Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

The Moments Right Before We Turn to Binge Eating

Men with Binge Eating DisordersIt hits…that all-too-familiar urge to eat, for purposes of relief, self-soothing, or distraction from any thought or feeling we’d rather avoid.

Suddenly, we feel we have no choice but to eat. Sometimes we know it’s not physical hunger that’s driving this all-consuming focus on food. Sometimes, we’re not sure. Sometimes, in those moments, we simply don’t care. We just want to go numb.

In that very moment, when we’re in the throes of a binge eating episode, it seems all ability to reason, to stay mindful and to not binge, just goes out the window. We feel “out of control”.

For many who struggle with binge eating, this is very confusing. How is it possible to be proactive and effective in some other areas of our lives, but then feel so “out-of –control” and seemingly helpless when it comes to stopping this?

That’s the mystery.

Over the years, many of us have dieted. Many of us sought help. Well-meaning friends, family, even medical and mental health professionals suggested advice like, “Instead of binge eating, why not take a walk around the block” or, “You’re stress eating, so why not take a hot bubble bath and relax”.

If I couldn’t tolerate being in my own skin in that moment in time, why on earth would I choose to get into a hot bath and stew in the very feelings I couldn’t tolerate? Advice like that just isn’t helpful to a person with a binge eating disorder!

At that moment we just want to “go away”. We feel empty, or an uneasy anxious feeling, vulnerable, or depressed, bored, impulsive or panicky, or maybe we feel entitled, “I had a really rough day. I deserve to eat this.” We fear if we don’t turn to food, something intolerable will happen.

Sometimes binge eating feels driven by habit!

We eat to avoid connection to whatever it was that triggered our desire to eat in the 1st place…even when we don’t have a clue what that trigger was…

In those moments that precipitated the binge, even if we knew intellectually that a walk around the block or a hot bubble bath would be good for us, we didn’t choose it, because simply engaging is such activities didn’t come close to addressing this complex problem we have come to know as “binge eating”. To stop binge eating, we need so much more…

Next post…what research tells us about the causes Binge Eating

(Learn more about overcoming binge eating. Register for my FREE Phone Seminar. Click here to learn more.)


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. Great post. I agree totally with what it says. I am an emotional eater. I know I eat junk food, sugary, salty and fatty foods to either numb my feelings or keep them numb. I have only managed to “Stop” emotional eating twice in the last 20 years! The first time was about 12 years ago when I lost 3.5st but it all went back on plus more some time later when I ran into an emotional crisis. It was another 10 years before I could “Stop” my emotional eating again. This time I lost 4st. Then another emotional crisis ruined it! That was summer last year. I have not been able to stop emotional eating since then and I will have put half the 4st back on again!! I know a walk round the block or an hot bubble bath would be tons better for me. I admit that but I never seem to take those options either. If only I could sever the link between junk food and how it numbs my emotional state, I would be on to a winner……

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

    Thanks, Shirl. Overcoming binge eating is certainly a challenge! First step in my recovery was to make the connections you’re making. That’s such an important step! Then, I had to learn new emotional regulation tools; to replace the food thoughts and the binge eating. Only then, after being able to master my emotions, and know they would not overwhelm or destroy me if I just allowed them to be come and up, was I ready to feel more competent and confident in most areas of my life…and gradually the need to binge faded away. I wish that for you, as well!

  3. Thank you for your prompt reply to my message. One thing I have seen and realized is that when I was a kid, my grandparents (Mums mum and dad) loved me unconditionally, totally accepted me, made me feel safe and secure. They always had time for me and we got on great. But, at the same time, without realizing the damage they were doing, they were always giving me junk food treats!!! So at some point unknown to me, my subconscious, or so I believe anyway, made that fatal link between eating junk food and feeling good, relaxed, pain free and so on. Now, when I go to the supermarket and see cakes and chocolate etc, I am seeing them as pain killers or Something that will take away my anger or stop me feeling so much self doubt. The list is endless as you know. I wouldnt mind but I am 56 years old Ellen! Like you I feel my emotions will overwhelm or destroy me if I dont get rid of them as quickly as possible. I understand that somehow I am going to have to learn to master my emotions. I’ve realized this ages ago. So yes I am going to have to replace the food thoughts and emotional eating with some emotional regulation tools or Something similar. I need to feel more competent and confident too. Yes if only my need to binge would fade away, permanently! Thanks again. Shirl

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

    Shirl, what you write here is a familiar theme for so many of us who have struggled with binge eating. If you are interested, and have not already joined our Members’ Circle, please consider joining us. We get it and offer tools and support. To learn more, click “About Membership” in the blue navigation bar at the top of this page.

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