Binge Eating Disorder or BED is an eating disorder that affects 1 to 2% of the worldwide population and is more common in women. From the name itself, this illness is characterized by eating a lot of food in just a short period, and having no control over the amount of food consumed.
Say for example, a person would normally eat a regular serving of food in 30 minutes to an hour. Those with binge eating disorder can eat twice or thrice that in the same amount of time, and feel out of control about the amount of food they consume.
It differs from bulimia, another eating disorder where a person binge eats because those suffering from binge eating disorder don’t purge themselves after consuming excessive amounts of food. They don’t try to induce vomiting, abuse laxatives, and diuretics. They just don’t stop eating until they’re uncomfortably full.
Who is Affected by BED?
You may not know it, but you could be suffering from binge eating disorder already. To see if you do, check for the following characteristics:
- You eat large amounts of food — more than double the recommended dietary intake for your age and body — most, if not all of the time.
- You can’t really stop eating until everything is consumed, or that you feel uncomfortably full.
- Still, you feel embarrassed by the amount you ate, yet on your next meal, you won’t think twice about altering the serving sizes.
- You’ve tried and succeeded to lose weight before, but just gained it back afterward. You’re in a cycle of losing and gaining weight.
- However, you now have trouble losing weight compared with other people with weight problems.
Ticking off most of the items above, you probably have binge eating disorder, and it’s not something that you can just ignore. There are complications that stem from this condition, and you are at risk of developing more health problems that could be life-threatening.
Complications Caused by BED
First, you are at risk of getting overweight. If you’re still in the cycle of losing and gaining weight, maybe you don’t see yourself getting overweight or obese. Once you forego physical activities, your weight can easily balloon and you’ll find that it’s harder to keep off than usual.
Of course, obesity exposes you to a lot more health risks, some of which are life-threatening. Eating too much fatty foods can increase your cholesterol levels and elevate your blood pressure. You can develop a long list of heart diseases, coupled with diabetes, gallbladder illness, and even various types of cancer.
People suffering from binge eating disorder also have increased risk for other psychiatric illnesses, depression being one of them. Binge eating usually follows stress and anxiety, but eating too much food at one time can then trigger guilt and depression. This causes an unbreakable cycle of stress, binge eating, depression, and more stress. Worse, they could even turn to substance abuse for relief.
Recommended Treatments for Binge Eating Disorder
Treating binge eating disorder entails managing the illness to reduce binges and promote healthy eating habits; it’s not a one-time cure that can “turn off” your tendency to binge eat the next day.
One of the recommended treatments is psychotherapy because this disorder is greatly related to shame, negative emotions, guilt, poor self-image, and depression. Addressing these problems teaches the sufferer to feel more in control of what they eat so that they can stop at any time they choose and not fall into a pit of despair because they ate too much.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is one of the methods to help those suffering from BED cope with issues that trigger their binges. CBT addresses the negative feelings about their body and gives them more control over their behavior so that they won’t feel helpless when presented with the opportunity to overeat.
- If the trigger of the binge eating episodes includes problematic relationships and bad communication skills, perhaps they should consider getting interpersonal psychotherapy. This helps you focus on your relationships, and aims to improve interpersonal skills so that you won’t fall into a depressive state.
- If stress is the trigger, you can get dialectical behavior therapy so that you can learn behavioral skills that allow you to tolerate it. By tolerating stress, you can regulate your emotions, and even improve your interpersonal relations. This reduces your desire to binge and overeat.
- Medications can also help manage binge eating triggers and even reduce symptoms. One of them is an anticonvulsant called Topiramate, which is normally used for seizures. It’s been found to reduce binge-eating episodes but has side effects like sleepiness, trouble concentrating, and dizziness, among others. And since depression is a well-known trigger, antidepressants are good for addressing them. This decreases the tendency to binge-eat, but it’s not clear how they can do so. Currently, it’s associated with certain chemicals in the brain that controls your mood.
It is important to address binge eating disorder as soon as possible. If you think you are suffering from this condition, there are a lot of people who you can turn to for help. A dietician can help you with meal planning and general diet.
If you feel like you don’t have any control over what you eat, you can go to a psychiatrist to help you address the underlying causes of the problem, such as guilt, depression, and more.
There are many proven ways to address this problem, so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you don’t think you can address it on your own.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.