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Binge Eating Disorders

About Binge Eating Disorder

If you have a binge eating disorder, you feel unable to stop eating even if you want to. You eat very large quantities of food or a different type of food one after the other within a short space of time without feeling like you’re in control of what you’re doing. Food can be used as a comfort mechanism, as a way to make you feel better or conceal difficult feelings. It is sometimes described as ‘compulsive eating.’

Unlike people with Bulimia, you don’t usually follow binge eating by getting rid of food through vomiting, though sometimes you might fast between binges. Because of this, most binge/compulsive eaters struggle incessantly with excess weight.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is not about choosing to eat large portions or “overindulgence” – it is very distressing and far from being enjoyable. You might find it difficult to stop during a binge even if you want to. Some people who have BED have described feeling disconnected from what they are doing during a binge, or even struggling to remember what they have eaten afterwards.

The episodes will have at least three of the characteristics immediately below:

  • Eating much faster than normal.

  • Eating past the point of fullness.

  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry.

  • Eating alone or in secret through embarrassment at the amount being eaten.

  • Feelings of disgust, shame, or guilt during or after binge.

  • Feeling “taken over” or “driven” as if by another presence in respect of eating.

Binges can be planned like a ritual and can involve you buying “special” binge foods, or they can be spontaneous. Some go to extreme lengths to access food like eating food that has been thrown away or that doesn’t belong to them, for example.

It usually takes place in private, though you may eat regular meals outside of your binge. You might restrict your diet or put in certain rules around food, which could lead you to binge eat due to hunger or feelings of deprivation. The feelings of guilt and disgust at your lack of control during and after binge eating can reinforce that cycle of negative emotions, restriction and binge eating again.

Why Do I Binge Eat?

There are a lot of things that can make you feel the urge to binge eat:

  • Difficult or overwhelming feelings.

  • Boredom and low mood.

  • The need to fill a hole or a void.

  • Feeling empty or that something is missing.

  • Grief and bereavement

  • Judgements and criticisms from yourself and other people.

  • Sudden heightened feelings of happiness and excitement.

  • Self-sabotage or the need to drown out negative self-talk.

  • Loneliness

  • Then notion that ‘food makes everything okay’ and ‘food is there for me when no one else is.’

  • You or a member of your family has a history of eating disorders, depression, alcohol or drug misuse.

  • You have been sexually abused.

  • You have anxiety, low-self-esteem, an obsessive personality or are a perfectionist.

Sometimes your binge eating episodes may be more habitual or planned, rather than being driven by a sudden urge or a trigger, and this can also be due to a number of reasons such as numb emotions or to manage uncomfortable feelings and loneliness.

Subjective and Objective Binge Eating & Criteria

There are many people who ‘objectively’ binge eat and do not purge. By this I mean they eat significantly large amounts of food in a discrete period, or ‘secret eat.’ There are others who do not objectively binge eat but feel out of control in their eating behaviour. They may pick or eat small amounts of food continuously, which is known as ‘subjective binge eating.

BED requires at least three of the following criteria:

1. Recurrent problems with binge eating or episodic overeating, where the amount of food is objectively large or excessive.

2. Accompanied by a subjective sense of being out of control.

3. Binge Eating Characteristics (see about binge eating section)

4. Extreme concern and distress about eating behaviour – sensing is as abnormal.

5. Bing eating at least one two times weekly and of at least 3 months duration.

6. No purging strategies or excessive weight control methods like fasting.

Binge Eating Disorders, Your Body & The Consequences

The major consequences of Binge Eating disorders, including compulsive eating disorder ae:

  • Developing problems linked to being overweight – for example, joint and muscle pain, type two diabetes, or high blood pressure.

  • Developing health problems such as acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Getting sugar highs and lows, which means having bursts of energy then feeling very tiered.

  • Feeling sick a lot

  • Reactive hypoglycaemia and associated problems, including adrenal exhaustion, fatigue, apathy, and mental confusion.

  • Obesity and its medical co-morbidities.

  • Psychological problems, depression and body image issues and damaged self-esteem.

  • Insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, The Metabolic Syndrome and associated problems, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular complications

  • Shortness of breath

  • Feeling sick a lot.

The more frequent the binging episodes are, the more severe the illness becomes. While symptoms can be severe, if treated promptly, they can be reversed.

Warning signs can include the following:

  • Always on and off diets.

  • Always ‘going to diet tomorrow.’

  • Large weight gain.

  • Disappearance of food.

  • Finding wrappers hidden behind chairs or under the bed.

  • Weight gain while appearing to eat sensibly.

  • Depression and moodiness.

  • Erratic eating habits such as missing meals, especially breakfast.

How Can I Help You With Your Binge Eating Disorder?

If you wish to get support in understanding your Binge Eating Disorder, we will work together in a therapeutic setting and set clear goals as to what the expectations are from the therapy, the individual, and the therapist.

We will reframe dieting and the connection with binge eating, including binge eating and low blood sugar. We will look at PIE, which will be explained clearly to help you navigate through the therapy and personalise your needs in the sessions.

Your current lifestyle will be looked at, along with eating patterns ‘good’ versus ‘bad,’ cross addictions and body image status. We will also be exploring the lifetime chart to determine the link between eating and weight.

Of course, this is all in a nutshell and the work we do will require transparency, honesty, facilitation, homework, knowledge and empathy. The results are long-term, and as your therapist I cannot stress the importance of this being long-term therapy with long-term results. If you are looking for a quick fix and an extreme or quick weight loss, this is not for you.

If you would like for us to work together to tackle your BED, book a consultation with me:

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