Dec
23
2010

Binge Eating Disorder ? Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Binge eating involves more than just eating a lot. With binge eating, a person feels out of control and powerless to stop eating while he or she is doing it. That’s why binge eating is also called compulsive overeating.

People with a binge eating problem may overeat when they feel stressed, upset, hurt, or angry. Many find it comforting and soothing to eat, but after a binge they are likely to feel guilty and sad about the out-of-control eating. Binge eating is often a mixed-up way of dealing with or avoiding difficult emotions.

Food is important for growth and development, but we do not always eat to satisfy our hunger. Most of us overeat from time to time, and we may feel bloated or excessively full as a result. Occasional over-indulgence does not constitute an eating disorder, and binge eating has only recently been recognized as an eating disorder in its own right.

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

• Depression. As many as half of all people with binge eating disorder are depressed or have been depressed in the past.

• Dieting. Some people binge after skipping meals, not eating enough food each day, or avoiding certain kinds of food.

• Coping skills. Studies suggest that people with binge eating may have trouble handling some of their emotions. Many people who are binge eaters say that being angry, sad, bored, worried, or stressed can cause them to binge eat.

Complications

People with binge eating disorder can get sick due to a lack of proper nutrition. Binging episodes usually include foods that are high in sugar and/or salt, but low in healthier nutrients.

People with binge eating disorder are usually very upset by their binge eating and may become very depressed.

People who are obese and also have binge eating disorder are at risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, gallbladder disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

On the other hand, people with binge-eating disorder often have numerous behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms. These include:

• Eating until the point of discomfort or pain

• Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack

• Eating faster during binge episodes

• Feeling that their eating behavior is out of control

• Frequent dieting without weight loss

• Recurrent episodes of binge eating

• Frequently eating alone

Treatment

Cognitive behavior therapy – Focuses on the thoughts that envelop food and eating. One of the main goals is for you to become more self-aware of your relationship to food. Your therapist may ask you to keep a food diary or a journal of your thought processes about food.

Psychotherapy can involve a significant time and financial commitment. You are worth it! Particularly if you are struggling with other issues (sexual abuse, depression, substance use, relationship problems) psychotherapy can be very helpful in addressing not only your disordered eating, but also your overall emotional health and happiness.

Behavior therapy – Uses rewards and repercussions to change the behaviors of bingeing, compulsive overeating, and emotional eating. The behavior therapist teaches you to recognize triggers for bingeing and to interrupt emotional eating episodes by substituting relaxation and other coping strategies.

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