Binge Eating Disorder

Everyone overeats from time to time.    We may enjoy a dinner out with a bit too much relish or take extra helpings of our favorite foods.   Holiday parties and meals always make it easy to overeat.   However, binge eating is a compulsive disorder that is considerably more common than anorexia or bulimia and affects as many men as it does women.

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by periods of extreme over-eating, but not followed by purging behaviors as in most cases of bulimia. Binge eating can occur alone, or in conjunction with a lesion of the hypothalamus gland, Prader-Willi disorder, or other conditions.   The binge eater feels out of control and powerless to stop their compulsive overeating.  Typically, the symptoms of binge eating disorder begin in late adolescence or early adulthood.  Many times the behavior starts after a major diet.

Binge eaters use food to cope with stress.  They may be comforted for a short period of time but then they feel guilt, disgust and
depression.  They worry about what eating this way will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their inability to control their eating.   Binge eating often leads to weight gain which makes the person feel worse about themselves.   The worse they feel, the more they will turn to food for comfort and then the cycle renews itself.    People with binge eating disorder are ashamed of their eating habits so many times they will hide their symptoms and eat in secret.   Many binge eaters are overweight or obese, while some are still normal weight.  I mentioned in my HCG follow-up article that I’d been on a binge.   While I have not been diagnosed (yet), the signs and symptoms of my eating tend to trend in the direction of binge eating.   I intend to seek professional assistance for this problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

  • Compulsively eating when you aren’t hungry.
  • Inability to stop eating or to control what you are eating.
  • Eating until you feel sick
  • Eating to escape from stress or worries
  • Being embarrassed by how much you are eating
  • Desperation to control your eating
  • Eating normally around others but overeating when you are alone
  • Never feeling like any food satisfies you no matter how much you eat

Ways to Overcome Binge Eating

  • Get support.   See a professional or try a self help plan such as Dr Christopher Fairburn’s book, “Overcoming Binge Eating.”
  • Try to manage stress through techniques such as meditation, exercise, breathing exercises or doing something nice for yourself like stopping to read a book or take a hot bath.
  • Learn the difference between when you are physically hungry or if the hunger is an emotional symptom.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat three meals a day plus healthy snacks.
  • Focus on eating in moderation rather than trying to diet.
  • Keep a food diary.  This is an excellent Online Food Diary
  • Exercise
  • Fight boredom

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