Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Why Do We Binge Eat? What Are Typical Binge Eating Triggers? (Part Two)

binge eating triggersIt’s called by many names; compulsive overeating, emotional eating, binge eating, food addiction. Whatever you happen to call it, living with the behavior and the consequences can be exhausting!

Between binge episodes, in our quiet, alone moments, we wonder…painfully, ” Why do we binge eat?” We know the consequences rob us of the life we want to live.  We swear tomorrow will be different. Still, we turn back to the food…over and over again. Why?

In my last post, I shared therapist Katie Thompson’s List, “Functions of Binge Eating” (from Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders). Another important question to explore is, “What are your typical binge eating triggers?” Below, I borrowed another one of Thompson’s lists. It names several of the triggers that launched many of my own past binge eating episodes (especially “feeling overwhelmed”), and many other binge eating triggers reported by so many of my coaching clients. (See list below)

Do you identify with any of these binge eating triggers? If so, which ones?

Typical Triggers

  • Fantasizing about forbidden foods or food in general
  • Settings with copious amounts of food or seeing food
  • Worries/stress
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Physical pain, fatigue
  • Alcohol consumption or being disinhibited
  • Desire for pleasure
  • Feeling judged, blamed, rejected, etc.
  • Intense or adverse emotions
  • Desire to rebel
  • Restriction, delayed eating
  • Deficit of coping skills
  • Anxiety and tension
  • Cravings
  • Eating
  • Breaking ED rules
  • Interpersonal conflict
  • Distorted thinking patterns
  • Boredom
  • Opportunity (privacy)
  • Feeling like a failure
  • Trauma Intrusions
  • Mood instability

(Source:  Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders)

So how can you use this list to help reduce your triggers to binge eating? If you can identify and become MINDFUL of your typical binge eating triggers, you have a much better chance of stopping MINDLESS EATING; of eliminating the need for using food to accomplish emotional numbness. So, the first step is MINDFUL AWARENESS of your triggers… awareness of the role “food thoughts” and eating play in accomplishing numbness . Next comes learning the new emotional management skills needed to manage, tolerate, those emotional moments in life without over using food.

Those emotional management skills can be learned! I promise!

If you would like to learn more about, “Why Do We Binge Eat?” and “What Are Your Typical Binge Eating Triggers?”, join me on Sunday at 4 pm (Eastern Time) for my free phone seminar about Missing Skills and Tools for Emotional Regulation. Register here.


Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.


  1. Mary Griffin says

    I compulsively eat but then I alternate with compulsive dieting. Both seem to serve the same functions. And my weights balances out. Not saying it is good/bad. It just is what it is. They both seem rewarding and punishing at the same time.

  2. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Recovery Coach; A Weigh Out says

    I know! It’s complicated! But we know one tends to drive the other. And sometime it’s the “compulsivity” that’s the common denominator. When I am compulsive about anything (including food or dieting), I am less likely to be in touch with my thoughts and feelings. So, “compulsivity” serves a purpose for those of us who have trouble tolerating our thoughts and feelings.

Share Your Thoughts

Copyright © 2022 · Lifestyle Theme on Genesis Framework · WordPress · Log in

* As is the case with all coaching, self-guided membership programs, and psychotherapy, individual results may vary.

Copyright © 2022 A Weigh Out. All Rights Reserved.