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Why Do We Overeat or Binge?

By HERWriter
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What makes us overeat and binge? Piotr Marcinski/PhotoSpin

As a trainer and sports nutritionist, I often get frustrated when clients do not get results. I also know that two to three hours with me during a week is not going to make a difference if they are undoing their hard work with overeating.

While I may be frustrated, I am also compassionate to their plight. Sure, we all cheat on our diets from time to time. Special occasions or vacations can have us veering off track.

But I am speaking of the serious overeater, who consumes a high amount of calories each and every day, sometimes even in a trance-like state. This is often referred to as binge eating disorder.

According to HelpGuide.org, “Binge eating disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop.”

Sometimes binge eating can be triggered by stress, low self-esteem or even boredom. It can be an uncontrollable pattern.

According to Womenfitness.net, “You eat when you're bored or do not have anything interesting to do or look forward to.”

If you’re bored, plan an activity or take up a hobby. If you are always searching for fulfillment in food you need to find something else that entertains, amuses or occupies you.

If you have not yet started to exercise, join a gym, find a fitness class that suits your interest and head there during your “boring” time. I have met some of my best friends while exercising and we still all keep each other motivated.

Womenfitness.net said that a feeling of deprivation also plays a role in overeating when restricting or forbidding certain foods.

“Unfortunately, because the foods being avoided are abundantly available, and food visibility and availability are powerful eating stimuli, the restricter often breaks her "plan" and eats a forbidden food.”

My solution to this particular feeling of deprivation has always been to plan a “forbidden meal” once a week. This will enable you to keep your control and stay on track for the rest of the week.

There could also be health reasons for the uncontrollable munchies or unstoppable cravings. Many of these have to do with hormonal imbalances or vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

One common problem has to do with blood glucose levels which affect the body’s ability to metabolize insulin.

“The excessive insulin is not recognized by the body cells so is unable to remove the glucose from the blood stream. The result is an increase in blood insulin levels, which has an appetite stimulating effect. The person is driven to eat and if simple carbohydrates are chosen, the cycle continues.”

Whether your cravings are psychological, hormonal or both, don’t put yourself down. Those of us in the fitness and wellness community are here to help. We want to empower you to take back your power.

Remember, you are better than that donut, bag of chips or whatever your sabotaging choice may be. Seek help, identify your behavior and make the choice to change it.


“Binge Eating Disorder – Helpguide.org.” Help Guide – A Trusted Non-Profit Resource. Web 28 Aug. 2012.

“Top 10 Triggers for Over-eating – WomenFitness.net.” Women Fitness. Web 28 Aug. 2012.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth is a Television Fitness Expert, Certified Personal Trainer and Sport Nutritionist. She is Certified in Pilates, Pre-natal/Post-Partum, Yoga and Senior Fitness. She specializes in Weight Loss, Post-Rehab and Post Cancer Training.

Joanne's fitness plans and recipes are available globally on her website www.fitnessanswer.com/ She resides in the Phoenix, AZ area with her husband, where she runs her personal training business, Fitness Answer, LLC.

Reviewed August 28, 2012
by MIchele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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