Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder that affects almost 2% of people globally. It may lead to other health issues like diabetes and high cholesterol level. This condition makes a person eat a large amount of food.
It is normal to overeat on various occasions, but binge eating makes you feel uncontrollable while eating food. Binge eating is more than just eating a lot of food. It is a psychiatric condition people use to deal with other mental problems like depression and anxiety.
Here in this article, you will learn everything about binge eating disorders.
Binge eating is usually triggered by emotional or mental stress. People eat a lot of food within a short time even if they are not hungry. It makes a person feel ashamed of overeating afterward, but a person feels totally helpless while binge eating. Usually, a person with a binge eating disorder experiences the following symptoms.
- Eating a large amount of food even if you are not hungry.
- Eat uncontrollably and rapidly.
- Eat until you feel uncomfortably full.
- A person with BED prefers to eat alone because of the embarrassment of overeating.
- People with BED feel extremely distressed after eating. They worry about their weight and body every time. (Study)
Several risk factors may contribute to BED:
Gender: BED is more common in women than men. These might be some biological factors of women. People can develop BED at any age, but it is more common in the early 20s.
Genetics: It is also believed that BED has some genetic basis. You are more likely to develop BED if you have a family history. Your inherited genes may increase the chances of this disorder.
People with BED may have an increased level of dopamine sensitivity. Dopamine is a chemical released by the brain and is responsible for the feeling of reward and joy.
Obesity: People having increased body weight usually have BED. Almost 50% of obese people face the problem of binge eating. People having a history of dieting also suffer from this disorder. The restricted calorie intake and crash diets end up in binge eating.
Negative body image: People having BED usually have negative body image. Crash diets, overeating, and negative perception of the body contribute to the BED.
Stress: Stress is also among the main causes of BED. Some shocking life events, accidents, the death of a close family member or friend, trauma, and abusive relationships are also among the risk factors of binge eating.
Psychological disorders: These disorders include phobias, depression, stress, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Almost 80% of cases of BED have at least one psychological disorder.
This disorder can affect a person at any age, but it usually starts in the early 20s. It is common to eat occasionally at various parties or events. That doesn’t mean a person is suffering from BED.
People having BED needs help from family and friends. These people can help them overcome the disorder – otherwise, it can last for years. There is a need to develop a healthy relationship with food.
If a person had an episode of at least one binge eating per week for at least 3 months – it may be an indication of BED. This may vary according to severity – from a few to more than 14 episodes per week.
It is also more common in women. Diagnosis may also include assessment with your health care provider to evaluate your psychological evaluation. It may include a discussion about your eating habits.
Your doctor may also order you a few tests, including blood tests, urine tests, and physical examinations. These are used to check the negative consequences of binge eating, such as high cholesterol, high B, and sleep disorders.
Health risks associated with BED
BED is associated with a variety of emotional, social, and psychological health risks. This disorder has also been linked to weight gain due to increased calorie intake. Obesity is linked to many other diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Studies have shown that obese people with BED have greater chances of developing these diseases than those who don’t have BED.
Several other health risks are also associated with BED, like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), asthma, and sleep disorders. Women may also experience additional problems like PCOS, fertility problems, and complications during pregnancy.
People with BED also face more social challenges than others. Though risk factors are significant, BED can be cured with effective treatments to improve quality of life.
Treatment varies according to the severity of the disease and underlying causes. Following treatment options are available for binge eating disorder.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
This therapy involves identifying the relationship between binge eating and several psychological problems like negative body image, stress, negative thoughts, and feelings.
People are assisted in changing their eating habits after negative behavior, thoughts, and feelings are identified. This therapy will help you control your behavior and eating patterns. A self-help approach or a therapist may help you put strategies in place to improve your condition.
IPT (Interpersonal psychotherapy)
This therapy improves your interpersonal skills and focuses on your relationship with your family, friends, and other people. It will help you overcome your binge eating habits that are triggered by problematic relationships.
Dialectical behavior therapy
This therapy will help you control your binge eating habits by making you learn to improve your communication skills and relationships with others. It also helps you learn to control your stress level and emotions. It makes a person learn mindfulness, tolerance, and emotional regulation to cope the negative situations.
Behavioral weight loss therapy
This therapy aims to lose weight by introducing healthy eating habits. It improves the self-esteem and body image of a person. Though this therapy is good for obese people – it is not found as effective as CBT and IPT.
Some medications are also prescribed by doctors to treat binge eating disorders. The first FDA-approved medication is lisdexamfetamine which can be used to suppress the desire for binge eating.
Your doctor may also prescribe you anti-depressants, anti-seizure drugs, and other medications to help you cope with other medical conditions that are caused by BED.
How to overcome binge eating?
You may adopt the following self-help approaches along with professional treatment to control your binging.
Follow your treatment plan properly: Following and sticking to your treatment plan will help you see the results faster. Stick to your plans and follow them properly.
Don’t skip breakfast: Skipping your breakfast makes you eat more calories later during the day, so don’t skip it.
Don’t keep binge foods handy: Try to completely eliminate the binge foods from your house or keep them away from your reach to avoid binge eating.
Stay active: Practicing mindfulness and staying active will help you maintain your self-acceptance, reduce stress, and improve body image.
Eat a balanced diet: Try to eat a healthy balanced diet consisting of protein, healthy fats, and whole foods.
Get plenty of sleep: Get enough sleep for 7-8 hours. Sleep deprivation may lead you towards unhealthy eating habits and high-calorie intake.
Binge eating is characterized by episodes of excessive eating that are sometimes accompanied by a feeling of guilt. It is more common in women and if left untreated may cause several health problems.
Certain healthy lifestyle changes and therapies may help you control your binge eating disorder. However, it is recommended to ask your medical professional before starting any treatment plan.