Why do We Binge-Eat? (And How to Avoid It)

Understanding the cause behind our bad habits is the first step to overcoming them. So why do we binge eat?

One of the biggest reasons behind this is anxiety. Like stress, anxiety causes us to look for instant gratification.

The more anxious we are, the stronger our impulse to alleviate it becomes. Food can then seem like an easy fix - "eat something you enjoy and you'll feel better. Still anxious? Eat some more."

Of course, this line of reasoning isn't a very effective one.

The gratification we get from food is only temporary, but frequent binge-eating creates lasting negative effects on our weight.

Then what do you do?

The best thing to do is of course to avoid anxiety and stressful situations, but that's not always possible. We need to think ahead and be prepared knowing that at one point or another we will inevitably find ourselves feeling anxious or stressed, and that our impulse will likely be fight that with food.

Eating a snack with high satiety value is a start. For instance, 2 squares of high quality dark chocolate, though sweet, will help make us feel full, so that we more quickly feel like we can't or don't want t eat.

Not enough? Then start training your body to always eat at specific times each day. A routine will help your brain associate only particular times with eating so that you only start to think about food at those specific times. When you do eat, make a habit of chewing slowly.

This will help you a lot when it comes to limiting your portion size. It also helps with digestion and in the end, if you do go through a binge eating episode, eating slowly will at least make you eat less than you would if you ate fast.

Improve the quality of your food.

Eating less caloric, healthier food will mean that, even when you go  over the portion size you've challenged yourself to respect, the effect will be lighter.

Alleviate anxiety through calming practices.

Remember that food is never the only source of gratification we can turn to. The impulse to eat during anxiety or stress episodes come from the mind, not the stomach, so mind-oriented practices can also be used to make that impulse go away. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to cultivate calm, focus and self-control.