ADHD and Binge Eating: How to Break the Cycle

Break the cycle of ADHD and binge eating

Many people aren’t aware of the connection between ADHD and binge eating. In particular, individuals with ADHD may be at increased risk for binge eating disorder (BED) and bulimia nervosa, two types of eating disorders that involve episodes of eating that feels out of control, followed by feelings of guilt, discomfort, and anxiety. In this blog post, we will explore the connection between ADHD and BED/bulimia, and provide some tips and resources for individuals who may be struggling with these conditions.

Connecting Binge Eating Behavior and ADHD

Recent studies have shown a connection between binge eating behavior (with and without purging) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Individuals with ADHD are more likely to struggle with impulsivity and lack of control, which can make them vulnerable to binge eating behavior. In fact, research has shown that as many as 30% of individuals with binge eating behaviors also experience ADHD symptoms.

Conventional Tools for Binge Eating

Conventional treatment of binge eating tends to focus on therapy, mindfulness, and medication.

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a form of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It has been shown to be effective in treating BED by helping individuals identify triggers and develop coping strategies to manage their binge eating behavior.
  2. Mindfulness Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is a practice that involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. It has been shown to be effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, which can all contribute to binge eating behavior.
  3. Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of BED. Medications such as Vyvanse (a stimulant medication also used for ADHD) and Topamax (an anticonvulsant medication) have been shown to be effective in reducing binge eating behavior in some individuals.

Holistic Support for Binge Eating

  • Reverse Leptin Resistance: Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. It is produced by fat cells in the body and signals the brain when it’s time to stop eating. However, people with obesity or binge eating disorder often have a condition called leptin resistance, where the brain does not respond to the leptin signal. This leads to overeating and weight gain.
    • To reverse leptin resistance, it is important to reduce inflammation in the body.
    • Eating an anti-inflammatory diet that includes foods such as fatty fish, leafy greens, and berries and minimizes refined flour and sugar.
    • Additionally, regular exercise and adequate sleep can also help reduce inflammation and improve leptin sensitivity.
  • Reduce Impulsivity and Be With Big Emotions
    • Impulsivity is a common symptom of ADHD and can lead to binge eating. It often occurs when we feel overwhelmed or emotional. To reduce impulsivity, it’s helpful to develop coping strategies that can be used when the urge to binge eat arises. Some examples of coping strategies include:
      • Distract yourself by engaging in a different activity, ideally something fun and stimulating like talking to a friend on the phone, taking a walk, taking a bath, or doing something creative.
      • Delay the urge by setting a timer for 15-20 minutes
      • Practice deep breathing or meditation
  • Address nutrition imbalances with protein, fiber, and micronutrients:
    • Eating sufficient protein can help reduce cravings and binge eating behaviors. Aim to include a source of protein at every meal and snack.
    • Fiber is essential for the gut microbiome and for feeling satiated with meals
    • Working with a healthcare provider on nutrition strategies to reduce binging can help to reduce the behavior over time

Leave Diet Culture Behind

It’s important to note that leaving diet culture and not restricting food is also an essential part of stopping binge eating. Restrictive diets can lead to binging and feeling out of control with food. Instead, focus on moderate and nutritious eating, where you learn to honor your body’s hunger and fullness cues without judgement.


If you are struggling with binge eating disorder, know that help is available. Reach out to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional for support and guidance.


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
  • National Eating Disorders Association. (2022). Binge Eating Disorder.
  • Svedlund, N.E., Norring, C., Ginsberg, Y. et al. Symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among adult eating disorder patients. BMC Psychiatry 17, 19 (2017).
  • Wardle, J., Llewellyn, C., Sanderson, S., & Plomin, R. (2010). The association between impulsivity and binge eating: A genetic analysis of the FTO gene. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 92(5), 1078–1081.
  • Wilens, T. E., Martelon, M., Fried, R., Petty, C., Bateman, C., & Biederman, J. (2011). Do executive function deficits predict later substance use disorders among adolescents and young adults? Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(2), 141–149.


  1. National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA):
  2. Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA):
  3. International Association for Eating Disorders Professionals (IAED

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