When You Can’t Stop Eating: A Closer Look at Binge-Eating Disorder (BED)
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When You Can’t Stop Eating: A Closer Look at Binge-Eating Disorder (BED)

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When You Can’t Stop Eating: A Closer Look at Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) When You Can’t Stop Eating: A Closer Look at Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) Document Transcript

  • When You Can’t Stop Eating: A Closer Look atBinge-Eating Disorder (BED)We’ve all over-indulged from time to time. Perhaps we ate too much at a buffet, or had an extrahelping at a Thanksgiving feast. Overeating, to a degree, is normal behavior. But what aboutwhen overeating occurs daily? Or even multiple times per day? What happens when we feel asthough we cannot stop eating, no matter how hard we try?When most people think of Eating Disorders (EDs), they think of an emaciated, sick-lookingperson (in other words, they picture someone with Anorexia Nervosa). Hearing the words“Eating Disorder” may also trigger images of a person sticking their fingers down their throatand inducing vomiting (purging behavior typical of someone withBulimia Nervosa). The truth is,there are more than just two types of Eating Disorders. This article will discuss one type ofEating Disorder that is similar to Bulimia Nervosa, yet differs from it in manyways. Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) can be just as harmful as the other types of EDs, yet it isseldom discussed or included in conversations about Eating Disorders in general.What is Binge-Eating Disorder (BED)?Binge-Eating Disorder (BED), which is also known as Compulsive Overeating, is a type ofEating Disorder that is diagnosable in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). It ischaracterized by consuming excessive amounts of food in a relatively short period of time, andincludes the feeling of being out of control or unable to stop eating. A typical binge for someonewith BED lasts anywhere between one and two hours, whereby the individual may consume up to 3,000 caloriesin one sitting. For those of you who know the recommended adult daily intake (approximately2,000 calories/day), you know that eating 3,000 calories in one sitting is a lot. In fact, peoplewith BED continue eating past the point of satiation. During a binge, they consume as muchfood as they possibly can in the quickest period of time – normally because they recognize thattheir behavior is not considered “normal” and they are ashamed of themselves because theycannot seem to stop eating. People with this disorder often report feeling very distressed eitherduring or immediately after a binge episode, and are also prone to Depression, AnxietyDisorders, and Substance Abuse/Addictionproblems. They key feature that distinguishes 1/4
  • Bulimia Nervosa (BN) from Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) is that persons with BEDdo not engage in compensatory behavior, such as purging after bingeing in order to “make up”for the overeating.Why Do People Binge-Eat?For persons with Eating Disorders (particularly Bulimia Nervosa and Binge-Eating Disorder),food can be a source of comfort. It can fill a void that was caused by something completelyunrelated to food or eating, such aschildhood trauma or sexual abuse. This is not to say thatevery person with Binge-Eating Disorder has suffered a traumatic or abusive childhood, but ithas been recognized as a contributing factor in some cases. Regardless of the cause of thedisorder, persons with BED report using food as a comfort mechanism when they are feelingsad, angry, stressed, or anxious. However, this“comfort” that the food provides is only a short-term fix for the unpleasant feelings, and soonafter the binge is over, sufferers report intense feelings of remorse and self-loathing. They feeldisgusted with themselves and their inability to control what they eat. They want to stop, butcannot seem to – no matter how hard they try. This is problematic because it induces a viciouscycle of binge-eating. For instance, you eat to comfort yourself from an unpleasant emotion, youtemporarily feel relief, then you feel extremely guilty for overeating, so you eat again to relieveyourself from the unpleasant emotions once again. As you can see, binge-eating can quicklydevelop into an uncontrollable cycle of using food as a means to feel better. But it is adouble-edged sword, because although it may make you feel better in the short-term, it alsomakes you feel terrible about yourself in the long-term. This feeling is amplified when theindividual begins to gain weight from all the overeating. The guilt and self-loathing are onlyintensified as the sufferer inevitably gains weight, yet he/she continues to binge-eat because itis what they have always associated with temporary relief and comfort.Signs & Symptoms of Binge-Eating DisorderThe following are some signs and symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder (BED): Consuming excessive amounts of food in a relatively short period of time Eating past the point of fullness/satiation 2/4
  • Feeling as though you cannot stop eating, no matter how hard you try Experiencing a “trance-like” state of consciousness during a binge, where you cannot really taste the food you’re eating Bingeing in secret, or hoarding snacks and treats to consume when you’re alone Feeling guilty and ashamed either during or immediately after a binge episode Feeling better (temporarily) while binge-eating Constantly thinking about food or the next time you’ll be able to eat Not engaging in compensatory behaviors (i.e. purging), despite feeling guilty about the bingeWhat Are The Impacts of Binge-Eating Disorder?There are several complications associated with Binge-Eating Disorder, including PhysicalImpacts and Emotional Impacts. They are as follows:Physical Impacts of Binge-Eating Disorder:Regular overeating will inevitably lead to weight gain. This is the main reason why persons withBED are usually overweight (about 20%) and oftentimes even obese (about 65%). Individualswith BED are also at a much higher risk for developing Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, andhigh blood pressure. Gallbladder disease and heart disease are two other common physicaleffects of binge-eating. Other physical problems include joint pain and osteoarthritis, sleepapnea, and general gastrointestinal issues.Emotional Impacts of Binge-Eating Disorder:BED is associated with a variety of emotional and psychological consequences, such as lowself-esteem, poor body image, and feelings of helplessness. These feelings can quickly lead toDepression and other mood disorders. Some sufferers even report having suicidal ideation dueto their inability to control themselves when it comes to eating. Others self-medicate by usingdrugs and/or alcohol to “numb” the negative feelings they are having about themselves due totheir disorder. Anxiety Disorders are common in BED sufferers as well. 3/4
  • How is Binge-Eating Disorder Treated? While self-help techniques may offer temporary relief from Binge-Eating Disorder symptoms, it is important to seek out help from a professional counselor or therapist for your Eating Disorder. Usually these things do not go away on their own, and despite your best efforts, you may find yourself repeating old habits when certain events or emotions trigger you. If you live in the San Diego area and are currently looking for an Eating Disorder counselor, please give my office a call today for a consultation. Each treatment plan is individualized based on the needs and specific circumstances of the client. There is no one “miracle” approach to treating Binge-Eating Disorder. Together, we will tailor a personalized treatment regimen that you are comfortable with following in order to treat your symptoms of binge-eating. If necessary, we may address issues of your past which may be contributing to your current Eating Disorder (i.e. traumatic childhood experience, difficulties coping with negative emotions and/or stress, low self-esteem, etc.). Together, we will get to the root of the problem which will then help us to alleviate your symptoms and ultimately make you feel better about your body and yourself overall. Some common types of therapy that I have found to be helpful for clients with Binge-Eating Disorder areCognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Individual/Adult Therapy. CBT involves pinpointing the automatic, negative thoughts you may be having, and attempts to replace these problematic thoughts with more balanced or realistic ones. The fundamental aspect behind CBT is that if we can successfully alter our problematic thoughts, we will in turn alter our emotions and thus our behaviors. Individual/Adult Therapy tends to focus more on the root causes of your Eating Disorder, such as issues from the past which could be contributing to your current problem of overeating. The thought behind this type of therapy is that once we understand our past and our triggers for the dysfunctional behavior, we can use this knowledge to better address the current problem. Regardless of the type of therapy, you will learn healthier coping mechanisms to deal with the unpleasant thoughts and emotions that usually trigger a binge episode. Overall, Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious disease that can have a powerful impact on your physical and mental health. While it may seem as though there is no hope right now, and you may feel like this is how you’re going to have to live for the rest of your life, please know that there is hope and recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder is possible! While total recovery will inevitably take a lot of work from you, with the support of a trained and qualified Eating Disorders Counselor, we will tackle these issues together and help you to enjoy a life where food and eating no longer dictate your feelings and mood. Copyright ©2012 Jan Rakoff. All Rights Reserved. 4/4Powered by TCPDF (www.tcpdf.org)