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How to stop binge eating

If you struggle with binge eating episodes, feel stuck in a cycle of binging and restricting, or find yourself wondering "how do I stop binge eating,” you’re not alone. 

Binge eating is a common disordered eating behavior. But there are ways to help control binge eating, or even stop binge eating all together.

Therapy is usually the best approach, especially if binge eating episodes happen frequently or alongside other mental health concerns, like depression. Therapy can help unearth the mental underpinnings of the behavior and help you work on these issues directly.

But some lifestyle changes, including practicing mindfulness techniques and identifying triggers, may also help you stop binge eating.

 minutes read
Last updated on 
September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023
How to stop binge eating
In this article

What is binge eating?

If you're wondering how to overcome binge eating, it may be helpful to first clarify what "binge eating" is, from a medical point of view.

It involves eating, within a specific period of time (usually two hours), an amount of food that is substantially larger than what other people would eat during that time.6

Binge eating episodes also involve a loss of a sense of control over how much or what is eaten, and are characterized by at least three of the following traits:6

  • Eating more rapidly than normal
  • Eating alone, due to guilt or embarrassment over eating habits
  • Eating large amounts of food, even when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, guilty, or ashamed after a binging episode
Remote treatment for binge eating is available
Learn more >

Who is impacted by binge eating?

Binge eating disorder is widely considered to be the most common eating disorder in the United States.1 And, as with other eating disorders, it impacts people of all ages, genders, races, and body shapes and sizes.

The behavior is expressed in several eating disorders, most commonly manifesting as part of binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa (BN).

People with the binge-purge subtype of anorexia nervosa (AN) also engage in regular binge eating followed by periods of food restriction. And some individuals diagnosed with OSFED (other specified feeding and eating disorders) also engage in binging behaviors.

What causes binge eating?

Binge eating is often associated with emotional health. That likely has to do with the fact that eating of any kind is closely tied to the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical produced by the body that helps control both appetite and mood.7

Many people engage in binge eating as an attempt to manage or cope with unpleasant feelings, such as depression, low-self esteem, stress, fear, loneliness, trauma, anxiety, and even boredom.2 In fact, binge eating is often called emotional eating, due to its strong connection to these feelings.

Some people also develop binge eating behaviors in response to restriction, either of overall food intake or of specific foods. Both the physical and psychological effects of dietary restriction can trigger binge eating.2

People who experience binge eating episodes often feel unable to control the type and amount of food they eat in a single sitting. This can cause feelings of shame and guilt, which for some people can lead to periods of food restriction in order to compensate, contributing to the overall cycle of binging and purging.

Binge eating help

Effects of binge eating

Binge eating can have both short-term and long-term impacts on mental and physical health. One reason people ask how to not binge eat is to mitigate or avoid the effects this type of behavior can cause.

Weight gain is a common consequence of regular binge eating, though not all people who struggle with this eating behavior are in larger bodies.3 Binge eating can also result in gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, upper abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.8 

On a longer-term basis, people who engage in an ongoing binge eating cycle can also become malnourished, as they fail to consistently meet their nutritional needs. Individuals struggling with binging can also experience mental health consequences, including significant feelings of depression, shame, guilt, and low self-esteem.4

Tips on how to stop binging

If you or a loved one are struggling with binge eating behavior, it's important to seek out professional help. This behavior is frequently tied to several types of eating disorders, which can be dangerous conditions and often require more targeted treatment plans addressing both mental and physical health.

You can't stop binge eating disorder on your own. But there are several things you can do to help you control binge eating behavior while seeking out professional help.4

Identify triggers for binge eating
Avoid rigid diets
Minimize stress
Practice mindful eating
Build healthier eating habits

When to seek treatment for binge eating

Although certain lifestyle changes can help you to control binge eating, these changes can be difficult to institute without outside help or encouragement, and it can still be hard to stop binge eating on your own.

If you're finding it difficult to implement these changes into your lifestyle or find your binging behaviors are getting worse or causing significant disruption or distress, it's essential to reach out for additional help.

Treatment by a multidisciplinary team experienced with eating disorders can help you learn to manage your binging episodes as well as identify the underlying causes. 

Through treatment, you’ll learn how to build a healthier relationship with food and with yourself via a combination of different therapies, including:

  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Mindful eating
  • Group therapy
  • Family-based therapy
Learn more about remote treatment

At Within Health, we pride ourselves on offering these types of therapies and other kinds of help for people struggling with eating disorders of all kinds. Our multidisciplinary team creates tailored treatment plans for each patient, to address their specific history and needs, and our entire program can be completed at home.

If you're interested in seeking out help for binge eating, you can contact us for more information.

Get help today

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.


  1. Binge eating disorder. (n.d.). Office on Women’s Health. Accessed September 2023. 
  2. Watson, S. (2023, May 11). Why am I binge eating? 6 reasons you might binge eat. WebMD. Accessed September 2023.
  3. Watson, S. (2021, October 20). Serious health problems caused by binge eating disorder. WebMD. Accessed September 2023.
  4. Binge eating disorder. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Accessed September 2023. 
  5. Leonard, J. (2019, November 12). How to stop binge eating: Tips, coping, and more. Medical News Today. Accessed September 2023.
  6. DSM-IV and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for binge-eating disorder. (2015). Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Accessed September 2023.  
  7. Selhub, A. (2022, September 18). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health Publishing. Accessed September 2023.  
  8. Cremonini, F., Camilleri, M., Clark, M. M., Beebe, T. J., Locke, G. R., Zinsmeister, A. R., Herrick, L. M., & Talley, N. J. (2009). Associations among binge eating behavior patterns and gastrointestinal symptoms: a population-based study. International Journal of Obesity, 33(3), 342–353.
  9. Angelopoulos, T., Kokkinos, A., Liaskos, C., Tentolouris, N., Alexiadou, K., Miras, A. D., Mourouzis, I., Perrea, D., Pantos, C., Katsilambros, N., Bloom, S. R., & le Roux, C. W. (2014). The effect of slow spaced eating on hunger and satiety in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, 2(1), e000013.


How to stop binge eating at night?

When binge eating happens primarily at night, it's generally thought of as part of a different condition called night eating syndrome (NES).

Similar strategies can be used to help stop binge eating at night, including tracking your mood and working on a better relationship with food and overall healthier eating habits. But the nighttime aspect of this condition can introduce other complications.

Keeping to a regular sleeping and eating pattern can help get your body into a better rhythm. You may want to plan your meals, eat a big breakfast, or eat more regularly during the day to combat eating too much at night. De-stressing before bedtime can also help make sure you get to sleep and stay asleep.

But, as always, if these behaviors don't stop, get worse, or become disruptive to your life, you should seek out professional help.

Further reading

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Further reading

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