Monday, September 12, 2011

Binge eating

          How many times have you uttered the words “I can’t believe how much I just ate”? We all have our moments where we can’t help ourselves. We eat non-stop. However, some people suffer from recurrent episodes of uncontrollable eating. These episodes appear at least 2 or 3 times a week over a minimal period of 6 months (according to the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic Criteria). We call them Binge Eaters.
Binge eating is a very common eating disorder. It affects men and women with a higher prevalence for women. So what exactly is it? And how can someone fight it?

What is binge eating?

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by compulsive eating with an inability to stop. Those episodes last around 2 hours and can occur several times a day. Binge eaters consume huge amounts of food rapidly, without even being hungry and they keep eating long after they’re full. After bingeing, comes the feeling of guilt, disgust and depression. However, nothing is done to compensate those episodes (no fasting, exercising or vomiting).
Some people also have a Night Eating Syndrome, consuming more than half of daily energy intake during and after dinner. They also suffer from sleeping disorders.
Most binge eaters are overweight. And many of them finally seek bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery).


Binge eating is the result of a combination of problems: biological (genetics), psychological (emotions) and social (experiences).

Hypothalamus: it is a part of the brain that is responsible for sending messages of hunger and fullness. There could be a problem with the messages it’s sending, resulting in overeating.
- Genetics: some researchers have found a genetic mutation that may cause eating disorders. 
- Serotonin levels: sometimes, if the “feel good” hormone levels are low, overeating may occur.

Binge eating is directly linked to depression and negative feelings. And this is why this disorder occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood as well as after a major diet.

- Solving problems with foods: I see so many parents who reward their children with junk food or even try to take a break from their children by giving them a bag of chips to eat quietly in the corner. These types of social behaviors can predispose kids to binge eating.
- Remarks concerning weight and eating habits: when parents or entourage make constant remarks concerning a person’s shape, this has a counter effect. And the person being attacked will seek comfort in food.


As I’ve mentioned earlier, most binge eaters are overweight and even obese. They fall into a vicious circle of excessive eating, then feeling of guilt and depression which aggravates the overeating episodes.  
On the long run, it can lead to obesity-related diseases such as high blood cholesterol, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, etc. It can also lead to gallbladder disease, certain types of cancer as well as anxiety, depression and personality disorders.

Are you a binge eater?

So here’s a small test that can help you identify whether you’re a binge eater or not. The more you answer yes to the following questions, the more likely it is that you have the disorder.

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, relieve stress or comfort yourself?

Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?

Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

Stop this addiction!

If you’re a binge eater, you need to seek professional help, often a therapist and a dietitian. In general, the treatment should be as follows:

Get back to the source- Find out what’s bothering you in your life and what’s generating negative feelings and try to solve that. If it’s your career, try to find a different job; if it’s your boyfriend, dump him; if it’s the fact that you don’t have a boyfriend, throw on your sexiest dress and go on a girls’ night out, I’m sure you’ll find one in no time. Now I know that some things are not as simple. But the more you simplify them, the more chances you have to find a solution.

Food diary- Write down what you’re eating every day and what you felt before and after eating. First of all, this will open your eyes to the quantities you’re having and second of all, it will let you realize why you’re eating so much. It will also show you that eating is not solving your problems; it is only making you feel worse.

Healthy eating habits- Consume 3 meals a day and 2 snacks at specific times. Organizing your eating habits is very important. Try to separate food from emotions. You are now eating to feed yourself; you’re not using food as a remedy. Try to understand your body and figure out when it’s calling for food out of hunger, not out of need for comfort.

Exercise- Physical activity is very helpful in this case. In fact, it can help you lose the weight you have gained because of bingeing. It can also fight depression as it releases endorphins, “well-being” hormones. Plus, it keeps you busy and away from food.

Avoid temptation- Keep high fat, high sugar foods out of reach.

Fight boredom- Boredom is often a trigger to overeating. So don’t let yourself get bored. Go for a walk, go out with a friend, go shopping, etc.  

No dieting- Dieting in this case can only make you feel worse. Food deprivation does not help you overcome binge eating. Even if you think you’re overweight, don’t try to fix it immediately. You will automatically lose weight if you follow all the steps above and get rid of this eating disorder.

          Binge eating is a serious problem. If you think that someone in your entourage may have this disorder, please ask them to seek help and try to support them the best way possible so that they can overcome it.


Kimberly said...

Too much food is bad for the health even if it is healthy food you are eating. I have always wondered if poor people also experience such. Certainly not! But it doesn’t mean that poor people can’t develop eating disorder. Basically there are three types of eating disorder and if they don’t fall on binge eating then they are either experiencing Anorexia or Bulimia.

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