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Understanding the Restrict-Binge-Shame Cycle

I feel like every time we interview someone for our podcast, I learn something. Or, I hear something in a new way that is so crystal clear that it’s almost like I learn it all over again.

You know what I mean?

This happened recently when we were chatting with Stefani Ruper of Coconuts & Kettlebells. She dropped a number of truthbombs, but the one that stood out to me was her past experience with the “restrict-binge-shame cycle.”

In case you’ve never heard of it — or you’ve never heard of it called that — let me break it down just a bit.

What Is the Restrict-Binge-Shame Cycle?

Basically, it’s the idea that, when you restrict your food in any way (which, is another word for dieting, whether or not you even realize it — more on that here), your body responds in a very natural way that makes it more likely that you’ll overeat or binge in the hours or days to come.

Note: this is a very natural response to food restriction and has nothing to do with willpower.

Of course, that’s not usually how we see it. Instead, the overeating — or binge — leads us into feeling like we’re not enough, like we can’t do anything right, like there is something wrong with us. This puts us squarely into the shame part of the cycle.

Why Is This Cycle So Damaging?

Now, the crazy thing about the restrict-binge-shame cycle is that once we’re in the cycle, we seem to have a hard time coming out of it. This is because most of us get to a point in the shame part where we think the only option to break free is to restrict again — typically even more severely than before. Which triggers the whole darn cycle again. And again. And again.

And the even crazier part is that we feel alone in the cycle … and broken … and like there’s no way out because every time we “try” (read: “restrict”) harder, the larger the binge and the larger the out-of-control feelings get.

But! This is so, so, SO, common. The bodies reaction to restriction is natural and biological — it’s doesn’t say anything about you, or your worth, or your value. It just means that your body is really freakin’ hungry and looking for food! Can you blame it?

How Do You Break the Restrict-Binge-Shame Cycle?

The only way to break out of it is to stop the cycle where it starts, right at the restriction/dieting phase.

Learn more about this and Stefani’s experience breaking free of the restrict-binge-shame cycle here or below.

Need extra help breaking free of this cycle? We’ve got it here! —Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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4 Comments
  1. I completely agree. Restricting just leads to wanting something even more. Everything should be in Moderation

  2. Such a great post you shared. Keep sharing such article to inspire the world.

    Women’s Health And Fitness

  3. Tough cycle to kick but once you get into the rhythm and consistency of a balanced diet it tends to be MUCH easier to avoid the relapse binge

  4. Nice information. All this depends on your will power.
    once you made your mind then its half done.
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    Thanks