’t truthfully allow yourself the foods you’re consuming, that’s mental restriction and that triggers the body’s panic mode and increases the chances of future binges.

For example, you may be eating chocolate but all the while you are thinking “I really shouldn’t have this. Tomorrow I’ll make up for it.”

The simple truth is that your subconscious will remain in a perceived state of food deprivation until you truly give yourself the unconditional permission to eat everything and anything.

You don’t know how to cope with emotions without food

Binge eating is you plunging into oblivion, because whatever is going on in your life feels like it’s too much to handle. It’s one of the quickest, easiest ways to completely shut down without going to sleep or taking a drug.

It really isn’t all too different from people who get high or drunk to numb themselves. The only difference is that your drug of choice is food.

To fully overcome binge eating, you need to learn to sit in the enormity of your feelings and cope with them in alternative ways. This is where a journaling, meditation or yoga practice can be a really powerful tool. If this feels too overwhelming to do alone, it can be helpful to work with a coach or therapist on this.

You don’t forgive yourself after a binge

When we don’t forgive ourselves for a binge, one episode of binge eating (I call it a primary binge) often sets off a host of secondary binges. It’s when you go from “Omg I can’t believe I’ve eaten all this food” to “Now I might as well keep going.”.

Guilt and shame are two very powerful and destructive emotions, and they will suck you right back into another binge if you don’t work through them. So the faster you can forgive yourself after a binge and show up for yourself with compassion, the more likely it’s only going to stay at one binge.

My advice is to take some time after a binge to reflect on the experience, identify what you can learn from it, forgive yourself and then make sure you are adequately nourishing yourself the next day.

Hopefully these tips help you to overcome binge eating, just like they helped me many years ago. For more daily tips, tricks and inspiration, join me on my Instagram.

Stefanie Jung is a Holistic Online Health Coach & Yoga Teacher with a focus on helping women heal their relationship with food & their bodies. Stef recently launched ‘Discover Food Freedom’, a 9-week self-guided online course, to help even more women ditch diets, overcome binging & start to trust themselves around food again.

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