What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
To begin with, Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious mental health condition signified by episodes of eating large amounts of food and feeling a loss of control during these periods. It is the most common of all the eating disorders. Binge eating disorder was classified as a mental health disorder for the first time in the year 2013. Sometimes binge eating is called “compulsive eating”.
People who are suffering from BED feel an uncontrollable urge to overeat regularly by bingeing. Thus, people with this disorder eat a large amount of food in a short time. Unlike people suffering from bulimia, they do not use any purging methods to prevent gain in weight, although they may restrict their food intake in-between binges. They are very likely to have fluctuating weight and eventually become overweight.
People who are suffering from BED feel out of control of their eating, and their secret bingeing behavior increases their sense of personal disgust and distress. They may feel comforted for a short while, but later, they often feel upset, out of control, guilty, or even unattractive. People suffering from BED may binge eat when they feel bad about themselves. Again, they may eat when they go through loneliness, anxiety, boredom, or depression. They may also eat when they are having personal problems or problems with other people.
It is highly upsetting and unsettling for sufferers and can cause critical medical problems. However, it is a lot less researched than bulimia and anorexia and so understood to a lesser degree both in terms of its causes and effective treatment options.
Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
Like any other eating disorder and many other mental health conditions, there is not one fixed cause of BED. Instead, BED is caused by a variety of biopsychosocial factors that vary from one person to another. However, it has been postulated to share many causal and maintenance factors with other eating disorders with a binge-eating component.
Below are some causes of BED:
1. Environmental Causes
There is no proof of a direct link that connects particular life experiences with the development of binge eating disorder. According to a biopsychosocial model, it seems that certain events, associated with predisposing vulnerabilities, can lead to the development of BED.
Thus, recent researches suggest a connection between BED and: a history of abuse and other forms of trauma, Depression, Smoking and alcohol dependence, Trying very restrictive diets.
2. Biological Causes
Researches have indicated that binge eating disorder is likely to be highly inheritable with some genes that may add to vulnerability to BED. Hence, BED increases the risk of mood and substance use problems.
Studies concerning a specific gene that is responsible for eating disorders is still in its early stage, however increasingly studies are indicating that between 60%-80% of eating disorders can be accounted for, to a certain degree, by genes.
Also, brain imaging research has shown that some persons with binge eating disorder have differences in the structure of their brain when compared to people without the condition thus, giving them a heightened response to food triggers and less ability to self-control food consumption.
3. Psychological Causes
People suffering from BED often also suffer from anxiety. Binge eating can emerge as a way of controlling overwhelming feelings due to these conditions or stress emanating from their environments like demanding jobs, unhappy relationships, and deeply disturbing situations.
Again, many people with BED usually have a sense of calm or a relieving absence of emotion during or after binges but usually short-lived. Bingeing may provide a great but ultimately destructive survival mechanism.
Furthermore, the dissatisfaction of the body is commonplace with people suffering from eating disorders. People who report high levels of body dissatisfaction focus heavily on their body image, and base their self-esteem and sense of identity on their shape and body mass, keeping out other aspects of their identity. Bodily discontent can lead to excessively restrictive eating habits, which makes people more likely to gorge themselves in the event of a violation of their own excessive eating rules. This, in turn, can lead to an even stricter diet, continuing the vicious circle of bulimia and restrictions.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
- Gaining weight through a pressure to overeat
- Range from normal body weight through to extreme obesity
- Health conditions related to obesity, e.g. heart conditions, osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure
- Binges caused by anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, boredom, stress, depression, sadness, loneliness,
- Continual craving for food or continual food grazing
Visible Signs of BED
- People with BED gain weight rapidly or become obese.
- They frequently eat a large amount of food within a short period.
- Do not make use of food purging methods.
- They may eat very rapidly, even swallow without chewing.
- They feel they lack control over their eating.
- The tendency to eat alone, usually in secret or at night.
- The feeling of disgust, guilt, and shame with self after overeating.
- They tend to feel embarrassed about feeling unattractive.
- People suffering from BED hoard and hide food, stashing it at various locations.
- Buying “special” binge food, e.g. high calorie.
- They tend to avoid social situations involving food
- Depression and anxiety
Treatment of Binge Eating Disorder
Feeling bad about your binge eating? Here is some good news! The good news is also a higher recovery rate of BED compared to other eating disorders.
People with binge eating often keep their illness secret. Victims tend to feel that they are living a double life, working competently in professional, family and social roles, while feeling a great sense of shame and emotional confusion caused by their excessive consumption of food. As a result, it can be very difficult and may take a lot of courage to get help. Although it is very normal to feel this, help is available and can be very effective.
Despite the difficulties and anguish that an eating disorder can cause, there is often a lot of reluctance to seek help and treatment for them. People with an eating disorder may feel that their eating disorder helps them deal with other pressures or difficulties in their lives.
Even when they feel motivated and determined to recover, thoughts of anxiety, guilt, shame and other strong emotions associated with an eating disorder can slow down and make change very difficult.
Although research is limited, it has been shown that the factors that contribute to the long-term success of anorexia are the patient’s weight at the beginning of treatment, the duration of his illness, his ability to recover and maintain health. These results suggest that It is important to seek help for anorexia as quickly as possible and participate as fully as possible in the nutritional and psychological components of the treatment.
Effective Treatment Plans
People with eating disorders have come to their situation in many different ways. Understanding the different factors that contribute to a person’s illness is essential to ensure that the appropriate treatment plan is applied.
The most effective treatment plans will take into account:
- Previous experiences
- Needs and preferences of people
- Family, social and work situations
- Other mental health problems.
Different types of treatment can be used to treat binge eating, anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia. Finding the right treatment will depend on some factors, including:
1. Psychiatrist Evaluation
It is very common in people with eating disorders, to have other synchronous mental conditions such as anxiety or depression. A thorough evaluation by a psychiatrist will enable an effective treatment plan.
2. Your BMI
People with a very low BMI (15 or less) are likely to need hospital care. (You should get a referral from your GP and we are always looking for it urgently).
3. Outpatient Care
If your BMI is greater than 15 (and stable), attending regular therapy sessions may be an appropriate treatment option. The therapeutic approaches will depend on your specific needs.
Treating the Individual
There is no single approach to the treatment of eating disorders. The most effective treatment is that which adapts to the individual and the individual relies on the approach adopted.
Therapy, medications or a combination of both are the most effective ways to overcome an eating disorder.
Therapy is an integral part of the treatment of Binge eating disorders. Among many other things, it can help people:
- Increase motivation to recover.
- Challenge unhealthy thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors.
- Conserve the energy necessary for the recovery progress.
- Provide tools to deal with difficult circumstances.
- Provide invaluable support for a possibly awkward period.
- Increases emotional strength.
- Identify important goals and values as you leave your eating disorders behind.
- Find new ways to deal with painful experiences.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the relationship between negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By identifying underlying harmful beliefs, attitudes, and emotions, a psychologist works with people to develop strategies that help them participate in healthier and more constructive behavior.
In addition, CBT has proven to be one of the most effective treatments for people with binge eating disorders. One study showed that after 20 sessions of CBT, 80% of the patients were no longer Bingeing and 60% of them did not do it a year later.
Many people with an eating disorder will also have another mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, which will worsen their distress and affect their ability to successfully participate in the treatment of an eating disorder. For example, an antidepressant may be needed at the beginning of treatment to help the individual benefit from other psychological interventions.
Additionally, addressing the stressors and emotions that underlie eating disorders is an important goal of treatment. For all eating disorders, getting help as soon as possible is essential.
Summary and Recommendations
Furthermore, if conventional diets haven’t worked for you, you might want to consider this technique.
Also, if you want to give mindful eating a try, there are many good books on the topic in stores and online you can find.