Why am I binge eating?

Top 5 Tips to Stop Binge Eating

What is Binge Eating?

Binge eating is an objective and subjective action that is characterized by eating an excessive, significantly larger amount of food than is generally considered to be a normal meal in a 2-hour time period or less. People will also experience a lack of control during these episodes. They may feel as though they can’t stop themselves or aren’t intentionally eating.

So Why Am I Binge Eating?

If you find yourself binge eating, I am sure you probably ask yourself this question when you get home from a big day at work, uni or school and the hunger finally hits you – you raid the cupboard and the fridge until you find yourself in a severe food coma, questioning why you made that decision.

Usually, you don’t know and that’s exactly it. Going back to the fact that the lack of control makes the person unaware of why they’re actually binging in the first place. That’s why it is good to get a better understanding of what is actually triggering you to fall into the binge eating tendencies.

There can be a number of different reasons why and we have outlined them so hopefully it can help you to be aware of the ‘why’ and change these habits/patterns.

Not Eating Enough During the Day: Let’s create an analogy here. You’ve been lost in the bush for a few days and have no food left in your bag. You haven’t eaten in 2 days at this point and your body is going into starvation mode. Physiologically, your body falls into fight or flight response due to the fear of your body shutting down from no fuel in the tank. You run into two boxes, one full of fruit and the next full of cookies, biscuits, chocolate and ice cream. Our hunger hormones are flying through the roof and all they are thinking is “I need to eat the most energy/calorie dense food right now just in case I don’t get fed again for another 2 days”. Believe it or not, you will run for the cookies, chocolate, biscuits and ice cream box rather that the healthy fruit because your body goes for the higher energy foods. Point of the story, re-evaluate how much you’re eating during the day.

Not Snacking: This comes back to the not eating enough concept. Snacking is an excellent way to one, get a larger variety of healthy nutrients into your diet and two, control blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels drop, so does the care for what you put in your mouth. Three, you are able to get more calories/energy into your diet therefore, ensuring we are meeting our energy requirements. 

Not Eating Enough Protein: Protein is an important macronutrient for muscle growth or muscle maintenance. It also has a satiety affect and slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates; the nutrient that is the biggest contributing factor to blood sugar levels. To avoid blood sugar level spikes and significantly fast drops, add in protein to your meal or snack.

Not Eating Enough Fibre: Fibre is similar to protein in the sense that it has a satiety affect. Keeping you fuller for longer. Choosing complex carbohydrates, that are full of fibre, is guaranteed to keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the day. It also again, avoids blood sugar spikes and falls.

Not Drinking Enough Water: Did you know that the body cannot actually distinguish between hunger and thirst? You may think you are hungry but really, you have only had one glass of water all day and your body is crying out for the good old H20.

Not Having Adequate Sleep: Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead people to eating over 300 calories more each day. Sleep deprivation will also alter how the hunger and satiety hormone’s function leaving them out of whack and unable to regulate your hunger and fullness cues accordingly.

Stress and Unresolved Emotions: This is actually a very common cause of binge eating. More common than one may think. When one has not adopted healthy coping strategies for negative emotions or stress, eating can be an unhealthy coping mechanism. Distracting yourself from the emotion by eating palatable, tasty foods, in the moment might be great but also creates a lot of guilt and anger towards oneself afterwards. It’s not eating from hunger; it’s eating to ease the pain or stress. The dopamine release (happy hormone), can lead you into a reoccurring pattern of eating being your reward system. Food equals release of happy hormones.

Not Eating Balanced Meals: A balanced meal looks a little something like this. Whole food sources of protein, starchy and sugary carbohydrates, non-starchy carbohydrates, colour (fruit and veg), fats, and flavour factors. When your meals don’t contain balance and you may be missing certain food groups (whether intentionally or unintentionally), it can possibly lead to episodes of binge eating. The body essentially craves these components because they allow the body to feel satiated and energized. When an individual’s meals are primarily comprised of processed foods, they can experience a loss of control around food and consume an excessive amount as a result due to the lack of adequate nutrients i.e., fibre!

Take these notes away and take it slow. If you are on the hunt to find the reason behind your binging, don’t change everything at once. Tick the list off slowly allowing yourself to identify the culprit.