Binge eating is a type of disordered eating in which a person repeatedly eats large amounts of food in short amounts of time until they are uncomfortably full.
Like other eating disorders, binge eating disorder (BED) is associated with various health risks, such as clinical obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, emotional distress, and mental health concerns. However, BED and other eating disorders can be successfully treated when addressed on time.
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Binge Eating and Other Eating Disorders Prevalence
Eating disorders are potentially fatal mental conditions. They have the highest mortality rates among psychiatric disorders, second only to an opioid overdose. According to the US National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), every 52 minutes, someone dies from an eating disorder.
Between 1.25 million and 3.4 million people in the UK are thought to have an eating disorder. People between the ages of 16 and 40 are most likely to have an eating disorder. About 25 per cent of affected people are men.
Binge eating accounts for around 22% of all eating disorder diagnoses.
What Causes Binge Eating?
Binge eating, like other eating disorders, is not about food. Just like with other eating disorders, preoccupation with food and eating is often caused by emotional issues.
People who suffer from eating disorders frequently engage in compulsive eating to numb unpleasant emotions, including shame, anger or despair, Low self-esteem, negative body image, loneliness, and inadequacy are often linked to BED and other eating disorders.
It is believed that a combination of various biological, psychological, and social factors can trigger eating disorders. Genetics, specific personality traits (such as perfectionism and impulsivity), culturally accepted ideals of thinness, and social pressure to conform to these ideals can cause an unhealthy attitude toward food and eating.
For instance, there is a closer link between perfectionism and eating disorders than most people believe.
People often think that eating disorders only affect teenage girls with body image problems. However, adult men and women suffer from eating disorders too. Many are high-achieving professionals and perfectionists who are constantly dissatisfied with their performances, bodies, relationships, and lives. They often have trouble controlling their perfectionism and the emotional distress it causes, which can lead to eating disorders.
Individuals with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating were shown to have much greater perfectionism attributes than those in the control groups, according to studies investigating the correlation between perfectionism and eating disorders.
Signs of Binge Eating
If you have a binge eating disorder (BED), you might feel like you have no control during a binge eating episode. After a binge-eating episode, you might also feel shame, disgust, and guilt.
The most common signs of binge eating involve the following:
- Eating uncontrollably, even when you are full or not hungry
- Fear of eating uncontrollably
- Obsession with appearance and body image
- Eating alone in secret
- Obsessively thinking about food
- Strong feelings of embarrassment and shame
- Feelings and acts of self-loathing and self-disgust
What Is the Difference Between Binge Eating and Bulimia?
Similarly to BED, people with bulimia nervosa have periods of binge eating when they consume a large quantity of food in a short period of time. However, episodes of purging then follow excessive eating.
If you have bulimia, you may find that you have no control over your eating and continue to eat until you are physically unable to do so any longer. You may try to get rid of food in an unhealthy way after a binge to ease the pain or erase the guilt and shame you’ve been having over your eating.
However, people with binge eating disorders don’t count calories or try to make up for bingeing by doing things like throwing up.
What Helps and What Doesn’t
Blaming yourself for binge eating and withdrawal from friends and family will only make you feel worse. What can help if you suffer from binge eating is counselling and psychotherapy, behavioural weight-loss programmes, and medication.
How Counselling Can Help
While managing an eating problem might be difficult, it is not impossible. To address your issues and receive the right treatment plan, you must seek the assistance of a healthcare expert specialising in eating disorders.
Counselling can help you understand the underlying causes of binge eating and cope better with issues that trigger the troubled relationship between food and eating.
Counselling at Leone Centre
Qualified counsellors at Leone Centre are there to understand you and support you without judgment. They can help you overcome self-limiting beliefs and forge new, healthy coping mechanisms, regulate your eating patterns, and improve your interpersonal skills (in the case that binge eating is caused by problematic relationships).
Like other eating and mental health disorders, we believe recovery and healing are possible here at Leone Centre.