Eating vs. binge eating. How can they feel so incredibly different? Both involve consuming food. Both are driven by the same state of need: hunger. Both are irrevocably complicated by the messages of diet culture.
So let’s get back to basics.
At a core level, eating is defined by the action: “I am consuming food. When I’m full I will stop.” It feels finite, biologically necessary, and satisfying.
Binge eating is defined by the state of mind: “I am consuming food in a state of panic and I don’t know if I can ever stop.” It feels scary, shameful, and completely out of control.
To stop binge eating — today, right now, this very second — you must change the lens through which you view eating.
If you see eating as inherently negative — a weakness, a cheat, an indulgence, a sin, something that must be monitored and managed — you will continue binge eating.
But if you see eating as inherently neutral and necessary — no good or bad foods, no good or bad portions — binge eating becomes just plain old eating, defined by the action, not by the state of mind.
Let me be super clear here: binge eating is NOT all in your head. My entire purpose for starting this blog was to shout from the rooftops that there is a biological basis of binge eating. You are NOT binge eating because you lack will power or self control — you are binge eating because over years of dieting, your body has come to believe that you are at constant risk of starvation. Now you need to prove it wrong.
Though the root cause of binge eating is physiological, the first step to curing it is psychological.
Food restriction perpetuates and intensifies a binge. Food permission defuses a binge. While your body’s hormones will need a few months to rebalance to life after restriction, a change of perspective can turn binge eating into plain old eating in a single second.
The next time you’re feeling that unmistakeable itch to binge on something, reframe the perspective. Flip the script. Reclaim the moment.
Instead of: “I’ll just eat one. No just two. Okay ONLY three and then I will work out extra hard at the gym. Oh god, I can’t stop eating I have to stop. I can’t stop. I have to stop. Why can’t I stop this is horrible WHAT IF I NEVER STOP”
Try: “I am allowed to eat as much as I want, guilt-free, until I feel satisfied.”
When you start eating, you won’t know how much you will eat before you stop, and that’s okay. But you will stop. You will stop. Just like when you go to bed on a weekend and don’t set an alarm. You don’t know how much you will sleep before you stop sleeping, but you will stop. Despite everything diet culture has been telling you all of these years, your body is worthy of your trust.