It’s important to know your struggles with weight and binge eating can be fixed. According to Registered Dietician, Kimberly Gomer, who appeared as a guest speaker on the Real Talk with Bella Magazine Podcast, explains, “restrictive dieting is pretty much starving yourself…that’s the problem, and the dieting culture we have encourages it. It makes you feel like you don’t have control, you’re a failure. You’re the problem.” But, you can succeed with sustainable weight loss and develop a joyous relationship with food again. Discover below what could be causing your binge eating, and how you can stop the cycle and get back to living well.
Listen to Kimberly Gomer speak on the Real Talk with Bella Magazine Podcast.
Are You Experiencing Binge Eating?
Binge eating is not a sign of weakness or a lack of self-control. It’s terrible how binge eating can leave you feeling upset or ashamed. Studies have found greater depression, stress, and anxiety amongst binge eaters. You don’t have to live with this exhausting struggle anymore, explains Kimberly. “[The problem] starts with dieting. Going on a calorie-counting diet, then the next trendy diet… fuels it. Why can’t we eat for nutrition, for health? There is so much money connected to us eating and being addicted to bad food. People who have an issue with alcohol, stay away from bars. But, when you have a problem with food, it’s impossible to avoid it…you need a plan.”
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is characterized as a pattern of overeating episodes followed by shame, distress, and guilty feelings. If you feel you can’t control what or how much you eat, consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time, then you may be suffering from a binge eating disorder; particularly when this continues as a pattern of more than one episode per week for three months.
Who is Most at Risk of Developing Binge Eating Disorder?
An estimated 1 to 5 percent of Americans are struggling with binge eating, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. Binge eating has the highest prevalence of eating disorders, especially among females. Young and middle-aged people who are struggling with body weight, as well as type 1 and type 2 diabetics, are most likely to suffer from binge eating disorders. That makes sense, when you understand the causes of binge eating, according to diet expert, Kimberly Gomer, the Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center, in Miami Florida.
How Much Is Binge Eating Versus Over Eating
There’s a big difference between a person who occasionally overeats. Eating 4 pieces of pizza to then feel uncomfortably stuffed is overeating. Kimberly explains that binge eaters experience eating uncontrollably, “A binge eater will eat the whole pizza.”
Can You Stop Binge Eating?
Yes, you can have a healthy relationship with food again! It’s possible to feel great about yourself and your eating habits. You may even find yourself trying to hide your problem. There are strategies you can use to stop binge eating that work! “It’s not fair to say, I can fix you,” remarks Kimberly. “It’s not that simple – everyone is different. At Pritikin, the team of experts works together, to help you get a concise plan, based on scientific information and labs, to help you develop a sustainable healthy lifestyle that works.” With the help of comprehensive blood labs at the Pritikin Center and the collaborative team of physicians, dieticians, behavioral lifestyle psychologists, and exercise physiologists make it possible for you to understand what’s happening in your life and body that’s leading to binge eating – then, help you create a plan to stop binge eating and start living a more joyous, healthy life.
Why Do I Binge Eat?
Both the diet culture and possible physiological problems could be why you binge eat. According to Kimberly, there are two things that are the source of the problem:
- Restrictive Dieting
- Insulin Resistance
Binge Eating and Restrictive Eating
The best thing you can do for yourself is to learn how to eat foods that leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. Kimberly explains, “Any time someone says to me they feel like they need to have a binge, I know they are restricting. The number one rule to successful weight loss is to never be hungry!” For example, a typical diet app will ask your age, gender, and desired weekly weight loss, then suggest a calorie allotment per day that leaves you starving. “Binge eaters aren’t eating broccoli and salmon – it’s usually sugary foods or carbohydrates… you feel like your body needs that sugar. The preferred fuel for your brain is carbs, so if you’re on a low-carb diet, it’s no surprise you may crave sugar. You need carbs to exercise too…the starving diet is a huge problem.”
Kimberly remarks, “Restrictive dieting is pretty much starving yourself – you’re hungry. That’s the problem. The dieting culture we have encourages it. It makes you feel like you don’t have control, you’re a failure. You’re the problem.”
Another group who are focused on food control and weight maintenance are diabetics – it’s no surprise that according to the National Institute of Health binge eating is common among type 1 and type 2 diabetics. “Weight loss isn’t just calorie counting – there are a lot of hormones involved,” explains Kimberly. Binge eating makes it harder to control blood glucose (blood sugar). Interestingly, a body that’s struggling to control blood sugar (problems with the hormone insulin) is more likely to cause a person to binge eat.
Binge Eating and Insulin Resistance
“Insulin resistance is so common, it’s worth knowing if you have it,” exclaims Kimberly. “A binge eater, more times than not, has insulin resistance, and doesn’t know it.” What does insulin resistance look like? Kimberly explains that when we eat our blood sugar rises, which is important as our cells need this food. Your cells can’t just grab sugar from the bloodstream. When the body sees a rise in blood sugar, the pancreas is called upon to secrete insulin, which acts like a key to open up the doors and lets sugar into the cells. In some people, who have insulin resistance, when insulin flows out, these keys get sort of sticky, and the doors don’t open. The body thinks the call out for insulin wasn’t heard, so it calls out for more insulin. Calling out for more insulin is a problem. Insulin is a hungry hormone, so you feel hungry.
A person who is insulin resistant actually starts to feel hungrier as they are eating. “You start to feel like you are a failure – you have no discipline. It’s a physiological disorder – you’re not crazy!” There’s a medical concern as when your body is requesting insulin consistently, the pancreas cells that produce it become tired, and start to have trouble creating enough insulin. Having your fasting level blood glucose (sugar) tested can help your medical team learn if you have insulin resistance. At Pritikin, we test everyone who walks through our doors for insulin resistance, as well as blood cholesterol, and many other markers that our trained healthy lifestyle physicians can translate for you to better understand how your body is working and what you can do to help it become healthier and achieve sustainable weight loss.
Why It’s Hard to Lose Weight
“What affects insulin resistance the most is belly fat,” explains Kimberly. As you gain weight, insulin resistance is more likely to occur. No wonder it seems to get harder to lose weight once you start to gain it.
Why It’s Important to Get Help with Binge Eating
Binge eating can lead to a number of health concerns. There’s the mental health aspect, in which happiness can be elusive. Plus, there are physiological illnesses associated with binge eating. It’s important to get help with binge eating, as the possible health problems include:
- Weight gain and obesity
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Depression and anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts
- Sleep disorders
- Digestive system problems
- Joint and muscle pain
The Pritikin Center offers a proven, medically-focused, healthy living program, in a retreat setting, which specializes in weight, heart health, and diabetes.
6 Ways to Recover from Binge Eating and Lose Weight
Discovering why you’re binge eating can help you recover from it and develop a healthy lifestyle that promotes weight loss. There are biological reasons your body may be struggling, as well as psychological. In one supportive, friendly, luxurious location, you can discover any medical reasons you’re struggling with, as well as helps you develop tools to tackle the emotional and lifestyle factors involved in your binge eating. “People check into Pritikin for a lifestyle transformation: we have medical experts, psychologists, exercise physiologists, master chefs – at a five-star resort… and people get a complete overhaul… it’s my dream job…” says Kimberly.
1. | Eat Lots of Healthy Foods
From nutrition lectures to learning how to shop for healthy foods, the program is an impressively supportive environment designed to help you build tools that will help you create a healthy lifestyle that’s uniquely designed to meet your goals and routine.
2. | Build More Muscle: The program also includes an exercise program
“If you’d like to burn more calories, build more muscle – using weights during exercise can help you build a better metabolic currency,” notes Kimberly.
3. | Try Mindfully Eating
Kimberly and the team of Nutrition experts at the Pritikin Center help guests learn how to use mindfulness while they are eating. When researchers looked at the incidence of binge eating among university students who practiced more mindful techniques while eating, evidence suggested this simple lifestyle habit is helpful. Starting to be more mindful when you’re eating can be as simple as putting down the cell phone, television, and other screens. When submersed in the Pritikin lifestyle during a stay at the Center, guests find it easier to adopt healthy habits, including mindful eating (there’s even a mindful eating lunch where Kimberly works with guests to master this new skill).
4. | Get Enough Sleep
If you haven’t slept, your body will produce the sleep hormone, cortisol. Kimberly explains, “cortisol influences insulin…there you are – if you don’t sleep, you can be hungry.” At Pritikin, it’s possible to have a sleep test in the comfort of your own luxurious guest room or suite. It is just one of the many additional items guests can choose from during their stay at the resort. With the help of the medical team, guests benefit from their knowledge to help understand the sleep test results and how to improve their sleep.
5. | Make a Plan that Works for Your Day
The experts at Pritikin help guests think about how to best implement these strategies when back at home – everyone’s home routine is different, hence working with experts, such as Kimberly, helps you discover the best way to fit healthy strategies into your own lifestyle. This is how healthy eating habits become sustainable – you find ways to make them work for your life!
6. | Have Support
After your stay at the Pritikin Center, once you’ve returned home, you still have the ability to access the Pritikin support system. Kimberly works with many guests, consulting them over the phone. To learn more about the ways the Pritikin Center can help you create a healthy lifestyle plan that will work for you, and support you after, reach out to a program advisor.
- Binge eating symptoms prevalence and relationship with psychosocial factors among female undergraduate students at Palestine Polytechnic University: a cross-sectional study. Journal of Eating Disorders 2019 Oct;7(33).
- Binge Eating Disorder, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH 2021.
- Mindfulness in eating is inversely related to binge eating and mood disturbances in university students in health-related disciplines. Nutrients 2020 Feb; 12(2): 396.
- Real-time predictors and consequences of binge eating among adults with type 1 diabetes. Journal of Eating Disorders 2019 March; 7(7).
- Highly increased risk of type 2 diabetes in patients with binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord 2015 Sep;48(6):555-62.
- Cardiovascular impact of eating disorders in adults: a single center experience and literature review. Heart Views 2015 Jul-Sept; 16(3): 88-92.