How we can identify the binge eating disorder, overpower it, and break free from it.
Now, don’t get me wrong – treating yourself is not a bad thing.
If you’re dedicated to your fitness goals, you’re working hard, and you’re (for the most part) on your diet, a little cheat meal or cheat day every so often works wonders to keep your motivation going strong.
But sometimes, we lose control.
And a huge problem for most people lies in not recognizing a little disorder called the Binge eating disorder (or BED).
It can turn your cheat meal into a cheat day, that cheat day into a cheat week, and next thing you know, the only thing considered cheating on your diet would be eating a salad.
That’s not what we’re going for.
Today, I want to take a look at this (extremely) common disorder, and show you what you can do to identify it, and stop it in its tracks, once and for all.
The binge eating disorder or BED is characterized as regularly and compulsively eating large amounts of food, rapidly at the point of pain or discomfort. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the USA as it affects 3-5% of the general population with 3,5% of women and 2% of men being affected.
Don’t get me wrong – we all have moments in which we eat a just a little more than necessary, but BED is much more severe than that.
People with this condition have the feeling that they are out of control while eating. They often overeat and do it too quickly, even when they aren’t feeling hungry. Because of this behavior, it’s likely that they eat alone and feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment about their condition.
There is a difference between BED and bulimia, as people with bulimia will try to “undo” the effects of binge eating by vomiting or using laxatives. People with BED may vow to stop their emotional eating, but the shame and stress make them binge again and again.
Millions of people suffer from BED. A large portion of them are obese, but that isn’t always an effective indicator when identifying the binge eater.
After all, BED can affect everyone no matter the age, race, gender or body type.
If left untreated and uncontrolled, this little overeating habit can even be life-threatening.
So… what exactly causes it?
What Are The Causes of B.E.D?
The unhealthy relationship between food and people with BED is part of a much larger and significant problem – mental and emotional issues.
The exact cause of this disorder is unknown but most likely can be attributed to a combination of psychological, behavioral, and environmental influences.
Statistics show that you’re more likely to develop BED if you have:
- Family history – If you have parent or siblings with an eating disorder, the risk for you to develop one is much higher.
- Psychological issues or negative self-worth – Certain thought patterns are closely associated with BED, including depression, anger, anxiety, and negative feelings about yourself, your body, and your accomplishments.
- A history of restricting calories – people who have this disorder can differ in body types, but most of the times they have repeatedly tried dieting.
- Traumatic experiences – people with post-traumatic stress disorder can often develop BED as a form of an escape from the pain.
- Personal problems – having issues with your closest people can lead to binge-eating behavior.
- Been fat shamed or bullied – many people diagnosed with BED report having a long personal history of dieting for those exact reasons.
As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of these causes have nothing to do with body type, workout history, or actual food preferences.
They’re psychological – certain bad experiences and associations that worsen the relationship between the binge eater and their favorite tasty foods, and make him or her develop continuous, uncontrolled cravings.
If you’re finding yourself in any of these causes, you might potentially be experiencing the symptoms of BED, without even knowing it!
Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms and Behaviors
Someone who has BED displays clear and specific signs and symptoms that easily help us indicate their condition. Some of them include:
- Eating unusually large quantities of food when you are not hungry, or when you are full
- Eating faster than normal
- Eating until you feel uncomfortable
- Feeling embarrassment, shame, depression, disgust, or guilt about binge eating
- Eating alone or in secret so that others cannot see you binge eat
- Feeling “out of control” when you are eating, like you cannot stop
You may also experience certain physical complications as symptoms of BED, such as:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Type II diabetes
- Gallbladder disease
- Joint and muscle pain
- Sleep apnea
And some of the psychological conditions linked with BED include:
- Feeling bad about yourself, your body, or your life
- Poor quality of life
- Problems functioning at work, in your personal life, or while socializing
- Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse disorder
Even though BED symptoms and behaviors are easy to spot, successfully addressing it will require a mix of therapeutic approaches.
It would be best if you had a team of mental health providers, medical providers, and nutritional experts which can help guide you toward a safe and effective treatment.
If left untreated…
BED comes with many health risks including physical, emotional and social. Up to 50% of people with this condition are obese.
This disorder is a high-risk factor for gaining weight and becoming overweight – the reason for this is obviously the increased calorie intake during these “binging episodes”.
Obesity on its own comes with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
What’s worse is, studies show people with BED having a higher risk of developing these health problems compared to obese people of the same weight who don’t have BED.
Other problems associated with this condition are having difficulty sleeping, chronic pain, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In women, the condition leads to higher risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and development of polycystic ovary syndrome.
People with BED also experience difficulty socializing as 13% of them say they can’t even function properly in social settings.
So as we can see, ignoring these binge eating episodes is NOT an option.
If the symptoms of this disorder are left untreated, complications are guaranteed.
And that’s not what I want for you.
So how do we take care of this harmful disorder, and make sure it doesn’t come back?
Simple… you fight it from within.
Treating, overcoming, and moving forward.
If you even suspect that you’ve recently experienced a BED episode, it’s best that you immediately seek medical attention. BED is a disorder which requires proper diagnoses and medical treatment.
If it’s left untreated, it can get worse, and in some extreme cases, it can become life-threatening.
It would be helpful before the doctor’s appointment, to make a list of symptoms which you are experiencing.
You can include personal information like your family’s history of eating disorders, stress, recent life changes, and a typical day of eating.
Don’t be afraid to talk about your emotions and thoughts even if they don’t seem related to binge eating – it’s essential to give your provider a clear picture.
Your doctor will ask you questions about your daily food intake, your mindset about it, how quickly you eat, and so on. If you want to stop BED, you have to be honest and open up about the emotions you have suppressed.
You may want to consider having a conversation with your doctor about if he had worked with similar patients before, how he approaches the treatment, and what he sees as the primary goal for your recovery.
An effective treatment plan may include assistance from a variety of medical specialist, health and wellness experts, and mental health practitioners. That’s because everybody has his unique signs and symptoms.
This “team” of specialists can help you stop binging by addressing the underlying influences and unhealthy habits.
Working with these kinds of people will motivate you to reduce your food intake, make healthy long-term changes, and ultimately overcome BED.
Aside from the obvious, the best way to treat this disorder is to think of it as something emotional rather than physical.
If you realize the underlying cause of your problem, you’re one step closer to solving it by yourself.
Different types of therapy can be incredibly beneficial for disorders such as this one.
And if you find it difficult to be honest with yourself, and you feel like you might need a little help, these are the therapy types that I recommend:
- Psychotherapy – a trained therapist will work with you to figure out the root cause of your binge-eating episodes and help you overcome them.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – this is one-on-one therapeutic counseling which treats mental disorders, including depression. A cognitive behavioral therapist may allow you to express your thoughts and feeling, helping you rethink the way you think about yourself, your body, and your accomplishments.
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy – this is a short-term treatment which focuses on the way people interact with others. An interpersonal psychotherapist can help you address any social or communication issues which encourage you to eat a.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy – this form of cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients remove self-harming behaviors and negative thinking. If you undergo this therapy, you can learn how to solve problems better, cope with stress and regulate anxiety.
- Group or Family Therapy – social support is a crucial component of overcoming BED. It’s essential for your family to be able to talk about your condition and its effects on you, especially if you’re not the only person in the family experiencing these episodes.
As with every such disorder, it’s completely treatable!
If you suffer from B.E.D, it’s vital for you to realize that recovery is a journey of treatment, healing, and personal growth.
It’s not about buying what’s on the prescription.
It’s about being patient, taking care of yourself, and choosing the right way to treat yourself.
I want you to live your life healthier, and happier than you’ve ever been.
You shouldn’t think (not even for a second) that your disorder defines your future.
We all grow and experience changes, and sometimes a few bad experiences can leave us hurting for a long time, without even realizing it.
Remember – your journey of health, fitness, and balance starts when you decide it does. No disorder, doctor, or number on a scale can tell you otherwise.
As we learned, B.E.D is psychological – it’s a result of your past experiences, decisions, and environment.
But the good news is…
It ends exactly when you decide it does.