Binge eating and other overeating – What do you believe causes yours?

I think it was about two and a half months ago that I joined Weight Watchers for perhaps the fifth time ever. Unfortunately, after about two weeks, I was no longer going again. My husband encouraged me to cancel the membership, so we wouldn’t spend more money needlessly, like I had done several times in the past with the gym. So I did, and went back to overeating and eating the wrong things. It was as if this feeling of failure just made me resigned to the fact that dieting efforts were too tough.

In addition to Weight Watchers, I had once followed a strict eating plan prescribed by a dietitian. That plan, where I was really held accountable for my eating, worked fairly well for a while. Actually, a couple of the attempts on the Weight Watchers plan worked out well, too, but long-term maintenance only worked out for a while during maybe a two year period. Other than those formal attempts, my “diets” rarely lasted long at all. Sometimes I did lose a good amount of weight, without being on a diet, but those seemed to depend on my life situation at the times.

I do not believe I have Binge Eating Disorder. Binge Eating Disorder is a serious mental health challenge that requires formal treatment.  But my past and current periods of binge eating (or sometimes just general overeating), require special attention all the same. I may go for weeks or even months without binge or overeating, but when I start, the weight gain can be rapid. Or even if I’m not gaining rapidly, I often find that my eating is just not as healthy as it should be. In my 40s, I started to have high cholesterol and high triglycerides. I’ve received multiple counselings from doctors on what types of foods I should avoid. But, oh my, is it hard to avoid those foods and eat in a manner that keeps my BMI normal, and improves my health sufficiently.

Have you really spent some time trying to analyze why you binge eat or generally overeat? What excuses do you generally use? Are you sure you know all of the reasons? Might you be blaming some or all of the wrong things? It’s not always easy to figure that out. I know that as a person with bipolar disorder, I’ve been quick to blame medications for all of my eating issues. As if not taking them would mean I’d be super slim? In some cases, that could be true. In others, not!

I looked up a list of several reasons people overeat or binge eat, and added a few of my own. Here are reasons I came up with:

  • Weight unfriendly medications (OK, I’ll start with this since it is a concern for many)
  • Genes
  • Addicted to certain high calorie foods/drinks
  • Stress eating (or from depression, anxiety, frustration, or low self-esteem) – Desire for relief or pleasure from these stressors.
  • Boredom or loneliness
  • Pressure to eat from others (parents, spouse, friends)
  • Combating fatigue
  • Confusion about portion sizes (see my post here on this topic)
  • Excess alcohol consumption (calories from alcohol and/or alcohol’s effect on appetite). Could pertain to other drugs, too.
  • You’re really thirsty, but you eat instead.
  • Eating too quickly and not allowing your body to yet recognize that it’s full.
  • You feel deprived of something, so you lose control and eat too much of the deprived food (or food as substitute), instead of eating (having/doing) a small amount (or healthier alternative) that provides equal (or almost equal) satisfaction/gratification.
  • “I failed” or “I screwed up”, “So who gives a damn!”
  • Eat as if the last hoorah (I’ll start my diet tomorrow, so today I’ll just go for it!)
  • Some reason based on a recent or past trauma

Can you think of any other reasons? If so, please include them in the comments.

Generating your list of reasons for binging or overeating is a good start in learning to stop these habits. Talking to your doctor or therapist, can help them determine if you need more intensive assistance in any way, or if simple strategies can help. Maybe even just you recognizing the reasons, and perhaps writing them down, can be the start you need.

I’ve got my list ready. It doesn’t include all of the bulleted items, but many.

10 thoughts on “Binge eating and other overeating – What do you believe causes yours?

    • updownflight October 30, 2017 / 8:19 pm

      I know how that can be. I have favorite “bad” foods that it’s hard to deprive myself of for too long. It really does feel like a major deprivation at some points.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Migraines From Hell October 31, 2017 / 12:49 am

    The weight unfriendly meds are killer for me. I definitely binge. I’m not sure what qualifies for the diagnosis but I’d say I do it more than 2 x a week for sure. I’m not a purger though. My medicine makes me ravenously hungry a lot of the time and I feel like I mUST eat. Then I go overboard…

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 31, 2017 / 12:39 pm

      Binging has only ever been an issue for me because of bipolar medications. General overeating, has been an issue off and on during most of my adult life, but I have had period when I tamed it. Lately on my huge dose of Seroquel XR it does seem like I do some light to medium binging more than twice per week, but I think it requires much more for a diagnosis. Hopefully someday in 2018 my dose will be lower. I find at medium doses or lower that medication is fairly weight neutral. I hope your medications can be lowered/modified someday to give you relief in this respect.


  2. marandarussell October 31, 2017 / 1:13 am

    These new meds are driving me crazy in many ways, and the fear of gaining massive amounts of weight is topping the list. I hate weight unfriendly meds! Some of the other issues apply too I understand, but since I am normal weight and have been for years, I feel like if I balloon up at this point it will be the meds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 31, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      I’m glad to read that you are still normal weight. Keep fighting off that horrible side effect.

      Right now I am a bit overweight, but only about 15 lbs. If I could just exercise more and diet for a few months I know that 15 lbs would be gone, but what sounds easy to some is so darned difficult.

      People in my family are overweight even without bipolar medications. Oddly, I have been one of the thinner people in my family if you look at my total lifetime.

      Liked by 1 person

      • marandarussell October 31, 2017 / 3:14 pm

        We sound kind of similar. My whole immediate family has struggled with weight issues, and while I had weight issues around middle school age, as an adult, I’ve always been normal weight. I do worry my genetic makeup and the meds together might make it too hard to stay at my regular weight though. I hope not.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight October 31, 2017 / 3:20 pm

        I hope we both stay or get to normal weight. Some of the bipolar medications even make people more susceptible to things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high triglycerides. I have high cholesterol and high triglycerides.


  3. Adrian November 5, 2017 / 4:54 pm

    I gained 65 lbs from binge eating brought on by a medication for my bipolar. I changed the medication, but I was adamant that something be done to rectify the horrible side effect of that medicine. My doctor put me on Vyvanse. I went from 190 to 125 in almost 2 years. I know medications shouldn’t be the solution, but it turns out it helps my anxiety by getting me to focus. My racing thoughts for my panic disorder disappeared. This medication has been beneficial to me. Perhaps you could bring it up? It could counteract the side effect of your current medication. Hang in there. Binge eating sucks, but helping your bipolar side is important. There are other meds out there too. What works for some doesn’t work for all, but ziprasidone and lamictal are what helped me. I have found that incorporating gabapentin can ease the impact of episodes too. Just some thoughts. Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight November 5, 2017 / 10:25 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! I hope others will also see your comment. Your weight loss from switching to Vyvanse is great and was clearly a healthy steady loss. I’ve personally never tried Vyvanse, but will keep it in the back of my mind for the future.

      Seroquel XR has been a great med for my bipolar. It was also mostly weight neutral up to 350 mg, but I’ve had to go up to 600 mg for stability as I’ve weaned off of Geodon because of severe akathisia. But Geodon was weight friendly for me and I only developed the akathisia 5 months in. I had another issue with Geodon, but I know that many people love that med.

      I hope my Seroquel XR will be reduced in the coming year.

      Liked by 1 person

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