Binge Eating: The Basics

Binge Eating: The Basics


Ever imagined a world without food? Nothing would have survived. Now there is food on the planet. While some folks do not like food or eating, there are others who just eat too much. People who large quantities of food at frequent intervals are called binge eaters. Remember that anything done in excess is unhealthy. That means binging is unhealthy. The unhealthy habit of eating too much food too often is therefore termed binge eating disorder (BED). Binge eating disorder is quite different from bulimia, which is another eating disorder characterized by purging and induced puking. Many adults have the disorder and can eat food measuring as much as 15,000 calories at a go. Binge eaters tend to hoard food and eat more when there is nobody around.

Binge eating
Photo Credit: Gulf News Health

What causes binge eating?

You are probably wondering why folks binge-eat. Well, there is a wide range of causes. Some people eat too much when they are stressed or depressed. Binging might also be caused by extreme dieting. It can also be genetic or inherited from the family bloodline. But most times, the disorder occurs as a result of some unusual activities in the brain. At other times, binging might not have a well-defined cause or the cause might remain unknown.

Possible factors influencing binge eating

Anyone can suffer from binging as it is quite unpredictable. However, certain categories of people are at a higher risk of developing the disorder for the following reasons:

  • Gender (especially female).
  • Family history (of eating disorders).
  • Age (most common amongst late teenagers and early 20s).
  • Extreme dieting.

Symptoms of binge eating

It is not all binge eaters that exhibit outward symptoms. Some symptoms can be glaring, others can be private. Note that these symptoms are also symptoms for other health conditions too.

  • Obesity or overweight.
  • Eating alone.
  • Feeling embarrassed to eat with others.
  • Eating excess food frequently even when not hungry.
  • Depression and loss of control.
  • Feelings of illness after eating
  • Eating too fast.
  • Dieting often without losing weight.

Diagnosing binge eating

There are some steps you can take to diagnose if you have binge eating disorder. The following are the criteria for diagnosing binge eating disorder:

  • Any three of the following instances: eating alone, rapid eating, eating much even when not hungry, having feelings of guilt after eating, eating even when uncomfortable, etc.
  • Recurring instances of binge eating.
  • Binge-eating two times in a week for more than 6 months.
  • Feeling concerned about binge eating.

Note that purging is not a symptom of bingeing. If purging occurs, there is a need to conduct a diagnosis for bulimia.

How to treat binge eating disorder

The first step in treating binge eating disorder is to admit you have a problem. It is known that bingers are secretive and have low self-esteem.

Without consulting a doctor, you could try some self-help tips to prevent binge eating from graduating to a disorder with the following steps:

  • Medication: If your binge eating disorder is triggered by anxiety and depression, you may be advised to take medication based on your doctor’s prescription. Recently, some drugs like Vyvanse has been approved and recommended to use in treating the disorder. If the case is extreme, topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine can be recommended, just that due to the many side effects that are associated with the medicine, its recommendation is very rare.
  • Therapy: Since binge eating disorder is more psychological than physical, therapeutic measures should help. Consulting a therapist on a personal level or having family therapy sessions is recommended.
  • Practice weight management: After being counseled, it is advisable to undergo a weight management program to help guide your subsequent dieting. This will also afford you the opportunity to receive nutritional counseling and guidance to guarantee a healthy and safe weight status. Remember, this can come during or after the psychological approach to the situation.

Other steps you could take to manage binge eating disorder include:

  • Talk to a family member, a friend or a health care provider you can trust. You will receive assistance from these trusted people who know your problem.
  • Move with and make acquaintance with people of different sizes.
  • Do not let yourself feel ashamed or insecure about your body.

Long-term situations

So what should be expected in the long run about binge eating disorder? If the eating disorder is left untreated, it could result in obesity and diabetes. Heart disease could also result from an uncured binge eating disorder.

On the flip side, however, it is important to know that for some people, binge eating is biologically transmuted, that is, genetically caused. Hence, it can be somewhat difficult to treat. You might need to be placed on regular therapy to avoid a relapse.

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