Nov
27
2010

The Truth about Binge Eating

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Unlike anorexia and bulimia, binge eating disorder has been largely ignored by the medical community and by society at large. And yet, according to best estimates, this disorder may affect up to four percent of all Americans. While the figures are at best just educated guesses, it is possible that this disorder could be affecting many more in a more mild form.

Binge eating is classified as periods of episodic excessive overeating. Unlike bulmia however the sufferer does not usually purge after eating. Binge eating can occur on its own or alongside other eating disorders and conditions.

Binge eaters are generally compelled to consume huge quantities of food all at once, ignoring feelings of fullness or even nausea and other unpleasant symptoms. Binge eaters tend to have little or no control over this consumption.

Feelings leading to binge eating may include anxiety, stress and emotional negativity. After a binge, however, sufferers of this disorder tend to feel even worse, suffering from feelings of guilt and disgust with themselves. The problem generally accompanies or leads to depression and further anxiety thereby turning binge eating into a vicious cycle.

Binge eating tends to be a secretive affair and as such numbers are difficult to gage. The effects of such binging can lead to the development of other problems including high blood pressure, hypertension, obesity, heart disease and Diabetes. Treatments are generally dependent on sourcing out what exactly is the primary cause of the binges.

There are several known risk factors for binge eating disorders. According to researchers, risk factors for binge eating include:

Age: older adults usually in their 40s and 50s. This is not to say that that young people are unaffected by the disease, as it may be progressive and therefore lead to its discovery later in life even while the symptoms may have begun much earlier.

Other Eating Disorders: People with other eating disorders are at a higher risk for developing binge eating as well. Those people with bulimia or anorexia have a greater chance of developing symptoms of binge eating alongside these disorders.

Dieters: according to experts, people who frequently diet may be at a higher risk for engaging in binge eating. Dieting is a known risk factor for anorexia and bulimia and may also increase the chances of developing unhealthy patterns associated with binge eating disorder.

Psychological Problems: People with high levels of stress, anger, and anxiety or negative emotions such as sadness, depression and worry are at a much higher risk of developing patterns of unhealthy eating including binging.

Sexual Abuse: According to the latest research binge eating can develop in people who have experienced sexual abuse as children.

Societal Expectations: The current obsession with ultra thin models and actresses in the media today has been shown by experts to lead to unhealthy dieting and eating disorders, especially among women but increasingly among men as well. The over valuation of thinness, body shape and appearance can negatively affect people’s self esteem thereby triggering unhealthy habits, including binge eating.

Biology: Apparently the development of binge eating may be associated with certain genes as well as chemicals in the brain. Appetite regulation is currently being studied b researchers as a means to investigate how these biological processes may affect eating habits.

Jobs: Interestingly, there is some evidence that certain jobs may increase the likelihood of developing binge eating disorder. Sportsmen and women, as well as models seem to have higher percentages of binge eating symptoms. It may also be that those in the food service industry suffer a similar increased risk, however, this is still awaiting further investigation.

The symptoms of binge eating disorder are sometimes difficult for physicians and health care practitioners to detect. Some people with the disorder might refer to it simply as compulsive eating. In many cases, weight might be the only physical sign available to the outside world.

Binges can last anywhere from a matter of minutes to a matter of days. In certain cases, bingers have consumed upwards of 10 or 20,000 calories during a binge. The average caloric intake is only about 1500-3000 per day, so you can see that binge eating is certainly a disorder to be taken seriously.

While we all have days or times in which we overeat, having a second or third helping of desert, or going a little heavy on the cream sauce, this is different from true binge eating. Nevertheless, if you feel yourself using food to cope with stress, anxiety or other emotions, then you may want to consider finding an alternative means. A good therapist or counsellor should be able to help you deal with these issues without turning to binging. Binging can be a very dangerous disorder, leading to serious health complications. If you are suffering from this disorder or know someone who might be, be sure to seek out medical and/or psychological help before the problem gets worse.

 

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