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How to stop binge eating (and reclaim control over food)

If you’ve experienced binge eating, you’re not alone. Over one million Australians aged between 16-85 have experienced binge eating in their lifetime, with binge eating disorder now being the most common eating disorder. 

As someone who’s struggled with binge eating for years, I know it can feel impossible to stop. Even with the best intentions to keep “bad” foods out of the house, buy healthy foods and have more willpower. But it is possible. 

If you’re wondering how to stop binge eating and take back control over food, these are the six intuitive eating strategies I use with clients as a binge-eating dietitian

Reframe the way you label foods 

If you’re quick to label foods as good and bad, ask yourself “how do you feel when you eat “bad” foods”? 

One of the main reasons we feel guilty, shameful and anxious about binge eating is that we perceive our binge foods as bad and internalise that we’re bad. 

Rather than labelling a food as good or bad, find neutrality by saying what the food is instead. For example, instead of saying it’s chocolate and it’s bad, can you just say it’s chocolate? 

Give yourself unconditional permission to eat 

Have you noticed how you desire and think about your “forbidden foods” more than “healthy” foods? 

When we’re not “allowed” certain foods or deprive ourselves, we want them more. 

When we finally give in to temptation and eat our forbidden foods we’re more likely to binge or overeat them because we don’t know when we’ll allow ourselves to eat them again. 

Giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat all foods, removes the sense of deprivation and intense control they have over us. 

If feelings of guilt arise as you try to give yourself permission to eat forbidden foods gently remind yourself “It’s not good or bad, it’s just food and I am allowed this food at any time” 

Honour your hunger 

If we’re not eating enough (perhaps to lose weight), we’ll eventually become ravenous, eating whatever’s in front of us and lots of it. 

In this case, we’re more likely to reach for higher calorie, sugar and fat foods (our “bad” and forbidden foods) to give us a quick boost of energy. 

But because they’re forbidden or “bad” we think, “what the hell” I’ve broken my rule now; I might as well just keep eating them. 

Make sure you’re eating regularly during the day and avoid getting overly hungry. 


If we’re sleep deprived, overworked, or have no time for ourselves and the things we enjoy, we’re more likely to turn to food for comfort. 

When our basic needs aren’t being met, food becomes a distraction to avoid the areas of life we actually need to focus on. 

Make sure you’re putting yourself first, rest and seek professional help if you’re struggling with persistent negative emotions 

Swap judgement for curiosity and compassion 

Binge eating is not always a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with using food occasionally to soothe our emotions and comfort us. 

Rather than instantly labelling yourself as bad, a failure, or unhealthy for binge eating can you find compassion and curiosity? 

Thank the food for being there when you’ve needed it, knowing it will be there again and that there’s nothing wrong with using food occasionally for emotional support. 

Ditch your desire to lose weight 

Our diet mentality and pursuit of thinness are usually the culprits for all of the above. 

As long as we’re trying to shrink our bodies by avoiding certain foods, avoiding uncomfortable emotions and not eating enough, we’re more likely to binge eat. Keeping us stuck in a binge-restrict cycle. 

This can of course is easier said than done. Be patient, curious and compassionate with yourself as you start to ditch your diet mentality and accept the body you’re in. 

Read this article for practical tips to get over your fear of weight gain

Looking for support for binge eating? 

At Balance and Bite, we specialise in treatment for binge eating disorder, offering an approachable, evidence-based and individualised approach to helping your feel in control around food again. Taking The Guilt, Shame And Fear Out Of Binge Eating

Book a discovery call or get in touch to learn how we can help stop binge eating.