Binge Eating and Emotional Use of Food

We understand binge eating

“I just want to be able to go to my parents house and not feel like it’s going to happen AGAIN!”

These are the words a client said to Rob as she told him she wanted to visit her parents’ house with no fear of binge eating her mother’s baking. This is far from being a joke. It was a matter that was making a dear young woman absolutely miserable. The frustration, the fear and the absolute despair at the lack of control was leaving this client distraught. Unlike a bulimic client, who can quantify the nature of her problem, this was something that apparently had no rhyme or reason.

For many people food is a means of expressing their anxiety.  In the case of bulimic and anorexic clients, this comes out in the form of a fairly easily identifiable condition.  With binge eaters, this is not the case. Sometimes the activity can look like gluttony, or be attributed to other factors. In the end, it almost certainly boils down to an anxiety driven desire to eat.

With binge eaters the activity is always solitary, can be at home or in the car, usually happens late at night and is accompanied by dramatic feelings of despondency and shame. Sound familiar? We know what we are talking about.

As one of our favorite clients put it – “I want you to stop me binge eating, and remind me that my nails are not a major food group…” There is a very clear link between the food use and anxiety levels.

For a binge eater, the food can be something apparently healthy, or something very unhealthy – it’s the quantities that are key. A binge eater can also be well within the bounds of healthy weight. One of our binge eating clients is an accomplished marathon runner that no one would consider overweight. Her use of food is a means of coping – yet is a source of silent despair.
In working with binge eaters over the years there are a few things that seem to be common themes.


    1. Like bulimic clients they feel helpless and unable to control the urge to binge.
    2. There is often a history of addiction or alcoholism somewhere in the family.
    3. They have been known to use shopping or credit card spending as a crutch.
    4. They are often high achievers.
    5. They don’t tell anyone about their issue.
    6. In many cases they don’t realize it is an issue until there is a crises of some kind.
    7. Weight is somewhat likely to have been an issue in teenage years.
    8. They exercise more than the average person.
    9. The issue gets worse when they are under stress.
    10. When they travel the issue reduces.
    11. They have some target foods.
    12. They prefer to binge eat in their homes – though sometimes simply refuse to have suitable foods in the house in an attempt to overcome the issue.


For many binge eaters there is no one they can talk to that will understand their challenge.  Like bulimic and anorexic clients, they feel ashamed of their issue. They subsequently develop poor self image and a sense that they just can’t help themselves. A feeling of desperation is common. You need not feel this way. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. This is a very real problem and one that can be overcome.

The good news is that using a combination of hypnotherapy and other processes we are often able to overcome the issue. Because of our experience with eating disorders, we are well positioned to help people suffering with binge eating. We don’t make promises or guarantees of success. What we can do is draw on a wealth of experience with clients of all ages in this field and ensure we do our best to resolve the issue.

Additionally, we are currently expanding the program we have to work with clients facing this debilitating issue. Having done extensive research over the years we have identified a series of processes that appear to help. Our new program includes these, as well as some technological support that can have a major impact on recovery. We are pleased to be able to offer these solutions to our clients.


Rob Hadley CHt.