What Is Binge Eating Disorder And What Are The Symptoms
People with BED may eat a lot of food in a short amount of time, even if they arent hungry. Emotional stress or destress often plays a role and might trigger a period of binge eating.
A person might feel a sense of release or relief during a binge but experience feelings of shame or loss of control afterward .
For a healthcare professional to diagnose BED, three or more of the following symptoms must be present:
- eating much more rapidly than normal
- eating until uncomfortably full
- eating large amounts without feeling hungry
- eating alone due to feelings of embarrassment and shame
- feelings of guilt or disgust with oneself
People with BED often experience feelings of extreme unhappiness and distress about their overeating, body shape, and weight (1,
- 8 ).
An episode of binge eating can be triggered by stress, dieting, negative feelings relating to body weight or body shape, the availability of food, or boredom .
The causes of BED are not fully known. As with other eating disorders, a variety of genetic, environmental, social, and psychological risks are associated with its development.
What Can I Do If Im Worried About Binge
Talking to a mental health professional, such as one of our therapists at Tokyo Mental Health, or a physician would be the first port of call. If you see a doctor, they can check for potential physical causes and, if there are no underlying physical factors contributing to your behaviour, you can seek help from a therapist who has experience with eating disorders.
Below are some resources that you can access with more general information about eating disorders:
Where Can Someone Seek Support For Bed
If anyone feels that their relationship with food, eating or weight has become problematic either because of their behaviour or how preoccupied they have become with thinking about these issues they should seek help from their GP.
Treatment for BED consists of specialist psychological therapy, while antidepressant medication can also be helpful.
Having support to eat regularly in order to meet nutritional needs and manage emotions, alongside developing an understanding of how the problem has developed in the first place, will aid recovery.
If youre worried about your own or someone elses relationship with food, contact Beat, the UKs eating disorder charity, on 0808 801 0677
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Binge Eating Disorder: How College Can Make It Worse
With anorexia having the highest mortality rate among any other psychiatric illness, the focus and attention given towards prevention and treatment is absolutely essential. However, sometimes overshadowed is the equally devastating Binge Eating Disorder, also classified as a major eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in May of 2013. Learn more about the devastating effects of BED while at college here.
Binge Eating Disorder According To The Dsm
The DSM-5 specifies diagnostic criteria that one must meet for a full diagnosis of a mental disorder. For BED, the following criteria are required for diagnosis:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time , an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
- A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode .
- Eating much more rapidly than normal.
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry.
- Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
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When Should I See A Doctor
It is important to see a doctor as soon as you suspect that you or someone else has binge-eating disorder. A doctor can refer you to a specialist in eating disorders such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Getting Help For Someone Else
If you’re concerned that a family member or friend may have binge eating disorder, let them know you’re worried about them and encourage them to see a GP. You could offer to go along with them.
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Night Eating Syndrome: So Much More Than Just A Bedtime Snack
Night Eating Syndrome was first recognized in 1955 by American psychiatrist, Dr. Albert Stunkard. NES is an eating disorder in which the affected individual wakes several times in the middle of the night and is unable to fall back asleep without eating, even though he or she is not actually hungry. The food eaten is often unhealthy and calorie-dense.
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Who Is More Likely To Develop Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder can occur in people of average body weight, but it is more common in people who have obesity, particularly severe obesity. However, it is important to note that most people with obesity do not have binge eating disorder.
Binge eating disorder is more common in younger and middle-aged people. However, older people can be affected, too.
Binge eating disorder is common among people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.3,4 The distress of having diabetes, which requires a constant focus on weight and food control, may be the reason for this link. In some people, binge eating disorder contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes, both through excessive weight gain and increased risk of metabolic abnormalities. Binge eating disorder can also make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood glucose, also known as blood sugar.
For some people, painful childhood experiencessuch as family problems and critical comments about your shape, weight, or eating habitsare linked to developing binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder runs in families, and researchers have identified a genetic component as well.
Renegotiating Binge Foods In Bed Recovery
Many individuals who struggle with binge eating also may have particular foods that trigger binge episodes. Foods that are higher in carbohydrates and fats can cause the release of the hormone serotonin in the brain, which can induce pleasurable feelings. For this reason, people who are dealing with binge eating disorder often gravitate towards foods with these components, either for comfort or as a means of escaping from difficult situations.
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Binge Eating Disorder: When Comfort Eating Crosses The Line
Eating for comfort or emotional reasons is not necessarily a bad thing. That is as long as the food does not become the main source of comfort or method for dealing with lifes stress and challenges. Using food to consistently soothe emotional upheaval can quickly become Binge Eating Disorder, and this can result in some serious health consequences.
Can Binge Eating Disorder Be Prevented
Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of binge eating disorder, it is helpful to begin treatment as soon as symptoms start. In addition, teaching and encouraging healthy eating habits and realistic attitudes about food and body image might be helpful in preventing the development or worsening of eating disorders.
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Binge Eating Disorder And Living In A Larger Body
Because long-term dieting is associated with Binge Eating Disorder, many people end up being caught in a cycle of losing and regaining weight throughout their lives. This is known as weight cycling and requires a great deal of energy for the body to cope with these continuous changes.
Weight cycling has consequences for physical health, but also has psychological consequences , that are often exacerbated by comments from others
People experiencing Binge Eating Disorder who also live in a larger body often experience additional stigma and size discrimination.
Weight loss is often praised and glorified in society, particularly for people in larger bodies. This may be experienced in family and social settings, within fitness communities, and from health professionals. This increases pressure to engage in dieting, to lose weight, and to maintain weight loss. This pressure, along with engaging in dieting can increase the risk of engaging in binge eating.
Seeking support from professionals who adopt a weight-inclusive approach to health, such as the Health At Every Size approach, may benefit people in larger bodies with Binge Eating Disorder.
HAES Australia is a non-profit, member-based association that brings together the highest quality information, training and specialists in Australia for the Health at Every Size® approach.
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder , previously known as selective eating disorder, is a condition where people limit the amount or type of food eaten. Unlike anorexia nervosa, people with ARFID do not have a distorted body image or extreme fear of gaining weight. ARFID is most common in middle childhood and usually has an earlier onset than other eating disorders. Many children go through phases of picky eating, but a child with ARFID does not eat enough calories to grow and develop properly, and an adult with ARFID does not eat enough calories to maintain basic body function.
- Dramatic restriction of types or amount of food eaten
- Lack of appetite or interest in food
- Dramatic weight loss
- Upset stomach, abdominal pain, or other gastrointestinal issues with no other known cause
- Limited range of preferred foods that becomes even more limited
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Learn To Tolerate The Feelings That Trigger Your Binge Eating
The next time you feel the urge to binge, instead of giving in, take a moment to stop and investigate whats going on inside.
Identify the emotion youre feeling. Do your best to name what youre feeling. Is it anxiety? Shame? Hopelessness? Anger? Loneliness? Fear? Emptiness?
Accept the experience youre having. Avoidance and resistance only make negative emotions stronger. Instead, try to accept what youre feeling without judging it or yourself.
Dig deeper. Explore whats going on. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? What kinds of thoughts are going through your head?
Distance yourself. Realize that you are NOT your feelings. Emotions are passing events, like clouds moving across the sky. They dont define who you are.
Sitting with your feelings may feel extremely uncomfortable at first. Maybe even impossible. But as you resist the urge to binge, youll start to realize that you dont have to give in. There are other ways to cope. Even emotions that feel intolerable are only temporary. Theyll quickly pass if you stop fighting them. Youre still in control. You can choose how to respond.
For a step-by-step guide to learning how to manage unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions, check out HelpGuides free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit.
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Treatment Of Binge Eating Disorder
Treatment for binge eating disorder needs to address both your physical and mental health. Early treatment is the best way to help you towards a full recovery. The journey can be difficult, but you can get there with the right help and commitment.A GP with experience supporting people with eating disorders can be a good first point of contact. Once binge eating disorder is diagnosed, your doctor will assemble a team of healthcare professionals who will be best suited to help you. The types of healthcare professional who might be involved include:
- a psychiatrist
- a family therapist
- a social worker.
There are a range of psychological treatments available to treat eating disorders. Cognitive behaviour therapy and interpersonal therapy are the two treatments of choice for binge eating disorder.
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The Importance Of Deciding Not To Diet
After a binge, its only natural to feel the need to diet to compensate for overeating and to get back on track with your health. But dieting usually backfires. The deprivation and hunger that comes with strict dieting triggers food cravings and the urge to overeat.
Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and eat only until you feel content, not uncomfortably stuffed. Avoid banning or restricting certain foods, as this can make you crave them even more. Instead of saying I can never eat ice cream, say I will eat ice cream as an occasional treat.
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Treatment For Binge Eating
Most people recover from binge eating disorder with the right support and treatment, but it may take time.
The main treatments are:
- guided self-help programmes
- a type of talking therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy , which is in group sessions or individual sessions
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Lets Be Knowledgeable About Eating Disorders
At Woods Homes, the safety of the youth and families we serve is our top priority. We understand that, before we can address a mental health issue, our clients need to feel safe with us, and free from the pressures/root causes of their mental health struggles and/or at-risk behaviours. As such, we understand there are many more pressures felt by youth than just those from within the home.
Today, societal pressures around physical appearance can very easily impact youth at the palm of their hands. With social media, movies, television and other forms of entertainment at their fingertips, the pressure to look a certain way can sometimes overwhelm.
We are aware of this in some of the youth we serve and do what we can to help alleviate these stresses. Still we see clients struggle. In the LGBTQ2S community, a community we proudly work with, there is growing research on the higher-than-average eating disorder rates in the youth and adolescent community as a whole, an impressionable age and our largest client group, its no secret that fitting in and physical appearance can go hand in hand.
Needless to say, these pressures can sometimes result in eating disorders, unhealthy diets and mental health struggles compounded by infinite other stresses. With this, we hope to offer some clarity around these issues.
What are eating disorders?
What are the different types of eating disorders?
How are eating disorders treated?
How Binge Eating Disorder Developed For Me
The groundwork was laid between the ages of 12 and 17. When my breasts and weight changed significantly with the onset of puberty, I also developed acne, facial and excess body hair and was extremely lethargic.
My mother took me to the doctor aged 12, but I was told I was just eating too much and it took another five years until a specialist diagnosed me with polycystic ovary syndrome .
Five years is a very long time to feel disconnected from and uncomfortable in your body and it was during this time that I began to develop some extremely unhealthy eating habits.
Comfort eating and bingeing only added to the weight gain caused by my out-of-balance hormones. In the following years, Id lose weight, only to put it back on again and by the time I reached my forties, I was exhausted from decades of yo-yo-ing.
Part of me wanted to tap out and just embrace my body for how it looked. But, deep down, I realised that if I accepted my body as overweight, I had to accept I wasnt going to do anything about the disordered eating that had got me there.
The effect on my self-esteem was huge I believed that, because of my size, normal things boyfriends, parties and success happened to other people. I didnt feel I deserved them because if I couldnt stand the sight of myself, how could anyone else? Its no wonder Id pinned my hopes on surgery.
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Where I’m At With My Binge Eating Disorder Recovery
While the process has been life-changing, Im keen to emphasise that this is me in recovery, as opposed to me recovered, with my disordered eating being solved and my body image issues tied up in a neat bow.
Most days are straightforward, but occasionally there are times that I need to dig a bit deeper to prevent myself from retreating back into the cycle that restrained my life for so long. Im not going to tell you that confronting your demons is easy but the struggle is probably worth it.
A book was my catalyst to finally being honest with myself and understanding the role I was playing in my own discomfort, which allowed me to make meaningful and long-term lifestyle changes. It may be a GP visit or therapy sessions for you.
The journey might seem intimidating but, for me, it was the best thing I ever did and it could be for you, too.