4

votes

What exactly is a binge?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created May 09, 2012 at 6:06 PM

What technically qualifies as binge eating?

I just ate an avocado as well as a full, albeit tiny, jar of tahini, about half a cup, with a bit of ghee and cinnamon, which was delicious. Is it a mental state that defines what is and isn't a binge? I don't really feel that self-loathingy about it, although it was I'm sure about as much calorie-wise as a normal full day.

Is this extremely extremely unhealthy, calories aside? And how often do you have to do things like this for it to be outside the realm of normal eating? I probably eat like this once a week or so.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I think simplifying things (good food v. bad food) helps me when I'm feeling overwhelmed, but generally agree that it's best not to label and recognize that it's fine (and possibly even healthier if you buy into hormesis) to deviate from your personal prescription of "healthy" every once in a while.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on May 10, 2012
at 05:51 PM

Thank you Celine! @Sunny B. I always try to inject humor into my painful life experiences. If only I would actually learn from them! Sadly, this really happened... Down to the last 5 or 6 cookies I felt like I could retch at any moment. And yet I forced them all down.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 10, 2012
at 02:46 AM

I've read some stuff about food reward theory. Some of it seems a little circular to me, but I'm not dismissing it by any means. I think IF is probably more problematic for folks with a prior history of disordered eating (not "eating disorders"--well, that too I suppose).

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:23 AM

One thing about the fast-food burgers--the buns, ketchup, and pickles were all sweet, and those specific flavors were part of my pre-binge cravings. Just the meat alone wouldn't have done it. As for other meat and veg, they've never been binge foods for me. I remember starting a binge once by eating a pound of ground beef made into cheeseburger patties, no buns--and eating them halted the binge (for reasons now obvious). Even some starchy veg isn't a problem--I can't imagine bingeing on yams or sweet potatoes. But sweets? Yeah, forget it.

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:13 AM

For me, it was definitely sweets and starches. Cake, candy, ice cream, and the big trays of pastries from Costco were my go-to binge foods. I'd put them in the cart, already imagining the binge, knowing I should just put them back--but I was powerless to do it. The only meaty things I binged on were fast food burgers, but only after I'd eaten all the fries and, if I'd gone to Wendy's, the chili-cheese baked potato. If I was at home, I'd include refried beans and hastily-prepared pasta dishes in my binges when I ran out of sweet stuff...(cont'd)

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:02 AM

"I need something that will cloud my waking thoughts. I want something that will take over my mind, and give me a moment to escape who I am. I want self-prescribed amnesia." Damn, ain't that the truth (or at least it was, back-when). As awful as a binge was, it fogged my brain for a while so I didn't have to think about anything else that was (or wasn't) going on in my life. More often than not, I'd be so drugged up afterward that I'd just go to sleep (though it was never very good sleep). Thank you for posting this raw, honest account, Sunny. I wish you all the best.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Thanks tdgor, I am experimenting with IF (I'm about 10 days in) and noticing some really weird hunger patterns I haven't previously experienced. I think there's a lot of great research behind IF, and it's worth a try, but I'll be keeping your comments in mind as I go along. Have you read anything on food reward? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on that theory as it relates to binging and whether you think it could be an alternative explanation to undereating. I actually haven't seen anything on undereating as it relates to binging, where should I look first?

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:02 AM

Dude, I totally thought you were giving a real story, but now I think it was a joke. Hahaha. Oops.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:49 PM

I've eaten a whole chicken with a pound of vegetables cooked in a stick of butter as a START of a binge before. I binge on paleo foods now...but still binge:(

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:46 PM

I've eaten a whole chicken with a pound of vegetables cooked in a stick of butter as a START of a binge before. I binge on paleo foods now...but still binge.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:34 PM

...which is why I am so cautious about recommending intermittent fasting to anyone.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:33 PM

I see that you are coming from the best of intentions. I worry, generally, about setting up a worldview for myself where certain foods are "good" and certain foods are "bad" because in my past experience it is a very short step from there to believing that I myself am "good" when I eat the "good" foods and "bad" when I eat the "bad" foods. Yes, I choose to avoid certain foods because I believe that is better for my n=1 health, but I really strive to remove the emotion from it. I believe pretty strongly that the main cause of "binging" is having previously undereaten too much.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:16 PM

Oh, Sunny. {{Hugs}} to you. It just amazes me how many people have been through this. And think of how many are out there but staying silent, thinking they're the only ones. That no one else knows what that feels like. Like tdgor said, you've probably reached more people than you can possibly realize, just by being honest and real. And you've made them feel less ashamed and alone. It's funny -- when we talk about things we think are absolutely specific to ourselves, we come to find legions of others who know exactly how we feel.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on May 09, 2012
at 10:31 PM

I was trying to find a way to post a comment with my definition, but all I could do was sigh heavily. You said it well, I think. I've dealt with binge eating and bulimia of and on for over a decade, and I've never come up with a really good definition. Desperation. Out of body. I keep coming back to being desperate. It's so not about the food. Gorging yourself on food isn't a binge, necessarily--not in my book. Not without the psychological component.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:51 PM

p.s., i refer to calories, but I don't actually count, just have a general sense of things.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:47 PM

I think both play a role, but the degree into which one (biology or psychology) affects someone may differ among individuals.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:47 PM

..(cont'd) I think the above-outlined factors are helpful to me because I use them for perspective. It's easy to feel like I 'binged' after eating a huge paleo meal because that's what conventional wisdom has socialized me to think, so if i can point to quality of the food, I can give myself some needed perspective and not spiral into negative emotions that will cause me to actually binge. Perhaps it's a very individualized formula (n=1).

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:44 PM

Great points tdgor. You're right that I am not intending to promote guilt for eating on-paleo (thanks for the benefit of the doubt). After reading the answers that have resonated more strongly with others on this post, I think a "binge" has a distinct emotional component to it, regardless of the quality of food. That said, people are also coalescing around the idea that binges usually involve 'non-paleo' food. It reminds me of the food reward literature, and how that relates to over consumption (separate and apart from the undereating/overeating mechanism) (cont'd...)

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:40 PM

And an upset stomach. And ... who knows what. I believe though it is not psychological in nature, but physiological. Like a nutritional deficiency of some sort. Thanks for your comment.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I wish I could give you a hug through the Internet. This may benefit someone else who is struggling.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:36 PM

*hugs* I just wanted to send some hugs your way. I hope you can tackle the binge monster. It truly is a frightening and soul-gripping experience.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:29 PM

I agree with this..it doesn't give you pleasure. Just pain, torment and a deep hole in the heart:(

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:27 PM

Freaking goodness, that was embarrassing. But I'm just some random stranger behind a lame name, so I don't know why I care so much, ha ha.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:23 PM

I guess my point is that I am not convinced that non-paleo food is more "binge-worthy," if you will, and that somehow paleo food is more difficult to binge on. Are you saying that consuming ANY non-paleo food *should* produce guilt and that it's the guilt that is diagnostic of a binge? I don't think you mean to say that. As I have read the literature it appears that what is most likely to produce binging behaviors is previous excessive caloric restriction (undereating leads to overeating). Not the food itself.

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I interpret the quality part as how much I'm paying for the food I'm eating. I have no problem throwing away half of a $5 meal when I'm no longer hungry but a $50 meal will be eaten through to the bitter end. A binge eater would have no regard for that sort of thing, IMO.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I see your reasoning, but I don't agree with it. I randomly went to Cold Stone Creamery to look up the nutritional information on their desserts: http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/assets/pdf/nutrition/cold-stone-creamery-shakes-nutritionals.pdf A number of their items are over 1,500 calories for a single serving. Is someone who has one of those desserts having a "binge," if they are hungry before they eat the ice cream and they feel satiated when they are done? And I have read PH threads where people bemoan their consumption of oh-so-paleo coconut oil, etc.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:09 PM

I was thinking along these lines: you can get all your calories from ice cream for the day, so you aren't "over-eating" by that metric (recognizing not everyone does the calorie thing), but you're still "binging" on non-paleo foods, which gives you the guilt associated with a binge and the bad health effects/bingey-hangover feeling. It's typically difficult, though not impossible, to binge on grass-fed rib eye.

A115b8aa3c375f10d5bde0c0d06b6143

(865)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:08 PM

Binges ARE really scary... and painful in more ways than one.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:02 PM

It makes me feel so sad that so many of us understand the torment of binging:(

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:40 PM

Quality of food? Why?

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

And DSM-IV TR, too.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

The loss of control - agree completely. And the funny thing is, I've never binged on Paleo foods. If I have an episode where all bets are off, it's invariably with grains or sugar. (Cake, cookies, ice cream, heck, even saltines for goodness sake.) But even if I eat what I would consider "a ton" of nuts, it's probably *still* fewer calories than what I would put away in processed grain and junkfood. I could eat "a lot" of broccoli or steak, but I never have what I'd consider a binge on it. (When you keep shoveling it in long after the stuff even tastes good anymore; you eat until you're numb.)

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:29 PM

Actually, there is a definition of binges in DSM-IV.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:12 PM

Dave, your answers are always so stellar.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:06 PM

*Rely, not really.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:06 PM

Sadly I just stopped when I ran out of tahini, which was all too soon! I don't have that much of an actual appetite normally- I have Hashimoto's, so I probably have some sort of hypothyroidism going on and don't need as many calories as I'd like. So I really on the fact that I love food to eat just as much as I do a genuine appetite. Although I'm recently (over the past week) giving this whole just meat and veggies and egg thing a try again, so maybe I'm just struggling with no sweets. About 2/3 of what I eat is vegetables smothered in ghee.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:40 PM

and "almost as punishment." yes!

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:40 PM

+1 for beyond point of enjoyment. good description.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:34 PM

This is using binge super-informally, I feel not the same thing! Its not about what you eat in a binge, more about how much and how.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:28 PM

Well, if I had had more tahini, God knows. I don't know if innocuous ol' tahini could ever be as horrifying as baby-punching, though, maybe just baby...prodding. I think I had a couple of episodes like this a few years ago, but I was also not as mentally functional. Maybe I wasn't even eating that much.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:23 PM

Good point about the overindulgence vs. binge, though, Sunny Beaches.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:23 PM

Well, I did think about why, and then I answered myself saying that this was delicious and I only felt a tiny bit over-full. It is weird, though, Alexander, thats why I asked- shucks, maybe I just have a faulty standard!

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:21 PM

I have no, uh, Neolithic foods in the house, so I'm artificially limited. Don't give me too much credit.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:18 PM

Dave, I am sad to say that I understand that feeling/situation (just with different foods). Except I'd have a diet coke to choke it down. True story.

65bf1ca7071028018c6d8305d0ddcd76

(3049)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:28 PM

To me this isn't a binge, rather an intentional decision to have a treat :)

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Anything over 5000 calories, such as an entire tub of Trader Joe's chocolate chip cookies and a quart of organic half-n-half, preferably consumed while parked in your car in front of said Trader Joes. And yes, I am speaking from personal experience.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:26 PM

That's how a binge is for me as well. It's the craziest feeling...you feel so out of control, so unrestrained, yet so emotionally absent and full of fear and depression at the same time:(

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:25 PM

I relate to this. For me, a binge is always obvious and I never question it because I feel so out of control during one. A mind-numbing binge is completely different than a period of overindulgence, say on Thanksgiving.

65bf1ca7071028018c6d8305d0ddcd76

(3049)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:24 PM

best description of a binge I've ever read.

4fce8590b5453d379dddeaa649955eb9

(173)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:22 PM

Word. This could approximate a definition. "Eating in spite of impending guilt" But then binging is clearly primarily concerned with emotions and not nutrition, which is kinda weird.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:20 PM

+1. Yes, OP is lucky if that's the worst of her binges...

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15 Answers

13
76026e8ef496039d5075440ff731aa0d

on May 09, 2012
at 06:22 PM

You know how after a long day of work, you're driving home, you walk inside and think t yourself, how did I get home...you don't remember the trip, the time...to me, that is a binge...you've ingested all these calories but don't remember doing it, it's as though you were outside your body watching what was going on, and then all of a sudden you snap out of it and your only reward???clean up the mess...it's never about the food per say, at least for me, it's about the loss of control and trust me, I've binged to where if someone walked in on me, they???d recoil in horror as though I'd just punched a baby???damn you double stuffed Oreos, WHY must you be so tasty!! Truth.

65bf1ca7071028018c6d8305d0ddcd76

(3049)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:24 PM

best description of a binge I've ever read.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

The loss of control - agree completely. And the funny thing is, I've never binged on Paleo foods. If I have an episode where all bets are off, it's invariably with grains or sugar. (Cake, cookies, ice cream, heck, even saltines for goodness sake.) But even if I eat what I would consider "a ton" of nuts, it's probably *still* fewer calories than what I would put away in processed grain and junkfood. I could eat "a lot" of broccoli or steak, but I never have what I'd consider a binge on it. (When you keep shoveling it in long after the stuff even tastes good anymore; you eat until you're numb.)

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on May 09, 2012
at 10:31 PM

I was trying to find a way to post a comment with my definition, but all I could do was sigh heavily. You said it well, I think. I've dealt with binge eating and bulimia of and on for over a decade, and I've never come up with a really good definition. Desperation. Out of body. I keep coming back to being desperate. It's so not about the food. Gorging yourself on food isn't a binge, necessarily--not in my book. Not without the psychological component.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:26 PM

That's how a binge is for me as well. It's the craziest feeling...you feel so out of control, so unrestrained, yet so emotionally absent and full of fear and depression at the same time:(

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:28 PM

Well, if I had had more tahini, God knows. I don't know if innocuous ol' tahini could ever be as horrifying as baby-punching, though, maybe just baby...prodding. I think I had a couple of episodes like this a few years ago, but I was also not as mentally functional. Maybe I wasn't even eating that much.

7
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:19 PM

I think if you have to ask, then it's likely not a binge. For me, when I'm on a binge, I keep finding myself thinking why am I still eating, and then I eat more, and keep wondering why. Feels a bit out of control. Definitely have regret afterwards. Often so bad that I develop a stomach ache from being over full, and then keep eating more.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:25 PM

I relate to this. For me, a binge is always obvious and I never question it because I feel so out of control during one. A mind-numbing binge is completely different than a period of overindulgence, say on Thanksgiving.

4fce8590b5453d379dddeaa649955eb9

(173)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:22 PM

Word. This could approximate a definition. "Eating in spite of impending guilt" But then binging is clearly primarily concerned with emotions and not nutrition, which is kinda weird.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:23 PM

Good point about the overindulgence vs. binge, though, Sunny Beaches.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:23 PM

Well, I did think about why, and then I answered myself saying that this was delicious and I only felt a tiny bit over-full. It is weird, though, Alexander, thats why I asked- shucks, maybe I just have a faulty standard!

7
15e5f57b981183b21fff26ce815bf93f

(444)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:18 PM

A binge is eating a half gallon of ice cream and a large sack of bbq potato chips.

An avocado and some tahini is a snack.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:20 PM

+1. Yes, OP is lucky if that's the worst of her binges...

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:21 PM

I have no, uh, Neolithic foods in the house, so I'm artificially limited. Don't give me too much credit.

5
A115b8aa3c375f10d5bde0c0d06b6143

on May 09, 2012
at 09:14 PM

It's a compulsion. You feel like you simply have to continue shoveling food down your throat (despite barely chewing and/or tasting it) and you cannot stop. You feel full, but you cannot stop. Your jaw hurts from chewing so hard, but you cannot stop. Your stomach bloats uncomfortably and starts to become painful, and you cannot stop. You just... cannot stop. Something else is taking over your body (specifically your hands and your mouth) - it's a very surreal experience. Lots of rationalization thoughts going on in your head.

A binge is very difficult to define or explain, because while binging, there's very little clarity. You lose yourself in the compulsion and in the food, so it's hard to understand exactly what's going on - and exactly how to define what's going on. It's hard to remember exactly what was going on in my head while I was binging.

So, a binge is hard to explain, but anyone who struggles with it knows exactly what it is and how it feels.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:36 PM

*hugs* I just wanted to send some hugs your way. I hope you can tackle the binge monster. It truly is a frightening and soul-gripping experience.

5
870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

I think it's possible to overlabel behavior.

There is a definition of binge eating in DSM-IV TR (which is still being evaluated for accuracy, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19610126, and is the subject of some controversy, http://www.bingeeatingbulimia.com/blog/2012/4/13/debate-over-the-definition-of-binge-eating.html):

An episode of binge eating is characterized by:

  1. Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short period of time (within any two hour period)

  2. Lack of control over eating during the binge episode (i.e. the feeling that one cannot stop eating).

  3. associated with three or more of the following:

a. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full

b. Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry

c. Eating much more rapidly than normal

d. Eating alone because you are embarrassed by how much you're eating

e. Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after the episode

Larger than "normal" is a little slippery and hard to pin down, but one avocado and half a cup of hummus? tahini? wouldn't qualify as a "binge" in my book.

5
5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 09, 2012
at 07:32 PM

My personal definition is something like, "Compulsively eating well past the point of satiety, and even enjoyment."

Eating a gallon of ice cream with chocolate syrup in one sitting is a binge. Eating an entire cake--and finishing it even though it no longer tasted good and I wanted to vomit--was a binge. When I was a kid in art school I used to binge on fast food, eating enough for three or four hungry people at a go. I'd eat to the point of great discomfort, where eating another bite seemed impossible--but I'd still finish whatever food was in front of me, almost as punishment. That's binge behavior. But the quantity of food, or even the type, is less important than what was happening in my head.

These days, I do intermittent fasting, and when I do eat I eat a lot. I like the feeling of a full stomach after a big meal, and lazing around contentedly afterward. Imagine a lioness gorging herself after a kill, then taking a nap, and that's me. And some days, I eat a lot more than others. But the crucial difference is that I recognize satiety--and stop eating when I'm no longer hungry. I can wrap up the leftovers and put them in the fridge for later; I don't feel compelled to keep eating until it's all gone. And I don't feel shame at eating a lot, or feel like it's something I need to do in secret, either.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:40 PM

+1 for beyond point of enjoyment. good description.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:40 PM

and "almost as punishment." yes!

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:02 PM

It makes me feel so sad that so many of us understand the torment of binging:(

4
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:20 PM

I know it just too well... I can describe what was happening to me in a binge - not sure how it was for other people.

I have developed a binge eating disorder after working with a registered nutritionist, who put me on a 1,600 calorie diet. It completely stopped only after I started taking herbs.

A binge is when you eat and cannot stop. You know you are full and you eat past full. Like way way way past full. You actually hurt yourself by eating. You feel that you are out of control. It is like you know in your head you should stop, but you just cannot - the urge to eat is stronger than you. You hate yourself just because you are out of control when it comes to your own body. Binge eating does not give you pleasure - in fact, you don't even taste the food, or you no longer want it, but you still continue to eat it.

I imagine it is very similar to self-mutilation (cutting), although I have never done that. But the feeling (this is my guess) is similar.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:40 PM

And an upset stomach. And ... who knows what. I believe though it is not psychological in nature, but physiological. Like a nutritional deficiency of some sort. Thanks for your comment.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:47 PM

I think both play a role, but the degree into which one (biology or psychology) affects someone may differ among individuals.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:29 PM

I agree with this..it doesn't give you pleasure. Just pain, torment and a deep hole in the heart:(

4
78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

on May 09, 2012
at 09:19 PM

Do you remember what it tasted like? Did you want to stop but felt like you had no control? Did you hide from people out of shame while eating it?

I answered a related question earlier and I responded with: I think knowing how you eat, and not just what you eat is important.

During binges, I won't even taste food for food. I'll eat stale bread, dig my fingers through crumbs amongst crumbs, for something more because a second without the "numbing feeling of a binge" is too much. I'll go out at 3 a.m. to binge, near tears but keep propelling because I feel like a puppet, with no control of my body.

And because of the beauty of anonymity, here are excerpts from old typed out journal entries:

If you get a twinge of emotion you can't handle, you know how to react. It's quite simple. Drive to the nearest fast food drive-thru. Speak slowly, as if you're recalling a list for four people. Ask for extra napkins. Smile. Be polite. Beg silently that the cashier will be a different person, because you were there yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that...

You want as many people as possible to think you're a health nut. Twenty dollars spent in a drive-thru? Oh, Miss Perfect would never do such a thing. Nobody would ever suspect that you would engage in such a crime. They're eluded that you're perfect, and that you have your life together. Surely, you don't have any overwhelming pain inside. Surely, you are a composed young lady, and are in complete control of your life. You don't want to destroy that image, but at the same time, you're crying out for help and somebody to love and notice how empty you are. But you're afraid that nobody will care. Everyone has fallen in love with the false image of you, and you have kept your true self hidden, suppressed. You're scared nobody wants to know the real you. Nobody knows who you really are because you're buried under a mountain of lies. Sometimes, even you don't know where you are anymore.

So block out all the flooding emotions, and pull your car in the parking lot. In the dark, under the tree, away from other cars. You have a dirty little secret. You feel out of control, but you also feel at home. Binging takes away the emotional pain, and the physical pain becomes strong enough to steal away a few minutes so you forget.

And another:

As I talk to you online about how happy I am, I am downing cereal bars one by one. I eat them slowly, trying to savor them, trying to enjoy food for food. The sweetness freezes the anxiety. For a moment, I'm okay. But another bar follows another, and soon, I am in a sea of wrappers. I know it's happening again, but I can't stop. The first domino has been knocked down.

I'm not done.

I gaze in the fridge. I'm empty. I'm cold. I'm hollow, I'm hungry. I'm hungry for love, affection, approval, acceptance, freedom. This hole inside need needs to be filled. Two slices of cheese, slices of pizza, and a handful of chips slide down my throat as I tiptoe back to my room. I can't let the roommates know.

I'm not done.

I hoover over the computer and start to order food online. I need something of more substance. Something that is warm and will make me full to the brim, numbing me. I need something that will cloud my waking thoughts. I want something that will take over my mind, and give me a moment to escape who I am. I want self-prescribed amnesia. I listen carefully. I am sitting by the window so I can hear the delivery person before he/he comes. That way, I can walk out the door before he knocks and secretly slip the food inside. The food is cold, and the chicken is drenched in too much sauce. But food is food, and any drug will do. I eat the food, forcing it inside myself, pushing back the cries of my body protesting. Pushing back the emotions. Pushing back everything inside of me, shutting up the emotions with more and more, and more. But I still feel empty.

And sigh, one more...

I don't know what hungry is, or it is supposed to be. But I know what it's not. It's not supposed to be running to Subway and getting a footlong sub, dressed with ranch only because it comes up easier than Italian dressing, shoveling it in your mouth, only to walk to Dairy Queen after to get a sandwich, fries, onion rings, and a blizzard. Two spoons please, one for me and the other for my imaginary friend. And then stuffing free doughnuts, three cookies, and chocolate in your bag from the refreshment stand of the bookstore (oops, didn't buy anything) because the hole of hunger is so deep that you know you'll want those, even though you never used to like cookies or things too sweet. I know hunger isn't supposed to be ripping the box open, tearing jagged lines into the soft cardboard, and breathing everything inside without a moment to think, or blink. I know hunger isn't supposed to be using 23 packets to ketchup (maybe 22.5 packets to account for the bit that slid down your coat while you responded to an emergency need of fries to your mouth). I know hunger isn't a game of "how much can you get in an hour," where you get as much as you can, racing the clock, with a prize for the winner, yet I'm playing like it is.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I wish I could give you a hug through the Internet. This may benefit someone else who is struggling.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:16 PM

Oh, Sunny. {{Hugs}} to you. It just amazes me how many people have been through this. And think of how many are out there but staying silent, thinking they're the only ones. That no one else knows what that feels like. Like tdgor said, you've probably reached more people than you can possibly realize, just by being honest and real. And you've made them feel less ashamed and alone. It's funny -- when we talk about things we think are absolutely specific to ourselves, we come to find legions of others who know exactly how we feel.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:27 PM

Freaking goodness, that was embarrassing. But I'm just some random stranger behind a lame name, so I don't know why I care so much, ha ha.

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:02 AM

"I need something that will cloud my waking thoughts. I want something that will take over my mind, and give me a moment to escape who I am. I want self-prescribed amnesia." Damn, ain't that the truth (or at least it was, back-when). As awful as a binge was, it fogged my brain for a while so I didn't have to think about anything else that was (or wasn't) going on in my life. More often than not, I'd be so drugged up afterward that I'd just go to sleep (though it was never very good sleep). Thank you for posting this raw, honest account, Sunny. I wish you all the best.

3
1955b5516a3eaedce732f4ea8bb3fa6c

on May 09, 2012
at 08:00 PM

If you are eating healthy foods in what feels like what may be a large amount, but you stop when you are full and you aren't considering bulimia so you can stuff more in, then it's probably not a binge.

If you are stuffing your face to the point of being in literal pain and then keep on going, and you are probably hiding what and how much you are eating from those around you and it is like you are trying to fill a void in your soul with food, then that is definitely a binge.

I'm also speaking from experience. I find binges really scary. Feels like a total loss of control, almost like someone else has taken over your body and even though you know the consequences and that you should stop you can't.

What you ate definitely sounds like a good snack. Do you eat fairly low calorie during the rest of the week? Maybe your body is just wanting to get some more energy than you are giving it during the rest of the week.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:06 PM

Sadly I just stopped when I ran out of tahini, which was all too soon! I don't have that much of an actual appetite normally- I have Hashimoto's, so I probably have some sort of hypothyroidism going on and don't need as many calories as I'd like. So I really on the fact that I love food to eat just as much as I do a genuine appetite. Although I'm recently (over the past week) giving this whole just meat and veggies and egg thing a try again, so maybe I'm just struggling with no sweets. About 2/3 of what I eat is vegetables smothered in ghee.

A115b8aa3c375f10d5bde0c0d06b6143

(865)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:08 PM

Binges ARE really scary... and painful in more ways than one.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:06 PM

*Rely, not really.

3
E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

on May 09, 2012
at 06:25 PM

Hm. I'd say look to three factors: (1) quantity of food relative to daily intake, (2) quality of food, and (3) motivation for eating.

I will occasionally end up eating all my calories for the day in one or two sittings. Is it an unhealthy binge? Nope, because I'm just eating when I'm hungry until I feel satiated and I'm eating paleo foods. No emotional component, just listening to my body and obeying.

Sounds like you just had a snack/meal. See what tomorrow brings.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:51 PM

p.s., i refer to calories, but I don't actually count, just have a general sense of things.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:34 PM

...which is why I am so cautious about recommending intermittent fasting to anyone.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:09 PM

I was thinking along these lines: you can get all your calories from ice cream for the day, so you aren't "over-eating" by that metric (recognizing not everyone does the calorie thing), but you're still "binging" on non-paleo foods, which gives you the guilt associated with a binge and the bad health effects/bingey-hangover feeling. It's typically difficult, though not impossible, to binge on grass-fed rib eye.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:40 PM

Quality of food? Why?

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:23 PM

I guess my point is that I am not convinced that non-paleo food is more "binge-worthy," if you will, and that somehow paleo food is more difficult to binge on. Are you saying that consuming ANY non-paleo food *should* produce guilt and that it's the guilt that is diagnostic of a binge? I don't think you mean to say that. As I have read the literature it appears that what is most likely to produce binging behaviors is previous excessive caloric restriction (undereating leads to overeating). Not the food itself.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

I think simplifying things (good food v. bad food) helps me when I'm feeling overwhelmed, but generally agree that it's best not to label and recognize that it's fine (and possibly even healthier if you buy into hormesis) to deviate from your personal prescription of "healthy" every once in a while.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:33 PM

I see that you are coming from the best of intentions. I worry, generally, about setting up a worldview for myself where certain foods are "good" and certain foods are "bad" because in my past experience it is a very short step from there to believing that I myself am "good" when I eat the "good" foods and "bad" when I eat the "bad" foods. Yes, I choose to avoid certain foods because I believe that is better for my n=1 health, but I really strive to remove the emotion from it. I believe pretty strongly that the main cause of "binging" is having previously undereaten too much.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I see your reasoning, but I don't agree with it. I randomly went to Cold Stone Creamery to look up the nutritional information on their desserts: http://www.coldstonecreamery.com/assets/pdf/nutrition/cold-stone-creamery-shakes-nutritionals.pdf A number of their items are over 1,500 calories for a single serving. Is someone who has one of those desserts having a "binge," if they are hungry before they eat the ice cream and they feel satiated when they are done? And I have read PH threads where people bemoan their consumption of oh-so-paleo coconut oil, etc.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 10, 2012
at 02:46 AM

I've read some stuff about food reward theory. Some of it seems a little circular to me, but I'm not dismissing it by any means. I think IF is probably more problematic for folks with a prior history of disordered eating (not "eating disorders"--well, that too I suppose).

193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:18 PM

I interpret the quality part as how much I'm paying for the food I'm eating. I have no problem throwing away half of a $5 meal when I'm no longer hungry but a $50 meal will be eaten through to the bitter end. A binge eater would have no regard for that sort of thing, IMO.

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:47 PM

..(cont'd) I think the above-outlined factors are helpful to me because I use them for perspective. It's easy to feel like I 'binged' after eating a huge paleo meal because that's what conventional wisdom has socialized me to think, so if i can point to quality of the food, I can give myself some needed perspective and not spiral into negative emotions that will cause me to actually binge. Perhaps it's a very individualized formula (n=1).

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 09, 2012
at 09:44 PM

Great points tdgor. You're right that I am not intending to promote guilt for eating on-paleo (thanks for the benefit of the doubt). After reading the answers that have resonated more strongly with others on this post, I think a "binge" has a distinct emotional component to it, regardless of the quality of food. That said, people are also coalescing around the idea that binges usually involve 'non-paleo' food. It reminds me of the food reward literature, and how that relates to over consumption (separate and apart from the undereating/overeating mechanism) (cont'd...)

E7adfe31507efb7c935f618a829f56d6

(1507)

on May 10, 2012
at 01:58 AM

Thanks tdgor, I am experimenting with IF (I'm about 10 days in) and noticing some really weird hunger patterns I haven't previously experienced. I think there's a lot of great research behind IF, and it's worth a try, but I'll be keeping your comments in mind as I go along. Have you read anything on food reward? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on that theory as it relates to binging and whether you think it could be an alternative explanation to undereating. I actually haven't seen anything on undereating as it relates to binging, where should I look first?

1
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:26 PM

Genuine question here - no snark or sarcasm.

If you have a history of binge eating, have you noticed that your binges typically involve sweets and starches? (Cake, cookies, bread, ice cream, pasta, french fries, crackers, even condiments like ketchup and sweeter salad dressings -- whatever's handy.) I have only limited experience with this, but looking back, anytime I was eating uncontrollably it was usually on refined grains and sugars. I never reached for more and more steak, or chicken, or asparagus. I can have a hearty appetite sometimes, but I've never had that all-encompassing need to devour everything I could get my hands on when it comes to meat and vegetables.

I'm not sure why. I suspect two things:

  1. Protein is usually not as readily available. Unless you have a ton of leftovers in the fridge, it has to be cooked first, or possibly even defrosted, prepared, etc. Nobody in the throes of a binge is going to bother with that. That's why we eat wacky things...whatever we can grab quickly.
  2. Most of us understand the opiate issues with grains. (Not even talking about the food reward/hyperpalatability stuff - just referring to the "switch" that seems to get flipped in the brain the minute you get that taste in your mouth.) Could be literally a drug thing -- once you start, it's darn near impossible to stop.

Have any of you ever lost control with simple, basic meat and vegetable type foods? (And I don't mean just eating a lot one day...I mean real, all-out, can't-stop binges as described throughout this thread.)

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:13 AM

For me, it was definitely sweets and starches. Cake, candy, ice cream, and the big trays of pastries from Costco were my go-to binge foods. I'd put them in the cart, already imagining the binge, knowing I should just put them back--but I was powerless to do it. The only meaty things I binged on were fast food burgers, but only after I'd eaten all the fries and, if I'd gone to Wendy's, the chili-cheese baked potato. If I was at home, I'd include refried beans and hastily-prepared pasta dishes in my binges when I ran out of sweet stuff...(cont'd)

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:46 PM

I've eaten a whole chicken with a pound of vegetables cooked in a stick of butter as a START of a binge before. I binge on paleo foods now...but still binge.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on May 09, 2012
at 11:49 PM

I've eaten a whole chicken with a pound of vegetables cooked in a stick of butter as a START of a binge before. I binge on paleo foods now...but still binge:(

5e63e3fa78e998736106a4a5b9aef58c

on May 10, 2012
at 02:23 AM

One thing about the fast-food burgers--the buns, ketchup, and pickles were all sweet, and those specific flavors were part of my pre-binge cravings. Just the meat alone wouldn't have done it. As for other meat and veg, they've never been binge foods for me. I remember starting a binge once by eating a pound of ground beef made into cheeseburger patties, no buns--and eating them halted the binge (for reasons now obvious). Even some starchy veg isn't a problem--I can't imagine bingeing on yams or sweet potatoes. But sweets? Yeah, forget it.

1
E6fb1d6762263b076d335f044bc8013f

on May 09, 2012
at 07:39 PM

Any time I eat with no regard to how it will make me feel later or complete disregard to my health and fitness goals, that is, for me a binge. Some times it is paleo and healthy but the quantities are astronomical. Some times it is out right bingeing of what ever sweet carb loaded foods I can shovel in my face before I get walked in on. But for me there is one thing that makes it a binge, where my mind goes. If I go to a place where I have to say "I give up" then it's a binge. I polished off an entire family sized jar of peanut butter awhile back. The Costco size. That was a binge. But the other night I decided i was going to eat well and allow myself a big bar of dark chocolate. My husband watched me eat the chocolate with deep concern. he warned me that I was going to cry later. But I was eating from a place of control and peace. There was no guilt following. I am learning, healing and changing. It's a process but it will happen.

1
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on May 09, 2012
at 06:21 PM

My definition is when you eat a mass quantity of food well beyond satiation in a short period of time. There's an urge other than hunger driving it.

1
4af9edf1ce722b1a1e86c92e4ee353e4

on May 09, 2012
at 06:15 PM

I'd like to know the answer to this question as well. My "binges" consist of California Golden Raisins and plantain chips. Occasionally, Enjoy chocolate chips.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe

(431)

on May 09, 2012
at 07:34 PM

This is using binge super-informally, I feel not the same thing! Its not about what you eat in a binge, more about how much and how.

65bf1ca7071028018c6d8305d0ddcd76

(3049)

on May 09, 2012
at 06:28 PM

To me this isn't a binge, rather an intentional decision to have a treat :)

0
4fce8590b5453d379dddeaa649955eb9

on May 09, 2012
at 06:20 PM

Imo there is no such thing as a definition of a 'binge'. You could say that binge eating is when you eat regardless of having met nutritional needs and not being hungry. But that'd make about every person who has ever attended a party, held christmas, or some other festivity an occcasional binge eater.

I understand your urge to seek a definition - i'd like one myself since i occassionally binge. But there isn't one and there can't possibly be. If you feel good about your weight, your health and it doesn't have any adverse effect then to hell with the definition and call it what you like.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:29 PM

Actually, there is a definition of binges in DSM-IV.

870fdea50f2a9f1cd2890c8e22549300

(2056)

on May 09, 2012
at 08:37 PM

And DSM-IV TR, too.

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