Do you have moments of compulsively eating large amounts of food, overdrinking, shopping ‘til you drop, or watching a whole series in one sitting and suddenly realize you don’t really need them?
When we do, we often feel desperate or frustrated if we let food, drinks, and shows that we call opportunities, slip through our hands. These scenarios reveal our tendencies to binge or simply called, our bingeing behaviors.
What is bingeing?
Bingeing is consuming things compulsively in large amounts or doing activities for longer periods while losing our control and capacity to stop.
Bingeing becomes a behavior because it doesn’t happen all at once. Our brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward-seeking behaviors. This makes us more addicted to rewards and pleasures. Bingeing behaviors are also known as addictive behaviors, which can come from biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Bingeing is more popular with food (binge eating), but it is also evident through binge watching, binge drinking, binge shopping, and binge gaming. Its main components include the things or activities we indulge in and the triggers or events that cause us to cope and deal with problems.
Bingeing becomes socially-acceptable when we indulge in food, shows, and social media. They are the lesser evil compared to the effects of drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. However, bingeing in all forms is still is destructive and makes our situations more depressive.
Implications of Bingeing Behaviors
Based on experience and observation, bingeing behaviors tell more about our experiences and current situations. Each activity is different, but here are common implications of our behaviors:
Unsatisfied and Unmet Needs
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows that human needs are made of physiological (water, food, rest, warmth), safety (security), belongingness and love (friends, intimate relationships), esteem (feelings of accomplishment and prestige), and self-actualization needs (reaching full potential).
We usually feel stressed, anxious, and depressed when we fail to meet these needs. According to a study, almost half of people with binge eating disorders struggle with anxiety. This becomes valid once we binge on different things, usually on physiological stuff, to get our love, esteem, and self-actualization needs. There is a mismatch between what we get and what we need, and this makes the cycle worse.
We also feel the need to try new things: eat every food available, watch every show, or buy every piece of clothing in the collection. However, the more we binge, the more we become unsatisfied.
Based on experience and observation, we started binge eating when we struggle to avoid hunger and food is free and overflowing. We hate to be short-changed.
Survey results show that 61% of Netflix watchers view two to six episodes in a row because they feel better compared to viewing single episodes from time to time.
Bingeing behaviors show how discontented we are, even if we have more than what we need. We slowly adapt the practice of hoarding because we’re afraid to lack and lose something.
Impulsiveness, Lack of Mindfulness, and Lost of Control Over Emotions
Our genetics and hormonal changes can affect our behaviors, as dopamine increases our bingeing capacities. For ladies, we crave for more food before and during our monthly period. It’s difficult to control no matter how hard we try.
Escape from Reality
Bingers are usually the ones who struggle to avoid painful realities, control their own lives, live without problems, and do whatever they want. For example, completing our favorite series in our own favored time gives us an ideal sense of accomplishment. We may also find themselves in the place of the main characters.
Another example shows binge shopping, or the moment we can’t stop until we find the perfect product that suits our ideal expectations. But in reality, we fuel more disappointments and hopelessness because our false sense of accomplishment cannot solve our real problems.
Bingeing behaviors can also show a person’s impatience to feel good and satisfied.
For instance, binge watchers can’t wait for the next episodes of their favorite series because they want to have closures from the previous ones. Another one shows that binge eaters want to taste everything now because they can’t wait to feel satisfied.
Inability to Decide and Stand for Own Decisions
In some cases, we start to have a sense of belongingness once we eat together in larger amounts, drink or smoke frequently, watch shows to catch up and discuss with peers, and buy stuff to show class. We also binge because it’s already a habit and part of a lifestyle that’s difficult to break.
Lack of Trust, Resulting in Isolation From Human Connection
Once we binge, we tend to isolate ourselves from people because we think ahead that others can’t understand what we’re going through. Instead of sharing negative feelings to another person, bingers eat more, use more vices, watch shows for longer hours, and buy stuff we don’t need. This is supported by a study, which found out that 56% of binge watchers view shows alone while 98% stream at home.
Secretive and Pretentious Because of Shame and Guilt from Bingeing
Bingeing is a cycle, and once we realize the negative consequences of our behavior, we begin to hide, feel deep shame, and indulge in those activities again. Sadly, it becomes a cycle we find hard to escape from.
How to Stop Your Bingeing Behaviors
We can stop our bingeing behaviors first by identifying the root problem: your triggers and indulgences. For example, I’m usually triggered by stress and sweets has become my indulgence.
Gradually, we can start withdrawing from your indulgences by setting limits. Do things slowly and realistically. If I eat a bar of chocolate in a single sitting before, maybe I can eat a half or a quarter now. Or I can set a day where I can eat that chocolate.
We shouldn’t underestimate other people’s love and care for us. We must surround yourself with supportive and positive family and friends whom we can trust. If situation gets worse, seek professional help. I started telling my family about my binge eating tendencies and they helped me by limiting junk food storage in the house.
In the end, our lives shouldn’t revolve around food, shoes, vices, and stuff. Bingeing is just a part of life we might experience, but there’s always hope to overcome. When we lose that hope, always remember that the world still needs a being like you.
by Jarys SibalTuesday, September 11, 2018
Jarys Sibal is a Filipino freelance writer, blogger, and financial advisor. Aside from writing health topics, she also blogs about small matters that make life complicated. Away from her laptop, pen, and paper, she exercises, eats good food, and connects with people to help them. Writing is close to her heart because her life's mission is "making disciples and encouraging disciple-makers through writing", believing the cause and cost in Luke 9:23.Read more at jaryssibal.com