February 23, 2013

Causes of binge eating

I didn't wake up until 8:00 this morning! I never sleep that late. Last night, I took a sleeping pill so that I could sleep through the night--lately, I've been waking up constantly, feeling like I'm wide awake, and it drives me crazy. It worked like a charm, but I felt super tired when I woke up.

I sat and watched a movie on Lifetime for a little bit with a cup of tea. I am loving the David's Tea that I bought! I love all the flavors, and really can't choose a favorite. Today I had the Toasted Marshmallow flavor, and it was heavenly.
That's Phoebe in the background. She really likes Lifetime movies, and she sat and watched with me ;)

Once I got a little more energy, I got to work cleaning the house for my company tomorrow. It's funny, whenever I start doing the cleaning that I normally don't do very often (dust, for example) my kids always ask me, "Are your friends coming over?"

I was really in the mood to organize, so I ended up cleaning out the pantry. I have a really big pantry, and we somehow acquire a lot of food in there that I forget about. So I went through, checking the expiration dates of stuff, and throwing out things that have been forgotten. It looked much better when I was done.

This afternoon, I got to work on preparing the food for tomorrow. I chose to make things that I could do ahead of time, so that I don't have to be in the kitchen while my friends are over. I started by making the dessert. I've seen a million recipes for different desserts in a jar, and I thought that would be very convenient to make ahead of time. I decided to make a Boston Cream Pie version. They turned out pretty cute!
They are 11 PointsPlus each--not bad, for a decent-sized dessert. (I'll post links to all the recipes that I use when I post about my Oscars party--probably Monday).

I also made a Citrus Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper and Feta dip, and Olive Tapenade. Tomorrow, I'm going to make Guacamole Deviled Eggs. It was SO hard to make all this food today without eating it! I did a few tastes, and snacked on too many tortilla chips while I was making everything, but I counted the PointsPlus for it. The Red Pepper dip was so amazing that it's going to be my new go-to party dip.

Jerry posted this little cat chart on Facebook for me, and I thought it was hilarious, so I wanted to post it here. If you have a cat, you will probably get a kick out of it (click to enlarge it):

I haven't posted a "reader question" in a while, but here is one that I got recently:

Q. What do you think causes your binges when they occur? Difficult emotions? Love of food? Both? Something else entirely?

I have been in binge mode lately. I am still maintaining because I binge, then eat healthfully, binge, etc. I can't figure out what is up with me all of a sudden! I know this is a slippery slope.

A. Well, I'm happy to say that my binge-free streak is now at 167 days and counting :) But, I really wish I knew the answer to this question! I've noticed that when I feel really anxious, binge eating usually makes me feel better, so that's one reason. Stress is another reason--if I feel stressed out for any number of reasons, binge eating relieves the stress. I've tried other ways to relieve stress and anxiety, but nothing works the way food does ;)  And since someone always asks how I define a binge, here is a post that explains it.
I do have other binge triggers, though--food blogs are one of them! I can't read/view food blogs or browse Pinterest because then I fixate on food and it almost always leads to a binge. Since I've started this binge-free streak, I've only used Pinterest to bookmark certain things I find online--I don't browse through it like I used to. 
And, there are certain binge-triggering foods that I can't have at home. Ice cream, graham crackers, regular sized chocolate chips (the mini ones are fine to have a home, but nothing bigger--strange, I know), Biscoff Spread/Cookie Butter, and Marshmallow Fluff, to name a few things. 
I think it's important to find out what your triggers are--maybe stress, boredom, food porn, any number of other things--and then find ways to eliminate them or make the best of them. If your problem is boredom, then maybe make a list of things you can do when you feel the urge to binge--play solitare, read a book, go shopping, whatever. If your problem is food porn (food blogs, Pinterest, etc.), maybe it's time to eliminate it, like I did. 
Binge eating is SUPER hard to overcome--I was binge-free for a whole year when I was losing weight, and then I started doing it again. This time around, I'm trying to learn from my mistakes and hopefully I'll keep this streak going even longer than before. But it's a very tough road! 


  1. This is a great post :) I chose not to use the word binge, because I fell like it makes the situation seem worse, so instead I say "overeat". (even though they're the same thing...?) I COMPLETELY know what you mean with the chocolate chips. There's been waaaay too many times that I've caught myself with a handful at the computer.

    1. I don't mean to be contrary, but there is a big difference between overeating and binge eating. There's an entire psychological component to binge eating that is absent from simply overeating. While it has been called compulsive overeating, but the key term there is "compulsive". Not using the term "binge" in favor of the term "overeat" may make you feel better at the end of the day (and that is completely okay, whatever works ya know). BUT the two are NOT the same. Seriously, all you have to do is google "difference between binge eating and overeating" and you will find thousands of resources.

      Also, binge eating will be recognized (and legitimized) as an actual eating disorder in the DSM-V.

    2. Tori is completely right. Binging does not equate to overeating. Yes, eating too much ("overeating") is involved - but there is far more going on psychologically.

    3. Ya'll, are right, sorry about that. I did some research, and every link popped up with them being completely different things. Glad I learned something new!

  2. I love your honesty Katie. Thanks for talking about your life and triumphs openly.

    It's much more interesting to me to hear about how someone maintains a huge loss like yours than the actual loss itself. I myself am always either gaining or losing weight. I have rarely maintained ever, even at "heavy" weights. And openly talking about your binge triggers and strategies to deal with them is super helpful.

    It's always a struggle, and I think I will need to be conscious of it for the rest of my life. I am only about halfway to my goal, but I feel like learning to maintain it NOW, rather than having no tools when I get there (again) will help immensely. Thanks!

  3. Binging for me was awful. I would eat a normal meal, and then 30 minutes later be famished, and go looking for food. It was a neverending cycle until November of 2011. I discovered a book called Wheat Belly, and my life was changed. For me, wheat is a trigger. it makes me hungry. It doesn't matter if it's whole wheat or white, if I consume even a small amount of it, I have insatiable hunger. So I gave it up. And since then I have lost about 60 pounds. I still have 40 to go to get to my goal weight. I love that you have not only lost the weight, but that despite your struggles, you are maintaining. It is inspiring.

  4. A good way that I've found to avoid or stop a binge is to paint my fingernails. It's hard or impossible to eat with wet nails and by the time they're dry I can usually get a hold of myself.

  5. Katie, it could be your return to medication that is causing your sleep disturbance. I know from experience that SSRI's can cause insomnia or somnolence. If you haven't considered the possibility, it is worth looking into. Just a thought because I sleep is so vital to good health overall! Your blog is one that I read daily and always feel inspired. Thank you for your honesty and encouragement!

  6. Hee hee, I've seen the cat thing before & it cracks me up so much!

    The dessert looks delish! Also, guacamole deviled eggs? Yes please!

    I used to binge a lot before I joined WW. I've not managed to knock it off completely, but it happens far less than it used to.

  7. Oh, you are so right on about the Pinterest thing. I do really well during the day with my eating plan - then I come home, check out Pinterest while sitting on my couch, and bam... Seeing all that food brings me right into the kitchen. You saying (writing) that makes me realize what a trigger it is for binging - thank you!

  8. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was created by the devil.

  9. I, too, went a significantly long time without a binge (it was almost a year). In fact, I not only went without a binge but I went several months without even the URGE to binge.

    Last weekend, however, was the worst binge I've had since I started my journey a year ago. It's interesting a fellow reader asked that question because on Tuesday morning I sat down and thought about what caused my terrible weekend binge...

    I came up with a couple things...

    1) SLEEP! Without fail, if I don't get enough sleep (usually for more than a day), I start having urges to binge.

    I recently learned how to knit... unfortunately, however, I don't have a lot of spare time to do it so I had been staying up late several days just to knit (and enjoy the peace and quiet with the kids asleep). After a couple days the accumulated lack of sleep finally took its toll!

    2) Eating as "regularly" as possible. I typically eat breakfast, lunch and dinner around the same time of day - every day. However, if I get off schedule (super late breakfast or lunch) - this inevitably triggers binges as well.

    3) Tracking... I hadn't been tracking my food for a few months. When I stopped tracking I noticed I started eating things I would typically refrain from eating because I didn't find them "worth it" or I would eat a slightly bigger portion. I was still losing weight (albeit - significantly slower than when I tracked) - but I knew tracking my food did help keep me more on track/accountable.

    It's much easier to binge on that entire box of Girl Scout cookies (or make a batch of cookies to binge on) when you don't have to admit to it in your personal food journal.

    4) Medication! I noticed my pain medication tends to elicit binge urges. Although my specific pain medication is not a narcotic - it surprisingly affects me the exact same way narcotics do (a slightly "high" feeling accompanied by the "munchies"). I've always avoid trying to take it - but being aware of its effects is important.

    5) Food triggers - Yes, there are some "foods" I just cannot eat because I cannot control overeating them - namely hubby's homemade beignet, no-bake chocolate peanut butter or coconut cookies, Girl Scout Samosas... Without fail - if I have one taste - I just CANNOT STOP eating them until they're all gone!

    Ultimately, with all these things in mind - I still believe (accumulated) lack of sleep tends to cause my binge-y feelings the most - because although I've overeaten the no-bake cookies a couple times in the past 3 months - I NEVER purposely made a batch to binge on until last week!

    On Tuesday I resolved to set a strict bedtime (10pm), start tracking my food again, and vowed I would no longer make the no-bake cookies until I felt I could control myself (oh, and the remaining boxes of Girl Scout cookies were given away).

  10. OH... one more thought, sorry! When the binge urges hit - drinking 3-4 cups of water can really help. It may not always hit-the-spot (because the thoughts of binging can be overwhelming) but it definitely helps more often than not.

  11. Great post! Binge triggers can be anything under the sun unfortunately. I hear you on the Pinterest one, during the holidays I can't bear to look at it!

  12. I can not handle "food porn!" I was trying to gather recipes to make myself an actual cookbook. I could not stop snacking while working on that project. I had to stop and just add one recipe at a time. I totally get the Pinterest thing too. I can only go on there when I am feeling strong and in control.

  13. I have a long history of binging. I think it's mostly boredom and stress. It's just been a cycle. Like another poster said, i read Wheat Belly and that really opened my eyes about wheat. I could go through an entire loaf of wheat bread in two or three days. After that book, I started making my own homemade bread for quite a while but then realized I was not really having a craving for bread as much. We buy bread still, but I eat maybe a slice every other day as toast before or after a workout, just for the carbs. When I eat it later in the day with a meal or something I get those severe hunger pangs afterwards and feel so unbelievably bloated and sick and regret eating it, so I am very careful when and how much I eat.

    I'm on day 14 of no soda or sweet tea (my staple drink) and have been drinking a ton of water, which I think helps too with the binging, because after filling my belly up with water I can't even think about putting more food in it. SparkPeople has actually helped a lot in keeping me from binging too, because I don't want to see those calories go over. I also started making sure I eat breakfast, even if it is a banana or granola bar (not that healthy I know), but most of the time, I end up drinking a protein shake since I work out first thing in the morning. About an hour after my shake, I eat a good lunch and then the rest of the day I try to eat every 3-4 hours, even if it's just carrots and sour cream dip but not a lot.

    I think these little changes here and there help. I actually didn't even get the urge to inhale the chips my boyfriend bought me. I noticed my junk food craving is diminishing. I mean I want cake yes, but I am okay without it too. Before, I would just cave and go buy a cake or sweet bread from the bakery, but I haven't lately.

    My boyfriend has been commenting a lot lately how I'm losing weight. Of course, I don't see it or feel it, but he sees it, so maybe I am. I just know I feel better, which to me that matters the most.

  14. Great post - Wish I was there for your Oscar party, sounds like you've made some awesome stuff!!

    I struggle with binging and still will fall victim to mini-binges (not enough to do days of damage but I still suffer with a few hours of feeling bad about it) My trigger seems to be when stress, a "dark day" and hunger all strike at once. If I'm busy working and have missed my meal time and I'm in a bad place… it's a disaster.

    In happier news...

    I LOVE that cat picture that Jerry posted. Cracked me up.

  15. I tend to stress binge. I know people say it doesn't make you feel better, but it does to me. That's why I want to do it and it can be very difficult when the urge is there to not give in. I don't binge often anymore, thank goodness. However, when it happens I have learned to just move on, get on track and not beat myself up.

  16. I know you've mentioned it before, but I can't find the post... what app are you using for your binge-free daily count up??

  17. I know I'm late to the game, but I wanted to chime in real quick and let you know the guy who made the "How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You" graphic has a whole book of them! Same name, and all super funny :)

  18. Yeah this is reeeeeeeeeeeally late reading/replying to this post....but do you all think that PMS or PMDD might cause binges? I don't think anyone mentioned that at all. I'm just realizing that I have severe PMS that affects me mentally and physically. I get very anxious, easily stressed, have trouble sleeping, and binge eat like crazy, every single month about 1 1/2 weeks before my period starts.

  19. 20 minutes binge free since I saw your post. Thank you for being so brave.


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