Despite what people may observe on the surface, eating disorders tend to be about more than food alone, but what are eating disorders? Those without eating disorders tend to eat when they feel hungry and, on occasion, even when they’re not. While some people may overeat from time to time, binge eating disorder is a unique condition that can lead to excessive, seemingly uncontrollable overeating on a regular basis. Although an individual may feel bad both before and after a binge, they may continue to engage in the behavior. In this way, the binging can grow out of their control and no longer feel like a choice.
Below, we’ll explore common symptoms of binge eating disorder and how you can overcome its effects.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder in which someone frequently eats large amounts of food at a time. It is considered done of the most common eating disorders and can affect individuals from all backgrounds, ages, and genders. Those who have this disorder often feel out of control when they take in excessive amounts of food and usually feel sad and ashamed of their behavior after they have engaged in it. BED is a serious mental health condition, but it can be overcome with the right tools and support.
Overcoming Binge Eating Disorder
Eating disorders can be overcome much like many other mental illnesses, but they also can be more complex to treat in some cases. There may be an underlying physical or mental health condition to address, such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, and chronic pain. These problems can have a significant impact on an individual’s overall state of mind, causing them to engage in binging to cope with some of the negative emotions that they may be feeling. In addition, one’s relationship with food often needs to be repaired. Although the food itself is normally not the cause of an eating disorder, it can still be necessary to heal any unhelpful perspectives a person has about food.
Generally, treatment for binge eating disorder includes a combination of medication and therapy. Medication can alter moods, while therapy can often equip a person with coping mechanisms to navigate the strong emotions they’re feeling. It may also be helpful to build up your self-esteem and confidence to feel more positive about yourself as you move forward with treatment. A mental health professional, especially an eating disorder counselor, may assist you in healing psychologically and physically so that you can feel more positive.
The Symptoms Of Binge Eating Disorder
Eating disorders typically have both mental and physical symptoms. The symptoms associated with binge eating disorder may include:
Feeling out of control when consuming large quantities of food
Consuming far more food than the average person would, with binging behavior at least once a week for at least three months
Additionally, individuals usually have to experience at least three of the following symptoms in order to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder:
Eating more quickly than normal
Engaging in binging behavior despite not feeling hungry
Refusing to eat with others because they’re embarrassed about the amount of food they’re eating
Experiencing feelings of shame, depression, or disgust after binging on food
Eating until feeling full to the point of discomfort
Feeling distressed after binging
Additionally, binge eating disorder may have some symptoms that are similar to those of other eating disorders, but they tend to present differently. For example, those who experience bulimia nervosa may engage in binging behavior. However, once they realize that they have overeaten, they typically attempt to expel it from their body through vomiting or laxative misuse. Individuals who live with binge eating disorder do not usually attempt to physically purge the food from their bodies.
Warning Signs Of Binge Eating Disorder
Being able to identify certain behaviors that indicate binge eating disorder may help you become more aware of it and even break free from it. Some of the warning signs to watch out for (or ask others about) include:
Empty containers and food wrappers, which may be evidence of a significant decrease in food supplies in the home
Fear of eating with others or discomfort when eating with others
A habit of stealing or hoarding food
A schedule built around binging sessions or rituals
Withdrawal from friends and activities, either to binge or because of concerns with self-perception and mood
A tendency to try out various diets (often returning to binging behavior and trying out a new diet later on)
Obsession with body and weight
Erratic eating behaviors, including skipping meals, not eating on a schedule, and replacing meals with snacks
A tendency to eat large amounts of food secretly
Frequent changes with weight gain and weight loss
Difficulty with focus and concentration
Certain behaviors may not be easy to recognize, especially in ourselves. If you believe you may be experiencing binge eating disorder, you might consider asking a trusted friend and family member if they have noticed certain behaviors on this list. If you feel uncomfortable opening up to friends or family, you may be able to confide in a counselor or medical professional who can listen without judgment and offer guidance on a path forward.
Binge Eating Disorder Impact
At first glance, binge eating disorder may not seem worrisome. However, there are potential that can be concerning. People with binge eating disorder can experience several health problems, such as:
Increased risk of some forms of cancer
High blood pressure
Although this is not an exhaustive list of potential health complications, it offers a glimpse into how impactful this disorder can be. These health problems can develop over time. Although you might feel relatively healthy now, little impacts can add up over time and become larger concerns. However, there is help available through numerous outlets.
Online Therapy For Binge Eating Disorder
You don’t have to confront an eating disorder all on your own. You may recover with more ease and less discomfort when working with a professional counselor. If it feels daunting to discuss an eating disorder at a therapist’s office, you might consider speaking with an online therapist. Research has shown that teletherapy via phone or videoconference is effective for eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and substance use.
Binge eating disorder can be a difficult disorder to deal with. However, wherever you may be in your journey, it is certainly not something that you have to deal with alone. If you believe that binge eating disorder may be impacting your life, the information above will provide you with a clearer picture of what this disorder looks like, how it is affecting you, and what you can do to begin receiving treatment for it.
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