I get it. You’re desperate to get some control around your eating.

You’re flummoxed by why a simple thing like eating can be soooooo damn confusing! I mean babies do it! Why can’t you, right?

What I’m going to tell you might sound bonkers, but it’s true.

It’s going to sound counter-intuitive – but I promise you – this one thing solved the mystery of why I couldn’t stop binge eating!

Most people who binge are trying to lose weight – and even if they’ve given up dieting (because it’s never been sustainable) they think they should be trying to lose weight somehow.

This is how you probably think it works:

  1. It starts with the thought that you need to lose weight.
  2. So you go on a diet, try to ‘cut down’ on particular kinds of foods, or attempt a ‘lifestyle change’. You probably exercise more than you normally would.
  3. All goes well… for a while… (if you’re lucky).
  4. Then, something happens and you ‘fall off the wagon’ – you binge. You think it’s because you don’t have enough willpower, or because you don’t know how to handle your emotions, or some other reason.
  5. The bottom line is you make it your fault that you weren’t able to sustain it.
  6. You feel scared that you’ve regained the weight (and maybe more than your starting weight), ashamed about your behaviour because you think it’s due to a character flaw and you feel upset and angry with yourself for this outcome.
  7. So you start again.
  8. This cycle keeps repeating.

Here’s what actually happens:

  1. It starts with the thought that you need to lose weight.
  2. So you do some kind of intervention – you control food intake in some way and perhaps you exercise more than you normally would.
  3. All goes well… for a while… (though often it doesn’t take long for it all to fall apart).
  4. Here’s where we depart from the common perception of this cycle.
    • There comes a point where your body and brain cannot tolerate the deprivation any longer.
    • What your body and brain want more than anything is for you to survive. That is the primary goal.
    • Getting fewer calories AND exercising more puts the body into a stress response (though just one of these will do it too).
    • Your brain and body do not understand that your mind ‘just wants to lose a few pounds.’
    • Our bodies have evolved to respond to famine (which is how you body and brain interpret restriction and deprivation) by eating!
    • Binge eating is a NORMAL, HEALTHY response to deprivation.
    • It’s also a response to the threat of future deprivation (the decision to ‘get back on the wagon’ and ‘be good from tomorrow’, start your diet on Monday, ‘stop eating carbs from tomorrow’ and so on).

The way to end this cycle?

I’ll admit, you’re probably not going to like it, but this is what needs to happen if you want to stop binge eating:

Stop dieting.

Stop trying to lose weight.

I know. It’s easier said than done, because we live in a fatphobic culture that doesn’t make life easy for people at the higher end of the weight spectrum. We’re told that it’s unhealthy to be fat (newsflash: turns out your behaviours have more impact on your health than your weight). We collectively believe a lot of lies about fat people: that they’re lazy, greedy, emotionally stunted, undisciplined and without willpower. And then there’s the painful reality that thin people are awarded social and economic privileges that are denied fat people.

So it’s understandable that people want to get thinner and fear being or getting fat(ter).

Yet as with racism, so with fattism.

Do we tell black people to try to become white because life is easier in a white skin? Or do we change the culture to give all people of all skin tones equitable accessibility and rights?

Look, here’s the thing – even if you still want to lose weight – the truth is that it’s almost impossible to intentionally lose weight and sustain that weight loss for longer than 5 years. Most people regain it in a way shorter time span. The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council is so certain that any kind of lifestyle intervention in pursuit of weight loss will result in weight regain within 2-5 years, that they call it ‘Level A’ evidence. This is the same level of evidence for the statement that ‘smoking causes lung cancer.’ In addition, dieting has been found to be a consistent predictor of weight gain. This is because your body wants to survive famine, so it slows your metabolism and stores more fat to protect you from dying!

It’s not easy. But it is the truth.

If you want to delve deeper into the reasons behind the binge eating struggle and how to put an end to it, once and for all – check out my Break Free From Binge Eating Masterclass.

Ready to heal your relationship with food?