5 Solutions to Stop the Restrict, Binge, and Repeat Cycle of Emotional Eating

Blackout Zone of Shame

Driving home from work you find yourself mindlessly heading to what you have come to know as the blackout zone of shame. 

You can feel in your body the lurking urge to binge, even though you said it would be the last time, the last time.


You didn’t eat breakfast and had a quick “thin” bar for lunch. You restricted food most of the day, with hopes to make up for the last binge you had.

Whether it’s your favorite drive-thru or restaurant where they have the healthy cake, gluten free, 10 layers deep in chocolate, your vehicle has somehow found itself there again. 

Maybe it’s the fridge or the pantry and the remote control to the box that feeds you reality entertainment that has you wanting to numb out to the “will I ever get out of this cycle” again tune. 

The cyclical nature of binge eating has partners in crime—-

The two that hang out most in the blackout zone, keeping a padlock on your joy and sense of freedom, are shame and restriction.

Binge Eating can be a thing of the past as you learn to minimize shame and stop restricting—here is what you need to know:

Vanderbilt University conducted an experiment called:

All I Saw Was Cake

Sound familiar? 

The All I Saw Was Cake experiment was set-up to deliver rapid images made up of landscapes and food (target images), along with neutral and romantic images (distractor images).  There were two sets of participants, those that ate as usual over a six-hour period and those that didn’t.  Guess what they found?

Even if they gave incentives for the HUNGRY participants, their brain registered the food images more than any.  The target images were all they could see after a period of time.  I suppose a good portion of the images were cake, hence the title,  “All I saw was the cake.”

If you are restricting food and are hungry, your brain is going to hyper-focus on food.

Emotional Eating

Click to tweet this image!

It is, after all, your CEO working to keep you alive.  So, how do you blast the cycle: binge, shame, restrict, and repeat?  Here are five solutions to stop the cycle of restricting and binging:

Solution #1: Practice Daily Self-Care to Self-Soothe

If you hope to gain a sense of moderation regarding your eating habits, you have to stop restrictive thinking and behaviors.  Your desire to make healthy eating choices is fueled by your brain’s functioning and if it is not getting proper nutrition it is focused on the cake or whatever is in front of you to eat.

The biggest, galactic, freeze gun I have seen work when helping clients overcome a binge/restrictive cycle with food is due to their clarity regarding what self-care strategies they need to maintain on a daily basis to love themselves through the  “totally let loose and binge” mindset.

If you find your shoulders slumping because this happens to be another woo-woo talk of self-care, I want you to ask yourself:

Did I stop breathing when I read that one solution was going to be about self-care?

Did I get angry?

Did I contract in my energy?

If you can answer yes, or kinda yes-you have to ask why resistance is present in your energy when it comes to taking care of yourself?

If not and you’re like, Oh, hell yes, I totally can do this self-care thing, then get clear on these three daily practice questions to Amp up your Vibe:

What fuels my energy?

How often do I engage in what fuels my energy?

Can I do it more?

Solution # 2: Allow Space for Sacred Pause and the Power of the Breath

Pausing is an action.  It’s a necessary component to blasting through a binge and realigning to what you’re really wanting and needing in the moment rather than turning to food as your solution.

Ask yourself: Can I pause for a moment and take a breath through this feeling? 

Here is the cool woo-woo factor of Sacred Pause-

you get the opportunity to align with the internal aspects of who you are and who you want to be.  The more you allow yourself to pause with the intent for it to be a sacred moment with yourself, the more you will move from anxious autopilot into the awareness of your sacred self and then this happens—

Choosing to be in a moment of sacred pause allows you to bring into awareness the choice you are making regarding the type of fuel you are using: 

High Octane A grade self-love

or Syphoned-off self-loathing borrowed from cake

 There is a lot you can do in a day to help you end up face down in a bag of chips, licking your fingers and mindlessly numbing out


kindly following through with your meal plan because it is pleasurable and satisfying to end the day with gratitude and loving kindness by intentionally feeding yourself food that is going to help you vibrate from within. 

Solution #3: Choose to get Clear on Who is Driving the Bus

Get clear on whether or not it is the little version of you that has her sticky fingers on the wheel of your bus and begin some internal dialogue regarding your ability to make choices from an adult place.

On the edge of your awareness when you are struggling with the binge/restrict/shame cycle ask yourself-

how old do I feel right now?

If the answer is young enough to feel yourself having an internal tantrum, can you loving self-soothe yourself through a binge-worthy, numb-out, coma-inducing moment with your feelings?  If you are able to pause long enough to be in response (adult) vs. reaction (little you) and you are able to access the internal age you feel, you can implement solution #4.


“I choose to heal and to honor me from a kind and loving place through my actions.”

Solution #4: Live Life Moderately

Learning to set limits with yourself through loving-kindness is a spiritual daily practice. 

As an adult, it’s your job (no one’s rescuing from this cycle) to implement strategies and solutions to stop the cycle.

If the younger version of yourself really does get to make decisions in your life by metaphorically driving your life bus—

Imagine that you get the opportunity in your life to re-parent this younger version of self.  If you are already a parent, you know you wouldn’t let your child approach food or their body in the way you do, if you’re not a parent, imagine what you might say to a young child that talks about herself the way you do in your head.  Would it make your heart hurt for her?

Your adult self (the one in her awareness of choice) would engage in internal dialog surrounding the need to live in moderation with this younger self by:

  • Setting limits
  • Encourage clarity on the level of ambivalence or chaos surrounding food
  • Setting boundaries regarding who is in charge of driving the decisions in your life

Living moderately with food is based in love of self and an inner knowing that living in extremes doesn’t allow for us to ever settle into a place where neutral exists.  Getting to neutral, even if it’s for a limited time in the beginning of your recovery from food and body image issues is living moderately. 

The emotional pendulum swing in your life is minimized every time you implement a strategy.  Utilizing a strategy to get into neutral opens you up to the opportunity to do the healing work you are meant to do.  It doesn’t mean the strategy erases your trigger and you never have to deal with your trigger again, it means you took a little sliver of your old hurt and wounding that you use food to cope with and said,

“I choose to heal and to honor me from a kind and loving place through my actions.”

Start by ensuring you’re well nourished and know that no one on this planet has it all figured out. Perfection doesn’t exist.

Solution #5: Your Self-Talk Matters!!

Have you taken anytime in your day to have a pleasurable up-lifting conversation within your head? 

Learning to catch your negative internal dialog and then to question where it comes from and whether or not it has any validity is a learned behavior.

Our brain is hard-wired to solve problems.  If it doesn’t have a problem to solve-it will make one up!

Our reality is totally subjective.  Our mom and dad’s reality is too and so is your co-workers, and your friend’s.  However, the little kiddo, you know the one with the sticky fingers who wants to eat cake for every meal, she believes everyone else has a right to interpret her reality. 

It’s imperative you acknowledge how long you have been carrying your negative self-talk and where it all started.

If you can trace your negative thought patterns to childhood, the healing begins with having a conversation with little you each and every time that thought comes up. You can begin today to cultivate a new adult belief system by being in these daily practices:

  • Shooting down negative thoughts and replacing them with affirmative statements about your new belief
  • Asking yourself where you learned to be so hard on yourself and re-decide and re-direct that thought pattern into a question of what do I want to believe in my adult self about cake all day or whatever your version of binge/restrict /repeat looks like
  • Get to your bottom-line of what you know and then each time that old negative thought pattern begins: have a conversation with you and little you.
  • Making a gratitude list; because our mind contains one thought at a time and won’t be focused on what we believe to be a justifiable reason to engage in old behavior.

Your brain is wired to hyper-focus on food when you’re hungry.  Once that becomes a habitual pattern, it ends up gnawing away at your value and leaves you to wonder if you will ever be able to break the cycle.  If you have found yourself in the habitual cycle of binging and restricting with food, and want more support or just want more articles like this sign up for my blog.

To contact Lorri visit: www.recoverjoy.com

Restricting calories is not a solution.  STOP Restricting!

Once you find yourself over-indulging in a binge, you don’t get to counter-balance this by not eating.


Lorri Lancashire is the founder of High Vibe Soul, LLC. a coaching program for women that struggle with recovery from food related issues and negative body image. Lorri works as a mindset coach and is also a Masters clinician as a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas. She has a private practice working with individuals and couples. Lorri is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist through IAEDP (International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals).  She has trained with Pia Mellody, the Beck Institute, and Terrance Real and is completing her training as an RLT therapist.


Click here to download Lorri’s free “I Am Solution” and begin to recover your joy!

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