Binge Eating Disorder - What You Need To Know

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that is not commonly spoken about. This specific eating disorder is characterised by the over-consumption of certain foods followed by severe feelings of shame and guilt. If you believe you are suffering from an eating disorder it is crucial that you consult your doctor for professional help.

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Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

The official diagnostic criteria include:

  • Losing control over the amount of food you are eating
  • Experiencing significant emotional distress after you have engaged in a binge
  • Binging once a week consistently for three months

However, for an official diagnosis you need to experience three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Eating at an increased rate
  • Consuming food until you feel uncomfortably full
  • Eating even if you are not hungry
  • Eating large amounts of food even if you are not feeling hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed or ashamed of how much you are eating
  • Feeling disappointed, anxious, depressed or even guilty after overeating
  • Hoarding food to consume secretly at a later time
  • Eating normally in the presence of others but binging when alone (such as night eating)
  • Eating to relieve feelings of stress or anxiety
  • Feeling numb or apathetic while binging
  • Being unable to experience satiation regardless of how much food has been consumed

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

  • Genetic and biological factors - The research seems to indicate that there is a definite genetic link to the development of this specific eating disorder. The experts believe that individuals who have a family history of overeating, as well as a genetic predisposition to becoming obese will be at an increased risk for developing this eating disorder.
  • Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse - Many experts believe that individuals who already suffer from a mental health disorder will be more likely to develop a binge eating disorder than others. This is because these types of disorders contribute to the negative thinking patterns associated with binge eating.
  • A history of being stigmatised for your weight - Individuals who have been discriminated against because of their weight, suffered from obesity during childhood, and bullying related to your weight have a significantly increased risk for developing binge eating disorder.
  • Frequent patterns of restrictive eating - If you have followed a pattern of bingeing and then restricting the amount of food you are eating for a lifetime you will dramatically increase the risk for you developing this type of eating disorder.

How To Treat Binge Eating Disorder?

  • The most effective treatment for binge eating disorders is to seek professional help. Depending on the therapist you go to see you may be offered family-based treatment, adolescent-focused treatment, or cognitive behavioral therapy. However, the research seems to indicate that cognitive behavioral therapy may be the most effective against binge eating disorder. 
  • Another effective thing you can do to control the symptoms of your binge eating disorder is to stop placing your focus on weight loss. Instead, you should shift your focus to leading a healthier lifestyle. Individuals who stop counting calories will often notice that their urge to binge on food is significantly reduced. 
  • If you suffer from this type of eating disorder it may be a good idea to reduce the amount of stress in your life. Stress is often a large contributing factor to binges. If you cannot eliminate the stress from your life entirely you need to find new ways to deal with your stress instead of eating your feelings. 
  • Give mindfulness a try. Studies have shown that when you practice mindfulness your fight or flight response will be significantly reduced and you will be much calmer and less likely to binge. 
  • Find yourself a good support system. Binge eating disorder is often associated with serious mental health issues. If you are not surrounding yourself with individuals who will provide you with support and a kind ear you are unlikely to be successful when trying to stop your binge eating disorder.