The Definition of Binge Eating
When you search google for the definition of binge eating, it states, “the consumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time, typically as part of an eating disorder.” So often I speak with women who don’t identify with binge eating but know that the way they handle food is not working. In my practice, I define binge eating as eating that feels automatic, out-of-control, and mindless ending in feelings of uncomfortable fullness with guilt and shame. Large quantity is subjective, a short period of time is not always the case as binges can last all day, and not everyone labels themselves with an eating disorder. Even if you do not think binging is the right term for you, below you will find a few questions to ask yourself to determine if you may want to change your relationship with food and body image or weight.
There is also a podcast episode where we dive into the topic of what is binge eating. Labels do not always help us heal and there are better questions we can ask ourselves to move through habits that no longer serve us. Instead of labeling yourself a binge eater, recognizing you may have a habit of binge eating but this can be stopped without years of therapy and always worrying that it will return later on.
While it is helpful to know what binge eating is and how to move past it, there are a few questions to consider before you even ask yourself if you binge eat.
So in this episode, you’ll hear:
- The question you need to answer before you dive deeper into binge eating, eating disorders, or emotional eating labels.
- How we can hold ourselves back by treating recovery like a diet.
- How to start expanding your world and not hiding from things that “trigger” you.
Here are Questions to Ask Yourself
How Much Energy Does Food Take Up In My Life?
On a daily basis, how much time do you spent thinking about what you should eat, how much you should eat, what you ate already, or what you are going to eat later? Based on the amount of time you spend thinking about food, then ask yourself how much of your energy has been zapped from this daily internal monologue of worries and thoughts. If your answer is 50 to 100 percent of your time, it doesn’t matter if you label yourself a binge eater or someone with disordered eating. What truly matters is if you want that time and energy back. The cycle of worrying and thinking about food can distract people from enjoying their life and finding peace and calm they crave. Thinking about food, trying to control food and weight, or worrying about past and future meals will not solve the dilemma. You can’t think your way out of it. The belief system and automatic thought patterns developed around food are not allowing you to show up as your best self. Labeling it won’t make it better or easier. The foundation of an unhealthy relationship with food only causes us to think about food more, use willpower more, and end up binge eating more.
What Has Dieting Stolen From Me?
The first diet one follows is generally the easiest. The weight comes off the fastest. The willpower is easier to control. Once the weight is regained, every diet after that gets harder and harder to follow or lose weight. Soon you may find yourself barely making it a day before you lose control or binge eat with food. In our 5 Day Break the Binge Challenge, we ask the women in our free support group this question and here is one response.
“I feel like dieting has stolen my confidence. I had decided that I absolutely could not do a large range of things, including traveling (pain, embarrassment, exhaustion), finding a new job (embarrassment, sweatiness, rejection), finding love (who would want <this>), and honestly being happy in so many different ways, until I finally figured out what everyone else knew about transcending the white-knuckling of the desire to consume large quantities such that it would magically stop because I followed the diet “right” and squashed any desire for a cookie or noodle or slice of bread. Years of hanging on for a while and then giving up in complete failure, over and over again, and gaining all lost pounds back (and more) led to disappointment, shame, and this knowledge that “they” were right, that I wasn’t good enough, that I didn’t have enough willpower, that no matter how hard I tried to be perfect, it would never, ever be enough. I have hated my body, reprimanded myself, and then ate more to shove it all down as far as it would go.
It’s also stolen me knowing myself. I have spent so much time consumed with thinking about food and food-related things – did I eat too much, can I eat more, I shouldn’t have eaten that, when can I eat again, I shouldn’t eat it, why can’t I eat what she can eat, look at how badly my pants fit
If you can relate and want to join, sign up at www.bingeeatingsupport.com.
Has Food and Weight Held Me Back In Life?
If you had that extra time and energy back in your life what would you do with it? Spending more time being present with the ones you love. Make more money because you go after a promotion, look for a new job, or start a business. Travel to destinations you only thought of or forgot about. Enjoy quiet moments with yourself because your thoughts are not racing. If you believe that this is keeping you from living your best life then you can start to pursue a new foundation on which you think about food and weight instead of waiting for yourself to shrink to live life to the fullest.
Do I Want to Reclaim My Time and Energy?
If the answer is yes, let go of labeling yourself a binge eater. Binge eating is just a habit that forms from a poor relationship with food brought on by diet culture, restricting, overemphasis on thin being the measure of health or beauty, and other triggers. Habits can be broken and replaced, they do not need to be your identity. You can stop binge eating and feel free from the chaos of food thoughts to discover what you desire in life beyond a number on the scale.