Food Deprivation And The Binge Eating Cycle

If you struggle with binge eating, you know the cycle of self-sabotage well. You start out with “good” behavior. You choose the “right” foods and then you are faced with temptation. You can hold out for a while, but eventually, it all goes downhill and you end up in a binge. I’m sure you have asked yourself about this binge eating cycle over and over again, yet the only solution you see is getting on a diet and being “good” by eating the “right” foods. Seems simple enough. So, why doesn’t it work?? There are a few flaws with this plan…

  • Being “good”. Equating your self-worth based on the food you eat will lead you down this rabbit hole faster than a dessert buffet at an uncomfortable social gathering. Placing so much pressure on yourself will increase your anxiety and intensify your food cravings. This also leads to a tremendous amount of shame. That shame is what keeps you stuck in this pattern. The ability to separate your worth from the food you put in your mouth is the path to freedom.
  • Eating the “right” foods. Who has decided on the “right” and “wrong” when it comes to eating? If you look at “healthy eating” over the last 30 years, experts have changed their minds about 100 times. Pairing this “right” food mentality along with being “good” is a disaster waiting to happen. Look at the history of your self-sabotage if you need proof of this! For most people, having to eat certain foods and cutting out others will only lead to food obsession. If I tell you that you can eat anything you want except a cookie, you can bet your chocolate chips that you will be craving a cookie even if you don’t usually care for cookies.
  • Calorie deprivation. When people are trying to be “good” with their eating, they often try to go on some sort of a diet that keeps their fuel (calories) too low. This will automatically throw your brain into survival mode which we commonly refer to as Famine Brain. If our basic needs are not being met (energy through food), our brain will become obsessed with getting those needs met. We all have a threshold for calorie intake needed for survival. All too often, the latest diet puts our calorie intake lower than what our body needs to have our heart and lungs function, not to mention our brains. Have you ever struggled with remembering things or formulating an intelligible thought when you were on a diet? Famine Brain! The best way to combat this is to stop counting calories and really listen to what your body needs for energy.
  • Trauma. If you experienced trauma and began using food to cope with the painful emotions around your experience, this can easily lead to binge eating. This is particularly true for traumatic events that occur in childhood. Food can be an outlet. It can become the calm in chaos. The only way to change this pattern successfully is by resolving the underlying trauma.

If you struggle with this pattern and aren’t sure how to get out of it, call us. We can help!

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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