Recognizing Binge Eating May Save Your Life

Recognizing binge eating disorder maybe be a key to reversing the obesity problem of many people. It is a serious eating disorder in which you eat large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating. Most people overeat at holidays or on special occasions. However, when overeating starts occurring regularly and you are unable to easily control it, it becomes binge eating disorder. One of the common problems is embarrassment about the overeating and inability to resist the urge. It is most common in adults but is increasing in older teensSecretive eating, another less severe form of this disorder, is even more common in older teens and even some children.

Diagnostic Criteria for Binge Eating

Here is a partial list of the criteria for binge eating. It is defined as, “eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat. There is also a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode.”

  1. The binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Consuming food much more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Consuming large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating, or eating in secret
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.
  2. Marked distress regarding binging is present.
  3. The episodes occur once a week for 3 months or more.
  4. The excess eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging) as in bulimia nervosa and does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.

Occurrence of Binge Eating

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder, affecting 2-3% of U.S.. adults. It is most common in women age 45-55. Three women for every two men have the problem. It is seen in older teens, but not usually in children in grade or middle school.

Dieting Adds Some Risk for Bulimia

Dieting may be a minor risk factor for anorexia and bulimia, but it’s not clear what role it plays in binge-eating disorder. People with binge-eating disorder have a mixed history of dieting—some have dieted to excess dating back to childhood, while others haven’t dieted. Dieting may trigger an urge to binge eat. Most obese people do not have binge eating disorders. Normal-weight people can also have the disorder.

Most experts believe that it takes a combination of abnormalities to develop an eating disorder—including a person’s genes, emotions, parental factors and experience. Abnormalities in the appetite control centers of the brain have also been associated with binge eating. 50% of binge eaters are depressed, have low self-esteem, feel loneliness, and experience body dissatisfaction and social alienation.

People with binge eating disorder may also have trouble with impulse control and managing and expressing their feelings. Social pressure to be thin can add to the shame binge eaters feel and fuel their emotional eating. Some parents unwittingly set the stage for binging by using food to comfort, dismiss, or reward their children. Obese children who are exposed to frequent critical comments about their bodies and weight are also vulnerable. Sexual abuse in childhood is another factor that researchers have linked to the disorder.

Binge eating disorder is similar to bulimia in that both eating disorders involve consuming massive amounts of food in a short time period. However, unlike bulimics, binge eaters DO NOT regularly try to purge or work off the extra calories consumed. People with this disorder may occasionally try to fast or restrict calories, but many have given up all dieting efforts due to a long history of repeated failure.

Quiz Helps Identify Binge Eaters:

Take this 10 question quiz to see if you might have binge eating disorder.