“I am afraid of developing binge eating” (Q&A pt. 2)

From anorexia to binge eating – a fear that accompanies many sufferers during the journey to recovery. What is the difference between extreme hunger and binge eating? Today we want to focus on exactly this topic. I hope this takes some of the fear out of developing binge eating, but also gives you ideas on how to take care of yourself during this difficult time.

Hey, I'm so extremely hungry right now...I don't know how to endure it. I try to honor him but it scares me so much. I already eat a lot and my healthy side would like to eat even more, a whole bar of chocolate, etc. I'm so afraid of getting "too fat" because I should only gain 4-6kg. I'm afraid that I'll slip into binge eating because I always eat so much and I can and would like to eat EVEN MORE. I'm coming out of a relapse and went all in about a year ago... Do you have any advice on how I can make things clearer? Also, in terms of weight gain, because I gain weight very quickly😞

table of contents

What is binge eating?

Those affected by binge eating disorder suffer from recurring binge eating. They eat large amounts of food in a short period of time compared to most other people and feel like they are losing control of their eating habits. They feel like they can’t stop eating or control what and how much they eat. Unlike people with bulimia, binge eaters do not compensate for their binge eating with excessive exercise, vomiting, or starvation.

The English term “binge eating” stands for excessive, overeating. The English word “binge” means something like “revelry”.

Binge eating episodes are also characterized by:

  • eating faster than someone usually does
  • only being able to stop when feeling overly full
  • they occur independently of the feeling of hunger
  • often people eat alone and the episodes are kept secret from others
  • Affected people often feel disgusted with themselves or the amount of food they have eaten, are depressed or feel guilty.

What is the difference to extreme hunger?

Now before you are completely sure that you probably slipped straight from one extreme to the other extreme – let’s take a close look at extreme hunger.

Extreme hunger differs from binge eating in that:

  • it usually occurs after a period of restriction or dieting
  • sufferers feel less “out of control” than during a binge. That means you are still somehow in control of what you´re eating, you remember everything you ate, you are present whilst eating, etc.
  • you eat a lot of food, but you don’t necessarily feel “overfull” and after a few hours your stomach is already growling again. A person with extreme hunger can eat even 7000kcal without feeling full to bursting.
  • Extreme hunger is temporary and subsides after a few weeks (if honoured unconditionally
extreme hunger vs binge eating disorder

Does it matter if it’s a binge or if your body just needs a lot more food right now because you’re recovering from an eating disorder? – not really in my opinion. Instead of worrying too much about eating emotionally, eating too much, eating out of boredom, etc., ask yourself which areas of your life are striving for more fulfilment, how you actually feel, what beliefs you hold about your weight and certain foods and ask yourself how you can take better care of yourself.

understand the physiology of extreme hunger

What extreme hunger actually is and why it occurs after a phase of restriction, I explain in more detail in these blog posts:

But to go back to it briefly here: Studies – including the Minnesota Starvation Experiment – have shown that extreme hunger (hyperphagia) after a phase of energy restriction takes on a function of autoregulation. It can be assumed that we humans have an optimal predisposed ratio of lean mass to fat mass. This ratio is individual for each person but remains constant throughout life. The extreme hunger usually persists until this optimal ratio has been reached again.

This means that you may have already reached your doctor’s set “goal weight” – which, by the way, you can, and probably even should, go above – but the percentage of fat-free mass has not yet been restored. This can also explain the weight overshoot. The point of this overshoot is that your body has sufficient energy reserves available in the event of the next hunger period and can thus secure your life.

extreme hunger vs binge eating disorder

Where does this fear of developing binge eating come from?

The fear of binge eating is just the surface of your fears. The fear behind it could be that you are afraid of gaining weight, being judged by others, fear of letting go of the eating disorder, taking up more space, fear of giving up control, less recognition and attention, etc.

It’s best to look at your beliefs here: What do you associate with gaining weight? What actually happens when you gain “more” weight? And don’t stop there – go ahead and ask yourself if these fears are rational.

unconditional permission to eat

You have unconditional permission to eat. And nothing and no one can take away this permission from you. When you were born you acquired the right to nourish your body and your soul. Why is this so important to understand?

The more we forbid ourselves to have something, the greater the desire for it becomes. By forbidding it (which includes only allowing ourselves 3-4 pieces of chocolate), it becomes something special and MUCH more appealing. The same phenomenon occurs when we say to ourselves: “I’ll eat less tonight” or “I’ll gain weight, but not too much”.

Your body wants to take care of this deficiency in advance, because such food shortages used to be life-threatening. “Quickly eat everything before I get nothing more”.

Most of the time when we give ourselves permission to eat 2, even 3 or 4 bars of chocolate, not just today but anytime we want to, we don’t even want a whole one anymore. The incentive is gone. Then it’s nothing special anymore. It will take a while at first for your body to realize that it can actually trust you, that it can have as much as it wants, but over time a sense of inner emotional fullness and contentment will set in.

rund um das Thema Genesung von Essstörungen, Intuitives Essen oder "Health at every size"/ eating disorder recovery related, about intuitive eating or health at every size.
extreme hunger vs binge eating disorder
5 "I am afraid of developing binge eating" (Q&A pt. 2)
extreme hunger vs binge eating disorder
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