Dieting, the Starvation Response and Binge Eating

Weight loss beliefs that I hear over and over again:

  • starvation mode makes you gain weight

  • Starvation mode makes you unable to lose weight

  • Starvation mode slows your metabolism

  • Certain foods (such as green tea, caffeine, apple cider vinegar) that can boost your metabolism

  • Drink water and you will lose weight

  • Move more and Eat less

  • the Weight Set-point theory

How much of this is fact? How much of this is fiction?

This video is for you if:

  • eat well, stay on your diet during the day but then nighttime comes, you binge on everything you can get your hands on.

  • you've tried all the diets out there, but you just keep failing, and every Monday, you start a new diet

In this video, I explain why your dieting efforts have failed

3 Signs that the starvation mode has made your diets fail:

  • Being so obsessed with food and calories that you are unable to focus on other tasks or activities

  • Increased cravings--cravings that feel like a compulsion. (and at the same time, your black-and-white thinking causes you to be unable to stop once that "start" button is pushed)

  • Not feeling satisfied--not being able to stop even though you feel full

When we diet, we easily deprive our bodies of the nutrients it needs to function properly. We need to eat enough. Because we have a history of dieting, and trying to control our food or make it look a certain way, the starvation response kicks in much sooner than it otherwise would in a non-dieter.

When you restrict food, even a little bit, the starvation response kicks in. 

If you control your food, even a little bit, the starvation response kicks in.

If you tell yourself "I'm gonna start again tomorrow" or "I'm gonna start again on Monday", the starvation response kicks in. 

If you feel guilty over what you're eating, the starvation response kicks in. ​

When all you want is to lose or maintain weight, the starvation response kicks in. ​

It doesn't take long to trigger your body and brain to believe that there isn't enough food and trigger the starvation response, especially if you've already done this time and time again.

Your brain and body are very connected when it comes to everything related to food, satiety, weight and metabolism. So what happens when the starvation response kicks in? You become fixated on food, you become hungrier, you binge. Food is all you can think about. Your thoughts, especially those related to food, become all-or-nothing. You become easily irritable. 

The more you've dieted, successful or not, the quicker the starvation response kicks in. 

The amount is enough for you is not the amount that your calorie counting apps tell you, or what this or that diet tells you, or the friend that is on a diet tells you. 

​Mental restriction 

​You cannot disassociate your brain from your body. Binging and feeling out of control around food are often caused by actual physical restriction, not eating enough food, but just as often, it can be caused by mental restriction, which is guilty over eating. 

You might be thinking, this won't apply to me, I'm not even underweight, there's lots for my body to burn. 

You do not have to be underweight to experience the starvation response. Going more than 5 or 6 hours without eating can temporarily trigger the starvation response because you've tried dieting for so many times. If you are still binging, you are most certainly physically or mentally restricting. 

Additional Resources

1. Download the 3+2+0 guide to stop binge eating:

2. The FREE Stop Binge Eating Community Facebook Group

3. Kickstart Strategy Package

An assessment of what is keeping you stuck and personalized steps to help you move forward to achieve the goals that you desire, whether this is to kickstart your weight loss journey or to lose/maintain weight, to devise a personalized nutrition plan, stop yo-yo dieting, binge eating or emotional eating (and a whole lot more).

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© NutriPsych-Stop Binge Eating Clinic 2019 and beyond

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