7 Types of Binges: What’s Your Overeating Trigger?

causes of binge eatingIdentify What Causes Your Binge Eating or Overeating Behavior

Do you find yourself binge eating or overeating and feel out of control with food? It can be such a painful and vicious cycle. Perhaps you think things will be different today and then suddenly, you find yourself overeating. Or perhaps you think, “I’ve already blown it for the today, I might as well eat what I want.” If you’re struggling with the pain and out of control feeling of binge eating or emotional overeating, please know that there is another way. What’s needed are new skills and tools to cope with and manage your overeating or binge eating triggers.


It’s not as simple as “calories in, calories out,” or willpower or whatever else you might hear. Our relationship with food is very complex and is not something you can just stop, give up or quit like is possible with alcohol. However, it can be different and you can learn new tools and skills. The first step is to begin to identify what role food plays in your life. Taking things one step at a time and working with a skilled therapist who really understands in depth the struggle with food can help you feel in charge of your relationship with once again. (Yes, you had this once before and you can again.)

Are you struggling with binge eating? Take our binge eating quiz and find out.

There are different types of triggers or causes of binge eating for each person. Everyone is different and everyone’s relationship with food is different. There are however, a few common causes of binge eating. See if you can identify with any of the ones on this list. Beginning to identify your triggers can be a good first step towards healing.


7 Common Causes of Binge Eating


  1. The Hunger Binge: triggered by physical deprivation. Physical deprivation is one of the most common causes of binge eating. This could mean long-term dieting or restricting certain foods, but it could also just mean letting yourself get too hungry in the day. If you’re driving and you find yourself thinking about every restaurant along the way, chances are you’re too hungry. Feed your body on a regular basis, let yourself get hungry, but eat before you’re ravenous and this will reduce your hunger binges.
  2. The Deprivation Binge: psychological deprivation vs. physical. This often begins with a sense of wanting or needing something but not knowing just what it is that is wanted. This may also be in response to restrictive dieting and what is needed is to legalize forbidden foods. This often parallels emotional deprivation (neglect). Connecting with yourself and your needs in all areas (mind, body, spirit, emotions) can help you fill up on what’s missing.
  3. The Stress Binge: stress eating can produce dissociation – numbing out feelings and distracting when highly stressed. Are you eating to comfort yourself when stressed? If you stayed connected with yourself, what would you really need in those moments?
  4. The Opportunity Binge: Occurs when there is high access to privacy, combined with time enough to binge and purge (or just binge in the case of Binge Eating Disorder), or boredom with unstructured time. May be an excuse for relaxing, especially when concerned about being productive. Can also occur during transition times (in car after work). Pay attention to what happens when you get in the car or get home from work. Do you need to find a new routine?
  5. The Vengeful Binge: way of venting hostility. I ate at him. The target is sometimes the binge eater him/herself, sometimes another person, sometimes the situation, or even the body (for letting me down). Sometimes this represents anger turned into self-hatred. Often deep shame and a conviction of moral failure is present. Begin practicing self-compassion and work on identifying your primary emotions. A counselor can help you work through this and identify ways to soothe underlying shame.
  6. Pleasure Binge: triggered by the desire for stimulation and entertainment. Often have few sources of pleasure or satisfaction in their lives. Spend time fantasizing about what they will eat. Need adequate self-nurturing. May also represent brain chemical imbalances. Ask yourself what provides joy and pleasure in your life? A counselor can also help you identify brain chemical imbalances.
  7. Habit Binge: grazing binge – continuous eating without much effort to either control it or feel upset by it until later. Try to sticking to regular meals vs grazing. Put food away when mealtime is over.


Get Help for Binge Eating Disorder

If you or someone you know is struggling with Binge Eating Disorder, help is available.We regularly offer a twelve-week program to help you make peace with food along with weekend workshops. Our therapists in Houston specialize in binge eating disorder and can help you or your loved one recover. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to help you!

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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