I thought TC’s Dietary Malfeasance article was brilliant.
I wanted to shed some further light on this issue, more particularly, bending and doing so in moderation on occasion.
There are a plethora of scientific studies which document binging after dieting (see Polivy and Herman, 1985 for a full review). The issue seems to lie in what is know as “counter-regulation.” As TC mentioned, he had one donut and it was over twelve later. Counter-regulation can be described as a form of maladaptive regulating eating behavior. As noted in the above article "Even in as sterile a setting as a laboratory, dieters have consistently exhibited what we call ‘counter-regulation’–a pattern in which they eat little ad lib food (thus maintaining their diets) after no preload or a small forced preload, but eat a great deal of food ad lib after being forced or pressured [internally or externally] to consume large, high calorie preloads (i.e., Krispy Kreme).
Other theories to account for binging include Powley’s (1977) cephalic phase hypothesis in which exaggerated predigestive hormonal reflexes in response to palatable food spur binging patterns on that palatable food. This theory was also supported by the above-mentioned authors. In addition, Marliss and Greenberg (1981) found elevated motilin levels in dieters both before and after eating. Motilin is a hormone associated with gastric emptying and it might be expected to reduce bloating.
The interesting point to seemingly decipher from this research (incl. Key’s seminal induced starvation studies) is that it appears the binging is triggered not by physiological responses (i.e., lowered leptin etc., but by rather cognitive mechanisms). However, I would argue for an update of this idea. We now know that leptin influences neuropeptide Y which then can influence the dopaminergic system through the Jak STAT and Janus Kinase pathways. If the dopaminergic system is influenced, one might expect incessant “thinking” about palatable food etc. etc. Thus, leptin indirectly can influence binging through a cascade of intricate reflexes. How many of you on severe cut, pre-contest diets, or other diets have dreams about being naughty with food, or having to calculate something you should not have eaten? I argue this is the response of one highly adapated neuroendocrine system. As noted in Polivy and Herman (1985) "Anything that disrupts the dieter’s cognitive control or restraint, however, unleashes overeating, as an almost inevitable consequence of a situation that allows for only good “dieting” behavior or “bad” binging behavior. The causal link between dieting and binging, then, can be traced to the dieter’s imposition of cognitive controls (or in the case of the German’s a bag of potato chips!).
It all appears done to maintain SET POINT. Sometimes, even binges occur when not cutting, but continually being strict. I would argue that in most cases however, it is suppression of the set point that is responsible. In sum, the leaner one gets, the more succeptible to binge eating. However, if one can accept it as part of the routine, and develop safety plans on what to binge on, you will come out fine. Such an novel idea is already being used to treat anorexic-bullemics.