Binge eating can be triggered by various emotional and environmental factors. It is important to learn how to identify these triggers and find the right practical tools to overcome the urge to binge.

Emotional Triggers

Emotional triggers include:

  • Do you to tend to eat more when you’re feeling stressed or depressed?
  • Do you eat even though you’re not feeling hungry?
  • Do you see food as a treat for when you’ve had a bad day?
  • Do you tend to overeat when you’re feeling bored or lonely?

Although all of us might use food to reward ourselves from time to time, when the above patterns of behaviour become your main coping mechanism in response to life situations and negative emotions, they can leave you feeling distressed and out of control.


Environmental triggers

Environmental triggers are things in our environment and the outside world that favour overeating and might cause you to overeat.

  • Certain social situations, such as a dinner out with friends, going to a party.
  • Seeing certain types of food might also make you eat when you’re not feeling hungry, such as a cookie box at work.
  • Large portion sizes and large packaging make it hard to stop eating when you’re feeling full.


Ten ways to manage the binge eating trigger


1. Recognize your emotional eating triggers. It is important to identify possible binge eating triggers and to find alternative ways to cope with your emotions. By incorporating activities that you enjoy doing into your daily life can provide you with an emotional fulfilment, such as meeting with a friend, going for a walk, taking a hot bath, or dancing to a song.

2. Accept your feelings even when they are negative. This will help you feel more present in the moment and not use food to numb your emotions.

3. Keep a food diary of the times you eat, where you eat and why you eat. This will help you separate the physical from emotional hunger, and recognise possible binge eating triggers in your daily life.

4. Try and delay the time you give in a binge. When you feel the urge to binge, you might feel out of control and reach for food before you even realise it. By taking some time to think, you give yourself the chance to make a conscious decision.

5. Practise mindful eating. Try to have no distractions while eating so you have the change to smell, taste and appreciate your food. Take smaller bites and try to eat slower as this will make you feel fuller.

6. Restructure your environment to avoid overeating, such as meal planning in advance, keep healthy snacks in hand and use smaller plates.

7. Learn how to listen to your body so you can develop awareness of hunger and satiety cues.

8. Ditch diets. Restricting and depriving yourself from certain foods can leave you craving eating those specific foods leading to a binge.

9. Incorporate exercise into your daily life. This will help you distract yourself from negative emotions and feel better about yourself.

10. Eat a balanced diet to reduce cravings and rebalance your physiology.


At WeightMatters our expert team of counsellors, psychotherapists and nutritionists can further support you with your binge eating recovery.

We can help you understand the triggers that cause you to binge eat and equip you with the right skills to cope with emotions and challenge your thinking around eating.

We will rebalance the many areas of your life so you can reduce day-to-day stress, and support you in taking regular activity to help you manage your weight.


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