The restriction and binge cycle is a common occurrence when struggling with binge eating disorder. When active in my behaviors I had a tendency to cycle through this quite often. When we deprive ourselves of food, our body’s reaction is to binge. With a balanced eating plan we can put a stop to this vicious cycle (Why Do I Need a Dietician on My Eating Disorder Treatment Team?).
My Experience with Restriction and Binge Eating
I was not aware of it at the time but back when engaging in binge eating behaviors I was engaging in restrictive eating behaviors as well (Eating Disorder Symptoms). I assumed I was just hungry all the time and craved food for no reason. If I would have looked closer at my eating patterns I would have been able to see my issue.
After a binge I would promise myself that I would start fresh the next day and do “better” when it came to eating. I would go through the next day eating as little as possible hoping to undo the damage that had been done the previous night. This did not last long however. When evening came I would be starving, miserable, and ready to fill myself with whatever food available.
After my night time binge was over I would again promise myself the next day I would not give into temptation. Time after time my promise would be broken and the cycle of binge eating and restricting would continue (Making Goals For Your Eating Disorder Recovery).
Why Restrictive Eating leads to Binge Eating
When we eat restrictively and allow ourselves to become overly hungry, a binge is almost inevitable. For me, once the hunger pangs seemed unbearable and I finally decided to eat, I could not stop even after I was full.
Our body does not understand why it is not being nourished. It is a primal instinct to eat when we feel hunger and when we don’t, our bodies and minds go into a sort of panic. This panic is why the obsession with food occurs. We tell ourselves we can’t have it so we want it even more. When we finally “give in” control seems to fade away (Overeating vs. Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms). All that matters is consuming as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
How to Stop the Restrictive Eating and Binging Cycle
Once we are able to appropriately nourish our body throughout day, the physiological need to binge will fade. If we are able to give our bodies the nutrients they require, they will trust us. They will not panic, thinking they won’t receive food or be overwhelmed when we finally do eat.
I am not a dietitian and cannot present you with a magical meal plan to help with your behaviors. Seeing a dietician for nutrition therapy has been an essential part of my recovery and I recommend it to all who suffer from eating disorder behaviors. There is not a one size fits all plan and therefore it is important to talk to someone who can lead you in the right direction.
Understand that part of the reason we binge is physiological. It is not because we lack will power or strength. Our bodies are doing what they believe is vital for our survival. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Work on giving your body what it needs throughout the day and keep pushing towards recovery.