Why We Binge Eat

Ever heard of binge eating, drinking or even just watching TV shows online? Depending on what it is, bingeing can be treated as either a fun past time or an actual problem. But why do we binge? Why is it that if we’re trying to lead healthier lives, we gorge ourselves on chocolate or ice cream on a ‘cheat day’ or drink excessive amounts of alcohol on a night out with friends?

It turns out that there’s a lot more that goes into bingeing than what we might think. It’s usually linked to a lot of stress or emotional problems such as depression and anxiety disorder. It can materialise itself in many different ways, but all have the goal of brushing away the source of stress for the person and trying to help them feel better about their situation.

Because of this, bingeing tends to be seen as normal when done in small doses. After all, we all have moments when we just need to release some stress and be by ourselves. Unfortunately, bingeing can become a big problem. For example, binge eating has become one of the leading causes of obesity, not to mention that it can also lead to alcoholism and compulsive buying disorder.

The effects of bingeing affect all types of people, but women and members of the LGBTQ+ tend to be the more common demographic that falls to the consequence of bingeing. It is attributed to the stresses and issues that these people deal with on a day to day basis.

Emotions play a huge role in affecting the way we binge as well. Usually, we do it as a way to cope or feel like we’re in control of our lives. Not just that, but the activity of eating good food or buying something nice also releases dopamine in our systems, which in turn makes us feel good.

Unfortunately, dopamine levels will eventually decrease and when it does, we realise what we’ve done and feel bad about our bingeing. This, in turn, can lead us to binge even more or even resorting to other forms of bingeing to dealing with our problems. As we can see, bingeing can become a vicious cycle.

Why is it hard to stop bingeing? Experts seem to think that the problem of bingeing is also linked to a lack of mindfulness. As stated earlier, bingeing is influenced by people’s emotions. While some people know why they binge, others just do it without truly being able to understand why.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to treat bingeing. For starters, it is advised to seek help from a professional once it becomes a problem that can’t be controlled, where you feel as if it is a compulsion to binge although your mind knows that you will not feel better after the binge.

Secondly, work on a way to control the binges with some mindfulness practices such as listing your emotions and the things that trouble you as a way to figure out why you binge. You could also find family, friends or support groups who can support you and guide you through while you sort through your emotional stresses.

Another way to control your binges would be to find other activities (that you can’t binge on) such as meditation or reading to relax the mind. Once you’ve released some stress, you will naturally find that the urge to binge has gone since the real cause of it is more emotional.

Take yourself out of the situation for possible bingeing to control your access. For example, if you know that you tend to binge eat, stock your fridge only with vegetables or fruit so that even if you do binge, it will be on healthier options; if you tend to binge-watch TV shows, you could freeze your subscription for a month to go cold turkey or limit your watching to only 1 hour a day and be disciplined about it.

Photo Credits: Psychology Today, YTH, Pixabay

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