I met a dietician the other day -- we were talking about this very interesting new book I'm reading (more on that later!). She made the comment she is very interested in disordered eating (different from an Eating Disorder) because most of her clients are restrictive/binge eaters.
Without getting into a whole diagnosis for this behavior, let's just envision this as restricting, restricting, restricting -- calories, food groups, sweets (or favorites foods), etc. and then going off the deep end and eating everything you have been restricting from yourself (and in quantities that far surpass what you normally would eat).
The thought that struck me was -- "almost all her clients exhibit this behavior". Why? There are enough pitfalls in trying to regulate one's weight without most of us falling into a single, apparently enormous, hole!
So I've spent the decent part of a couple days mulling this over and what I came up with is:
Dieting predominately focuses on what we shouldn't do. Don't eat too much. Don't eat that. Don't eat this.....
We can manage that for a while. And because some of us have a ton more willpower than we give ourselves credit for, some of us can hold out for a long time (days of semi-starvation, or weeks without foods with flavor). The problem with focusing your energy on "not doing/eating/having" is that the focus is accompanied by the mental picture of the object we are staying away from.
And we can only with the that desert mirage (or dessert mirage) in front of us for so long before we go crazy and binge on it.
Think back to the last time the gloves came off and you ate what you'd been denying yourself -- did you eat more than was reasonable? More than you wished you had? Did you feel powerless against that food? That's binging.
And the cause? Lack of willpower? I think not!
I think the cause is us constantly restricting our eating. Constantly telling ourselves "no".
What if we said "just a bite" -- and actually followed through but ate that bite in 4 smaller bites so we actually got some time to taste it? What if we said "not right now" and waited until we were actually physically hungry before we chomped into that most perfect dinner.
Maybe there are better choices for us than just restricting until we just can't take it anymore.