Freedom from Emotional Eating, Food & Weight Obsession

Why Do We Binge Eat? (Part One)

Why do we binge eat?Why Do We Binge Eat?

“It’s the only way I know to calm myself down.”

“I binge because I deserve to binge… and I can, whenever I want to.”

“When I get the urge, I don’t feel I have any choice.”

“How is it that I can be so effective in other areas of my life and fail so miserably in this one?”

Everyone I’ve ever known who has struggled with binge eating, everyone I have ever coached, has wondered out loud,  “If we hate living like this, if we know it’s bad for us, why do we still binge eat?

Here’s what I know…What missing from the understanding of the “why” is a mindful connection, a clarity, that in the very moment of the binge, turning one’s attention to the food serves a purpose; it has a function. Binge eating works…at least for a little while…

Recently, I came across this great list, “Function of a Binge”, compiled by therapist Katie Thompson at Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders . If you struggling with compulsive eating, emotional eating, or binge eating, here’s my suggestion to you…explore what function(s) the eating may be playing for you. Print this post with Katie’ list. Carry the list with you for a few weeks.  Add to the list if you discover other things that binge eating does for you.

As you gain an understanding of the reasons why you binge eat, you gain opportunity to do the underlying work needed to make binge eating unnecessary. Get mindful of what drives you to mindless eating and you have a much better shot at living a happier, healthier life…free from food obsession.

Function of a Binge:

  • Survival Strategy
  • Provides comfort
  • Inability to express internal distress to others.
  • Call for Help
  • Fear of responsibility and growing up
  • Manifestation of unresolved trauma and deprivation
  • Having something that is one’s own, not controlled by others.
  • Numbing
  • Substitute for love/attachment/affection
  • Rebellion
  • Coping mechanism
  • Substitute for relationship/intimacy
  • An obsessive compulsive ritual (could be a OCD)
  • Covers horrific memories
  • Manifestation of a parent’s unfinished business
  • A need to care for someone and escape at the same time
  • A way to be out of control privately
  • Relief for depression & distress
  • Keeps others away

(Source:  Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders)

Next, I’ll share Katie Thompson’s list of  “Typical Triggers”. Visit this blog again on Sunday for Part Two of “Why Do We Binge Eat?” And consider joining me on Sunday at 4pm (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, 513-321-4242.

Found this article useful? Please share it with your followers!


Free Guide + "Ellen's Weekly Empowerment Tips"

About Ellen Shuman

Ellen on the phone

I have worked in the Wellness Field for 30 years. I created an Emotional Eating & Binge Eating Disorder Recovery Program way before most people knew BED was an eating disorder, NOT a “willpower” issue. Personally, I suffered for years before finding answers and the help I needed and deserved! I became a Coach in 1997 to help others who were still suffering as I had. I love being a Coach!


Related Articles

How do I learn to trust myself?

We love this question because it goes to the heart of the difference between a diet versus a non-diet approach. Keep in mind that the


  ________________________________________ Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating issues. She is the founder of A Weigh Out &