Why Binge Eating Persists After Calorie Counting Stops

binge eating help; ryann nicole

Written By:


Ryann Nicole

You’ve done the hard work of letting go of calorie counting, but those pesky binge eating episodes are still cropping up, leaving you scratching your head. Why does this keep happening? Well, the culprit might be mental restriction. But what exactly is mental restriction?

Mental restriction is that inner struggle where you allow yourself to physically have the food, but emotionally, you’re still trapped. You find yourself eating, maybe even indulging in foods that have been off-limits for ages, yet you don’t grant yourself the emotional experience of the food. It’s like you never truly ate it. The telltale sign of mental restriction is a torrent of negative thoughts that accompany your eating experience. You know the ones – “This is so bad,” “I shouldn’t be having this,” “I don’t know why I’m eating this,” “I can’t believe I’m eating this,” “I have no willpower,” and so on.

Breaking Out of Mental Restriction

Now, how can you change this and start embracing the emotional aspect of food? Here are three steps that can help you unlock that emotional connection:

1. Change Your Language

The words you use when talking about food matter more than you might think. When you classify foods as “good” or “bad,” you subconsciously link them to your own self-worth. It creates an emotional bond with what should be a straightforward matter of eating. Language tends to make us judge the morality of our food choices, and it can spiral into self-esteem and self-worth issues. Your first step is to reframe the way you talk about food.

2. Own Your Choices

Binge eating may persist because you’re uncertain about your food choices. If you decide to have that cookie, that bread, that pasta, own it! Remind yourself that this is your choice, based on your desires and preferences. There’s no right or wrong; it’s simply a matter of making a choice. If you decide to indulge, stand by that choice and let go of any guilt or judgment.

3. Savor the Food

Perhaps you’re still binge eating because you’re not allowing yourself to fully experience the food. It’s time to be mindful and present during your meals. Plate your food, sit down, and eliminate distractions. Dive into the eating experience. With every bite, savor the flavors, the textures, and the sensations on your palate. Relish the food; let yourself truly experience it.

Let Go Of The Judgment

Breaking free from the never-ending self-criticism about your food choices is like setting yourself on a path to feeling good about who you are and staying healthy. It’s all about knowing that what’s on your plate doesn’t determine your value or who you are as a person. When you treat yourself with kindness and have a positive food relationship, you’re giving yourself the power to eat well and feel good both physically and mentally. Just remember, we’re all different, and that’s totally fine. You can savor all sorts of foods without beating yourself up. When you drop the self-judgment, you open the door to a healthier, happier, and more balanced life. So, go on and enjoy your food without all the guilt and stress!

Must Read Books To Improve Your Relationship With Food 

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Intuitive Eating by Elise Resch and Evelyn Tribole 

When it was first published, Intuitive Eating was revolutionary in its anti-dieting approach. The authors, both prominent health professionals in the field of nutrition and eating disorders, urge readers to embrace the goal of developing body positivity and reconnecting with one’s internal wisdom about eating―to unlearn everything they were taught about calorie-counting and other aspects of diet culture and to learn about the harm of weight stigma.

Health At Every Size by Lindo Bacon

Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “thin” with “healthy” is the problem. The solution? Health at Every Size. Tune in to your body’s expert guidance. Find the joy in movement. Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good. You too can feel great in your body right now—and Health at Every Size will show you how.

Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison

In Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison takes on diet culture and the multi-billion-dollar industries that profit from it, exposing all the ways it robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. It will turn what you think you know about health and wellness upside down, as Harrison explores the history of diet culture, how it’s infiltrated the health and wellness world, how to recognize it in all its sneaky forms, and how letting go of efforts to lose weight or eat “perfectly” actually helps to improve people’s health—no matter their size. Drawing on scientific research, personal experience, and stories from patients and colleagues, Anti-Diet provides a radical alternative to diet culture, and helps readers reclaim their bodies, minds, and lives so they can focus on the things that truly matter.

Just Eat It by Laura Thomas

With a perfect blend of scientific expertise and relatable anecdotes, the author dismantles societal myths around food and body image. Through practical advice, self-reflection exercises, and a touch of humor, Thomas equips readers with the tools to break free from the cycle of diet culture, promoting self-love and nourishment. This book is an essential companion for anyone seeking to redefine their approach to food, fostering a positive and sustainable lifestyle.

Ryann Nicole

Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach

Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.

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Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.