What Are the Psychological Reasons for Binge Eating?

What Are the Psychological Reasons for Binge Eating?

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Have you found yourself starting to consume food in extreme amounts? There are plenty of reasons for binge eating, so much so that it can be tough to narrow down the cause of individual cases. It’s ok to occasionally consume large amounts of food when you’re with friends or want to treat yourself to a good meal. But binge eating disorder is more than just eating a lot of food; many causes revolve around human psychology. Explore some psychological reasons for binge eating to learn when it’s time to find an eating disorder treatment program.

Reasons We Binge

The exact causes of binge eating disorder aren’t well known, but a few solid reasons and situations increase an individual’s risk of developing a binge eating disorder. Some individuals with a family history of binge eating are more at risk of suffering from the condition. Other times, some of the psychological reasons we’ll discuss later are responsible for someone who feels out of control while eating. Some studies even show individuals who won’t stop binging have abnormal dopamine levels in their brains.

While it is not entirely certain, the industry largely believes these three are responsible for most cases of binge eating:

  • Genetics
  • Psychological reasons
  • Societal norms and cultural influences

The Psychological Connection

The psychological link to binge eating disorder usually revolves around individuals with low self-esteem, a poor body image, or feelings associated with a lack of purpose or loneliness. These aspects also come with other disorders, such as PTSD, anxiety, or mood disorders. Most of the time, binging isn’t really about the food, either. Instead, individuals are focused on using food to cope with feelings of numbness and stress, leading to what feels like an endless cycle.

Emptiness and Lack of Emotion

The body often resorts to binging in order to “feel something.” Individuals who feel like their lives lack purpose overeat to provide meaning to them. Eating behaviors are one of the few things in life we have direct control over, and all it takes is a few bites of cake or pie to please the brain. The opposite can be true for those with other eating disorders that lead to undereating. Individuals who are undereating sometimes do it to show strength and an ability to control their bodies. Finding a positive purpose in life is one of the best treatment options for individuals who binge eat due to emptiness.

Fighting Back Against Trauma

Sometimes binge eating is a psychological response to life traumas. In this case, it’s less about the food and more about the experience of eating it. Maybe as a child, you were told to avoid certain foods, or you remember the pleasure you felt eating a snack late at night. Binge eating can feel like you’re finally fighting back and rebelling against the system that stopped you from doing what you loved, but you must remember to live in the present and understand the body you currently have.


Have you ever found yourself craving a nice snack or meal while on the job? Food is pleasurable, and as a result, we view it as a release from life’s stressors. Our body sometimes views sugar cravings as a small “break,” and it’s easy to see how someone who deals with stressful situations daily can endure a loss of control with their food consumption. Instead of grabbing a snack, give your body a break by walking around the block, doing some yoga, or exercising for a few minutes.

Take Back Control of Your Body With Help From a Professional Treatment Center

Regardless of how it starts, the most important way to combat binge eating is with a professional treatment center that can get you the help you need. At Shoreline, we have specially designed programs to fight the causes and symptoms of binge eating disorder and other mental health conditions. Getting the right help is the only way to recover from an illness, and if you or a loved one are fighting an eating disorder, contracting Shoreline should be the first thing you do. Call us at 562-434-6007 or complete our contact form.