What is binge eating ?
Binge eating often called emotional eating , is a state in which the person eats without being hungry. Mostly driven by an emotional need more than a physical one. It is characterized by eating large quantities of food in a very short amount of time and sometimes to the point of vomiting. And it is not “Oops I think I shouldn't have eaten that much in today’s buffet “. It’s a frequent and repetitive episode ,in which the person when feeling anxious , sad , stressed eats to fill a gap or satisfy the anxiety . But that does not end here, most emotional eaters do feel guilty and ashamed of their behavior and that results in finding alternative measures to make up for their mistakes and they find themselves opting for unhealthy methods purging for example . Patients who do not purge find themselves with another source of anxiety that is hard to deal with and all over again is “solved” with binge eating and that becomes a never-ending vicious cycle.
What most people do not realize is that it is an actual mental disorder, in which some cases does require medical care. It’s been added to the latest version of DSM V as its own diagnosis which has precise criteria . Just that shows the importance it has gained over the years and how serious of disease it is .
What is stress and how do people overcome it?
Stress is very common in the modern world. How people cope with it defines their behavior. What you should know, is that stressing is not always a bad thing as long as you do know how to turn it into positive energy . You can let out your stress by working out , doing a manual activity such as cooking, gardening ,painting etc …
For some people , or most people , stress quickly turns into negative energy they either become irritated , angry and let it out on people surrounding them , or they let it out on themselves adopting compensatory behaviors including eating disorders , skin picking disorders etc ..
The key then would be CONTROLLING the stress and learning new ways to cope with life difficulties which can be very hard .
How to recognize binge eating ?
Binge eaters characterized by :
- Eating large quantities of food (more than a normal person would )
- Eating to the point of feeling uneasy , have trouble breathing .
- Keep eating even when one is full .
- The urge that precedes eating is uncontrollable , one cannot think about anything else than eating at that very moment
- Planning the day and making time for binging sessions
- Making sure one is alone to binge without the fear of being watched or judged
- Binging sessions occurring at least once a week for 3 months .
- Feeling like eating is the only solution et to get over the stress or anxiety one is feeling .
- One is unable to stop eating or control what to eat
- Eating normally in the presence of other people because one is afraid to be judged or get any comment about the amount of food they are eating .
- Most binge eaters are attracted to foods that are rich in fats and carbohydrates which induce the release of the serotonin hormone in the brain and results in a feeling of satisfaction among other pleasurable feelings
- Eating less than normal in gatherings to make space for binging sessions when one is isolated
- Lack of sensation when one is binging , and no satiation no matter how much food was eaten
- Eating Even when not physically hungry
- Guilt, self loath, shame after binging .
If you feels that you fit in some or most of these criteria , you should seek medical attention.
As binge eaters are very discreet, or often sought as just any regular person who over eats , it is quite difficult to discern an emotional eaters from the average person who just eats a bit too much from time to time . Most of them suffer in silence due to the stigmas surrounding their condition.
Here are some tips to recognize if someone you love is a binge eater.
- Noticing amounts of food disappearing
- Finding evidence of lots of food packaging hidden
Y says: “While cleaning my wife’s car , I always find burgers and food packaging hidden under the seats , and she often says oh it’s not mine or it’s old , I know she’s lying but I don’t say anything to avoid hurting her “
F says: “When I do the laundry or clean my daughter’s bedroom, I always find food packaging in her old bags , under the bed generally in places she thinks I will not be looking “
- Numerous restrictive diets
- Constant concern with body image and weight
- Lack of self confidence
N “ My 23 years old daughter is always making negative comments about herself when looking in the mirror , she often bursts out in tears even when I tell her she looks gorgeous , she ‘s been yoyo dieting since the age of 11 , and ever since she had her own money and car , I would always find hoards of food in her bedroom ,I do tell her that she does not have to hide her food , it is okay to eat whatever she wants but that doesn’t seem to change a thing I do feel her shame and discomfort when I confront her with my findings so I stopped doing that “
- Withdrawal from friends, activities that might end up with eating in society
- Weight fluctuations.
- Eating less than normal around people
“When my daughter comes home at the end of the day, and she is barely eating I know she’s been binging outside on her own, and is pretending to eat to avoid questions like “ You don’t want to eat , you ate outside right ? “
-Noticing purging sessions
“In the middle of the night , I hear my wife going to the bathroom and throwing up very often on the days she spends most of time alone , I know she’s been binging and purging”
If someone you love is facing the issues above, first you should try to understand them, and most importantly not going with the principle that binge eaters just need more self-control , or just don’t care enough about themselves . If you approach them with that mindset you are more likely to do more harm than good . Binge eaters know something is wrong with them , they do not need you to remind them of that . What they need is compassion , they need to know they are safe to talk to you about it , they can express their feelings without being judged . That put aside , you should slowly guide them to get medical help , binge eater do not always accept that they need a psychiatric attention , so you should talk tactfully .
The consequences occurring in BED:
If you got to this part you probably realize by now that people with binge eating disorder are facing a serious issue associated with devastating emotional consequences and important physical complications.
- Physical impacts:
*Gastro intestinal issues caused by the high volume of food ingested
*Important weight gain which can lead to obesity and its complications:
-cardiovascular diseases (stroke)
- sleep apnea
- Type II diabetes
- Muscle and join pain
- Emotional and psychological impacts:
*Self-hatred and depression can be either the reason or the result of BED. That factor on its own is enough to keep the vicious cycle alive
*Social isolation because of the amount of time required to execute the binging episode.
Tips to get over binge eating :
Once the diagnosis is made , we are left with the crucial question : What should we do ?
Consulting health specialists ( psychiatrists , nutritionists , therapists ) is probably the most effective way to ensure a good evolution and hopefully a healing . But there are a few steps you can follow to guide yourself to recovery
1 Acknowledge there is a problem :
Just like any other mental issue , by knowing there is something wrong we are halfway through recovery . If you do have the symptoms mentioned above , do not try to hide behind the fact that you just love food and you have cravings from time to time . Face your enemy
2 Understand that binge eating is not a food related issue :
BED , is a complex issue involving physical and psychological components . The apparent over-eating is masking the underlying emotional issues , that sometimes people are unaware if , that’s when we need to do some digging .
3 Understand your emotions :
When feeling an urge to binge , try to think about how you are truly feeling , ask yourself am I really hungry ? or do I want to eat just because I am feeling bad ? If you just had dinner , and an hour later you ‘re craving that chocolate box you bought the other day , you’re very likely facing a BE episode
4 Reconnect with yourself :
BED , is often a result of self hatred , guilt , shame and escape from situations in which one may have experienced overwhelming emotions .
The biggest step is take time for yourself , to think , meditate, be honest with yourself . Then , get positive , visualize a better you , make peace with yourself .
Do not be so hard on yourself , get rid of the negative voice in you’re head that says you’re not good enough. Learn to accept it when you’re not feeling good , it’s okay to be sad or angry , you just need to find the strength to get back up .
Part of the recovery , is digging and searching for the underlying issues that may have led to this condition . This particular step requires a health professional .
5 Find alternative coping methods :
Learning how to manage the thoughts and emotions experienced , is the most important part of the vicious cycle breaking .Find a way that will allow you to face your triggers and emotions without engaging binge eating symptoms .
6 Do not diet :
7 Rebuild your relationship with food:
there are a lot of myths surrounding food ,good for you foods bad for you foods . Forget about that , keep two things in mind eat to satisfy your body needs , and please your taste guts . If you’re bingeing , chances are you’re not reaching any of those goals , since you ‘re usually turning to fats( releasing serotonin remember) , you’re not filling our body in various nutrients , and since you’re eating fast uncontrollably you’re not even enjoying it . If you’re going to have kale for lunch and binge an hour later you’re doing it wrong . If you’re craving a burger , eat your burger at lunch , you will be in control then .
What to expect when reaching for professional help :
Just like any other disease or disorder , there are many approaches to be discussed , all being efficient , the choice of the right therapy is up the health professional in charge who we know which one is more suited to their patient .