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  • Writer's pictureTina Shiver

Understanding Binge Eating

plate with hamburger and fries and basket of fries

We’ve all overeaten at one point in our life. Thanksgiving, Christmas, a wedding, however when we lose control we cross over into compulsively overeating.

Overeating is defined as eating more calories than your body needs. Compulsive overeating, also known as binge eating disorder, is a mental health condition that includes compulsively eating uncontrollably far more than normal even when you are full and when you are not hungry.

What are the signs of binge eating?

The following are some key questions to ask yourself if you question whether you are a compulsive overeater:

  • Do you feel as though you are reaching for food to numb the pain you are feeling?

  • Do you have a pattern of restricting all day then binging all night on food?

  • Do you have a history of using diet pills, over-exercising, or diuretic to control weight?

  • Do you think about food all day?

Working with a therapist or attending OA (Overeaters Anonymous) can help you determine if you are a binge eater. A dietitian can help you individualize a food plan which will include serving sizes as well as removing your trigger foods.

Trigger Foods

Trigger foods are those foods that when eaten make you crave and possibly eat more. These foods are generally eaten out of habit, not necessarily hunger. Your trigger food(s) is/(are) something you probably feel addicted to and is likely high calorie, processed and filled with non-nutritional carbs.

Trigger food could be sugar, it could be fast food, it could be salty food it could be volume, a dietitian that understands binge eating can help you determine the foods that trigger your binge eating.


Abstinence use to mean abstaining from sugar however sugar is not everyone’s binge food. Abstinence is now considered the following:

Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.”

A healthy food plan would include removing binge foods, specific serving size, including foods with fiber, and making sure there are enough protein and healthy fat at each meal. By removing binge foods and following a food plan that is customized for you, your needs physically become met and you can start becoming more aware of the emotional connection with food.

I ask people to keep food records and keep notes on emotional stressors. We all know it’s not just about the food, there is an emotional, physical and spiritual connection and they all need to be fueled.

If you or someone you know is experiencing compulsive eating, I encourage seeking the help of a qualified psychiatrist and a dietician that works with eating disorders. This condition can be managed.

Until next time…eat healthy and move.


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