How to Avoid Binge Eating

April 04, 2017 by Kathleen Renner, L.C.S.W.

Health Concerns: Food Addiction

What is binge eating?

Binge eating is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort) It is a feeling of a loss of control during the binge.

It’s not uncommon for people to overeat to the point of discomfort at one time or another, especially on a special occasion, but the binge eater habitually consumes large quantities of food, often very quickly, feels full and continues eating to where they feel out of control of how much food they are putting in their mouth with the result of feeling sickened and ashamed of their behavior.

Usually binge eating takes place secretly to avoid being judged insensitively by others. Interestingly however, binge eaters tend to be their own harshest critic.  Although, most people binge on unhealthy junk foods, binging on healthy foods is still a problem for some.   

What motivates binge eating?

Numerous clients, in the Success Program report a binge typically takes place when the person is feeling intense uncomfortable emotions. . Compulsive overeating is used as a way to escape and not deal with the underlying situation.  It complicates and enhances the stress and is never a solution. 

Strategies to stop binging:

  • Make your home a safe harbor.   Remove temptation by getting rid of all the foods you tend to binge on.  If there are others in the home, nicely ask if they wouldn’t mind, for the first month or two, while you are working on overcoming compulsive eating, removing those foods out of the home. If that is not possible, use separate cabinets or ask family members to conceal the foods you usually binge on.
  • Identify and make a list of trigger events. Think back to your past binges and what set them off.  Is it a certain time, interaction with a particular person, lack of sleep, fight with your spouse, etc.?  Once you make this list, you will be aware of when you are more vulnerable, and look for kind and creative solutions to minimize stress and conflict.
  • Take care of your needs on a daily basis. This will help you to avoid feeling neglected and out of control. Make a list of non-negotiables.  These are things you need to do every day to maintain physical/emotional health. These things include: exercising, getting at least seven hours of sleep, talking with supportive others, meditation, keeping up with responsibilities such as taking your supplements, caring for children, etc.

Immediate coping to stop a binge in its tracks

If you feel the urge to binge, REACH OUT! Do not struggle alone.  You can reach out to a supportive friend or family member, a professional counselor or coach. Cravings and urges to binge are your signal that something is going on emotionally that you do not want to deal with. Get into a safe space where food is unavailable and figure out what’s going on emotionally and begin to come up with a plan to deal with it.  Keep in mind, food will never solve the issue. A binge will only worsen or compound the issue.

Refrain from black or white thoughts

An example is: “I already ate badly for lunch, so I might as well just continue my bad eating the rest of the day”. Just because you “fall off the wagon”, doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel for the rest of the day. You can prevent much more damage by reaching out for support and getting right back on track. These instances can be key for learning how to fix negative behavior and change for the future. If you do binge, it is best to seek support and tell someone. Pick yourself up and stop dwelling on the episode.

Most important: Remember you are not alone. If you feel like your bingeing is out of control and unmanageable seek the support of a professional who is experienced in binge eating disorders.  Dr. Fuhrman has designed a unique program to help you combat your food addictions and binge behaviors in the Success Program. Call (908) 237-2195 (coaching prompt) to get started. 


Kathleen Renner, L.C.S.W. is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with significant clinical experience working in the mental health and substance abuse fields. After undergoing further training with Dr. Fuhrman and his clinical team, Ms. Renner has developed a specialty in food addiction counseling. She also has completed Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritional Education Trainer Program (NET). She has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings, motivating individuals to improve their health. Kathleen has worked with addiction in all age groups and in various settings, including individuals and groups. She holds the title of Food Addictions Counselor in Dr. Fuhrman's SUCCESS Program.


Comments (0):



04/10/2017 01:45 PM

Yes!  I have lost weight AND changed my whole life just by changing what I do in my head.  We must build new reactions to stress, memories and learn to love our bodies. :-)  Since discovering this, I have helped many other people on this journey to a healthier subconscious and starting a LivingFreeLife :-)

Krenner replies:

04/10/2017 02:04 PM

Hi tirvines! So glad you changed your life for the better, i'm sure you are an inspiration!!!! :)

joycelauder replies:

04/10/2017 07:13 PM

thanks knowledge is the key



04/10/2017 02:10 PM

Ive been binge eating since I was 12. I put on 44 lbs in a year due to PCOS and for the first time in my life was awre of my body. I started an unhealthy relationship with food ( never even thought about it before then), and started dieting and bingeing. My relatioship with bingeing got worse and worse. My binges are horrific. I just began E2L three days ago. I am hoping I can get healthy, but also build a healhty relationship with food. 

Krenner replies:

04/10/2017 02:17 PM

Hi wanderlustwonderer, so glad you started!!!! Take it day by day and be kind to yourself. Let us know if you need more support, we have wonderful programs to help including our Food Addiction Program (FAR). You deserve to be healthy and happy!

Barbie lee replies:

06/24/2018 10:34 AM

Did you find that you still have binge episode when you first started trying eat to live diet?


04/10/2017 06:03 PM

It is so wonderful that Dr. Fuhrman sends out get these tips, for those of us to benefit from them, even though our budgets don't permit us to become members. That is the sign of a true doctor, no? I have been following his advice through his books, but there are many questions still which can eventually get answered this way. I read every email that comes my way from THANK YOU DR. FUHRMAN! You are helping save the lives of more than you might know.



joycelauder replies:

04/10/2017 07:16 PM

I am so happy that I found Dr. Fuhrman  I now have hope



04/10/2017 08:03 PM

A vegetarian diet didn't help with my food addiction (although it helps with a lot of other things!) so I joined Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous 15 years ago and I have not binged since. Removing all flour and sugars/sweeteners (I do have fresh fruit) removed the cravings and the struggle with food. I still eat vegetarian, but have maintained a healthy weight and the food doesn't "call" to me anymore!

Krenner replies:

04/11/2017 07:27 AM

Thats great!!! We agree that removing all addictive foods is the key. So glad you found what works :)

algernon replies:

04/11/2017 12:40 PM

What triggers binge eating for me? Waking up into another day. I eat whole foods plant based oil-free daily (for the last four years) and still manage to overeat out of stress, to escape situations that I have no way of overcoming, and grief. Also, I exist in social isolation; no one to go to no matter what's going on. So I rationalize that eating beats drinking alcoholically or taking drugs. But it does consume my life and it's not healthy inspite of all the veggies.


04/11/2017 10:49 AM

I guess I'd just add that eating has a biological component—as in we are programmed to eat a lot to avoid starvation. So the chemical reward in the brain when eating is impossible to get around other than by sheer will. Our will can be strong or weak probably depending on emotional set up. Either way we have to strategize to replace the urge with something else. Being aware of this physiological dynamic gives me a sense of control at times : )

Krenner replies:

04/11/2017 11:09 AM

hi mj84, this is true, however when we remove addictive foods, the cravings are removed, and we become more in control. The key is having support when you do remove these addictive foods because that is the tough part. Great points!


04/12/2017 05:59 PM

Unfortunately, a 900 number means that the support is going to cost. Somehow it takes the compassion out of the message. You may wish to suggest an 800 number that will give support and compassion.

Randi Carbone replies:

04/12/2017 06:29 PM

Hi Donna, We have an 800 number, Im not sure what you are referring to. To speak to someone at or the Wellness Center, you can call 1800-474-WELL


04/13/2017 12:10 PM

Food has been a struggle all of my life.  As a child not getting enough to ever be full.  As an adult deveolping a pattern of bulemarexia and eventually binging and then "just" compulsive overeating.  I spent years of my life fighting the truth - that I have a disease - I am a compulsive overeater.  For all of the reasons listed in the above article.  Even though I became vegan, I still binged.  There was no need to purge because it was all nutritionally dense food.  I went away to True North Health Center and water fasted for 21 days.  It totally reset my thyroid.  With a Hashimoto Thyroidits diagnosis I was able to come off of the thyroid medicine and have been off of it for 2 years now with perfect thyroid numbers.  It did not fix the binging and compulsive overeating.  I have finally begun REGULARLY attending Overeaters Anonymous - which is free.  I attend meetings, have a sponsor whose recovery I admire and follow the suggestions / guidelines of the program.  I am learning that this recovery is a physical, mental and SPIRITUAL process.  This is a disease.  AND.  Recovery is possible.  Not everyone will find their recovery in the same place I have.  I sincerely wish the best success to all who seek recovery from this disease. 

This comment was last edited on 04/13/2017 12:11 PM

Krenner replies:

04/13/2017 12:34 PM

Good for you! I'm sure you are an inspiration for many!!! Thank you for sharing your story :)


04/13/2017 08:13 PM

A very timely topic. I've been a member here for years and am at my heaviest weight ever. My home will never be a safe harbour (maybe my car though... seriously) and making a list of triggers and figuring out an alternative reaction may just be the key for me. I may  not be able to change my circumstances but I can try to change my reactions. I'll give it a try. Thank you. ❤

Krenner replies:

04/14/2017 08:09 AM

Hi Kaylu, that's exactly correct, it's all about changing your reactions to things. Being prepared and knowing your triggers is key. Best of luck to you!


05/11/2017 04:50 PM

Started Eat To Live on 4/6/17 and did great for 3 weeks and now find myself struggling! I need variety! Joined the website and need suggestions on how to avoid chocolate/Sweet cravings! 

Krenner replies:

06/29/2017 02:10 PM

Hi Advochick57! I'm sorry I am just seeing this now. Have you thought about purchasing our 10 in 20? A lot of clients find it really helpful. Its our easiest recipes. As far as sweet cravings, that is so tough. I highly reccomend avoiding all sugar, that is the only way the cravings will go away. Using fruit helps and if you struggle especially at nighttime, creating a more soothing environment helps. Shutting down kitchen at a certain time, grabbing tea, relaxing with a book, and brushing teeth helps!


05/23/2017 02:34 PM

I have a problem with binge eating. My boyfriend actually pointed it out to me. I was so embarrased and ashamed. I found Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live. I am starting his plan now, and trying to eat three good meals a day. I am going to make sure that I stick with the plan and not binge. I mostly binge on healthy foods, and sometimes on not so healthy foods. I have made sure not to make my cookies anymore, even when people ask for them. I am going to follow the advice of this article; figure out what I need to be stable and content everyday. I will write that down and make sure to complete everything on my list everyday. I am hoping to get over this, I have done this for twenty years now. I think it's time to stop! 


Krenner replies:

06/29/2017 02:11 PM

Hi mbhooker!! So glad you joined up! How is the eating going? Has the bingeing decreased at all?


08/23/2017 01:13 PM


08/23/2017 01:16 PM

I have struggled with food addiction my whole life!  I have been a nutritarian for 10 years & still binge weekly.  I have taken all nuts, soy, cocoa powder & nut/seed butters out of my diet, but still binge on what is left.  What can I do?  I weigh 118 pounds but am trapped in addiction eating huge amounts of food.


06/09/2020 06:22 PM

I've been a compulsive overeater all of my life. I began overeating because I was trying to "eat the feelings" of both me and my then spouse, now ex-spouse. I tried and failed at the nutritarian system twice before but three times is a charm and a fasting blood sugar of 384 with an A1C >10 has been a big incentive, so a month ago I started again and I've been successful so far. I've noticed that I am depressed and tearful a lot but not all of the time, as in clinical depression. Some of it is situational as I've had two "furbabies" die within days of each other, one was very young. I believe that for the first time since before my marriage and divorce I am dealing with my feelings instead of cramming them down with junk food. Is this typical? I'm not exactly a support group type of person so is there another or better way to deal with this? I know I have to grieve but how do I know when my grief becomes prolonged grief disorder or clinical depression?  

ETA: Any and all help is appreciated. 

This comment was last edited on 06/09/2020 06:23 PM