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What Causes Binge Eating Disorder

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Binge Eating Disorder And Living In A Larger Body

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

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

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.

How Does Binge Eating Disorder Affect A Woman’s Health

Many, but not all, women with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese. Obesity raises your risk for many serious health problems:

  • High cholesterol
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Certain types of cancer, including breast, endometrial , colorectal, kidney, esophageal, pancreatic, thyroid, and gallbladder cancer
  • Problems with your menstrual cycle, including preventing , which can make it harder to get pregnant

People with binge eating disorder often have other serious mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. These problems can seriously affect a woman’s everyday life and can be treated.

What Are The Signs Of Binge Eating Disorder

Before we get into specific binge eating disorder causes, it is essential to define the signs of binge eating disorder and the health consequences it can cause. Unlike more traditionally defined eating disorders, BED doesnt normally reflect avoidance of caloric intake or a purging behavior. The main behavioral symptom of binge eating disorder is the repeated pattern of eating large amounts of food, in short periods of time, beyond the point of being full. Some behavioral signs of binge eating disorder include:

  • Weight fluctuations, both sudden increases and decreases
  • Hoarding and/or hiding food away
  • Excessive food wrappers in the trash or hidden away
  • Avoiding mealtimes
  • Eating past the point of being full
  • Eating continuously through the day
  • Feeling discomfort or unease at meals with others
  • Engaging in frequent or excessive dieting

Binge eating disorder signs can also manifest physically, especially after the disordered behavior has been continuing for some time. By the time binge eating disorder recovery has begun, the individual may have serious health problems resulting from the disorder. Because the binge eating episodes that define the disorder are not followed by purging behaviors such as vomiting, laxative abuse or excessive exercise that are associated with bulimia nervosa, people with BED may be in a larger body. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Some of the health risks associated with BED include:

  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

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What Are The Complications Of Binge Eating Disorder

People with binge eating disorder tend to be deficient in vitamins and minerals because much of the food they eat is full of fat and sugar, which lack good nutritional value. Approximately half of the people who binge are obese.

The majority of complications are conditions that accompany obesity. These include:

  • Depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders related to distress over binge eating

Can Binge Eating Disorder Be Prevented

Ultimate Guide for Eating Disorders

Although it might not be possible to prevent all cases of binge eating disorder, it is helpful to begin treatment in people as soon as they begin to have symptoms. In addition, teaching and encouraging healthy eating habits and realistic attitudes about food and body image also might be helpful in preventing the development or worsening of eating disorders.

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Why Is Binge Eating Disorder Harmful

Binge eating disorder can contribute to many psychological and physical problems through a persons life. Complications of binge eating disorder may include difficulty functioning at work, social isolation, dermatological effects , gastrointestinal effects , and medical conditions related to being in higher-weight bodies, such as heart disorder, joint issues, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease .

Risk Factors Of Binge Eating Disorder

Like every mental health disorder, binge eating disorder has no single cause but instead is formed by a series of risk factors that combine to cause the disorder. Below are several potential risk factors.

  • Frequent Dieting Behaviors Frequent dieting is both a potential cause and sign of binge eating disorder. Many people, influenced by the media and the diet industry, begin to feel their body is imperfect or even bad, and frequently engage in fad diets to attain the idealized body they have in mind.

After the development of binge eating disorder, people might also engage in frequent dieting as a way to compensate for the weight put on during binge eating episodes. They may restrict the amount of food they eat in public in preparation for later binge eating episodes, leading to greater urges to binge eat.

  • Genetics Genetic factors are thought to have a huge impact on health by increasing or decreasing the risk of certain conditions. Gene mapping and validation techniques have allowed researchers to identify a gene that researchers think may help identify people who are genetically at risk for binge eating disorder. The gene, known as CYFIP2, indicates a much higher risk of developing this eating disorder in people who carry it.

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Depression And Binge Eating Disorder

Depression is commonly associated with eating disorders, and it is often co-occurring with Binge Eating Disorder . Trying to address Binge Eating Disorder can become more difficult if clinical depression is a key component or trigger for binge eating. This begs the question of Did binge eating begin because of depression or did depression begin because of binge eating?

Losing Your Job To A Binge Eating Disorder It Can Happen

What Causes Binge Eating? | Eating Disorders

You spend about half of your life at your job. It is a big part of your social interaction and provides a platform to boost your self-esteem. So what does a binge eating disorder have to do with your job? Lots of people struggle with BEDs. Studies show as many as 2.6% of our adult population binge eat. Can it really put your job at risk? The answer is yes, and in more ways than you think.

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Binge Eating Vs Overeating

Before exploring why you binge eat, its useful to have a general understanding of what binge eating is and how its different from overeating. Binge eating disorder is characterized by repeated episodes of eating more in a specific period of time than most people would under similar circumstances. There is often a feeling of loss of control that comes with binge eating.

Binge eating disorder typically also involves:

  • Feelings of disgust, guilt or embarrassment directed toward oneself
  • Eating alone to conceal the behavior
  • Episodes that occur at least once a week for three months
  • Significant distress after bingeing

Unlike binge eating, overeating tends not to happen recurrently or be driven by a sense of lack of control. In most cases, overeating also does not trigger the same intense feelings of guilt and shame that binge eating does.

Food Doesnt Have To Be The Enemy

An essential part of binge eating disorder recovery and recovery from other eating disorders as well as body dysmorphic disorder and even depression is rehabilitating the individuals relationship with food and their own self-image. BED can be described as a vicious cycle of a negative self-image, which leads to dieting, which leads to binge eating episodes, which leads back again to feelings of shame and guilt. This cyclical nature means that the symptoms of BED tend to worsen as time goes on, putting the individual at further risk of the health consequences mentioned earlier.

Treatment for BED can involve medication, but programs which ignore the causes of binge eating disorder in favor of appetite-suppressing drugs are missing the central point of therapy. A fully recovered lifestyle is only possible if the root causes and emotions are addressed through compassionate, understanding therapy from people who understand the journey to eating disorder recovery. The disordered cycle of dieting and binge eating sessions can be hard to break for this reason, certain therapeutic methods that assist in changing attitudes about food and a persons self-image are extremely useful during recovery.

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Changing The Mindset To Overcome Binge Eating

Since binge eating behaviors are unique to each person, it is important to develop a treatment just as unique. Understanding the underlying causes of the disorder, how it manifests, and other factors, contribute to developing an effective natural treatment to alleviate the behaviors and help the individual become more healthy.

Tips For Helping Someone With Binge Eating Disorder


Encourage your loved one to seek help. The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the more difficult it will be to overcome, so urge your loved one to get treatment.

Be supportive. Try to listen without judgment and make sure the person knows you care. If your loved one slips up on the road to recovery, remind them that it doesnt mean they cant quit binge eating for good.

Avoid insults, lectures, or guilt trips. Binge eaters feel bad enough about themselves and their behavior already. Lecturing, getting upset, or issuing ultimatums to a binge eater will only increase stress and make the situation worse. Instead, make it clear that you care about the persons health and happiness and youll continue to be there.

Set a good example by eating healthily, exercising, and managing stress without food. Dont make negative comments about your own body or anyone elses.

Get more help

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms, causes, and treatment options for binge eating disorder.

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Breaking 5 Myths Of Binge Eating

Binge Eating Disorder is the most common of all the eating disorders but incongruently, with the least treatment options for the sufferers. Until recently, BED was not even recognized as an actual disorder and could not be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual published by The American Psychiatric Association.

Eating Disorder Affects Millions Of People With Women Being The Most Affected There Are Three Common Types Of Eating Disorders Namely Anorexia Nervosa Bulimia Nervosa And Binge Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder : Eating Disorder is a psychological and physical condition that causes unhealthy eating habits, disturbance in eating behaviors and is also attached with negative thoughts and emotions leading to affect your heart, digestive system, bones, teeth and mouth. It affects millions of people with women being the most affected. There are three common types of eating disorders namely Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge eating disorder. In this video we have with us Dr. Harsha Joshi, Program Director in Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences, who will give us a detailed insight on Eating disorder, difference between Anorexia and Bulimia, tips for mindful eating and will also suggest some good workout routine to cope with it. Watch videoAlso Read – Why Turning Into A Vegetarian Can Be A Good Option, Find Out | Watch Video

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Medical Nutrition Therapy For Bed

Professional treatment for binge eating disorder will involve the collaboration of multiple professionals, including a therapist/counselor, medical doctor, psychiatrist, and registered dietitian. Each of these professionals works in their area of specialty to help address a concern that a person with binge eating disorder is facing.

How Is Binge Eating Disorder Treated

What Causes Emotional Over-Eating/ Binge Eating Disorder

Your doctor may refer you to a team of doctors, nutritionists, and therapists who will work to help you get better.

Treatment plans may include one or more of the following:

  • Psychotherapy. Sometimes called “talk therapy,” psychotherapy is counseling to help you change any harmful thoughts or behaviors. This therapy may focus on the importance of talking about your feelings and how they affect what you do. For example, you might talk about how stress triggers a binge. You may work one-on-one with a therapist or in a group with others who have binge eating disorder.
  • Nutritional counseling. A registered dietitian can help you eat in a healthier way.
  • Medicine, such as appetite suppressants or antidepressants prescribed by a doctor. Antidepressants may help some girls and women with binge eating disorder who also have anxiety or depression.

Most girls and women do get better with treatment and are able to eat in healthy ways again. Some may get better after the first treatment. Others get well but may relapse and need treatment again.

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Causes Of Binge Eating

The exact causes of binge eating disorder are not known, but you are more likely to have an eating disorder if:

  • you or a member of your family has a history of eating disorders, depression, or alcohol or drug misuse
  • you’ve been criticised for your eating habits, body shape or weight
  • you’re too worried about being slim, particularly if you also feel pressure from society or your job, for example, ballet dancers, models or athletes
  • you have anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive personality or are a perfectionist
  • you’ve been sexually abused

Before The 20th Century

Although diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa did not appear until 1979, evidence suggests that binging and purging were popular in certain ancient cultures. The first documented account of behavior resembling bulimia nervosa was recorded in around 370 B.C, in which Greek soldiers purged themselves in the mountains of . It is unclear whether this purging was preceded by binging. In ancient Egypt, physicians recommended purging once a month for three days to preserve health. This practice stemmed from the belief that human diseases were caused by the food itself. In ancient Rome, elite society members would vomit to “make room” in their stomachs for more food at all-day banquets. Emperors and both were gluttonous and obese, and they often resorted to habitual purging.

Historical records also suggest that some saints who developed may also have displayed bulimic behaviors. and were both observed binge eatingâgiving in, as they believed, to the temptations of the devil. is known to have supplemented her strict abstinence from food by purging as reparation for her sins. Catherine died from starvation at age thirty-three.

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How Do These Risk Factors Work Together

These risk factors form a logical sequence to collectively cause eating disorders.

How do they do this?

Theories of eating disorders propose that perceived socio-cultural pressures to be thin leads to the internalisation of the thin ideal.

This thin-ideal internalisation encourages body dissatisfaction because many women cannot achieve an unrealistically thin figure and are therefore ashamed of themselves and their body.

Body dissatisfaction then causes two other important risk factors: negative affect and dieting. Negative affect arises due to the disappointment and ill-feelings towards ones body, and dieting is attempted in hope that it will improve ones appearance.Both negative affect and dieting then cause eating disorder behaviours , forming a vicious cycle14Stice E. A prospective test of the dual-pathway model of bulimic pathology: mediating effects of dieting and negative affect. Journal of abnormal psychology. 2001 110:124..

Other Types Of Studies

Binge Eating Disorder

are used in psychology for the purpose of measuring and , monitoring changes in , and checking the validity of experimental manipulations . Psychologists have commonly used paper-and-pencil surveys. However, surveys are also conducted over the phone or through e-mail. Web-based surveys are increasingly used to conveniently reach many subjects.

are commonly conducted in psychology. In observational studies, psychologists collect data at a single point in time. The goal of many cross-sectional studies is the assess the extent factors are correlated with each other. By contrast, in psychologists collect data on the same sample at two or more points in time. Sometimes the purpose of longitudinal research is to study trends across time such as the stability of traits or age-related changes in behavior. Because some studies involve endpoints that psychologists cannot ethically study from an experimental standpoint, such as identifying the causes of depression, they conduct longitudinal studies a large group of depression-free people, periodically assessing what is happening in the individuals’ lives. In this way psychologists have an opportunity to test causal hypotheses regarding conditions that commonly arise in people’s lives that put them at risk for depression. Problems that affect longitudinal studies include , the type of problem in which bias is introduced when a certain type of research participant disproportionately leaves a study.

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Other Predisposing Factors Involved With Binge Eating Disorder

Traumatic events, deaths, separation, physical illness, tragedy, sexual and/or physical abuse, and bullying can often lead to binge eating disorder. Although the association isnt as common as with other eating disorders, a history of substance abuse is linked to cases of binge eating disorder.

There is also an increased occurrence of childhood obesity among those with binge eating disorder.

How Common Is Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, and it affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. About 1.25% of adult women and 0.42% of adult men have binge eating disorder.1 About 1.6% of teens age 13 to 18 years old are affected.2 A much larger percentage of teens and adults have episodes of binge eating or loss-of-control eatingwhich is the feeling that you cannot control your eating, regardless of how much food you actually eatbut at a rate that is not frequent enough to meet the criteria for binge eating disorder.

The average age at which binge eating disorder first occurs is 25 years.1 Nearly two-thirds of people who meet the criteria for binge eating disorder experience binge eating episodes over the span of 1 year or longer.1

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