The Binge Code: 7 Unconventional Keys to End Binge Eating and Lose Excess Weight by Ali Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kerr is a self-admitted recovering binger who now uses her personal experience with emotional eating to coach others who are also struggling with the same disorder.
Binging, just one form of emotional eating, is the term used to describe the compulsive consumption of large quantities of food in response to some emotional cue, and while not all "emotional" eating would be considered disordered eating, the repeated and out-of-control nature of binging certainly qualifies as unhealthy and beyond the norm. It is also probably more common than we realize.
Kerr's advice is pretty spot on and mostly centers around "mindful" eating. The goal is to get people to recognize and understand the emotional and sometimes physiological triggers behind a binge. Techniques as simple as waiting several minutes before giving into a craving can create space between an emotion, an impulse, and an action and time to distinguish between true hunger and an emotionally driven impulse.
I read this book because some of my clients suffer from disordered eating, binge eating being an extreme. They often report eating in response to emotional cues and claim that they don't know what it feels like to be hungry. For some reason food has become their drug of choice, a way to self-medicate and numb emotional pain, even if only for a minute.
Unfortunately, as Kerr points out, abuse of food can be just as harmful (and maybe just as hard to kick) as abuse of drugs or alcohol.
Clearly, those who suffer from destructive emotional eating patterns like repeated binging have a problem with food that goes beyond food, hunger, and weight and thus can not be adequately addressed by dieting. In fact, the cycle of chronic/yo-yo dieting can actually make things worse. Interestingly, the weakest part of the book is when Kerr makes dietary recommendations. She advises that binge eaters should focus on eating six meals a day, 3 meals and 3 snacks. The main issue I have with this is the whole point of mindful eating is to start to pay attention to your body and signals of hunger and satiation while also identifying eating that is emotionally driven. I'm sure this way of eating worked for her, but I'm not sure it will work for everyone. And that's kind of the point.
For what this is, it's a decent read. Much of what Kerr says squares with what I have seen and experienced over the years. I think Kerr hits the nail on the head with not only describing the forces behind emotional eating, but also in the strategies she offers to free oneself from the destructive cycle of binge eating.