What to Do After Binge Eating?

Binge Eating

Do you feel guilty and ashamed after a binge? Do you feel like you’ve let yourself and your recovery down? You are definitely not alone. Many people have problems with binge eating and it can be very difficult to know what to do after a binge.

In this blog post, I will offer some tips for recovering from a binge eating episode. Keep in mind that everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. The most important thing is to be kind to yourself and not give up on your recovery. There is hope!

What is a binge eating?

A binge eating episode is typically defined as consuming an excessive amount of food in a short period of time, often to the point of feeling uncomfortably full .

For many people who struggle with binge eating, episodes are often triggered by feelings of stress or anxiety. In an attempt to cope with these emotions, they turn to food for comfort. Once they start eating, it can be difficult to stop.

Binge eating episodes can vary in frequency and severity, but typically follow a cycle of restriction-binge-restriction. This cycle can be harmful to both physical and mental health, and can be difficult to break without professional help.

What causes a binge eating?

Binge eating is often caused by physical, emotional and psychological factors. For example:

  • Physical: Having eating rules or not eating enough during the day. For example, someone may only allow themselves to eat a certain number of calories per day, or may only eat specific foods. This can lead to feelings of deprivation, which can then trigger binge eating.
  • Emotional: Difficulty processing emotions, such as sadness, anger, or stress, can lead people to try to comfort themselves with food. This can then start a cycle of restrictive eating followed by binge eating. Restriction can give a false sense of control, but it is not something that can be maintained in the long term. Likewise, binge eating can help you dissociate, numb, or escape from thoughts, feelings, and/or physical sensations, but the relief is short-lived.
  • Psychological: Perfectionism and self-criticism are common psychological drivers of disordered eating behaviors. People who engage in these behaviors often have unrealistic expectations for themselves and are very hard on themselves when they do not meet their own standards. This can lead to a pattern of restrictive eating followed by binge eating as a way of punishing oneself.

What happens in the body after a binge?

When you overeat, your body goes into overdrive. The digestive system works to quickly break down food and move it for elimination. This can cause:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes in blood sugar, insulin, and blood lipid levels ( 1 )

The body also releases many stress hormones, which can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Humor changes
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Headaches
  • Shame

The function of the binge cycle

Overeating (and undereating too) can definitely help us distract ourselves from negative emotions. For example, restricting food and dieting can give you a feeling of “control” when everything around you feels unstable.

But food restriction will trigger your body to look for food. And eating can also help relieve negative emotions because food IS pleasurable, and it is normal to seek it out for comfort.

This is not “bad” as diet culture would have you believe. However, relying on food for emotional regulation doesn’t really get to the root of difficult emotions. And until we unpack and work with them, food can only provide temporary relief.

This is what happens emotionally during the restricting and bingeing cycle, which keeps this cycle feeding itself:

What happens in emotions during a binge?

As we saw above, the emotional function of binge eating is to relieve negative emotions such as sadness, loneliness, boredom, and stress. Binge eating can also be used to cope with difficult life events or feelings of helplessness or inadequacy. It is a way to numb painful emotions and provides a feeling of comfort and calm. This feeling of well-being is short-lived, and then turns into negative emotions, such as guilt, anxiety, and lack of control.

Common Emotions Experienced During a Binge

  • Calm
  • Distraction
  • Disconnection
  • emotional numbness
  • Relief

Common emotions experienced after a binge

  • Blame
  • Fear
  • self-deprecation
  • Despair
  • Shame
  • Vulnerability
  • Overwhelm
  • Lack of control
  • Anxiety
  • Self-judgment
  • Defeat
  • Impotence

How to relieve a binge

It’s important to remember that having an emotional connection to food is part of having a healthy relationship with food. Dealing with urges to eat has NOTHING to do with willpower and has everything to do with meeting your physical, mental and emotional needs.

It is also vital that we let go of guilt and shame about food. We don’t have to feel ashamed for something that keeps us alive. Also, sometimes food is your only way to cope with the difficult situation, until you develop other strategies to calm yourself down.

Food is a direct metaphor for what is happening in our lives. That’s why it’s important to slow down and take a look at what may be driving your binge eating.

If you are experiencing a binge eating episode, here are some tips for managing it:

  1. Don’t punish yourself.

Binge eating is usually the result of emotions such as stress , sadness, or boredom . Punishing yourself for binge eating will only make you feel worse and may lead to more binges. It is important to have a lot of self-compassion, since binge eating behavior is not under your conscious control.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings.

Instead of beating yourself up, try to recognize and understand the emotions that led to the binge. This can help you deal with them in a healthier way in the future.

  1. Think about how to best meet your emotional needs.

Once you understand what drives the urge to binge, think about how you can better satisfy your needs. This can mean different things to different people, but some ideas include movement, journaling, talking to a friend, or listening to music. And if a nice bowl of chocolate ice cream seems like the only thing that will do, go ahead and enjoy it!

  1. Be aware of your triggers.

Triggers can vary from person to person, but the most common include stress, boredom, and social pressure. Once you know your triggers, you can work to avoid or manage them.

  1. Don’t restrict your food intake.

Restricting food intake is a common diet technique that can lead to binge eating. When you deprive yourself of certain foods, you can end up bingeing on them later.

  1. Seek professional help if necessary.

If you find that you are having difficulty managing your binge eating episodes on your own, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a therapist or nutritionist.

What to eat after a binge

When you’ve finished a binge episode, it’s important to start taking care of yourself. One way to do this is by eating balanced foods.

  1. Start by incorporating nutritious foods.Especially fresh fruits and vegetables. These foods are packed with nutrients and fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar and improve digestion.
  2. Try to include lean proteins and complex carbohydrates in your meals.These foods will help you feel full and satisfied , which will reduce the likelihood of another binge.
  3. Practice mindful eating.This means paying close attention to the physical and emotional sensations you experience when you eat. When you’re eating mindfully, you’re less likely to eat mindlessly or obsessively.
  4. Drink enough fluids.Maintaining good hydration helps improve digestion and avoid fluid retention, which can cause abdominal discomfort. If you don’t like water, try fruit infusions .
  5. Avoid foods that cause irritation.If you experience stomach symptoms after a binge, try to avoid foods that can irritate the stomach, such as:
  • Coffee and chocolate
  • Citrus fruits and juices (orange, grapefruit, pineapple, lemon)
  • Fried and high-fat foods
  • Hot spices (black pepper, red pepper, chili powder, curry powder)
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce

What exercises to do after a binge

When you’ve had a binge eating episode, it’s important to take care of yourself. This may mean doing some light exercises, listening to your body, and resting if necessary.

If you want, try some gentle exercises like stretching or yoga. This can help calm negative emotions and support digestion.

If you feel exhausted, take some time to rest and relax. Make sure you are kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need to recover.

What NOT to do after a binge?

  • Don’t beat yourself up after a binge eating episode. Feeling guilty and ashamed will only make you feel worse and can lead to more binge eating.
  • Don’t try to compensate for binge eating by restricting food intake or exercising excessively. This will likely only lead to more binge eating.
  • Don’t try to fast or diet after a binge, as this can also lead to a negative relationship with food and eating disorders in the future.

Conclusion

If you have problems with binge eating, know that you are not alone. There are many people who understand what you are going through and there is help available. Find a therapist or counselor who specializes in eating disorders or body image issues. There are also support groups available both in person and online.

Remember, it takes time and patience to recover from an eating disorder, but improvement is possible. You can do it!

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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