>> Binge Eating
WHAT IS BINGE EATING?
Binge eating is characterized by compulsive overeating
in which people consume huge amounts of food while
feeling out of control and powerless to stop.
A binge eating episode typically lasts around two hours,
but some people binge on and off all day long. Binge
eaters often eat even when they’re not hungry
and continue eating long after they’re full. They
may also gorge themselves as fast as they can while
barely registering what they’re eating or tasting.
The key features of binge eating are:
- Frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge
- Feeling extremely distressed or upset
during or after bingeing
- No regular attempts to “make up”
for the binges through vomiting, fasting,
People who binge eat struggle with feelings of guilt,
disgust, and depression. They worry about what the
compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat
themselves up for their lack of self-control. They
desperately want to stop binge eating, but they feel
like they can’t.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BINGE
I NEED HELP FOR BINGE EATING?
|Ask yourself the following
questions. The more “yes” answers,
the more likely it is that you might be a binge
- Do you feel out of
control when you’re eating?
- Do you think about food all the time?
- Do you eat in secret?
- Do you eat until you feel sick?
- Do you eat to escape from worries or to
- Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after
- Do you feel powerless to stop eating,
even though you want to?
People who binge eat are embarrassed and ashamed of
their eating habits, so they often try to hide their
symptoms and eat in secret. Many binge eaters are overweight
or obese, but some are of normal weight.
Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive
Emotional symptoms of binge eating and compulsive
- Inability to stop eating or control what
- Rapidly eating large amounts of food
- Eating even when you’re full
- Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later
- Eating normally around others, but gorging
when you’re alone
- Eating continuously throughout the day,
with no planned mealtimes
The difference between binge eating and bulimia
- Feeling tension that is only relieved
- Embarrassment over how much you’re
- Feeling numb while bingeing—like
you’re not really there or you’re
- Never feeling satisfied, no matter how
much you eat
- Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed
- Desperation to control weight and eating
Binge eating is similar to bulimia in that both involve
consuming massive amounts of food in a short time period.
But unlike bulimics, binge eaters DO NOT regularly try
to purge or work off the extra calories consumed. People
who binge eat may occasionally try to fast or restrict
calories, but many have given up all dieting efforts
due to a long history of repeated failure.
CAUSES OF BINGE EATING AND
Most experts believe that it takes a combination of
things to develop an eating disorder — including
a person's genes, emotions, and experience.
Biological causes of binge eating
Studies show that biological abnormalities contribute
to binge eating. For example, the hypothalamus (the
part of the brain that controls appetite) may not be
sending correct messages about hunger and fullness.
Researchers have also found a genetic mutation that
appears to cause food addiction. Finally, there is evidence
that low levels of the brain chemical serotonin play
a role in compulsive eating.
Psychological causes of binge eating
Depression and binge eating are strongly linked. According
to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
up to half of all binge eaters are either depressed
or have been before. There is further evidence that
low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction
are involved in compulsive overeating. People who
binge eat may also have trouble with impulse control
and managing and expressing their feelings.
Social and cultural causes of binge eating
Social pressure to be thin can add to the shame binge
eaters feel and fuel their emotional eating. The way
one is raised can also increase the risk for binge eating.
Some parents unwittingly set the stage for bingeing
by using food to comfort, dismiss, or reward their children.
Children who are exposed to frequent critical comments
about their bodies and weight are also vulnerable. Another
factor which has been linked to binge eating is sexual
abuse in childhood.
EFFECTS OF BINGE EATING
Binge eating leads to a wide variety of physical, emotional,
and social problems. People who binge eat report more
health issues, stress, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts
than people without an eating disorder. Depression,
anxiety, and substance abuse are common side effects
as well. Binge eating also interferes with a person’s
relationships and career. For example, you may skip
work, school, or social activities in order to binge
eat. But the most prominent effect of binge eating is
Adapted from an article contributed to by Melinda Smith,
M.A., Suzanne Barston, Robert Segal, M.A., and Jeanne
Segal, Ph.D. Last modified on 3/5/08.
Reprinted with permission from http://www.helpguide.org/.
C 2008 Helpguide.org. All rights reserved.
You can find the original article at
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