They binge on food when trying to deal with an emotional problem in their life. It is more than just the occasional over eating; it’s a compulsion to eat and continue eating long after they are no longer hungry. Often they will binge even if they aren’t hungry and a binging session can last anywhere from two hours to all day long. Often a binger will eat so quickly they hardly notice what it is they are eating or what they taste. An individual with a binge eating disorder feels unable to control their behavior and feels too weak to stop.
Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
The disorder often begins in the latter part of adolescents and will continue until health problems arise from the massive weight gain that accompanies binge eating. Generally it starts after a failed attempt at dieting and unlike anorexia and bulimia, there are just as many male victims of binge eating disorders as there are females. Close to two percent of adults in the United States suffer from binge eating disorder which is far more than both anorexia and bulimia combined.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
The most prominent characteristics of a binge eating disorder are as follows:
- The feeling of being extremely upset while on a binge or directly after.
- Episodes of frequent uncontrolled eating.
- The absence of trying to work off or make up for episodes of binging by exercising, fasting, or vomiting.
Individuals with binge eating disorder often feel guilty and disgusted with themselves and tend to become very depressed. They are aware of what the over-eating is doing to their body and they genuinely want to stop but feel they don’t have the strength to stop.
If you tend to over-eat on a regular basis and have a very real weight problem you might want to ask yourself these questions to see if you have binge eating disorder.
- Do you eat for an emotional out to problems in your life?
- Do you have thoughts about food all the time?
- Do you eat so much that you feel nauseated?
- Do you hide food and then eat it when nobody can see you?
- Do you feel tunnel versioned or not in control when you are eating?
- Do you have a very strong desire to stop eating so much but think you don’t have the power to do so?
The more times you answered “yes” to these questions the more likely it is you have a binge eating problem. Recognizing that there is a real problem is the first big step in getting help and recovering from this disorder.
Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder
Overcoming or treating binge eating disorder and the addiction of food is rather difficult considering the drug of choice is something you need in order to survive. Unlike other addictions such as drugs, gambling, or sex, you can’t just avoid the “drug” and be cured. What you must do is learn to see food in a different way. You have to stop looking at food for an emotional crutch and start seeing it for what it does for you nutritionally.
You must learn the healthy aspects of food and apply that to your life by developing a meal plan that is healthy and satisfying. Get educated about the vitamins found in the foods you eat and what those vitamins do for your body. You also must confront the emotional aspects of this disorder and find a healthier outlet for those emotions. Having friends and family involved will help you to stay on track. It’s very important to have some type of support system to help you overcome the disorder.
Helpful Tips Concerning Binge Eating Disorder
The following are a few tips on how you can start breaking the habit of binge eating:
- Always eat breakfast because this will get your metabolism moving. When you don’t eat your body goes into shut down mode and stores energy in your fat cells.
- Restock your cabinets with healthy food and get rid of all the junk food. If it isn’t around you can’t eat it.
- Don’t diet. Most diet plans limit the amount of food you can have which causes your body to feel hungry which triggers cravings. The most effective and healthy way to lose weight is to eat healthy and exercise. Diets seldom completely work and individuals tend to become depressed and anxious when a diet fails, leading them right back into binge eating.
- Start a regular exercise plan. Exercise will help you lose weight but it will also give you an emotional satisfaction that used to be filled by the over eating.
- Limit or eliminate stress. Stress is one of the emotional triggers that ignite a binge. If you can learn to relax you have defeated at least one of the triggers.
Counseling for Binge Eating Disorder
There are many things you can do yourself to control or even stop binge eating however if you don’t deal with the root of the problem on an emotional level the risk of relapse is great. Seeking the help of professionals will help you to build a strong foundation and will give you the added support you will need. You can seek help of a psychiatrist or therapist, nutritionist, or specialists involved in eating disorders and obesity. This type of treatment is designed to help you lessen the compulsion of overeating by dealing with the emotional problems that trigger the binge episodes.
Different types of professional therapy techniques are designed to help you learn about the disorder and then help you to deal with the root problems that set the disorder into motion. Therapy will help you change your bad eating habits and replace them with healthy choices. The different types of therapy available for binge eating disorders are:
- Behavioral therapy (Cognitive): This type of therapy helps you to understand the negative behaviors associated with binge eating and helps you to change these behaviors. One method of therapy is to keep a journal about your feelings towards eating and by doing this you can understand why it is you binge eat.
- Interpersonal therapy: This type of therapy is designed to help you recognize the interpersonal reasons that add to your binge eating disorder. This therapy also teaches you how to communicate with others better so that you can have a stronger support system among your family and peers.
- Dialectical therapy: This therapy is a combination of cognitive behavioral and mindfulness meditation. What this type of therapy does is help you to deal with stress in a healthier way, deal with emotions in a healthier way, and to learn to accept yourself for who you are. This technique is often coupled with group therapy and is very effective in breaking the hold binge eating has on a patient.
There is help out there and all you have to do is recognize that there is a problem and have a very real desire to want to eliminate this problem from your life. You may have spent many years wrapped up in shame and guilt because of a binge eating disorder but it is never too late to get help and change your life for the better. Binge eating disorder is well understood and there are professionals available to help you get back on track to a healthier life.