Why Binge-Eating is Actually a Good Thing
Binge-eating is a good thing.
I know what you’re thinking: But when I binge-eat, I’m overeating and that’s bad! When I binge-eat, I’m eating sh*t food and that’s bad! When I binge-eat, I gain weight and that’s really bad!
But binge-eating is actually a good thing. Hear me out.
But binge-eating is overeating!
Binge-eating is a natural (read: healthy, good, necessary) response to physical deprivation. Think about it: You don’t fault starving prisoners of war for hoarding food. It’s understandable that you want to eat all the food if you haven’t eaten all day. People who are starving need food. A woman who hasn’t eaten all day needs food.
Binge-eating is not overeating, it’s refueling an under-fueled body. It makes sense: if you’re not getting enough food, you—your body—is gonna want more food and the urge to binge-eat is your body’s way of communicating that. When you binge-eat, you’re not overeating, you’re making up for previously-lost fuel.
On that note: you don’t get to determine how much fuel your body needs. That is not within your control. So if you don’t meet your fuel needs, your body will ask for fuel nicely at first using gentle hunger feelings. When you feel hunger, your job is to give your body fuel. But if you don’t eat when you’re hungry, your body will DEMAND FOOD — that manifests as the urge to binge-eat. Your job is is to EAT FOOD NOW. And if you don’t, your body will start to shut down.
If you didn’t binge-eat when you haven’t been eating enough, your body would start to fail. So thank goodness for binge-eating.
But when I binge-eat, I’m eating sh*t food!
And there’s a reason for that. When you’re underfed, your body wants fast fuel; it wants as much fuel as it can get as efficiently as possible. Your body doesn’t need kale when you’re food-deprived; it needs calories. So you crave what you might call “sh*t food”: peanut butter, sweets, and carbs — all quick-acting fuel that gets you as many calories per bite as possible.
But when I binge-eat, I gain weight!
Yes, binge-eating may result in weight gain. And that’s not a bad thing either. Just like you don’t get to determine how much fuel your body needs, you also don’t get to determine what your body thinks is a healthy weight for you. That is not within your control. Your job is to respond to your body’s fuel needs, which it communicates to you using hunger and fullness feelings, so that your body has the fuel it needs to function, and let your weight be what it will.
All of this is pointing to the fact that binge-eating is a survival mechanism. Your body’s urge to binge-eat is its way of F-ing keeping you alive. (Can you tell I feel passionately about this?!) Women who binge-eat should be thanking their lucky stars.
Quick note: This is why I recommend women stop dieting. When you diet, you’re not getting enough to eat, and so your body wants to binge-eat. When you stop dieting and eat what your body needs, the urge to binge-eat stops altogether. For more info, watch Video 1 of my training series.
ABout Holland Hettinger
Hi, I’m Holland Hettinger, and I help women heal their relationships with food. I believe your life doesn’t have to revolve around food. Your mind can think about something other than what you eat. You don’t have to shrink yourself and hide your body. There is an alternative to food guilt and body shame. And none of it includes dieting, meal prepping, weighing yourself, or forcing yourself not to binge-eat for just one—more—day. (Insert sigh of relief here.) Through training videos, coaching emails, and one-on-one work, I teach women to heal their relationships with food for good.