Binge eating is when you feel a strong need to eat large amounts of food at all times without having control over it. Everybody overeats once in a while when having favorite meals or when really hungry. However, when the overeating becomes frequent and gets out of control, it crosses the line from normal to a binge eating disorder.
When you suffer from this condition, you will often swear to stop due to embarrassment or any other reason but you just can’t resist the need to overeat. This is the point where medical attention will be required.
Signs and symptoms
Signs are what other people see in you while symptoms are what you feel when suffering from the condition. In most cases, being overweight or obese goes hand in hand with binge eating disorder. However, you might still maintain your normal weight while overeating. Here are the signs and symptoms that accompany binge eating disorder:
- Eating very large amounts of food for longer periods that you would have otherwise never managed to finish before
- When you start to get the feeling that you are losing control of your eating habits
- You can’t resist the urge to eat at any time even when you are not hungry or uncomfortably full
- Experiencing episodes of rapid eating
- Eating secretly or in hiding
- Feeling embarrassed, disgusted or guilty about your eating habits
- Frequent dieting that does not yield any good results
In binge eating disorder, you don’t feel the need to compensate for the overeating by excessive work outs, vomiting or using laxatives like in the case of bulimia. Trying to restrict one’s self by dieting or resisting the urge to eat will only lead to another serious episode of binge eating. You can tell how severe the eating disorder is by noting the number of times that the overeating episodes occur in a week.
When to seek medical advice
Binge eating disorder usually gets worse with time if left untreated. Therefore, it is always recommended to seek medical attention as soon as you start seeing the signs and symptoms.
If you are hesitant about talking to a doctor or mental health expert, you can at least talk to someone you trust and figure a way out together. Consulting with family members, close friends, teacher or anyone you look up to, is a big step to recovery.
Effects of binge eating disorder
When binge eating disorder attacks you, it will leave you filled with shame and other negative emotions. These negative emotions that come with it are the main reason why most people will find themselves struggling to stop the overeating. At last, seeking medical attention will be your best bet and the only real way out.
Binge eating disorder greatly impacts your life in a lot of negative ways. It deprives you of the confidence to be in control of your eating habits, making you unable to share a meal even with your loved ones. This lack of confidence will quickly spread to other areas of your life destroying relationships with your family and friends, co-workers and schoolmates.
The effects of binge eating are usually even more serious if you have other co-occurring disorders like drug abuse or depression. These is because co-occurring disorders make it harder for you to understand what you are going through, causing confusion and severe binge eating episodes.
Common statistics on binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder was once considered a distinct condition, but it has rapidly turned into one of the most common eating disorders today. A large number of people with binge eating disorders are overweight with a small percentage having a normal body weight.
One to five percent of the adult population is probably affected by binge eating disorder. 10 to 15 percent of overweight adults who seek help with weight-related health conditions are often found to be suffering from binge eating disorder. Most cases of binge eating are found in extremely overweight or obese adults.
Studies have also shown that cases of binge eating disorder are slightly higher in women compared to men. Obese people suffering from this condition are also said to have a history of weight issues going back to childhood.
Tips to help you stay on track after recovery
Most people who have fully recovered from binge eating disorder often find themselves wondering whether they should stop eating foods that used to trigger their bingeing episodes for the rest of their lives, or have them once in a while. Here are a few tips that will guide you after recovery:
- Don’t quit the ‘trigger foods’ for good
Nothing is wrong with treating yourself with the ‘trigger foods’ once in a while as long as you eat them with moderation, which would not be a problem since you’ve regained control over your eating habits. If you don’t feel like eating them anymore, you can avoid them but never tell yourself that you’ll never eat them again. If you try to convince yourself that you’ll never eat them again, it might turn out to be an unhealthy challenge. So, it is very okay to reintroduce the foods you had stopped eating, when you were under medication, after you are fully recovered.
- No skipping meals
You should avoid skipping meals and instead eat moderate meals all day. This is simply because if you skip a meal, the hungrier you will get and the higher your chances of overeating during your next meal. Try to include proteins in your meals which help in controlling your blood sugar.
- Avoid stocking up certain foods
Stocking up certain foods, like unhealthy snacks and junk food, in the house will only increase the temptation of secretly taking large bites. You can instead go to a restaurant and eat what you want without takeaways. This will encourage the moderation that is highly required at this stage.
- Make yourself happy once in a while
It is always advisable to engage yourself with activities that cheer you up once in a while. You can call an old friend, work out, meditate or do any other activity that lifts up your mood, except eating of course. This will help reduce the stress and bad emotions that come with the day-to-day hustle and in return reduce the chances of bingeing.
- Do not diet
Dieting, denying yourself certain foods or cutting down calories will only worsen the situation. You will probably end up eating large amounts of food to make up for the dieting, food that you would have otherwise eaten with the required moderation.
- Keep a diary or journal
Keeping track of how much and of what you are eating makes you realize the direction you are taking and helps you get to know your food habits better. Try to record the type of food, the time you ate, how much you ate and what your mood was like when you ate. These details are very important in checking how your moods are connected with the way you eat.
As stated earlier, the number of people that are affected by binge eating disorder has been growing in recent times. For this reason, it is important to know the signs and symptoms of this disorder so you can know when it strikes.