The deep dark world of eating disorders can be an upsetting topic. One of the most
common forms of disordered eating is BINGE EATING, whether that be mindful or
There are various reasons why people eat in extreme excess...
1. To Increase Pleasure / As an Anti-depressant or Sleep Aid:
Believing if they did not, they “would have nothing to look forward to.” According to
many sources eating sugars and fats releases opioids in our brains. Opioids are the
active ingredients in cocaine, heroin, and many other narcotics. So the calming,
soothing effects that you feel when you eat high sugar/high fat foods (generally
together) is REAL. Breaking these habits can be like kicking a drug habit. These also
increase neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Dopamine which makes us feel
DAMN GOOD, especially if you require that hit to increase melatonin & cross your
blood brain barrier to get to sleep at night (a band aid on an underlying issue!). As a
fun fact: sipping on BCAA”s all day to flavour your water can have a negative impact
on serotonin/melatonin getting through this blood brain barrier. This occurs as those
amino acids in your lolly flavoured BCAA water compete to gain access. Chronically
this can evoke a depressive mental state and impaired sleep. Decreased sleep also
drops leptin (a satiety hormone) and drives up ghrelin (hunger hormone).
2. Inability to Tolerate Difficult Feelings:
In our culture, we learn from a young age to avoid things that feel bad. Unfortunately,
the ways we have found to distract ourselves from those emotions can be dangerous
if not deadly, especially with the rise of Lifestyle related illnesses/diseases,
specifically obesity. As it stands Australia has overtaken Ameirca in the obesity
epidemic. Obesity in Australia is one of the biggest public health challenges facing
the population. More than half of the adult population has a body weight that poses
serious health risks. More than 60% of Australian adults are obese and almost 10%
are severely obese. At least a quarter of Australian children and adolescents are
obese or overweight.
3. Body Loathing
Hating your body is one of the biggest factors in emotional eating. Negativity, shame,
and hatred rarely inspire people to make long-lasting positive/healthy changes,
especially when it comes to our bodies or our sense of self. You simply don’t stop
hating your body AFTER you reach a goal weight/body fat percentage. That
psychology is deep seated. You must stop hating your body BEFORE you can stop
the emotional eating cycle and achieve long term body composition results.
Letting yourself get too hungry or too tired is the best way to leave yourself
vulnerable to emotional eating. When your body is hungry or tired, it sends strong
messages to your brain that signal it to eat. Glucose/Sugar being the quickest form
of energy we can consume. Not to mention sugar feeds our ‘bad’ gut bugs such as
firmicutes which have been linked to obesity and rebound weight gain after weight
loss. Start to become in tune with yourself and know when you are tired, thirsty or
Aim for 8hrs of quality sleep per night, hitting the hay before 10pm (for optimal
hormonal recovery, memory storage/compilation and circadian rhythm alignment).
Keep meal timing, sleep/wake times consistent and regular. Ask yourself why am I
doing this? What issues am I not being honest with myself about, what am I finding
difficult in my life and what can I do to create a positive change in these areas.
Why not incorporate some holistic serotonin and dopamine boosting activities into
your week, such as: going for a walk outdoors in nature (less than 7,500 steps per
day increases our hunger hormone Ghrelin), breath work (deep breathing into your
belly can help induce a relaxed parasympathetic state), Meditation or Headspace
apps, calling a loved one or close friend for the power of human connection or to talk
through your problems (maybe they can help or at least be a great listener), Yin
Yoga (the most therapeutic form of yoga with an array of physical, emotional and
mental benefits), have a massage or try to find 30mins of daily activity to build a
stronger mental state and musculature (I’m a BIG fan of resistance training!).
Also, do try to include some tryptophan foods in to your diet such as turkey and nuts
(a handful). This will help boost melatonin to help you get to sleep at night. DO have
some carbohydrates at night (portion controlled) such as basmati rice or sweet
potato to allow your melatonin to cross your blood brain barrier (with the help of
insulin) and induce sleep.
Emotional eating is a powerful and effective way to find temporary relief from many
of life’s challenges. If it didn’t work so well, no one would do it. You don’t eat
because you’re hungry, but because you feel empty or sad inside.
Researchers are discovering that binge eating, like other eating disorders, is a
mental health condition. People who binge often have anxiety, depression, or other
mental health issues. Up to half of people who binge are either currently depressed
or were depressed in the past. Anxiety and stress are also linked to binge eating. So
much so that Antidepressants have been used in clinical trials to help with other
eating disorders such as bulimia. A side effect of some antidepressants is a
decrease in appetite. However, being hungry is NOT what causes binge eating.
There is an extensive amount of side effects from anti-depressants including:
dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, nausea or vomiting, nervousness, reduced
sexual desire and trouble sleeping.
Let yourself experience difficult feelings. Get honest without yourself about why you
are feeling mad, sad, rejected, or bored? Then, once you know the what and why
you can work on making a positive change to address your new-found insight you
have and align your life with what you value most, so that every day you wake up
feeling inspired and ALIVE (but that’s another story, for another time).
Ps: We are not Dogs, we DO NOT reward ourselves with food!! True happiness
comes from within and is shaped by your perspective.