There are 6 main reasons women (and sometimes men) binge eat. If at any point in this article you have an “A-HA!” moment, you need to start looking at the source of your binges and work on breaking the vicious cycle.
I used to weigh 134kg and know all about binge eating. I would shamelessly eat two entire pizzas by myself, an entire slab of chocolate was like a warm up for me and 4 slices of bread at a time would be a snack in contrast to the constant uncontrollable hunger I had. We all have a binge session at least once in our lifetime, but when it becomes a repeat offence is when we need to start looking deeper.
I have tried almost every weight loss method/fad there is to try.
- ALL Diets and fad pills (low carb, no carb, no fat, no sugar, military diet, the list goes on)
- Pinning pictures of a skinny body on my fridge in an attempt to shame myself into not eating (I didn’t show it but was very hard on myself regarding my weight and was extremely unhappy)
- Throwing out or keeping out of site, anything that lead me into temptation.
- Exercised like a mad woman (more than my body was accustom to) Leaving me sore and feeling even more starved than before.
- I am not proud of this, but I even stuck my finger down my throat every time I had a bad meal so that I didn’t feel more disgusting than I already did. (This did not help me in any way and just caused more harm than good)
All these things had an impact, but not the impact I was hoping or aiming for. I ended up more damaged and self-loathing than before. Until I watched a webinar by ~ Sarah Cleghorn ~. She had made it very clear on how to break this extremely unhealthy cycle. She had switched on the light bulb to my binge eating and breaking the habit. Here are the 6 core reasons that might be causing you to binge eat.
1. Numbing your feelings.
Know that you are NOT hungry when you binge eat, you eat your feelings because it is easier than feeling them and you do not have many other tools to process your feelings.
You could be eating from loneliness, anger, regret, shame, disgust, guilt, envy, you don’t know how to deal with the feeling of jealousy so you just stuff food into your mouth hoping to feel numb, disappointment, sadness. Instead of speaking up you block your mouth by eating.
This is a common situation, especially if you were not allowed to express your feelings as a child (punished for tantrums, hidings for outbursts etc.) and were not taught to process feelings in other ways (finding the source of your behaviour and guiding you through what you are feeling and how to safely and healthily express that)
2. You are seeking connection to a positive feeling that occurred in the past.
If you constantly crave certain foods, you may be craving a feeling or experience that is connected to that food in your memory. For example, as a child I never dealt with stressful situation very well and got anxious quite easily, whenever the children would fight and end up causing havoc, (leaving me feeling anxious) my grandmother would call us to come and help her bake in the kitchen. We would end up working together and all those negative feelings and anger would be dissolved when the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake was floating through the air. It gave me a sense of calm.
In my adulthood I kept going back to chocolate cake, especially when feeling anxious (it was my kryptonite) and realised that it was my go-to comfort of baking with my gran. I also remember as a child whenever I was sick, my mother would bring home a Tex chocolate for me to “help me feel better” and paid extra special attention to me. I was now being taught that chocolate was medicine, it was by no means my mother’s fault that I thought this way, she was just trying to comfort me in a time I wasn’t feeling well, as any mother instinctually does. As an adult when I was feeling a little miff or lonely, I would turn to chocolate to feel better. Starting to see the pattern?
So ask yourself if there is a certain food you go back to over and over and over, when did you first start eating it or who did you eat it with? Cakes and pastries usually remind us of grandparents or extended family members who heaped love on us. If aunty fed you donuts whenever you visit and your food is donuts, you are seeking connection to her and need to break that cycle.
3. You want more…
A binge eater knows all about deep, insatiable hunger for more. Think about if you are confusing a physical hunger with an emotional or spiritual hunger. Remove food from the equation and ask yourself what you want more of. If your heart was hungry, what would it be hungry for? If your soul was hungry, what would it be hungry for? And it would probably be things like connection, love, joy, peace and quiet, creativity, sense of impact & contribution. So a cycle of deprivation and overeating kind of falls into the “you want more” category. You deprive yourself of certain foods (thinking you are doing the right thing by cutting out something bad from you diet) then a part of you wants to feel powerful and free to do what it wants and you connect to that sense of power and freedom by gorging yourself.
4. You want a sense of achievement.
You feel sick and bloated and gross, but also feel achieved. For example: “I ate that whole pizza!” or: “I conquered that Lasagne”. Life is bad and it feels great to win at something. So even if binge eating is overshadowed by guilt or shame and self-disgust. Eating is an easy way to feel a sense of achievement without the risk of being seen or being rejected. It is a safe and comfortable way to feel achievement.
5. You want approval or to be seen as “a good girl/boy”.
E.g.: Finish everything on your plate, don’t waste food, there are children starving on the street, always finish a meal with something sweet (not a written rule but I’m sure we remember the phrase, “no dinner, no dessert”).
Celebrations are marked with cake, sweet foods and drinks or champagne, or wine or even beer and an excess of these foods are not good for you. You may be obeying all these “rules” because you want approval or to be seen as “a good girl”. You do NOT have to finish everything on your plate. You feel scared, you do not want to upset your host or make it seem like you didn’t enjoy their food so you eat everything, even if it doesn’t suit your body. A way to identify this: Do you have a sense of guilt or betrayal? Or maybe you feel “naughty” during a meal, so just the thought of saying NO to dessert or gran’s cake makes you feel stressed. If that’s the case, then this applies to you.
6. You are scared of being a certain weight.
I know in the surface you think: “don’t be silly, I would love to lose 10kg” or 20, 30, whatever it is.
Remember at all times your subconscious is trying to keep you safe.
So if you’re really struggling in your efforts to change your eating habits or lose weight, it is important to start looking at what happened last time you were at your goal weight or what might happen if you reached your goal weight and look at all the negative consequences of being that weight again. So, did you get criticized or mocked when you were thinner? Were you on the receiving end of sexual advances that made you feel bad? If you were thinner and guys were cracking on you and you did not have the skill or maturity to manage that effectively or they completely took advantage of you and it was outrageous, illegal, immoral, behaviour you are going to hang onto that weight as a security blanket, as a protective layer and similar to this:
Ask yourself: “what would happen if I was at my goal weight?” and really let your imagination run wild. Who would make snarky comments? Would other people be jealous of you? Would you get unwanted attention? Would you worry about people desiring you for the wrong reasons? Is your weight a test? (“If they REALLY love ME, they won’t mind that I weigh a lot”) or is the weight an excuse? Do you no longer have an excuse to avoid dating or holding yourself back in your career or from starting a business or doing anything public? If you lost a lot of weight, would you be the black sheep in an otherwise overweight family?
Here is what I want you to do:
Write down your biggest “A-HA”. In the 6 above reasons, which one really resonated with you and what do you know you can immediately work on?
You need to heal the root cause of your eating and weight issues.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD, IT’S ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS.
You are trying to solve your eating problem on a physical level (dieting or trying to force yourself to be better at willpower, doing more of this and less of that) “starting tomorrow”, I’m always starting tomorrow. It does not work…
If the root cause of your overeating is emotional or if it’s an energetic block, you need a solution at the level of energy and emotion. If the root cause of your eating and weight problem is unprocessed emotions, you need to clear them and any energy blocks from your system before you can lose weight. This is why you haven’t been able to change your eating. If you apply a physical solution like diet or exercise to an energetic, emotional problem, you will stay stuck. (Mind and body go hand in hand)
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE FOOD, IT’S ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS.
There is no shame in needing help and you are not alone, thousands of people are fighting this struggle. If you are struggling, look into seeing a therapist or a wellness coach or personal trainer. You know, someone to kick you into gear when you stray and love you when it’s necessary & Do some yoga or meditate to manage stress. If you feel like you need extra advice, help or just a listening ear, feel free to contact me for support. I hope this helped in realizing and/or breaking this crippling cycle x