How Do Binge Eaters Handle Their Cravings?
By Joan Kent, PhD
Not every binge eater has binge-eating disorder (BED). But even those who binge less often may struggle to control their eating.
My PhD research was on women with BED. Before that, I ran a class for women who didn't have BED but still binged periodically. They longed to change their eating behaviors. The class was called Food & Eating Recovery.
If you read my articles or books, you already know I'm a recovered sugar addict. In the bad old days, I did plenty of sugar-triggered bingeing.
I craved sugar almost all the time back then. Yet I resisted most cravings, which helped me limit my binges.
Resisting Cravings? Was I Wrong!
When the topic of cravings came up in the F&E Recovery class, we talked about resisting. I figured everyone would relate to that because they'd done it, too.
But the women in the class looked at me as if I were speaking Klingon. Ignoring a craving was alien to them.
When they craved a food, they ate it – or as close to it as they could get.
As you might imagine, the F&E Recovery women who gave in to cravings were more likely to be overweight. Many were obese and had metabolic conditions or other health issues.
My PhD research revealed evidence that sugar triggers binges. That was certainly true for the test group that did not eliminate sugar during the 8-week study.
The vast majority of cravings were for sugary foods. The sugary foods were typically high in fat.
Why? Studies of "sweetness ratings" show that fat makes sugar taste sweeter. That may be one reason that a sugar craving will lead to ice cream or brownies, rather than to a roll of Lifesavers.
Of course, the fat adds extra calories. But that's not all.
Sugar also triggers the release of a brain chemical – endorphin – that increases appetite. So giving in to a craving often led to a high-calorie meal.
For some of the women, it led to a full-fledged binge.
Because sugar's so addictive, many women in F&E Recovery were hooked on it. When they tried to go without it, they'd have strong cravings. And – no surprise – more sugar, more fat, more binges.
How Should You Handle Cravings?
If you feel tough enough to resist cravings, resist as often and for as much of the day as you can. It can help with weight control and health.
But that may not work for you.
As I've previously posted, an effective, short-term solution for cravings is liquid B-complex. (Please check with your doctor before trying this.)
For a long-term solution – eliminating cravings completely – changing your diet is probably the only real answer.
Are you looking to change your eating? I can help you make that easy. Just visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and request your free Empowered Eating Consult. Find out how simple it is – and how great it feels – to crush your cravings and gain control of your food and eating.
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.