emotional eating v binge eating
Binge Eating

What is the difference between Emotional Eating & Binge Eating?

September 30, 2020

Ryann Nicole

Hi, I’m Ryann.

Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritionist with a BA in Psychology, and a MA in Professional Counseling, yes I do a little of the "so how does that make you feel".

But my ultimate goal is to provide you with the resources you need, in an easy-to-understand way, on healing your disordered relationship with food and your body. 

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Binge Eating

Healthy Habits

Body Image

Emotional Eating

Mental Health 

Throughout this pandemic, it seems like emotional eating and binge eating have been hot topics of conversation. The two are said interchangeably and mixed and matched, which might leave you thinking, “is there a difference?” I firmly believe that you must first understand what you are doing before changing your behavior. So, I am hoping to clear things up for you in this post today! 

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is eating to fill an emotional need. This can be when you are sad or upset, but it is not always. Let's take the cake as an example. We use cake to celebrate many things. Cake provides no nutritional value, but we eat it and enjoy it when celebrating. In this instance, this cake fills the emotional need to celebrate. 

Emotional eating is two-fold:

  1. Eating for pleasure
  2. Eating to soothe uncomfortable feelings

Binge Eating 

On the other hand, binge eating is our body's response to perceived or actual deprivation. Real deprivation most of us are familiar with. This is not allowing your body to have any carbohydrates, sugar, processed foods, etc. It is a form of restriction. 

Perceived deprivation, however, is something we're unaware of. This is allowing yourself to eat the food but not necessarily allowing yourself to experience the food. For example, you allow yourself to have a cookie, but as you eat the cookie, you automatically feel guilty, think of the calories, and think of what you're going to need to do to work it off… And before you know it, the cookie is gone, and you can't even remember what it tasted like. 

Most definitions of binge eating do not recognize that binge eating has little to do with the amount of food and more to do with the way we consume the food. The cause and motivation behind the binge classify it as a binge. Shoving crackers into your mouth fast before anybody sees acts as a binge, not necessarily just eating a whole box of crackers at the table. 

When looking at eating patterns, we must first address binge eating because it creates the ultimate shame around food. Once you address binge eating, then you can look at emotional eating. If you are struggling with this, please know you are not alone! 

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