Intermittent Fasting And Binge Eating Disorder – What You Need To Know
One of the things I tried to help me get my eating and my binges under control was intermittent fasting. It worked for me for a time and then things started to go wrong.
And here’s what happened.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the concept of eating in a certain window and then fasting in a certain window.
It might be something like a 4-hour eating window and 20 hours of fasting. Or a 6-hour eating window and 18 hours of fasting.
What I tried was eight hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting. So I would eat from 12 noon until 8:00 PM. And then from 8:00 PM until 12 noon the following day, no food.
There are several reported benefits of intermittent fasting:
- It can help with your body’s insulin sensitivity.
- There is some evidence that it allows your gut to rest and heal.
- It can reduce stress and inflammation in the body.
And there are a few more, but my main goal was control over my food and some weight loss.
My First Few Weeks Of Intermittent Fasting And Binge Eating Disorder
When I first started that first week, especially those first three or four days, were rough. That last couple of hours of my fasting window until I got to noon and I could eat felt very challenging.
I was absolutely starving by the time my eating window started. And portion control was difficult just because that hunger had kind of built up over hours.
So I was immediately on the back foot.
After a few days, once I settled into a routine, things started to feel pretty fine on that front.
But what was crucial for me is that pretty much from day one, I wasn’t having anything extra. In particular, I wasn’t bingeing in the evenings, which is what my weakness was.
Eating in a set window meant I was fuller by the time I got to dinner time. I was less likely to binge because I was already feeling full. I was already feeling satisfied.
It worked well for me for about three or four months. My binges pretty much stopped and I started to lose a little bit of weight as well.
Around month four, that’s when things started to go wrong.
When Went Wrong With Intermittent Fasting
I have ADHD and I’m prone to getting hyper-fixated on things. I started to become a little bit obsessive about sticking to my eating window.
And that had a knock-on effect. I was starting to plan pretty much every aspect of my life trying to fit things around that eating window.
It started to have an impact on my fitness, and my exercise routine. And I don’t leave the most active social life, but it started to have an impact on the social life that I do lead as well.
So I kind of felt like I was trying to survive for 16 hours and then just live for eight hours in a 24-hour day. Not ideal.
Plus that feeling of fullness in the evening started to wear off. And I was gradually finding, I was eating a little bit more. I was back to picking and snacking.
I still had that 8:00 PM set cutoff time, which somehow I had no problem sticking to. But the discipline I had within that eating window was starting to slip.
There were a couple of things that started to happen, which started to give me some cause for concern as well.
First of all, as soon as I broke my fast, I would go from feeling not particularly hungry, to absolutely starving.
I don’t know why, but I guess my body was able to suppress the hunger. And then as soon as I had something, the floodgates opened. And it was quite bad.
It was to the extent that as soon as I started eating a few minutes later if I didn’t eat more, I started trembling. It’s not a great feeling. It’s not a great situation to be in.
And, you know, it doesn’t happen to everyone with intermittent fasting. So I can’t blame it on that, but this is what happened to me.
And more critically, my mind and body also only seemed to be in tune with either feeling absolutely starving or absolutely stuffed.
It seemed to be hard to process any kind of sensation between those two extremes.
So say I was feeling full, but not overly full and not hungry, my body was really not able to pick that up. So I was either at one extreme or the other. And then gradually, my evening meal started to get bigger and those binges started to happen again.
When I started bingeing again and I went backwards with the progress I’d made before.
How I Am Managing Intermittent Fasting And Binge Eating Disorder Now
But, here’s where I’m at now.
I’m still intermittent fasting, except I’m doing a 10-hour window. So I’m eating from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. What that’s doing is that I’m not feeling that surge of hunger as soon as I start eating. But it still gives me a little bit of structure around my eating pattern.
I’ve stopped stressing about if I happen to go a little bit on either side of that. So if I eat earlier or eat a little bit later, it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Not only has it helped me stabilise my hunger levels, but it’s also helped me get back in tune with being able to feel full. And I stop feeling like I’m trying to survive 16 hours to try and live in those eight hours. I feel much more balanced and steady.
What You Can Take From My Experience
So what’s the lesson here?
I, to be honest, actually don’t know. Intermittent fasting can work and it does still help me. I just needed to tweak it.
So I guess if we were to wrap that up…
Listen to your body and trust the signals it’s giving you.
Some structures and rules around food and eating patterns are good, but don’t let them control you.
And I guess doing something imperfectly that you can sustain, like with me not stressing about eating outside of my eating window, is going to be better for you than trying to do something perfectly, that you can’t sustain.
That’s a very long-winded way of saying yes, I think intermittent fasting can help with binge eating disorder.
It has helped me, but be mindful of the signals or hints that your body is giving you.