Man binge eating in front of the refrigerator

Destructive eating behaviors can be damaging and detrimental to an individual’s physical and emotional health. Binge eating disorder (BED) is one such classification that is characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsive eating and consuming large quantities of food very quickly and to the point of discomfort. Likely, individuals suffering from BED experience feelings of shame, guilt, and embarrassment with each episode. They need to develop new coping mechanisms and strategies to facilitate binge eating disorder recovery and reduce related health risks.

Cycle of Binge Eating

For many, the cycle of binge eating begins with the desire to lose weight or the intention to start on a diet. Individuals may also feel guilt or shame after they eat. They struggle to overcome and deal with eating restrictions. Their body and mind may fight the restriction and limitation because of a desire to feel more nourished. This can urge the individual to engage in compulsive eating as a way to maintain their body’s homeostasis and balance.

Unfortunately, the action of binge eating can make the individual feel guilty or ashamed. They may try, again, to restrict their food consumption to make up for losing control and overeating. Further compulsive eating is triggered and the cycle continues.

Managing Urges to Eat

Binge eating can occur when an individual feels a significant need or urge to eat, even without experiencing the sensation of hunger. They may be unable to control the amount of food they eat.

Individuals suffering from BED may use food as a way to cope with negative feelings and situations. Treatment and therapy can involve helping them manage their triggers and allowing them to develop healthier coping mechanisms and strategies.


Individuals should be taking down records of their activities and feelings. This includes sleep and exercise time, food and liquid consumption, and the thoughts and emotions that come with having a meal or snack. Records should include feelings when binging, skipped meals, and cues on hunger or fullness. When individuals in recovery make healthy choices and can successfully stick to their meal plans, they should be proud of their own progress. This may encourage them to show more consistency with scheduled eating times and diet plans.

Additionally, individuals should be tracking how they feel and what they think during each binging episode. This allows them to later identify potential triggers and destructive thinking patterns that can make an episode worse.

Mentality of Dieting

Woman planning a meal diet

A diet plan may lead to overeating, binging, and compulsive eating behaviors. This is because diet plans come with the mentality that one either fails or successfully completes a diet. It doesn’t allow for thinking that the diet plan itself has failed the individual.

Dieting can also deprive individuals of certain food groups and nutrition. It can set up the body for overeating, as it ends up craving restricted types of nutrition to fuel and heat the body.


Professionals can help an individual curb compulsive eating behaviors by having them discuss their concerns, setbacks, and success while in recovery. They can work together to discover and address underlying issues that may go along with BED. For instance, compulsive eating may be triggered by incidences of trauma, depression, or anxiety.

It is challenging to manage compulsive eating in BED recovery. Individuals have to focus more on taking proper meals and working with a treatment team to improve their chances for successful recovery.

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