Dieting is the Gateway to Binge Eating

Binge eating and dieting have a very adversarial relationship, but they are so intertwined. This occurs in two ways.

  1. Research has shown that childhood dieting is directly linked to binge eating behavior in adulthood. However, ANY food deprivation in childhood will create this behavior. When we are deprived of food in our formative years whether it is by poverty or created through dieting, this causes something referred to as famine brain. Famine brain comes from food scarcity and to combat that, we become obsessed with thoughts of food and eat well beyond what we need because our ability to have food when we need it is no longer trusted. It literally throws our brain into a panic. As adults, we have more control over our ability to get food, but that pattern is so ingrained it is an emotional, not a logical response.
  2. Dieting often happens when we feel like our relationship with food or our weight is “out of control”. We use a diet plan to “get back on track”. The difficulty here is that we start to use food restriction as a means of punishing ourselves. Binge eating and dieting are just extreme ends of the spectrum. Therefore, people constantly find themselves swinging from one side to another and back again. As soon as you begin to restrict eating, the famine brain mentioned above. Deprivation, food obsession and food hoarding (binge eating) all go hand in hand. The more we diet, the more our metabolism becomes negatively impacted and the more weight we gain which just triggers the diet binge cycle again and again.

You can stop the diet and binge eating cycle. First, you need to address any underlying emotional connections to food. Healing is the only path to changing these patterns. Then, you can start to reconnect with your body and what it needs.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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