The Biology of Binge-Eating
Every time I have ever tried to control my food intake for the purpose of weight loss,
(and yes, I am including the “don’t-eat-emotionally-no-
I have ended up binge-eating eventually.
When I was younger I could stick to a diet for a year (or even years),
then later in life I could only go 6 months,
then 3 weeks,
then 6 days,
until eventually, I got to the place where I couldn’t even think about restricting my food without immediately craving exactly what I put off limits.
In my professional life I learned that this pattern of slowly becoming less and less capable of control (even for short periods of time) is the common experience for most humans.
95% of people will rebel against pretty much any form of weight control within five years, and, more often than not, will regain more weight than they lost. (Hence the phrase “diets don’t work.”)
This phenomenon most likely has its roots in our biology.
Binge-eating is a natural biological response to food restriction,
or to any weight control mechanism that may be understood as a threat of starvation to our bodies.
This natural biological response is only rarely overcome by willpower in the long run — so rarely, in fact, to render those exceptions statistically negligible.
Humans are no more capable of controlling their food than they are capable of controlling their breath: you might be able to do it for a short period of time, but eventually, you’re going to start gasping for air (or food) as the case may be. Our willpower is rendered useless at the first subconscious threat of death — asphyxiation or starvation being prime examples. A threat of food scarcity will always trigger hoarding, with or without your conscious permission or control.
In other words,
I’m not suggesting you “stop controlling your food,”
I’m suggesting you acknowledge the reality that, in the long run,
you simply don’t have control — whether you try to gain it or not.
your trying to control the uncontrollable,
is probably at the root of all of this reactionary, “what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-
(and usually experience in proportion to the severity of their dieting history).
Fighting with nature has a much greater chance of bringing casualties than victory.
Biologically speaking, your best bet — even if your goal IS to be as thin as possible — is to surrender to the natural path your food takes when you eliminate threats of food scarcity from your life. Including, emotional forms of food scarcity (which is probably what 99% of you are still dealing with), which you can read about here.
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