Posts Tagged ‘diets and binging’

Cutting Calories, Skipping Meals.… and the Binge Eater

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I’m reprinting here a verion of “Must Calorie-Cutting Lead to Binging”, from my Psychology Today blog (    You can find several previous blogs dealing with binging under “addictions”, “Thin From Within”, and “emotional eating” (see categories at left).  Also, Eat Sanely:  Get off the diet roller coaster for good offers a workbook supplement to reinforce supports for the binger.  Relief from binging is a prime goal of sane eating, after all.

We’ve known for a long time that calorie-cutting can spur binging.   A strong diet-binge link first caught national attention in 1985, when psychologists Polivy and Herman demonstrated the connection in their laboratory.  Further studies consistently confirmed that “dietary abandon follows dietary restraint”–so reliably, in fact, that eating disorder experts usually consider the link a given.   Recent headlines, though, highlight research supporting deep calorie cuts, and even breakfast skipping, as potentially effective weight loss aids.  In other words, in these studies eaters did not necessarily “rebound” eat after restriction, and thus weight loss continued.  All this will surely confuse the binge-prone overeater, who may have worked hard to not skip meals or cut calories too deeply.   What’s there to learn here?

One study at Cornell, for instance, found that subjects indeed did not “rebound” eat when they followed extremely low calorie (500 cal) regimes two days per week for six months.  Their weight loss, in fact, matched that of a comparison group who reduced on a more traditional regime.  The New York Times summarized the study as “A Low Calorie Meal is Shown to Pay Off”.   The study’s lead author, David Levitsky, found “no evidence of any compensation” in the dieters. (more…)