Binge eating is eating large amounts of food within a short time. Binge eating is a treatable medical illness that involves lack of control over eating. It is not just a matter of failing to use will power or having poor eating habits. Overeating does not always mean that a person has a binge eating disorder.
Binge eating is similar to bulimia, but binge eaters do not usually throw up (purge), fast, or exercise too much. Usually binge eaters are overweight, as they do not get rid of the extra calories by purging or exercising. They have problems losing weight, or keeping it off if weight is lost.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. It may be related to problems with the chemicals in the brain that regulate mood and appetite.
You may be at risk of developing binge eating disorder if you:
Many things such as stress, depression, loneliness, or anger can trigger binge eating.
Binge eating is probably the most common eating disorder. Binge eating often starts in the late teenage years or early adult years. Binge eating may be the way a person deals with stress. Many binge eaters do not admit that they have an illness, so they may not want to get treatment or stay in treatment. Family members or a trusted friend may need to make sure the binge eater gets the help they need.
It affects both males and females, but is a little more common in females.
During a binge, 10,000 to 20,000 calories can be consumed in a single day. Most people eat no more than 1,500 to 3,000 calories per day. Binges include foods like cookies, candy, chips, ice cream, and many other high calorie foods. Binges are often done in secret. After a binge, many of the feelings that caused the binge, like stress, may be replaced with feelings of guilt over lack of self-control.
Food is used as a way of dealing with issues instead of a way to satisfy hunger. People with binge eating disorder usually do not eat foods that are healthy.
People with binge eating disorder often feel out of control while eating. Binge eating episodes usually involves at least 3 of the following:
Binge eating disorder can cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, fatigue, joint pain, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and heart disease. Binge eaters often suffer from depression.
Your healthcare provider takes a medical history and does a physical exam. He or she will ask about your eating patterns. A diagnosis of binge-eating disorder is made when a person binges an average of two days per week over a six-month period.
Treatment involves getting your eating habits back to normal. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you meet with a dietician to create a healthy eating plan. You may also benefit from psychotherapy or family counseling. Psychotherapy, either individual or group therapy, is very important. You may also need medicine used for mood disorders, such as antidepressants, antianxiety medicines, or mood stabilizers.
Treatment of a binge eating disorder can take several months, or longer.
Binge eating can be hard to control. Many people turn to food as a way of dealing with their feelings. To help control binge eating:
For more information, call The National Eating Disorders Association at 206-382-3587 or visit their Web site at http://www.NationalEatingDisorders.org