Why Do I Binge After a Fast and How Can I Stop?

This isn’t your typical article telling you to drink more water. Here, we’re going to get down to the nitty gritty of what’s really going on when you binge. 


First, binge eating after a fast is extremely common, and it’s usually a sign that the type of fasting you’re doing isn’t working for you. In general, women can fast with ease for about 12-14 hours, and with time longer is possible. What’s important to remember is, how long you can fast comfortably depends on the type of food you eat, how often, and how stressed you feel, to name just a few. On top of that, hormones are constantly in flux, making every day different.


If you find yourself binging after a fast, it could be a sign of:

  1. Overly restrictive dieting (not allowing favorite foods, boring meals)
  2. Not eating nutritionally balanced meals and snacks throughout the day
  3. Choosing foods high in sugar, salt, or fat to break your fast
  4. Fasting too long, especially in the early stages.
  5. Dehydration
  6. Too much caffeine (coffee, chocolate, tea, etc, can trigger anxiety and a craving for food to calm the nervous system)
  7. Not enough sleep
  8. Stress


What should I do after a binge?

Binging on food happens to almost everyone now and then. It’s a sign of something bigger, and it’s a moment to stop and reflect on what your body is trying to tell you. Here are some steps to consider after a binge: 


  • Acknowledge it and ask yourself why it happened.

Most of the clients I work with follow a cycle. They binge eat then beat themselves up and feel guilty. To feel better, they restrict themselves and set new rules to gain a sense of control, and eventually binge again for relief from the pressure build up.

Instead of moving straight to guilt and shame, ask yourself, “What happened to trigger this? What isn’t working for me right now?”. It could be eating too restrictively, stress, or not enough nutrition. 


  • Be flexible and listen to your body.

Learning to be patient, flexible, and forgiving is a skill we have to develop if we want to change our habits. Letting yourself eat differently day to day is part of listening to your body. Many clients I speak with aim for perfection or strive to hit a certain number, whether it’s the number on the scale or hours fasted, and the pressure of this often triggers binges and anxiety. 

So, rather than overly harsh rules, choose forgiveness and flexibility. Fasting is not a competition. It should be a lifelong, enjoyable journey.


  • Move on to eating as usual.

It’s so important not to repeat the cycle by restricting yourself again afterwards. I often hear people say, “I binged last night, so today I’m just going to eat super healthy, fast for 16 hours, and workout extra hard”. 


The minute you hear yourself listing things you’ll do to compensate for a binge, stop. 

Get out a journal or call a friend and remind yourself to be gentle, kind, and patient. No one on this planet eats “perfectly”, it’s impossible, and trying only leads to more suffering. 


Overall, one of the main reasons why binges happen is being too restrictive. That doesn’t just mean being restrictive with food, but with life, too. What else can you do to make yourself feel a little more satisfied with your day to day life? It could be cooking more exciting meals, trying a new dance class, or just socializing with friends and taking more breaks from work. 

Always keep in mind that everyday is different. Stress, how you slept, and even your workouts all affect your hunger. Women’s fluctuating hormones also have a huge impact on hunger levels. You may want to check out the article Why You Should Avoid Excessive Fasting Before Your Periods. In the end, it’s important to always take a minute, sit quietly, and tune in to your body and ask yourself what you really need, the answer will be there.