Nov
04
2011

Binge Eating — Are You Addicted to Food?

Article by Lisa Simmons

Eating addictions can affect anyone, even skinny people. It’s not true that all food addicts are overweight. Some are, some aren’t. It’s not your weight that determines whether you’re addicted to food. Rather, it’s how you behave with regard to food.

Binge eating is also not the occasional food splurge or overindulgence on holidays. Food addiction is a consistent and recurring behavior that persists regardless of your best attempts to stop. It’s like being powerless over food.

For true binge eaters, food is the key to feeling better, at least for a while. A food addict will usually feel good while eating the food, but not so good afterward. Some food addicts will consume huge amounts of calories in a very short time, literally making themselves sick.

Food addicts may offset this binging behavior with hours at the gym to make up for the damages and burn off the excess calories. Others will simply feel bad about themselves. In times of stress, a serious binge eater may eat to the point of bursting and then, a few hours later, eat to exhaustion again.

Needless to say, diets are ineffective for those addicted to food. The problem is the addiction, not the diet. And because those addicted to food are powerless over the compulsion to eat, no diet can possibly work.

Binge eating can have serious consequences. Some binge eaters try to deal with a food addition by becoming bulimic. That means throwing up all the food after eating it. Bulimia, or purging, can cause health problems and result in severe dental problems.

Other binge eaters may cycle between binging and anorexia, or fasting. When used to treat binge eating, either purging or fasting can become partner addictions for a food addiction. Binge eating, bulimia and anorexia are all serious eating disorders that require professional intervention for recovery to occur.

Food addiction can have consequences other than those that affect health and weight. It can run up grocery and fast food bills quickly. Because food addicts generally feel guilty about eating to excess, a binge eater might feel compelled to explain to a cashier exactly why she’s ordering so many burgers!

Binge eating can create isolation and secrecy. Hours at the gym to work off excess calories can steal time from work, family, friends and other responsibilities. A food addict must come up with plausible excuses to explain the absence. Food addicts prefer to eat alone so no one knows how much they eat, although they often eat normally when with others.

If you suspect you have a problem with food addiction, it’s important to get a professional opinion. You are not alone! Food addiction is very common among women. Men suffer from it too, although less frequently. By seeking help you will find others who do the same things you do. You can recover from eating disorders, including binge eating, with professional help and the support of people like yourself. If left untreated, eating disorders always get worse, never better.

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