The Biology Behind the Binge-Restrict Cycle

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If you have ever gone on a diet or struggled with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or negative body image, you end up binge-eating, telling yourself you will start over tomorrow only to have the same experience a few days later?

Although these moments can feel full of failure, shame, and self-judgment, it is important to know there is nothing wrong with you and that you did nothing wrong; biology points to this fact.

The Biology of the Binge-Restrict Cycle

Biologically speaking, anytime you attempt to manipulate what you eat and control your body through the intentional restriction of calories and food groups, our brain and body become physically and psychologically depleted because of the lack of nutrients available.

In other words, any period of food restriction, especially in the face of a diet, is bound to result in a binge. This is the body’s way of protecting itself and sending the message it is overworked and deprived of what it needs to survive.

When it comes to the binge-restrict cycle, it is not a matter of willpower; it is a matter of biology and your body doing what it knows is best to ensure you have the resources you need to live.

Maintaining Homeostasis

The body’s primary goal is to maintain homeostasis, which is different for everyone, as what works and feels good for one body may not for another.

Dieting can be seen as an act against homeostasis, as it is an attempt to change the body through restriction, often due to shame, self-judgment, and the belief that one should look differently.

When it comes to healing your relationship with food, your body, and yourself, it can be helpful to remember — although “diet culture” may make it seem otherwise — that your body is not the problem.

Eating to Nourish Your Body

Many individuals come to the realization that dieting is not working for them anymore.

Choosing to break the binge-restrict cycle is a practice of self-care. Although it may be challenging, shifting your perspective about food can promote self-acceptance. You can discover which foods you eat make you feel good to be in your body and give you the energy you need. Living without an obsession with food and weight is liberating.

Our relationships with food and our bodies are complex. Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or negative body image, realizing dieting isn’t working can be empowering. Doing so can create the space for you to begin healing. At Avalon Malibu, based in California, we recognize how overwhelming it is to start the recovery process and are here to support you every step of the way. If you are ready to begin your healing journey, call us at (844) 857-5992.

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