Evaluating dietary restriction as a maintaining factor in binge-eating disorder

Julia Bartholomay, Lauren M. Schaefer, Glen Forester, Ross D. Crosby, Carol B. Peterson, Scott J. Crow, Scott G. Engel, Stephen A. Wonderlich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Prominent theories of binge-eating (BE) maintenance highlight dietary restriction as a key precipitant of BE episodes. Consequently, treatment approaches for eating disorders (including binge-eating disorder; BED) seek to reduce dietary restriction in order to improve BE symptoms. The present study tested the hypothesis that dietary restriction promotes BE among 112 individuals with BED. Methods: Participants completed a 7-day ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol before and after completing 17 weeks of either Integrative Cognitive-Affective Therapy or guided self-help cognitive behavioral therapy. Analyses examined whether dietary restriction on 1 day of the baseline EMA protocol predicted risk for BE later that same day, and on the following day. Changes in dietary restriction over the course of treatment were also evaluated as a predictor of change in BE from pre-treatment to post-treatment. Baseline dietary restraint was examined as a moderator of the above associations. Results: Dietary restriction did not predict BE later the same day, and changes in restriction were not related to changes in BE across treatment, regardless of baseline dietary restraint levels. Restriction on 1 day did predict increased BE risk on the following day for individuals with higher levels of dietary restraint, but not those with lower levels. Discussion: These findings challenge the assumption that dietary restriction maintains BE among all individuals with BED. Rather, results suggest that dietary restriction may be largely unrelated to BE maintenance in this population, and that reducing dietary restriction generally does not have the intended effect on BE frequency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • EMA
  • binge-eating disorder
  • dietary restraint
  • dietary restriction
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • treatment trial

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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