How to Prevent Binge Eating

How You Can Prevent Binge Eating

What do I know about how you can prevent binge eating? Well, I once at an entire 1/2 gallon of cookies and cream ice cream in one sitting. For real. It only happened once, but there was a time in my life when episodes like this (though maybe not quite so bad) were not uncommon. In fact, it happened once or twice every week. Yep. Every week.

It’s not something I ever talked about much. After all, what girl in her right mind would brag about downing almost 2,000 calories of ice cream all by herself… all at once?

Nope, this is the kind of behavior that gets swept neatly under the rug where no one else can see it. For all the general public knew, I was a salad-loving, tofu-eating health nut. I wouldn’t dare let on that every day I dreamed about all the food I shouldn’t be eating. And at the end of the week, I would helplessly succumb to four slices of bacon pizza with extra cheese, followed by a generous slice (…or two) of cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

For a long time I thought something was seriously wrong with me. After all, normal people didn’t do this. So I’ve never really talked about all those binge eating episodes until now. Maybe it’s easier to talk it about now that I figured out how to prevent binge eating… and the funny part is, finding that answer was sort of a happy accident.

How I Learned to Prevent Binge Eating

As far as I was concerned, I had no power to prevent binge eating. In those moments when my stomach felt like a bottomless pit (even when I technically felt full), willpower wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary. And I didn’t learn to prevent binge eating by getting more willpower, believe me.

I also didn’t do it by distracting myself (Hungry? Go paint your fingernails! Then you can’t eat the cookies because your nails will be wet. Yeah, well, tell that to the cookie crumbs lacquered into my Pink Flamengo nail polish…).

Nor did I learn to prevent binge eating by instead eating a piece of fruit or cheese or a raw carrot or whatever. If I wanted to binge on brownies, a carrot wasn’t going to stop me. Best case scenario? I end up eating the carrot and then the brownies. There was never once an occurrence when I ate the carrot instead of the brownies.

To be truthful, binge eating was the least of my problems a few years ago. I had acne worse than I did as a teenager. I had crazy (i.e. scary) mood swings, I couldn’t handle stress worth a hoot, and I had insomnia that left me crippled with zombie-like fatigue during the day. There came a point when I decided enough was enough. I needed some serious health intervention and I needed it yesterday.

That’s when I changed my approach to getting healthy. I bucked against mainstream advice (because all that salad and tofu didn’t seem to be helping much). And in exploring alternative ideas to what constitutes “healthy” I also flushed out the source of my binges.

My Secret to Prevent Binge Eating

Okay, so you want to know my weird secret to prevent binge eating? Eat!

You know, like, mostly real food and enough to sustain your body and your activities. And don’t exercise more than you can support with good food and good sleep. That’s just way too simple, right?

Since back in my binge eating days, I’ve learned that the biggest key to health is… balance. I know, it’s not as exciting as an ancient berry from South America, but it’s the real thing. I also learned that when I jumped to extremes, my health (mental and physical) suffered for it. And I learned to listen to my body, because not everything they say is “healthy” was the right choice for me.

So I quit dieting and overexercising. I quit restricting food groups and going on restrictive diets. I quit labeling food (and by extension myself) as good or bad. And I quit working out to “work off” last night’s fettuccine alfredo.

All this did not happen overnight. It was a slow (sometimes painful) dance of two steps forward and one step back. But eventually I was able to strike a pretty comfortable balance of eating well, enjoying a wide variety of foods in moderation, and being active in a way I really enjoy (and not overdoing it). I knew I was on the right track, because I experienced a lot of health benefits in the process.

And something else happened during this time. Without even trying–without even thinking about it–I quit binge eating. It didn’t happen all at once, either. At first, my binge eating episodes just occurred less frequently (like maybe 3-4 times per month instead of twice a week). Then a few weeks would go by without a real binge. Then a couple of months. Pretty soon my all-out binges were few and far between. Now? I can’t even remember the last time I really binged on something. It’s been that long.

Why? Because I was finally listening to my body and giving it what it needed: plenty of quality food, good rest, and the right amount of exercise. I found my balance.

I really like the motto of Amber Rogers from Go Kaleo: “Eat the food.” I find it funny that the more I tried to control and restrict my eating, the more often I would end up binge eating and feeling out of control. And the more I paid attention and ate what my body needed to thrive (when it comes to both nutrients and energy), the more binge eating became a thing of the past for me.

Binge vs. Splurge

I want to make an important note here: eating a bowl of ice cream (even a big one) is not a binge. Nor is eating a couple pieces of pizza. These are splurges, not binges. Splurges are totally normal and can be part of eating healthy. I still splurge on a hefty slice of cake or a couple slices of bacon pizza sometimes. (I just don’t eat the whole pizza or cake anymore.)

So remember not to sweat the small stuff and just enjoy your food!

Like this article? Have something to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

If you’re interested in reading more, you might enjoy these posts:

The Nourished Metabolism Hardcover Single, thumbnail sizeYou can also read more about how I learned to eat and exercise in a way that nourished my metabolism (without stressing about it!) in my eBook The Nourished Metabolism. No gimmicks or magic pills, just a balanced perspective on how you can improve your metabolic health with simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Click here to check it out.

 

 

How to Prevent the Binge Eating Habit

 

+1 this Post here:

 

Like what you've been reading?

Sign up for my FREE email newsletter to stay in touch!
Plus get my eBooks "Emotional Eating Myths and Solutions"
and
"Top 5 Tools You Need to Repair Your Metabolism"
for FREE!


10300507_10152497667138024_4191662591083513204_n


PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. All opinions are my own. Your support keeps this blog running and is greatly appreciated!

AMAZON DISCLOSURE: The owner of this website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including, but not limited to, amazon.com, endless.com, myhabit.com, smallparts.com, or amazonwireless.com.
Comment Policy | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer

88 Responses to How to Prevent Binge Eating

  1. Christina T. says:

    I love this. I’ve struggled majorly with binge-eating. Usually thanks to diet “deprivation” and obsessive exercising. I finally feel like I’ve struck a pretty good balance, by eating whole unprocessed foods 90% of the time. There’s so much freedom in it. Thanks for sharing.

    • K says:

      Exactly. The binge doesn’t happen in the absence of deprivation. It’s the body’s desperate response to caloric deficiency. I don’t think it’s a good idea to um, think of the binge as a bad thing. Because, you know, it’s the dieting, and restriction, that’s the bad thing. The body is just communicating it’s need. :P

    • That’s good to hear, Christina! I agree, there’s a lot more freedom in the balanced approach, on so many levels.

  2. Amanda Z says:

    I have to chip in that there are other sources of binge eating. For me, when things around me start flying out of control and I’m feeling stressed or depressed, that is when the 1/2 gallon of ice cream disappears.

    I’m currently reading Julia Ross’ The Diet Cure, where she talks about using amino acids to help with the emotional/physiological reasons behind binge eating (amother other forms of addictive behavior).

    • Sarah says:

      You can stop this type of binge eating by bringing more balance to your life too though. I used to binge every second day and it was not because I was hungry most of the time, in fact I eat LESS on a daily basis now than I did back then, even on my non-binge days. But I think finding the right balance in your life is the key and by balance I mean finding other hobbies, passions and interests away from food!!!

    • Amanda, I definitely agree. Binge eating is a multi-faceted issue. For me, eating well addressed the issue on more than one level. I was getting more energy, more nutrients, more protein. I feel all of this contributed to a healthier mental and physical state where I was not only less deprived, but also in a place where I could handle stress better, and so binge eating in response to stress was also reduced in the process.

  3. Allison says:

    I don’t know if I binge eat or not. I have an insatiable appetite on some days. People might look at it like binge eating but to me I’m just hungry and satisfying a need. Maybe I’m wrong. I have a demanding job and three kids and I’m nursing. I can start the day with say…buckwheat pancakes with sunflower butter and coconut nectar. About 10:30 I make a bowl of berries, 12:30 brown rice, sardines, kale, kimchi with gomaiso, 3:30 a few oz of cheese and an apple, and then for dinner at 5:30/6:00 small salad and half a pizza – might top that off with a root beer float (6 oz.). That’s a bigger day. Some days I will graze like crazy and eat at least 2 cups of nuts, carrots, apples, and tons of protein. It seems that my brain craves fat and my body wants veg, carbs and protein. When it is a difficult day it seems like I’m eating more fat and protein. It doesn’t seem like I’m over eating – I don’t even eat after 7:00, but before then I eat a ton because something is telling me I need more. Sound abnormal?

    • Sarah says:

      That does not seem abnormal or like binge eating to me.

    • K says:

      Nope, not abnormal. Eating to appetite, is rarely abnormal. Your body knows what it needs!

      Recently I found out that women tend to drastically underreport their usual caloric intake. So the 2000 calories guideline, is less than most women, especially active women, need or eat under normal circumstances (meaning, those who are not dieting or suffering from an eating disorder).

    • I agree with Sarah and K, that doesn’t sound abnormal at all. I think it’s really important to listen to your body and your appetite. Your body definitely needs energy to fuel your life!

    • LYM says:

      Women do need plenty of food, more than 2000 cal typically, but it is not normal to feel the need to snack all day long. Try more protein in the morning (the equivalent of a piece of meat) and see what happens.

  4. Linda says:

    Soooo wish I had seen this earlier in the day! I just ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mint cookies……hating myself right now. And will now battle the sugar addiction for the next few days! :( Thanks for the great article tho!

    • Trish says:

      Oh, Linda, those dreaded Thin Mints… This was the first year I didn’t eat the whole sleeve (or box). This was also the first year that I only bought one box, and gave one of the sleeves away. Did I mention I’m the ‘Cookie Mom’ of our troop…sigh. Hang in there girl!!!

    • K says:

      There’s no such thing as a sugar addiction (at least, according to the science). Don’t hate yourself for eating! Your body is wiser than you think, and knows what you need. Maybe it’s just hungry for carbohydrates. It can take time for it to find a balance after stress or dieting. Sometimes binging is a way to do that. At least, this seems to be the case for me.

      • LYM says:

        Are you kidding me? http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/researcher-sugar-addictive-cocaine-obesity-diabetes-cancer-heart-disease-article-1.1054419 This is just the first article I came across on a quick search. The research is hard and heavy that sugar is absolutely addictive, and there is plenty of it in major journals and from major research institutions.

        • K says:

          I think your research needs to go a little deeper… On the CBC a few months ago, a scientist stressed that there was simply not enough evidence to prove that sugar is in any way addictive.

          It isn’t logical for it to be addictive. Once my mother complained to my doctor (I was a young teen at the time) about my habit of consuming butter mixed with honey by the spoonful. You know what the doctor said? “Maybe her brain needs it.”

          Our brains run on glucose. How could we possibly become addicted to a substance we would die without? That would make no sense whatsoever. Would be like saying some people have an oxygen addiction. More like an addiction to staying alive.

    • Don’t sweat it, Linda! It’s okay to eat the Thin Mints sometimes. Even if you feel it was more than you needed, like K said, this is a good opportunity to see if your body’s trying to tell you something. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about it! Guilt and shame are just another source of stress that nobody needs.

  5. Trish says:

    Oh, this hit home for me. I DO know the difference between the splurge and the binge… I, like you, have noticed that through learning to balance my binging has curbed quite a bit. My last binge was a couple of months ago. I had begun eating clean, and was exercising 5 days a week. However, I was putting a lot of restrictions on myself. We’d had a party and someone had brought brownies and cookies, both of which were ‘forbidden’ at my house. So the next day, I was thinking I would splurge and have half a brownie and half a cookie, just to satisfy my sweet tooth (which I DON’T have), but next thing I knew, I’d eaten 4 brownies and 2 cookies… Yep. I can totally relate. I am so grateful to you for sharing this. It’s so difficult because the guilt and shame that come with binging can be as frustrating as the actual binge. Thank you!!!

    • I’ve always noticed that restriction immediately triggers food issues for me–sometimes making me crave foods I normally don’t even care for.

      I completely agree, the guilt and shame that often come after binging are way more harmful than the binge itself.

      • LYM says:

        Be careful. Those of us with severe bingeing CANNOT do moderation. Ever. Not until/unless the root cause of the cravings (biochemical/emotional) is gone.

        Telling us not to restrict is like telling an alcoholic to be sure and have half a glass of wine each night. Literally.

        • Penny O says:

          If we think of each “issue” on a continuum or a bell curve, there will be a few who are not at all bothered by the issue and there will be a few others for whom the issue is a serious illness. Of course this blog is not intended to cure everyone, however, there are some words of wisdom that may click and make sense for many. Take what you like and leave the rest. One blog post can never apply to everyone reading it.

          I have enjoyed the post and have found many pearls of wisdom that will make sense for my life.

          Thanks

  6. Theresa says:

    So I feel like I don’t binge eat, but splurge eat A LOT! Any suggestions for not doing that as often as every meal?

    • Splurging with moderation is something I’m still working on myself. Sometimes it’s not a big issue, then other times I notice I “splurge” a lot more. I try not to worry about it too much, and just take it as part of the ebb and flow of life. But the book “Shrink Yourself” was helpful for me in addressing eating for reasons other than physical hunger, though.

  7. denise says:

    One litre of ice ream or one pack of cookies, one loaf of bread, one family bar of chocolate or one whole cake …. even all of them, on the same day …. isn’t anything like one of my binges.

    I agree there is NO point eating what you “should have” trying to avoid bingeing … just adds even more calories. I am trying eating real food, avoiding restrictions etc. So far the result is fewer binges yes, but also significant weight gain.

    Maybe in the long run I can have balance … and lose weight without building bridges to a binge.

    • K says:

      Hmm… This makes me think of Your Eatopia:

      http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/10/31/bingeing-is-not-bingeing.html

      Might be worth a read.

    • Denise, it’s definitely a journey, and not always a smooth one. My thoughts are to keep working on nourishing yourself physically and emotionally, and working toward balance. I mentioned above that the book “Shrink Yourself” (and there’s an online program I took as well) helped me gain some insight into the mental/emotional side of the equation.

    • LYM says:

      Yes, eating what you should does decrease binges, and yes, it can cause weight gain. But that weight gain can save your life.

      My habit for years was to binge, and then skip all my meals. I created countless diseases in myself by eating nothing but carbs. When I finally decided to eat 3 square meals a day, I started gaining, and fast. But the decrease in the binges made up for it after a few months, and over two years, I lost the weight and then some.

      I still have binges – major ones – occasionally. But it’s not every day every week every month all year anymore. I can live again. I am reducing diseases now instead of piling on. It takes a big picture approach from many angles, continually adding tools that help and discarding those that don’t. I pray you read my first post on this page (at the bottom), or just go get The Diet Cure for yourself, and maybe some inpatient help. I will pray for you, and ask you to do the same for me.

  8. Jamie says:

    I have always been puzzled by binge eating because I am that girl who can sit in front of a chocolate cake without touching it and then crave a bowl of leafy greens. And I don’t attribute that to willpower! I just nourish myself with real food and don’t deprive myself of any nutrient, and I don’t have any foods that I consider to be “off limits” or “bad.” If it’s real food and it looks and smells good, and if I’m hungry, I eat it! More often than not, things like liver and veggies look and smell much more appealing because of their nourishing qualities.

    • Great comment, Jamie! I think when we don’t label foods as “must eat” and “must not eat” then we give our bodies more freedom to crave what we really need. I used to only crave junk food, but now I notice I crave a much wider variety of foods. Sometimes I crave ice cream, but then I also have cravings for other things like seafood or fresh fruit and, yes, sometimes even veggies!

    • LYM says:

      You’re right; it’s not willpower; it’s biochemistry. You’re like my husband: normal. You have a normal ongoing supply of brain chemicals. When my diet is nutrient-dense (including the things I need most and excluding the things that hurt me most) and my supply of amino acids is sufficient, I feel exactly like you describe.

      When any – ANY – one of those things is less than optimal, I can’t think of anything but sweets. It overtakes my brain, fills me with absurd thoughts all day long of how to plot to get more of it. As Ross describes in The Diet Cure, the need for these brain chemicals is so critical that the drive for them is stronger than the drive for heroin. It LITERALLY replaces my normal thoughts with substance thoughts.

  9. Deanna says:

    I just came to the conclusion this week that after 3 years of being mostly Paleo I don’t feel good anymore. I have severe cravings for potato chips and have been craving bread and rice like crazy. I decided that I was going to go back to a regular diet but of course focusing on real food that is organic and as close to its original form. I feel good quality, grass fed and free range protein is important. And continuing to keep sugar to a bare minimum also best for me. Fortunately I do not have a sweet tooth. I will be interested to see if I sleep better, have more energy, and feel satisfied after eating instead of thinking about the next time I can eat. I have also just added a whole food multi vitamin/mineral complex by Dr. mercola. I am thinking I may be missing some crucial nutrients. We will see. Thanks for this article. I appreciate your website and newsletter.

    • Susan H says:

      Deanna- after being Paleo for a while, I too craved potato chips. When I finally allowed myself to eat a potato, I sliced several up thin -but not chip thin- and fried them in coconut oil with a heavy sprinkling of sea salt. And then I savored each and every bite. It was amazing!

      I am a blood type O and supposedly I am supposed to achieve better health by following a more Paleo diet. It just didn’t work for me after a while. Once I found Matt Stone and started replacing carbs while maintaining a real food diet, I immediately began to sleep better, have more energy, have easier periods and just felt overall more mellow.

      Finding Matt Stone allowed me to be like Elizabeth: If I wanted some ice cream, I had it, if I wanted a piece of pie, I had it, If I wanted only potatoes for dinner, I had it.

      But just make sure your severe craving for chips is not just a craving for a crispy potato, but a craving for salt. Many of the symptoms you’ve expressed COULD be mild adrenal fatigue. The adrenals love salt and a craving is often your body telling you it had a very valid need!

      • LYM says:

        I ate a Matt Stone type diet for years, bingeing daily all the while. It didn’t do a thing for me.

        I’m glad for those of you who can just “eat more carbs” and presto your cravings disappear. I was eating carbs like a pro when my cravings began.

    • Thanks, Deanna! I really do think it’s best to listen to the body’s wisdom. Like Susan said, cravings can mean a lot of things, so it’s important to tune in and listen to what you body really needs. It might just need some more carbs or salt to function better. I know I never had more intense cravings than when I was trying to follow a strict low-carb diet. I craved peanut butter like crazy (which I barely ever want to eat now) and I really, REALLY wanted some donuts (which, weirdly, I rarely want now and I don’t think I’ve even had one in over a year?). The more balanced my diet is, the less I have intense cravings.

  10. Hope :) says:

    I understand the idea of eating more whole foods, fewer processed foods, & decreasing stress, etc. … but I don’t understand how to eat ‘according to appetite.’ For instance, if I’m technically full but considering tacking on an extra slice of cake, my mind often tricks me into thinking I’m still hungry. Even if I walk away, I will immediately return for the cake as soon as I get hungry again, rather than choosing healthy foods as my next meal. Which creates constant sugar cravings. This is even when I’m eating plenty of fat & protein.

    Another question I have is: How do I lose weight (which, rest assured, has been suggested by a medical doctor) if I eat to my heart’s desire, but don’t exercise hard? I need to lose at least 5 lbs, but 10 to 15 would be even better, as I felt the best of my life at that weight. This is not a sarcastic question. I am truly in search of a healthier, happier life!

    Also, to those on the Paleo and grain-free diets… I don’t deny that going gluten free helps many people (including myself), but it’s unreasonable to skip grains altogether. We can still eat oatmeal, rice, potatoes, etc. depending on what our food allergies/intolerances are. It may boost overall health to choose fermented foods like yogurt or kefir as your dairy & skip milk & cheese, which are heavy foods and also cause discomfort due to the widespread condition of lactose intolerance. I, for one, am lactose intolerant, but I eat yogurt every single day. I also take fish oil (Barlean’s organic oils), evening primrose oil, & a multivitamin daily, and I find that my gut generally rewards me for this practice.

    • Great thoughts on this topic, Hope. I think it can take some practice to find the balance between indulging and moderation, and it’s a really individual thing. For some people (especially anyone with a history of dieting or restricting foods), the act of denying themselves a splurge will trigger them to want that food even more, and make it more difficult to eat it with moderation later on.

      I personally feel that healthy habits are more important than a number on a scale when it comes to our health. Eating generally well, keeping stress low, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising in a balanced way all help. Hard exercise isn’t necessary. Simply walking every day has been shown to have significant health benefits. Yoga and strength training on a regular basis can also be a healthy way to stay active. Exercising to the point of exhaustion is definitely not necessary (or healthy, for that matter).

    • LYM says:

      Gosh, how did humanity survive, thrive, & advance for all those tens of thousands of years before the advent of agriculture?

      How can you claim you’re lactose intolerant, but insist that avoiding grains is unreasonable? How do you know what I tolerate?

      BTW, exercise doesn’t lead to weight loss. Do the math. It takes TONS of aerobic exercise to burn off enough calories to make up for excess eating. I lost 50lb without any exercise at all (CFS prevented it), by eliminating the foods I don’t tolerate and by taking nutritional steps to stop the cravings that lead to bingeing. It wasn’t hard at all once I got my body nutritionally ready.

  11. Jade says:

    Thank you so much for this! I have been struggling to binge eating pretty much my whole life and recently after my third child it got really bad when I tried a vegan diet. I am now “balanced” as you say with going back to my high fat(good fats) diet and I fill nourished and thriving once again. Thanks so much for this, sometimes I feel alone in my struggle and it is nice to know that I am not alone :)

    • You’re definitely not alone, Jade! I think a lot of people struggle with binge eating, but there is a stigma attached to it, especially in a society where women are “supposed” to stick with eating dainty salads and fat-free yogurt cups. When you look at binging as a signal from your body that it needs something, I feel like the shame is removed, and we get the opportunity to do something proactive and positive as a result, instead of just feeling bad about eating so much.

  12. Jennifer says:

    The type of binge eating you did weekly, I do multiple times per day. I have for as long as I can remember. And, I eat real food and already do the advice you offered. : (

  13. Lydia says:

    I’m glad this subject is being addressed. I have struggled with this for 15 years.

  14. Kim says:

    YES! I love everything about this article. This is exactly the same thing that helped me to overcome my own BED. Thank you so much for writing this, Elizabeth!

  15. Beth says:

    I had to laugh because I just ate a handful of small chocolate donuts before reading this! I have been down the healthy rabbit hole intensely for several years now and after reading your book and then reading all of Matt Stone’s books, I realized that I was keeping myself from getting enough for for something as basic as having enough energy! So every time I eat more than “normal”, I remind myself that my body just asked for it because it has a million functions its trying to perform and who am I to tell it that 2,000 calories is enough?! Maybe it isn’t! Zoe Harcombe enlightened me to the fact that the whole calorie in/calorie out mathematical calculation has no factual basis at all! No one can explain how it exactly came to be, yet we use it all over the world! So I try not to pay attention at all to calories. As for the donuts, I’ve been gluten free for two years because of an intolerance, and now I learn that it could be related to adrenal fatigue which I have healed, so I am reintroducing gluten slowly and having no ill effects! So when I bought donuts today (gasp) for my kids, which I never do, I went a little overboard. But hey, it won’t kill me and I enjoyed them… I honestly won’t feel any effect from it next week so why get all worried about it? I probably don’t need another donut for a long time now! Elizabeth, I love your blog and your book, and I recommend it to everyone I know!

    • Wow, thank you, Beth! I agree, it’s darn near impossible to nail down exactly what our bodies need with a mathematical equation. Our needs fluctuate from moment to moment, and it’s so important to tune in and be flexible. And eat the donut sometimes! ;)

  16. Alex says:

    I have been helped quite a bit by a book called Potatoes Not Prozac. The author works in addiction recovery. She discovered that some people are sugar sensitive and respond much more poorly emotionally to fluxuations in blood sugar. Reading it and trying the bedtime potato as suggested I believe that yes I had lower seretonin and had been self-medicating with my sugar and sugary fat cravings. I mean, I’d been on antidepressants before kids so I knew it had been low. Big hits of sugar eaten alone could add to my anxiety off & on for days and that in turn led to emotional eating.

    • I’ve heard great things about that book. I need to get around to reading it! I know I’ve always done well on potatoes, so that’s interesting to me.

      • LYM says:

        If you’re read The Diet Cure, you won’t find anything new in PNP except maybe the beta-endorphin boost concept. Eating the potato at bedtime is supposed to be a mood help, not a binge help.

        I did Radiant Recovery (PNP) for several years and DesMaisons’ seven steps were what helped me to be adamant about having 4oz protein every single meal, and really helped start to drive the binges away. But Ross says the same things about protein. She just doesn’t give the steps or have the culty yahoo groups. I did find most of the steps helpful, but what was LEAST helpful was DesMaisons’ insistence that everyone eat tons of “browns.” Browns kill my digestion, caused me major clinical fat malabsorption, huge bloating, weight gain, etc. Vegetables, yes. Tubers, other veggie starches, sure. But most people who get to the point of bingeing cannot handle all those browns. There’s a reason retention is terrible in RR. Almost no one loses weight with all those browns.

        Sigh. I’ve done it all. RR, OA, primal, paleo, much more. It’s been a long battle. I’ve accumulated a lot of tools that really work. I feel the light at the end of the tunnel is really drawing close now with the help of the amino acids.

    • Jen S says:

      Thank you for this article! I was also like that before I decided to eliminate refined sugar, and add more healthy fat to my daily diet. I’m reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat (www.eatfatlosefat.com) and have found that when I get enough coconut oil in my diet, as well as zero refined sugar, I have tons of energy and no cravings. If I slip on one or the other, minor cravings start, which turn into huge binges as I just “give up and give in.” I have also found that you are totally correct about making sure we are eating *enough* calories to balance our exercise. That’s another biggie for me.

  17. Alana says:

    This article is fantastic!
    Well done! I could seriously relate to this, except the binge-eating for me resulted in Bulimia, which I overcame by eating all foods, and like you said.. Listening to what my body needed! Which is so true!
    Thanks for clarifying!

    • I’m so glad you liked this post, Alana! That’s awesome that you’ve been able to overcome eating issues by eating all foods and listening to your body–it’s so simple (though sometimes easier said than done!).

  18. Jennie J says:

    I can’t tell you how much this article means to me. I am an acupuncturist/oriental medicine practitioner, and it is extremely hard to be so obviously out of balance and try to promote healthy living to others. I am 100 lbs overweight after having 3 children in 4 yeas and breast feeding for 5 1/2 years straight. To say the least I have some issues with my thyroid, as well as sleep and stress issues, but your honesty was really striking to me. I am a frozen yogurt binger at about the same caliber that you described, and that, along with all the other issues, has brought me to where I am today. I know what to eat, but have always swung between being “good” and binging. I am currently trying to start over and really listen to my body, as you advocate, which I love. It’s funny because as a mother I have always trusted my instincts and as a medical practitioner I have to trust my instincts everyday. This is the one area of my life that for every reason I have forgotten to listen to my instincts. Thank you for your honestly and your gentle approach to help all of us trust ourselves more.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Jennie! I am really amazed how much this issue resonates with so many people–binge eating feels like such an isolating behavior than no one else could understand, but I think it’s much more common than it feels like. Like you said, we just need to learn to trust our instincts (in every area of life!).

  19. M says:

    You are a beautiful person and this is a beautiful article. Thanks so much for writing it and being honest!

    I too have felt the shame of regular binging (usually on weekends, or if I was feeling accomplished or down about something). But I do want to point out something – sometimes a “restricted” diet CAN help, for some people. I was having a lot of health problems no matter how healthy I ate, and the frustration, depression, and lack of positive results was what often fueled my binges. But now, after finding a good nutritionist, I’ve learned that there are simply many healthy foods that aren’t healthy FOR ME.

    So yeah, my diet is restricted – no beans, dairy, few grains, few fruits, and even many vegetables are off limits. But only with those restrictions is my body able to get the nourishment it needs from other foods. But, now that I’m finally digesting things properly, I don’t want binge – not even on foods on my “ok” list :)

    • Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! What’s needed definitely varies from person to person. Digestion and food sensitivities can play a role in binge eating, but in general I recommend opting for as few restrictions as possible. That said, listening to your body is the most important thing!

  20. Miss Me says:

    Thanks :)

  21. Janice says:

    You have so described me. I binge like that. I could eat a whole pan of brownies in one sitting. I need help with this. I exercise everyday but my food is my struggle.

    • Have you signed up for my newsletter yet? When you do, you get my free eBook about emotional eating, which lays out a basic foundation for conquering issues like binge eating. In the future, I might write a more thorough book on the topic, too.

  22. West says:

    The beginning of this post = my life story. It sounds just like me. Finally, someone that I can really relate to! Thank you for posting this. I’m on the road to ending my binge-eating, using the exact same techniques as you (eating, moderate amounts of enjoyable exercise). Seeing this post just gives me reassurance that I’m on the right track, and that I can be successful and happy in the end!! While I know that eventually I’ll get over my binge-eating, it can be hard to be patient throughout the process (I just want to be better NOW). Did you ever struggle with impatience? If so, how did you cope? Thanks again for the post!

    • Oh, yes, I’ve definitely struggled with impatience! I’ve found that not focusing on the bad moments and the mistakes helps. Dwelling on the negative always makes me feel impatient and frustrated–and if I let it go on too long, it leads to more detrimental negative emotions like guilt and shame. This downward spiral really just ends up being a trigger that spawns more of the same unwanted behavior.

      It’s a hard cycle to break (I still find myself stuck in it occasionally!), but it makes a world of difference. To paraphrase an old family friend, “Just because you fall down in the mud doesn’t mean you have to wallow in it.” So I try not to “wallow” if I can help it. Instead I try to pick myself up, dust myself off, and do something that moves me forward in a positive way (finish a project, go on a walk, do some yoga, read to my kids–anything that makes me feel positive about myself and my life).

  23. LYm says:

    I lived all these “rules” and still binged. Binges much bigger than she describes, and more often. I did this even while eating 3 meals per day of 100% nutrient-dense food with at least 4oz meat per meal (including breakfast) and tons of natural fats. I did it while eating lots of natural carbs; I did it while eating no carbs at all (other than the binge foods). I did it while calorie-counting and I did it while eating large unrestricted amounts of real foood. I did it all without one drop of depression, emotional eating, or low self-esteem.

    My problem seems to be more severe than most. There are many, many things which have helped. YES, making a rule that I must eat at least 4oz of protein + fat 3x a day, even after binges, has helped more than I could ever imagine. YES, making a rule that I must eat a full meal before touching anything with sweets has helped dramatically. YES, eliminating wheat entirely, restricting or eliminating grains, eating only naturally available amounts of carbs, avoiding concentrated fruit sources, avoiding all sweeteners (except when a binge overtakes me) all help tremendously. Yet even when I was eating plenty of natural carbs, avoiding all sweeteners, etc., I found myself bingeing on coconut manna, coconut cream, almonds, anything where my body could find some amount of carbs that it could multiply via a binge into what it thought was “enough”. (Remember, I binged even while eating a very high carb diet, too.)

    Reading The Diet Cure by Julia Ross has made the difference that I think will save my life. The l-glutamine & 5-HTP that did it for so many others did nothing for me, but the essential amino complex and large amounts of DPA seem to be putting the nail in the coffin. So long as I keep my nutrient-dense diet in place AND these amino acids going 24/7, not only do I not binge, but I don’t even have cravings. I don’t feel resentful about what I “can’t” eat, I don’t want even “one bite” of sweet foods, and I am not in the slightest bit tempted to over eat. All my food decisions become reason based. My food becomes my source of nourishment (and enjoyable in its own right), nothing more.

    I offer this in case someone else is as deeply into this as I am.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story. The Diet Cure is a great book! Sometimes there is a deficiency that can have a huge impact on behavior when it’s corrected, but sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint it at first. I had some really bad experiences with 5-HTP personally. But DPA is a great supplement and has helped me enormously with moods and energy in the past.

  24. Abbey C says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I actually found your article through pinterest, and had pinned it a while ago, but I’m glad I saved it to read tonight. I was literally about to go into a binge-eating night. I had some peanut butter (probably one serving) and was about to tip to that mentality of “well my day of good eating is ruined now” but then i stopped and knew I didn’t want to binge and hurt my body, and I read your article and that is what put an end to it. I know sure, it’s just one night, but sometimes that little hope is all you need!

    Thanks for sharing with us

  25. Krissy says:

    Hi Elizabeth

    I just stumbled on your site today and I am loving it! I too have spent years on the diet/exercise rollercoaster and have just finished my Personal Training certification to I hope not let other people think that’s the way to succeed! I have so many hormonal imbalances and piled on 12 kgs with some mystery illness which may have been chronic fatigue, parasites, overtraining… anything. No one can find anything.

    For years I was a vegetarian and would binge eat like crazy… but I always craved meat, but of course I never ate it. In the last few months I have added back in organic free-range meat from local farmers… my cravings have virtually disappeared! I certainly haven’t binge eaten in months and I don’t know if I ever remember a time before this where I could have said that. I focus on beautiful nourishing meat, veggies and fats. I add cacao to smoothies if I feel like it, or make a nourishing gelatin-based cacao pudding for something rich. I simply cannot eat as much as I used to either. It’s quite amazing.

    Definitely still not losing any weight but I think, like you, I’m more on a journey of self discovery. I know one day my body will right itself and find a happy place but for now it is about filling it with what it needs and slowing down (and changing my life to do what I love – I’m currently a lawyer and a change is most definitely needed).

    Thank you for such a beautiful post and putting things into perspective. Can’t wait to get through everything on your blog!
    Krissy xo

  26. Kaitlin says:

    This is fabulous! It seems as though our society has distorted eating to a different level. I love your perspective and realistic views on the matter! I’ve learned that I need more protein during the day to fill me up so I don’t enter those starving moments at night. Sure, I’ve “learned” that but it still needs to be put into play sometimes. It is indeed a slow process but having reassurance from posts like these makes it all the more achievable. Thank you :)

    • Thanks, Kaitlin! I totally know what you mean–sometimes I “know” what’s best for me, but I don’t always do it! That takes practice, too, and some flexibility since life doesn’t always make it easy to do what works. Glad you enjoyed this post! :D

  27. Leslie says:

    I love this article! I’ve been feeling upset with myself for my food choices a couple of days this week. It’s been months since I have eaten like I did Wednesday and Friday. While I ate differently than I have been for months it was no where near what my binge eating days were like. Those two days would probably be considered more a splurge than binge. The description you gave of your experience was me dead on. I try not to splurge because it is harder for me to stay on the path of success doing so, but everyone is different. I know for me the trigger was a visit from family who brought food into the house that we no longer eat. Once they were gone I had to purge our fridge and pantry again! I know when I am eating real food and healthy fats I am satisfied and no longer have the empty pit feeling I did when binge eating. My cravings are usually less as well. After reading this I purchased your book and look forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • I think it’s common to feel the “urge to splurge” when something disrupts our normal food routine–like house guests, or a vacation, or working overtime and not having as much time to shop and prepare food. It can feel a little uncomfortable or bring back those feeling of not being in control. But it is normal, and usually temporary–definitely something to be flexible and forgiving about.

      Oh, and if you every have any questions about my book, just send me an email! I love to hear from my readers. :D

  28. Rhonda Wylie says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I’m finding that as I am juicing every morning with fruits and vegetables, I don’t feel the need to binge so much. Plus, I’m making sure I don’t forget my multi-vitamin. Thanks for sharing your story.

  29. Maija says:

    Thank you SOOOO much for your brutal honesty!
    I think there are a lot more of us out here who binge and are extremely ashamed.
    I’ve subscribed to your blog.
    Thank you again.

  30. Tina says:

    Im loving the ideas in this article. One question though.
    How do you not limit what you eat, or label a food good or bad, when you’re dealing with something like candida overgrowth.
    I had to go on a round of antibiotics last year and those things killed the healthy gut I worked so hard to achieve. Now I believe I’m having problems due to candida.
    So how does one not limit food when you have a major problem like this?
    If I throw caution to the wind, Ill end up eating every sugary food in my home with honey on top. Even if I just say “oh just one bite”, or share in my husbands dessert, it kicks in this almost insatiable craving for more!
    Loving your blog btw!
    Any insight is appreciated!

    • Good question, Tina. In some cases dietary restrictions may be necessary. I personally recommend keeping them to a bare minimum, and working to heal as much as possible so those restrictions can be minimal over time if possible. As for candida, I would personally look into any underlying problems that may be encouraging candida overgrowth. I really enjoyed this article on candida myths here: http://eastwesthealing.com/candida-overgrowth-myths-vs-facts/

      • Tina says:

        Thanks for sharing this! Some info on there I wasn’t aware of.
        Its a very difficult subject to demystify!
        Im a whole foods girl, and I really haven’t limited anything I eat as long as it was a real food. But ever since the antibiotics, Iv had issues. Can’t lose weight from my most recent pregnancy, have weird skin issues, inflammation in my joints, super fatigued (and not just because of the baby)…all this plus multiple yeast infections.
        Its all quite frustrating to know how to heal without buying into some diet fad.

  31. Hailey says:

    OMG, I literally started laughing at the part about the carrot not stopping you from getting those brownies! I could relate so much that I have to wonder if I wrote it myself! Lol Thanks for the post!

  32. We guess at portions. It makes sense to weigh food before eating to get a precise and scientific amount of food. Volume, linear and weight measurement are taught in the 4th grade and going into any restaurant with a food scale is accepted when one says, “Calorie Watchers” doesn’t exist. “Weight Watchers(tm)works, not “calorie watchers.” The weighing of food (real food and not just the splurges) is ancient. Joseph weighed food in Egypt. A carpenter cannot work without measuring, and Jesus was the son of a carpenter as well as the son of God. I ate with my in-laws recently and my father-in-law thought I was eating too much bread in the appetitzer. I weighed the food and 5 pieces of French bread (small round and pread out they looked like a lot of food)weighed 3 ounces. I didn’t have to argue about food. My husband is underweight and doesn’t like eating. When we weigh his food he makes an effort to eat more. This is just too useful.

    • I think it’s an individual thing how much we benefit from tracking food intake. Some people do well tracking in detail, others do better loosely tracking, others prefer a completely intuitive approach. Listen to your body and do what works for you, I always say (and if tracking is making you a neurotic mess, that’s obviously not working, lol, but if you feel it helps you have a balanced relationship with food, then that’s a good thing).

Leave a reply