What is a Binge?

This is information I learned while in treatment, recently, for my binge eating and bulimia. I have to say that it was one of the most eye-opening sessions that I had on my journey.  I have a sense of hope that being able to recognize the binge before it starts, maybe I can keep from bingeing.  This journey has turned my view of weight loss  and my relationship with food upside down.

I have learned that dieting is not an option for me.  Honestly, I am coming to accept that my weight is where it is because of my dieting and extreme practices.

There are two categories of binges:

  1. Subjective Binge – You eat a normal amount of food, but there is a loss of control.  You just eat it as fast as possible and can’t control it.

2. Objective Binge – Too much food, too fast with a loss of control.  I think this is what I always thought of as a binge.

8 Types of Binges:

  1. Opportunity Binge: 

This is a binge which is linked to availability, free time and privacy.  It is associated with the deprivation binge, in that it can be a food you have not allowed yourself.  It is very beneficial to have your days structured to help prevent this kind of binge.  I have to watch this one, since I live alone I have lots of opportunity and for me night-time is the worst.  I try to keep a regular scheduled bedtime since this is my most vulnerable time of the day.

  1. Stress Binge:

This kind of binge acts as a form of numbing or distracting from the stress, anxiety or pain.  It functions in the same way as a drug or alcohol does.  I have found that this type of binge for me is triggered by stress, but I specifically crave sugar.

This is one, where I have had to learn to not get over tired, set aside quiet time so I can relax.  I started meditating when I stopped drinking and it really does help me keep life in perspective.  Work Life balance, as well as, minimizing people who create drama in my life has helped me keep my stress levels to a minimum.

  1. Vengeful/Anger Binge:

Well, I am sure you can guess by the name of my blog, this is a binge I have used many times.  This can be anger related to myself, others or a situation.  For this binge, as for any of these, the thing I binge  on could be anything from food, alcohol, shopping, men…whatever it took to get that energy out.  I will say that this type of binge for me was more of a bulimic binge.  When I stopped drinking this binge took hold in food pretty strongly.  My alcoholism and eating disorders are best buddies and I have to watch them both very closely.

  1. Deprivation Binge:

This type of binge is triggered when you have designated that there are certain foods you can’t have.  I am actively working on retraining my thinking on “good” and “bad” foods.  When I tell myself I can’t have certain foods a craving is created.  I can hold off for a while then when I finally give in I eat too much, too fast.  The shame that follows the binge sometimes results in additional bingeing.

This is why my treatment team consistently tell me that nothing is off-limits.  Everything in moderation.  If I allow myself to have these things when I want them, I am less likely to binge on them.

  1. Hunger/Starvation Binge:

This is a binge that is triggered by waiting too long to eat or skipping meals.  You are basically starving yourself.  This type of binge triggers obsessive thoughts about food, mood swings, headaches.  I have found that this is a common binge for me.  I tend to work through meals and not snack through the day.  I will always binge at night due to this practice.  My dietitian has been a great help in getting this under control.  I have alarms on my phone to remind me of my meal and snack times.  When I stick to the 3 and 3 plan (3 meals, 3 snacks) I don’t binge.  Not only do I not binge, but my energy is constant through the day, my anxiety decreases, and I sleep better.

Restricting calories and increasing exercise can also, ultimately, trigger this kind of binge.  Your body feels like it is starving and will do anything to protect itself.  I will explain this in more detail in a post on metabolism.

  1. Pleasure Binge: 

This kind of binge for me is associated with parties and fun with friends.  It is for entertainment and stimulation.  The loss of control is subtle, but strong.

7. Attachment Binge:

This type of binge serves to satisfy an attachment strategy.  it is an attempt to satisfy an unmet need.

  1. Habit Binge:

This is a binge that is so normal that you don’t even know that it is happening.  For me it is related to the fact that I have a very fast pace when I eat.  I always have, but it is such that I do not know I am full until I have eaten too much.

In my experience, I have used all of these binges and they are all followed by self-hate and shame.  Shame is a nasty little bugger and has haunted me my entire life.  As I work with my treatment team on resolving my past traumas, my relationship with food and developing my shame resilience, my perspective is gradually shifting to a forgiving, loving and happier place.

I owe my life to everyone who is helping me along this new path to freedom.