Renegotiating Binge Foods in Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

The process of recovering from binge eating disorder is one that requires many different steps and approaches. Because this eating disorder is a complex illness, approach the emotional, psychological, and biological factors are necessary for recovery and healing. A person with binge eating disorder cannot simply “get over” the struggles that they are facing.

Eating disorders must be approached in the sense that a person is attempting to improve their overall quality of life and managing symptoms, as there is not necessarily a “cure” for these mental illnesses.

Learning how to better manage the symptoms commonly experienced can be stepping stones in helping a person with binge eating disorder improve their overall quality of life.

Behaviors that an individual with binge eating disorder will characteristically display include chaotic habits with food, such as eating abnormally large portions in a short amount of time, consuming food rapidly, and eating quantities of food that would put them beyond a feeling of fullness.

BED Influences

Part of recovering from binge eating disorder understands possible underlying emotional or psychological influences related to binge eating and constructing new methods for coping with overwhelming situations.

Many individuals who struggle with binge eating also may have particular foods that trigger binge episodes. Foods that are higher in carbohydrates and fats can cause the release of the hormone serotonin in the brain, which can induce pleasurable feelings.

For this reason, people who are dealing with binge eating disorder often gravitate towards foods with these components, either for comfort or as a means of escaping from difficult situations. Examples of these types of foods would include pastries, cookies, cakes, and other desserts, foods that are higher in simple carbohydrates (such as breads, pastas), foods that tend to be higher in fats (such as fried foods, fast foods).

Binge foods may be different for every individual who is dealing with this mental illness. The important factor is to recognize what these foods are and understand the possible emotions that trigger the urge to want to eat these foods. Learning to decipher physical hunger from emotional hunger is also a key to breaking the binge cycle.

For example, if a person just had dinner and ate an adequate amount to satisfy their hunger but is experiencing an urge to binge on a gallon of ice cream an hour later, this is not likely physical hunger. In this situation, an emotional trigger may have led a person to eating a particular binge food, even if they are already physically satiated. Being aware of these differences is critical for moving forward in recovery.

Binge Foods

Another aspect of renegotiating binge foods is learning that all foods are on an equal playing feeling and giving yourself unconditional permission to eat. What exactly does this mean? Letting go of the mentality that foods are “good” and “bad” is essential to making peace with food.

It is important to let go of the judgment that you may commonly feel for eating certain foods and understand that all foods can play a role in your overall nutrition. Allowing yourself to eat the foods that you are truly wanting and craving when you are hungry is also a key aspect of renegotiating binge foods.

For example, if it is your lunch time and you are craving a sandwich and chips but opt for a salad because you feel that is the “better” option, you are essentially creating a sense of deprivation for yourself that can trigger a binge later on. If you honor the craving you are experiencing, you can likely move on from that craving and ultimately feel more satisfied about your food choices.

Practicing mindfulness is also a helpful part of re-learning how to eat your binge foods, and this includes recognizing and eating when you are hungry and learning how to stop eating when you are full.

The process of renegotiating your binge foods can feel like a difficult challenge at times, but step by step, you can be on your way to making peace with food and your body.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What resources where helpful to you as you learned to make peace with food in your recovery from binge eating disorder?

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 1, 2015
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The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.