What triggers a binge?
Emotional eating is driven by the need to be comforted, not by hunger. People often binge on foods such as ice cream, fried foods, or pizza that make them feel good, or remind them of a positive experience or comforting memory. Triggers that lead to emotional eating include:
- stress and anxiety
- childhood habits or trauma
- social eating
If you feel the urge to eat because of your emotions, try distracting yourself. Call a friend, take a walk, or practice relaxation techniques. You may also try taking a five-minute pause before eating to determine if you are eating because you are hungry or because of emotions. If emotions are to blame, identify and accept those emotions. This can help you find other, healthy ways to cope with your feelings. So what triggers binge eating?
Often people who binge actually tend to over-control their food intake much of the time. Rigid, rule based eating invariably lead to “mistakes” — many people refer to “being bad” or eating too much or the “wrong” thing — which prompt extreme, all-or-nothing thinking — i.e. “I might as well just throw in the towel and start over tomorrow.” At Columbus Park, we call this the “F*** Its.” Feel free to fill in the gaps!
When we’re overly hungry and finally gain access to food, it’s natural to eat faster, more quantity and with less awareness and control than we’d like. For someone with a binge-eating problem, being ravenous is a tremendous liability. And we see this scenario often because individuals who binge eating also tend to eat irregularly, skip meals, restrict/diet. Some people “save up” by delaying eating only to over-eat later in the day.
Individuals who binge-eat tend to have higher levels of body dissatisfaction and body preoccupation. Negative feelings about one’s body may lead to extreme dieting (which then leads to over-eating), low self-esteem, depressed mood, isolation.
Negative mood states (feeling down, bored, lonely)
Food is pleasurable and often very soothing. It is normal and natural at times to use food as a means of comfort, soothing. The problem is when we default to over-eating as a primary method of self-soothing or distracting. This tendency is very common in binge eating disorder.