Triggers For Binge Eating: Gaining Control By Looking For Warning Signs


Article written for by Sherry Gaba, LCSW. Check out her website and E-Book here.

Binge eating is a serious issue for people of all ages, walks of life and weight levels. In essence binge eating is a repetitive pattern of consuming large amounts of foods which are typically high energy foods such as fats and carbohydrates.

This is not the same as eating too much at Thanksgiving dinner; it is a habitual behavior, an addiction to food as a way to deal with stressors in your life. It is also a very secretive behavior that causes huge amounts of guilt, denial and a feeling of spiraling out of control.

There are some simple strategies that people that have difficulties with binge eating can use to help to learn about the underlying factors that prompt this behavior.

The following tips can be used to determine your triggers:

  1. Keep an emotion journal – write down any emotional events or conflicts that occur and if you engage in binge eating after these events. Be detailed and specific about what you experienced emotionally. The biggest triggers for binge eating tend to be anger, frustration, guilt and boredom.
  2. Track your physical well being levels. Typically binge eating occurs when people are tired, fatigued or are not feeling up to par. Getting lots of rest, staying or becoming physically active and making the healthiest food choices possible is important.
  3. Seek counseling support – binge eating is a complex behavior that is driven by many different emotional factors. Talking to a trained addiction counselor will assist in learning this triggers and effective techniques to change the behavior.

Binge eating can also have genetic and medical factors. There is evidence that inherited genes may predispose people to binge eating but that with counseling and understanding these genetic issues can be minimized.

In addition brain chemistry can be out of balance and may be contributing to the desire to eat to release the "feel good" chemicals in the brain. An addiction counselor can assist in references to neurologists and psychiatrists that can prescribe medications to control these medical factors.


The information provided on the is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive mental health Information & Inspiration


PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?: