4

votes

Any good books/tips on binge/emotional/bored over eating?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 15, 2011 at 5:27 AM

I've actually started binge eating in the last few months despite being paleo 80% of the time for the last year. I need advice. I've become obsessive about food always thinking about it. I usually binge standing around in the kitchen in evenings when i'm bored/sad although i can do it anywhere at anytime. I've tried going off paleo, going 100% paleo and eating only sitting down and eating set meals each day but it has just gotten worse and worse recently regardless of what I do. Now i'm trying to avoid t.v or anything else but focusing on food at meal times and that hasn't helped much either. I seriously need help from anyone with advice who's been in my place before...Please help. As of the last couple weeks I'm now seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in nutrition but it hasn't been great help thus far.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 16, 2011
at 11:03 PM

Hey Nance, I'm certainly not saying that binging can't come from underlying issues. Indeed my initial binging may have been diet-induced, but the reasons it continued in varying degrees were because of issues that came up as a result (if that makes any sense). My advice is that if "going Paleo" or anything sets you off, TRY TRY TRY to nip that in the bud before it goes any further. Wish I had all the answers how!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 16, 2011
at 08:35 PM

I agree with most of your answer. The only point at which I depart is the very beginning, for at 16 I had never dieted but I was extremely upset/depressed and began to binge on whatever was in the house, including things like lima beans. I was desperately seeking comfort and unfortunately for me I chose food. From that point on, every attempt to diet produced the cascade you described. The only way ancestral eating keeps my binge eating quiet is to include meat, fruit and vegetables without trying to completely avoid any of them.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 16, 2011
at 08:34 PM

I agree with most of your answer. The only point at which I depart is the very beginning, for at 16 I had never dieted but I was extremely upset/depressed and began to binge on whatever was in the house, including things like lima beans. I was desperately seeking comfort and unfortunately for me I chose food. From that point on, every attempt to diet produced the cascade you described. The only way ancestral eating keeps me binge eating quiet is to include meat, fruit and vegetables without trying to completely avoid any of them.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 16, 2011
at 07:19 PM

And making the tea is a great way to distract yourself from food. Good idea!

2ab6415f5f20b8fe1d34a94c7be85e6a

on December 16, 2011
at 12:56 AM

@Beth What is neurofeedback?

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 15, 2011
at 05:39 PM

@Beth, I think part of it might be mind over matter. When you're convinced you know what you're supposed to eat (healthy whole grains, paleo, vegan, etc.), you tend to assume that if you're hungry, eating any "acceptable food" will fill the void, without more thought. Heavy cream is great, but man cannot live on dairy alone. So if you end up eating the same nutrient-deficient things over and over, you'll end up eating too much of it because you're still lacking, and it doesn't occur to you that you're deficient, not hungry. I don't know if that made sense...

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 15, 2011
at 05:35 PM

A random note: I binged on nuts, but wasn't deficient in nuts, I think it was the only analogue my body could come up for what it actually wanted (lamb and liver). So, relying on your craving can be hit and miss, because your body only has your experiences & available foods to work with. Expanding your food horizons helps. I think eating way too much of something (i.e. until you're sick) is a sign that your body got its signals crossed, and whatever you ate isn't want you actually needed. Eating until you're full and kind of guilty, is different, that could just be yumminess.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on December 15, 2011
at 01:03 PM

If binge eating started in the last few months, I wouldn't assume that there's necessarily a thing to "dig deep" for. I find it curious that this "I started doing paleo and now I'm binge eating" phenomenon pops up here periodically. This presentation* shows that feeding rats sugar and then depriving them of it can set up binge eating. I wonder if some folks are doing paleo in a way after SAD that does the same? * http://rso6k.rmxpres.com/webcast/data/seattle042509-1/main.htm

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on December 15, 2011
at 12:50 PM

If you have access/$$ for it, I found neurofeedback to be tremendous help in resolving lifelong binge eating.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on December 15, 2011
at 10:21 AM

when you binge are you experiencing real hunger. a craving or something else?

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9 Answers

7
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on December 15, 2011
at 03:11 PM

I don't know if your experience is at all similar to mine, so take this for what it's worth. But it sounds like the binge eating is a sudden-onset kind of thing. Something similar happened to me, and I've written about it a little. I know that you've been eating Paleo for the last year. Unfortunately, not eating toxins doesn't guarantee getting enough nutrients, and I'm about as sure as one can be that my binge eating was related to a nutrient deficiency.

I love therapy and I think everyone would probably benefit from a good therapist. But some behaviors are so bizarre and sudden that long-seated emotional issues may not be the reason for them. My therapist was so freaked out by my sudden binge eating that he was worried I had a brain tumor (good on him for suspecting that something biological was wrong with me).

My bingeing wasn't directly primarily at yummy foods. I had very specific things I wanted: nuts/nut butters, butter, seed oils (sesame oil, tahini). Any combination of those with something edible as a mixer, no matter how disgusting, would get shoved down my gullet in a barely conscious half-coma until it was all gone. I'd come home feeling normal, go to bed, and suddenly I'd be in the kitchen mixing up some noxious concoction of coconut flour, almond butter and yogurt and then choking it down, having no idea why I was doing it.

I don't think that's being lonely or sad or bored. I think that's my body hijacking my brain and saying "clearly, you are doing something horribly wrong, so I'm taking over & force feeding you whatever is in the kitchen that might possibly benefit you until you get those vitamin/nutrient levels back up."

So, on the practical front, I'd try making sure that during the day the foods you're eating are as nutrient dense as humanly possible. Liver, oysters, eggs. Eat some carbs. Eating seriously nutrient-dense foods first thing in the morning also seems to help dramatically.

This is the rationale behind the advice often given to binge eaters, which is to eat all the time, but that's on the assumption that the only nutrients we're missing are calories, which I think is a massive oversimplification -- eating 6 meals a day didn't stop me from bingeing when I was still unknowingly denying my body the specific nutrients it needed.

I'd also consider supplementing with zinc, magnesium and selenium. I've found those to be the things my binge-foods had the most of (I preferred brazil nuts over pretty much anything) and my regular diet had the least of, and also trolling paleohacks has me pretty convinced that those are things many people are deficient in.

My nutrient deficiencies likely weren't the same as yours, (then, I was a whole-foods vegetarian who ate bread at restaurants and thought putting a table spoon of olive oil on my salad and a pat of butter on my eggs meant I was getting sufficient good fats). But if any of this sounds familiar, I'd consider it, while also exploring other options that everyone else has mentioned.

Also, it took me a few days of eating the foods my body needed before I stopped binge eating entirely. Maybe a week.

(Side note: While I was binge eating, I eventually became depressed, but I don't think the depression caused the bingeing. I was doing the occasional auto-pilot out-of-body-experience bingeing for months while I was perfectly happy and seemingly perfectly healthy. I just didn't address the problem, because I assumed that it was just a weak will or a broken psyche. Only after about a year of that did I suddenly get insanely depressed. I think my body was so starved it started eating my brain, or at least that's what it felt like. Eating nutrient-dense foods cleared the depression up in roughly 48 hours.)

Phew, that was long! Hopefully it was helpful. Good luck!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 15, 2011
at 05:35 PM

A random note: I binged on nuts, but wasn't deficient in nuts, I think it was the only analogue my body could come up for what it actually wanted (lamb and liver). So, relying on your craving can be hit and miss, because your body only has your experiences & available foods to work with. Expanding your food horizons helps. I think eating way too much of something (i.e. until you're sick) is a sign that your body got its signals crossed, and whatever you ate isn't want you actually needed. Eating until you're full and kind of guilty, is different, that could just be yumminess.

4
Medium avatar

(1240)

on December 15, 2011
at 05:49 AM

Geneen Roth has written several books on the subject. One of her most popular books is "When you Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull up a Chair."

3
24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 16, 2011
at 08:26 PM

I really think Beth is onto something pointing out the number of times the "I've become a binge eating since going Paleo" seems to pop up here. I haven't been here that long, and I've seen it quite a bit. It's also all over the low carb forums. Of course, it's also out there on weight loss blogs by traditional dieters, etc.etc.

I was a totally normal eater until I put myself on a crash diet. It's scary how a few months of doing that could cause such disregulated food behavior for years. I suspect whatever the "diet", binging often comes from some perfect storm of:

  • obsession limiting calories, carbs, favorites, fat, etc., etc.
  • a strange draw towards the forbidden "bad foods"
  • fear of future restriction
  • self flagellation for going off one's plan/lack of discipline

Yes, there may be underlying other reasons for the binging, but the sudden onset of it really can be remarkably simple. I wish I had a "switch" to tell people to flip, or what finally seemed to flip in my own self, but all I can contribute here is that it involved some combination of easing up on myself, that dirty word moderation, viewing food as fuel with reasonable "vacations" from that view for indulgences, and not identifying too closely with a dietary philosophy.

It's probably why I seem so down on LC. It is a tool I used to lose the weight, not some magic as told by the Taubes/Eades/Atkins/etc. of the world that saved me from myself.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on December 16, 2011
at 11:03 PM

Hey Nance, I'm certainly not saying that binging can't come from underlying issues. Indeed my initial binging may have been diet-induced, but the reasons it continued in varying degrees were because of issues that came up as a result (if that makes any sense). My advice is that if "going Paleo" or anything sets you off, TRY TRY TRY to nip that in the bud before it goes any further. Wish I had all the answers how!

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 16, 2011
at 08:34 PM

I agree with most of your answer. The only point at which I depart is the very beginning, for at 16 I had never dieted but I was extremely upset/depressed and began to binge on whatever was in the house, including things like lima beans. I was desperately seeking comfort and unfortunately for me I chose food. From that point on, every attempt to diet produced the cascade you described. The only way ancestral eating keeps me binge eating quiet is to include meat, fruit and vegetables without trying to completely avoid any of them.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 16, 2011
at 08:35 PM

I agree with most of your answer. The only point at which I depart is the very beginning, for at 16 I had never dieted but I was extremely upset/depressed and began to binge on whatever was in the house, including things like lima beans. I was desperately seeking comfort and unfortunately for me I chose food. From that point on, every attempt to diet produced the cascade you described. The only way ancestral eating keeps my binge eating quiet is to include meat, fruit and vegetables without trying to completely avoid any of them.

3
2c2349bc7af0fedb59a5fe99dac9fae2

(2707)

on December 16, 2011
at 07:01 PM

Recently I have implemented a new routine to cut of my overeating.

When I should be done eating (not really hungry, but want to keep eating for other reasons), I chug 16 ounces of water, and then make myself some tea (usually ginger or peppermint).

This has helped me, as I am still providing something to my body, its low calorie, and quickly changes what I am craving due to the my stomach being really full from the water, and strong taste of the tea.

So far so good.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 16, 2011
at 07:19 PM

And making the tea is a great way to distract yourself from food. Good idea!

3
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on December 15, 2011
at 04:57 PM

I'm with Krisha. This is a breakdown in your bodily processes which is causing your brain to fire up all sorts of appetite signals.

As a card-carrying binge eater, my most effective strategies are these 2:

  • Eat a large breakfast built around fatty meat (for some weird reason, eggs are a problem when I have the urge to binge and I have to avoid them) preferably a dense meat like beef
  • Distract yourself by going somewhere or doing something that involves both hands and will block your interest in and ability to eat

Speaking only for myself, the trigger can be either emotional or physical. It can go back to what happened (very good, troubling) or what I ate 1-3 days ago. I may have to repeat the above for several days. Also, the urge may strike again later in the day and I repeat the steps even though my norm is one small meal and one large one. Two or 3 large healthy meals is better than a massive binge on junk, but I've never gotten past two.

BTW, if what you're hungry for is healthy food that may be a deficiency and you should definitely eat exactly what you're hungry for. Also, drink plenty of liquid because thirst sometimes pretends to be hunger.

3
2eb8ad14e184f64cb170e43213995b8d

(30)

on December 15, 2011
at 04:44 PM

Eat what you love, Love what you Eat- by Michelle May, MD has a lot of practical tips. Some great sayings from the book "If you aren't hungry when you start eating, how do you know when to stop?" or "No amount of food will satisfy an emotional hunger." and the simple "Am I Hungry?" (works best when you ask before you start.)

1
Df1d612269479718668e88c618c2a255

(75)

on December 15, 2011
at 06:08 AM

I'm in therapy to deal with this among other things and I also twice took a group therapy class called "Overcoming Overeating", which was at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. It was amazing and invaluable and I've made great strides. They focused on mindfulness and finding a balance with food rather than "dieting" (i.e. long term deprivation). A great book to read would be Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays.

1
Medium avatar

on December 15, 2011
at 05:50 AM

Good to hear you've found a therapist. That's where you need to be. Your opinion that "it hasn't been great help" after a couple of weeks is a symptom of the problem you're there to deal with. Seriously, dude. Your "eating problems" are not about food, not in the sense that matters. And you would be dealing with the same stuff regardless whether Paleo, Vegan, Zone, or Fasting. Use this time to get it together. Time frame? Dig deep, go for the real thing.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on December 15, 2011
at 01:03 PM

If binge eating started in the last few months, I wouldn't assume that there's necessarily a thing to "dig deep" for. I find it curious that this "I started doing paleo and now I'm binge eating" phenomenon pops up here periodically. This presentation* shows that feeding rats sugar and then depriving them of it can set up binge eating. I wonder if some folks are doing paleo in a way after SAD that does the same? * http://rso6k.rmxpres.com/webcast/data/seattle042509-1/main.htm

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on December 15, 2011
at 05:39 PM

@Beth, I think part of it might be mind over matter. When you're convinced you know what you're supposed to eat (healthy whole grains, paleo, vegan, etc.), you tend to assume that if you're hungry, eating any "acceptable food" will fill the void, without more thought. Heavy cream is great, but man cannot live on dairy alone. So if you end up eating the same nutrient-deficient things over and over, you'll end up eating too much of it because you're still lacking, and it doesn't occur to you that you're deficient, not hungry. I don't know if that made sense...

0
492ebe6681773ef79417d27445d441b7

(30)

on December 26, 2011
at 03:37 AM

The biggest tip is to have strong inspiration for how you want to perform in life, and what sort of physical presence you can have, realistically. Your body is your vehicle to perform physically and mentally; and, your body is a physical work of art, to some degree. Consume to perform and feel physically well, and employ appropriate body culture to be your best.

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