Is there a link between food restriction and bingeing?

November 4, 2021

What if you were to allow yourself frequent and unconditional access to your forbidden foods?

In this article I explain the link between following food restriction (meaning following strict food rules) and bingeing, inviting you to take a first step in the direction of unconditional permission to eat any forbidden foods you might be avoiding right now (Not for medical reason: allergies and intolerances).



The link between food restriction and bingeing or regular overeating.

Food restriction contributes to overconsumption.

A study of chocolate lovers found that when a chocolate restiction was imposed for three weeks, it triggered an increase in the chocolate consumption both before and after the restriction period (Keller, Mattes, and Tan 2015).

Whether you are officially on a diet or not, the fact of not giving yourself permission to eat certain foods can be enough to trigger overeating.

Food habituation helps decrease overeating.

The more you eat the same food (yes, even off-limits one!), the less enticement it offers.

It becomes just food, which still tastes good, but it’s no big deal anymore.

That’s what is called FOOD HABITUATION.

The habituation explains what happens when you keep exposing yourself over and over again to the same stimulus, may it be a car, a new piece of clothing, or food.

The novelty of it begins to wear off. It’s the same reason why leftovers become less appealing over time.

Strict food rules prevent the Habituation response.

Having forbidden-food rules or avoiding buying and keeping certain foods in the house prevents us from seeing food as just food, impeding the habituation response.


  1. After a while you’ve been restricting your access to a certain food,
  2. It comes a moment where you break the rule and lose control.
  3. This leaves you feeling guilt for eating that food and losing control.
  4. It reinforces your belief that eating must be restrained.
  5. You go back into restricting mode, and the cycle begins again. The food is still alluring and considered highly desirable.

Here’s the link between food restriction and beinging or regular overeating.

What if you were to do the opposite and allow yourself frequent and unconditional access to your forbidden foods?

I know this can be a potentially scary and difficult steps to take.

You can start with one specific food and try to gradually increase your exposure to it.

Increasing exposure to this food will decrease the fear of never being able to eat that food again. And yes you may feel out of control around them at first….but this will not last.

What food might you start with?

Let me know in the comments!

With kindness,

Dona 🌷


Would you like sharing about this and other issues with like-minded women and doing some journaling together?

Why not joining The Mindful Body Women Circle? It’s a group support for women who want to increase the confidence in their body, and learn to enjoy eating again, without guilt.

Click here if you’d like to find out more!

A picture of Donatella Porceddu Psychologist and Eating Coach helping women deal with binge eating and regular overeating

Written by Donatella Porceddu

I am a registered psychologist and life coach specialised in binge and emotional eating, body kindness, and mindful eating. I empower women to become the best version of themselves through my comprehensive approach, which combines personal coaching and psychology, leveraging my client’s strengths and building around their opportunities.

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If you have any questions, reach out to me today. I’ll be more than happy to connect with you and see how I can help.

Donatella Porceddu Psychologist & Eating Coach specialised in Binge Eating, Overeating, Emotional Eating, Food freedom, anti-diet approach. 1:1 support through my Make Peace with Food program.

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