How to stop binge eating after restricting or fasting

How to Stop Binge Eating After Restricting or Fasting

The main trigger for binge eating

You are tipped into binge eating whenever you are dieting, restricting, or fasting; the main trigger for binge eating in any of these scenarios is hunger. You are not eating enough food! There’s a certain minimum amount of food that we have to eat every day.

I find that an awful lot of clients who come in with emotional eating or binge eating disorder have what I call “magical beliefs” around foods; “If I don’t eat food for some time, I lose the weight, and I’ll be able to go back to normal eating.” So many people that are dieting, restricting, or fasting think that they can simply stop buying food-, don’t have it at home or try to forget about food, that is not going to be a problem for them, they will lose weight and then go back to eat food normally.

You might be thinking, “oh, maybe I do think like that a little bit.” Or maybe you kind of think that’s ridiculous. Why would anybody think that? But in fact, this behavior is very, very common. On some level, there is a denial of the absolute truth that our body really needs a certain minimum amount of food every day to function. It’s like your car. Suppose you don’t put the petrol or the diesel or the gas into the car, it’s not going to move.

So when you’re on a diet or you’re fasting, I find that many people take it way too far with intermittent fasting.

When is intermittent fasting good and bad for your health?

In certain circumstances, intermittent fasting is a good thing to do, and it’s healthy and works well for your body. That is if you are limiting yourself to eating for a 12-hour window.

So that’s getting up maybe at 6:30 am, having your breakfast, your lunch or dinner, and perhaps a couple of snacks during the day, and then stopping eating at around 6:30 pm. So you’re leaving yourself with a sort of 11 to 12-hour window from 7 pm in the evening to 7 am the following morning, where you are not eating and that gives your body a really good chance to be able to recover, repair, rest, regenerate, do all the work that it needs to do and remain healthy.


However, if you are restricting and not eating enough during the day, if you’re trying to limit your eating period to something like a four-hour window, or you are fasting for 18 or 20 hours a day. If you are doing this, you’re not eating enough food over the course of the day for your body to be able to fully function properly. It’s not good for your body to have to try and metabolize a large amount of food in a small period of time. 


Your body functions better when it’s using a small amount of food regularly, and it’s able to metabolize it as it goes along. And the second thing is if you are restricting yourself to a calorie number, for example, 1200 or 1500 calories, a very common number that people restrict themselves. And of course, there’ll be people who be really on starvation rations, and they’re trying to keep themselves to ration calories a day. 


So you’re really not eating anything like the amount of food you need to eat for your body to function correctly. And of course, what’s going to happen then is your body will tip you into binging because it is trying to tell you something, it’s trying to say to you, “I’m not being fed enough. There is no fuel in the tank I need to eat.” 

Why counting calories is not good for your body:

If you think about restricting, and only using 1500 calories a day, for example, and you can get out a pen and paper or your phone and use your calculator. I want to do a little bit of math with you here:

Say you are eating 1500 calories a day or that’s your goal. 

Multiply 1500 by seven, and that’s 10,500 calories. So let’s write that down. Ten thousand five hundred calories, and then say alongside that you binge three times in one week.

  • One binge is around 2000 calories.
  • One binge is around 3500 calories. 
  • One binge might be over the weekend, with alcohol and food, and it could be 5500 calories, 7000 calories, or 10000 calories; it could be anything. 

So add up the number of calories in those three binge eating episodes. That comes to another, 9000 calories a day. 

So you’re out of 10,500 calories, which is the standard daytime allowance you’re giving yourself.

You add the 9000 binge eating calories to that; that’s 19,500 calories.

Now divide that by seven and work out your actual daily intake over the course of seven days. 

You may be surprised to realize that the amount of calories you’re actually taking in on a per diem basis daily over the course of a week is 2795 calories. 


However, suppose you allow yourself to eat 1800 to 2000 calories a day of nutritionally dense, unprocessed food, which your body can metabolize, like fresh fruit, vegetables, and fresh meat. In that case, you’re far more likely that your body will be able to break down all of that feels useless.