Weight Balance

So, You Binged. Now What?

Written By: Kripa Jalan

So, You Binged. Now What?

You know the feeling: One salty chip turns into 100, and suddenly you’re licking the cheese dust and wondering: “What’s wrong with me?”

But, before going into full-fledged self-loathing mode, consider this.

Actually, it’s normal to feel like you can’t stop overeating certain things. 

That’s the way most ultra-processed foods are designed today. They’re engineered to hit the “feel good” chemicals that our brains interpret for pleasure! Further, the foods we typically tend to indulge in our rich in refined sugars or carbohydrates, which gives us an immediate energy boost!

In fact, even “healthy eaters” feel out of control with foods sometimes. So if you’ve felt this, you’re not alone.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to deal with unwanted urges and post-binge guilt.

But first, what defines a binge?

  • eating rapidly until uncomfortably full
  • feeling a loss of control over eating
  • feeling guilt and shame during and afterwards
  • hiding and eating from others
  • eating in the absence of hunger

Why do we binge?

  • to compensate for excessive hunger after not eating enough
  • it’s a response to intense cravings after dieting
  • to cope with underlying depression, anxiety, and emotional dysregulation
  • to self-soothe when feeling stressed, upset, or overwhelmed by a strong emotion

What next?

If you notice closely, there’s a heavy element of emotions in binge eating.

Therefore, in order to gain more control over urges, binges, and food guilt – is to find a better way to cope with unpleasant feelings. Here’s how:

  1. Activity: We can use these to distract us from the intense drive to eat (when we’re not actually hungry) and from post-binge feelings of shame. I know what you’re thinking – the last thing you think of when you’re consumed with food, is to get up and do something. But we can mindfully push ourselves to go for a walk, to spend time doing a hobby, to contact a loved one, to read a book we like, to go out for a coffee, to clean, etc…
  2. Notice and name: What are you really feeling? Let’s be real. Food offers a pretty great sense of comfort. The downside? It’s a temporary feeling. We’re ultimately left to deal with the source of our original discomfort – but post the binge, it’s compounded by guilt and shame. So take a minute and acknowledge the emotion. 
  3. Emotion-switch: This is when we try to trigger a different feeling than the one we’re currently struggling with. If we’re feeling sad, we might watch a funny show; if we’re feeling guilty and ashamed, we might listen to an empowering song.
  4. Thoughts: Have you ever noticed that you suddenly want ice cream when you walk by an ice cream store, but an hour later when the store is long gone, you’ve completely forgotten about it? This is an example of how an emotional urge can fade once we shift our focus from it. One way to counter the urge or negative emotion is to change our thoughts! We can distract our minds by counting to 100, doing a crossword puzzle, or reading. 
  5. Stop restricting and eliminating foods that you’re not allergic to: Making blanket statements like “I won’t eat X again,” never works. In fact, it only perpetuates the binge-restrict cycle i.e. we only binge on the foods we restrict!

Remember that some of these skills can be used any time we feel overwhelmed – not just relative to food!

They can help us manage difficult situations the best way possible in order to avoid reacting impulsively and making ourselves feel worse, such as by binge eating or restricting. They can also help us tolerate the negative feelings that follow a binge.

Do you want to experience more balance with your food choices?

Check out our weight-neutral counselling program!