Thursday, August 20, 2009

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop.

A binge eating episode typically lasts around two hours, but some people binge on and off all day long. Binge eaters often eat even when they’re not hungry and continue eating long after they’re full. They may also gorge themselves as fast as they can while barely registering what they’re eating or tasting.

The key features of binge eating disorder are:


  • Frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating
  • Feeling extremely distressed or upset during or after bingeing
  • No regular attempts to “make up” for the binges through vomiting, fasting, or over-exercising.

People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They desperately want to stop binge eating, but they feel like they can’t.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 2 percent of all U.S. adults suffer from compulsive overeating—making binge eating disorder more common than bulimia or anorexia.

Unlike other eating disorders, which primarily occur in women, binge eating disorder also affects a significant number of men. Binge eating usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after a major diet. But most people don’t seek help until much later when weight gain from their binge eating is causing health problems.

Emotional Eating and Food Addiction

It’s common to turn to food for comfort: unwinding after a long day with a hot bowl of soup, for instance, or digging into a pint of Rocky Road after a fight with your significant other. But when eating becomes the main strategy for managing emotions and dealing with stress, it can develop into an unhealthy and uncontrollable food “addiction.”

Signs of Emotional Eating

Using food to:

• fill a void in your life
• feel better or cheer yourself up
• calm down or soothe your nerves
• escape from problems
• cope with stress and worries
• reward yourself

People with binge eating disorder suffer from this psychological food addiction. Like the alcoholic that can’t say no to a drink, they can’t say no to food. Often, their binge eating is triggered by a depressed or anxious mood, but they may also overeat when they’re tense, lonely, or bored. They eat to feed their feelings, rather than their bodies.

The problem is that emotional eating doesn’t solve anything. It may be comforting for a brief moment, but then reality sets back in, along with regret and self-loathing. Emotional eating also leads to problems of its own—including weight gain and obesity.

Unfortunately, weight gain only reinforces compulsive eating. It’s not that people with binge eating disorder don’t care about their bodies; they agonize over their ballooning weight. But the worse they feel about themselves and their appearance, the more they use food to cope. It becomes a vicious cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief.

Source: http://helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm

1 comment:

Joanna said...

Eating disorder is common among teenagers and kids, esp. to young women. Contact eating disorder treatment right away if you have any questions regarding eating disorders.