Not Eating Leads to Binge Eating

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How restrictive eating leads cause binge eating | How dieting triggers binge eatingToday, I’m pondering what my life would be like had I never dieted. If you know me, you might be aware that I battled with disordered eating when I was younger. I truly believe that if I never dieted, I would never have struggled with binge eating.

For me, dieting:

  • led to anorexia
  • which led to binge eating
  • which led to bulimia
  • which improved (ironically) back to binge eating
  • which improved to overeating
  • and finally returned to normal eating

Whew, what a waste of my time. Although dieting is not the only trigger for binge eating, very often not eating is what sets the stage for binge eating. It could be not eating well during the day or not eating well while trying to diet. Restriction and deprivation are very common binge triggers.

Beyond deprivation, other common triggers for binge eating are:

  • coping with negative feelings or emotions
  • down-time or time alone
  • the desire to zone out, numb out or escape
  • food exposure
  • drinking alcohol
  • negative body image (which usually leads to dieting)
  • boredom

Of course these are not the only triggers for binges. We are all different. But awareness of what drives you to binge is the first step in changing your behavior.

Do you know your triggers that set you up for bingeing or overeating?

9 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Oh my gosh – that is EXACTLY how my own story went! From just eating healthy, to anorexia, to binge eating, to bulimia, which I’m finally just getting over. I’m in college, so being pretty broke means that the FREE meals are actually the triggers. Whether it’s a religious dinner, or a dinner out with family or friends, if I’m not paying for it somehow it doesn’t count. Down time is definitely a big one too, and also any situation in which there’s no calorie count on the food. If there’s a nutrition label, I’m much more likely to eat healthy, but without one (like if there are homemade cookies, or maybe a foreign food with a label in another language) then somehow it doesn’t count. Which of course is ridiculous! Does that make sense?

  • Robyn says:

    It all makes sense that those are triggers to overeat or binge. Down time is a VERY common trigger for non-hunger eating or bingeing. It’s interesting that the lack of a nutrition label is a trigger, perhaps there is an assumption that “if I don’t know what’s in it, it must be unhealthy…and since I’m alreadying messing up by eating something unhealthy I might as well go all out”???? Just a guess, but I can see that “the heck with it” mentality kicking in there.

  • Deb says:

    Oh god yes! I used to (and still do I guess) think this all of the time. “What if I’d never started dieting?” (Back in 1983… the diet that led to anorexia. And why that one given I’d been doing silly things throughout my childhood.) When I started to gain weight I became bulimic then a binge eater. I’m trying to not-diet and not obsess about food, weight etc at the moment which has – happily – reduced my bingeing a lot.

    But… I’m still very overweight. So… although I feel mentally healthier than ever before, I suffer from those nagging feelings that I SHOULD be doing something to lose weight. *Sigh*

    Love these posts.

  • Robyn says:

    Hi Deb, thanks for commenting. I agree with you that I’m also much happier with where my head is now than back when I used to diet. It’s easy to focus on what we think we “should” be doing…but maybe when those thoughts pop up you could take a moment to reflect on what you ARE doing to take care of yourself and if you’d like to do more, pick one thing that you could add to your life that would feel like a reasonable self-care habit to work on. Chances are those habits help move us towards a healthier body to match our healthier minds, but with a focus on health versus weight loss it might be EASIER to reach weight/health related goals.

  • Ethan says:

    What great read for me! I just love your message. Please keep on posting articles like this.

  • That’s impressive! It was a great and informative article.Thanks for sharing these wounder full words with us.

  • Monica says:

    Have you read Josie Spinardi’s book “How to have your cake and skinny jeans too” ? This book is based on the idea that diets don’t work.

  • Lauren says:

    This is exactly how my life has been for the past few years. Im unfortunately in the second binge eating phase now.. Its hard, but I’m really trying to figure out what’s causing it and how I can fix it! I miss being at Green Mountain.

  • […] Deprivation has never been a buddy to a binge eater, but I’m trying to seek out the silver linings where I can. I’m learning more about nutrition that I ever have before and I’m trying foods that never much appealed to any of my senses (cashews are AWESOME). […]

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