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How to Stop the Binge Eating Mentality

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Feel like you’re always on the binge-eating rollercoaster? And is food always on your mind? We get it. Binge eating and food obsession can be all-encompassing, taking over your mind, body and life.

No amount of willpower can help you stop binge eating. Instead, recovering from binge eating disorder means an entire mindset shift to allow you to regain trust in your mind and body again.

What is binge eating?

Binge eating is the consumption of large quantities of food over a short period of time. Binge eating disorder (BED) is a mental disorder that can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnicity and accounts for approximately 22% of eating disorders.

Worried about binge eating this Christmas? Join our FREE 'Last Christmas' binge-eating workshop on the 14th of December at 7-8.30pm.

Why do people binge eat?

Although the jury is out regarding what causes binge eating disorder, researchers believe a complex combination of genetic, biological, behavioural, psychological, and social factors is at play.

But, there are two key elements that contribute to a binge eating mentality; physical restriction and mental restriction. Binge eating occurs when we mentally or physically restrict food and ignore internal cues like hunger and fullness.

Physical restriction

Physical restriction is the process of restricting or limiting food intake for the purpose of weight suppression or control by limiting types of food, the amount of food consumed or micromanaging certain behaviour around food.

Mental restriction

Mental restriction is the judgement, fear and guilt you may feel around food, movement and your body.

How to stop feeling obsessed with food by shifting your mindset

To be able to move from binge eating to a healthier relationship with food, firstly, a shift to let go of dieting, restriction and weight control must occur. This movement away from physical restriction i.e. jumping off the dieting bandwagon is a core first step.

Although, even moving away from traditional dieting behaviours doesn’t necessarily mean that mental restriction isn’t still at play.

Fear, shame, guilt and judgement surrounding food choices may trigger binge eating behaviours.

We want to assure you that having a dieting mentality is completely normal. This mental restriction typically reflects a person’s body image plus societal beliefs about what eating and bodies “should” look like.

So how do we move from mental restriction to mental freedom around food?

Increasing your emotional allowance

Even if you’ve decided that calorie counting, weighing out your food and restricting certain food groups are no longer going to be a part of your life, you may still be thinking like a dieter.

Your emotional allowance may need to be readjusted, or increased. When you eat “what you want” but still have feelings of guilt, anxiety and stress then releasing yourself from emotional deprivation is key.

Allowing yourself to eat all foods, physically and mentally, will allow the binge-restrict cycle to finally come to an end.

Rebuilding your personal self-worth

Practising self-compassion and offering yourself kindness in your current body, not the body you wish you had, is essential to shifting your mindset around food and movement.

If we are constantly thinking that once we change we will then deserve kindness, compassion and empathy rather than allowing ourselves to respect our bodies now, a lot of our self-worth is balancing on our appearance.

Try asking yourself “what do I value about myself that isn’t related to my appearance?”

Remembering that recovery isn’t linear

Although it would be easier and more comfortable if each day your relationship with food, movement and your body improved, the reality is that recovery is not linear.

Accepting that some days may be more challenging than others and that certain occasions may trigger certain behaviours, can allow you to take each day as it comes, rather than thinking that slipping back into binge eating behaviour equals failure.

Moving from the all-or-nothing attitude to food, movement and your body can release you from perfectionist tendencies, and help your recovery.

Seeking support

Worried about binge eating this Christmas? Join our FREE 'Last Christmas' binge-eating workshop on the 14th of December at 7-8.30pm.

Shifting your mindset and doing the inner work to rebuild your relationship with food and break free of the binge-eating mentality can be emotional, challenging and hard work.

That’s why we recommend working with a therapist, dietitian or nutritionist to support you through this journey.

You can find out more about working with Nuna here.

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