Roger Gould, M.D.  

Specialties: Mental Health, Wellness, emotional eating

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3 Reasons Why You are Still Binge Eating

Jul 14, 2014 - 4 comments

binge eating


emotional eating


stress eating

In a study conducted by Harvard University it was determined that binge eating is the most common eating disorder. More common than even anorexia or bulimia—two disorders which receive much more attention and discussion.

Millions of people struggle with binge eating. Almost 3% of the U.S. population in fact. And here are the 3 main reason why so many people do:

1. To cope with painful feelings.
2. To create the illusion of feeling good.
3. To feel "safe" or shut out the world.

Any of these sound familiar?

Drug of Choice

To millions of people, food can—and has—become the most readily-accessible over-the-counter form of self-medication. The drug of choice. One that's completely legal. Inexpensive. And available 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

It's the drug-like effect that food can produce—something I call the food trance—that has people making comments like these:

"If I'm all doped up on a food high, nothing else matters."

"In a food trance, I belong. I fit in. I'm somebody. I'm in love. I matter. I'm not inadequate. Happier times are remembered. I'm soothed."

The food trance is the first way binge eating appeals to people. It's mind-numbing. It's immediate. It keeps difficult emotions like depression, anger and loneliness at bay. Some people even manage to "delay" their difficult feelings by making plans to "deal" with them later when they are in a position to binge.

e.g. A tough day at work results in you obsessing all day about what you're going to eat when you get home.

Like most drugs, however, the effects are only temporary. And once they've worn off, you're back at where you started. Worse still, once you shut down your mind too many times with food, binge eating becomes a compulsion.

Simply put, a binge eating compulsion means your mind now believes that you must eat in order to effectively manage your stress.

Not yoga. Not exercise. Not even laughter...

Just eat.

And once this happens, you find yourself in a position where you simply cannot control what you eat—no matter how hard you try.


Upon completing your binge eating episode, another nasty problem presents itself: Regret. Or, as I'll explain, the relief that regret provides you.

Think about the words you aim at yourself when you're filled with regret after a binge. Words like, "failure," "hopeless" and "stupid."

These words can be thought of as a tape your mind plays itself. A negative script it knows by heart. And, unfortunately, this tape is actually a relief to you as it completely diverts your attention away from the issues you're too afraid to face—the very same issues that led you to seek the comfort of food in the first place.

In a nutshell: your post-binge guilt gives you something else to think about. And this is the second, and very powerful way, that binge eating appeals to so many people.

The Binge Eating Cycle

If you're familiar with binge eating, you might know the cycle by heart.

1. You desperately want to binge.
2. You give in to the binge.
3. You feel remorse after the binge.
4. You promise yourself you'll never binge again.
5. You binge again, and hate yourself for it.

Understanding this destructive cycle is the first step in reclaiming your ability to eat sensibly again. That means understanding how binge eating has been benefiting you, and the reasons you've come to depend on it—something we work on in the Shrink Yourself Program.

Once you recognize and understand this, you'll be in a position to do something about it. Merely dieting or calling on your willpower will have no effect in disrupting your binge eating cycle. The reason being is they both fail to address the emotional reasons driving you to the fridge in the first place.

Without this deeper understanding, you're merely throwing paper darts at a brick wall.

Expert Help

You may have an idea of why you binge eat, but perhaps not an understanding on how to stop. You can take my quick Binge Eating Diagnostic to gain the insights you need to end the destructive habit.

And remember my free Pocket Hunger Coach app works 24/7 on your phone, tablet and desktop to expertly guide you past the urge to binge and back onto the road to sensible eating.

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Avatar universal
by Charley56601, Jul 15, 2014
Thank You! You Hit it on the Head!  My Binge Eating is so I don't have to cope with Painful feelings!  I thought I had it all said and done!  Lost 200lbs.  Found my Guy!  Then, I started trying to do just a tiny binge here and there to cover up some stupid pain! So Dumb! So, Here I am Needing to lose 40 pounds!  Thank You for your help before I put on the 200!

Avatar universal
by zhafire, Jul 29, 2014
Do you have any published books? I find your pocket hunger coach app very helpful!

Avatar universal
by vmjoslin, Jul 31, 2014
I think many people binge eat because they are in the habit of it. And knowing that you're stuck in the cycle makes it really hard to get out of. Makes you feel helpless. Its a tough habit to break.  

Avatar universal
by Helen_L, Jul 31, 2014
All too true. The only way I have found workable in the longterm for dealing with all of these wise words is to be an active member of Overeaters Anonymous. The book, Wheatbelly by Dr. William Davis was also a Godsend. When reading the basic text for Narcotics Anonymous I found that I had so many similar feelings. For me (any many like me) binge eating of sugar and wheat is not merely a habit. It is an addiction. In recovery I have gone from 310 to 221. The 12 step programs are the only 'free of charge' support programs that I am aware of.

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