Binge Eating Disorder

Published on 1/20/12
Categorized in Depression and Mental Illness
Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a specific type of food addiction that is characterized by extreme overindulgence.

A Closer Look at Binge Eating

Binge Eating Disorder is closely related to, but ultimately different from food addiction, being distinct based on the excessive amounts of food one consumes when suffering from this disorder. BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 2% of males and 3.5% of females. Another concern about BED is that it is present in up to 30 percent of those who are attempting to lose weight. Additionally, those who suffer from Binge Eating Disorder may feel embarrassed, which may lead to eating in secret.

Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

The Mayo Clinic lists three possible interrelated factors that can initiate BED:

  • Biological Factors - Some people with BED may be genetically predisposed to excessively overeat. Research also suggests that brain chemicals may altered in people with BED.
  • Psychological Factors - Low self esteem and other emotions such as anger and sadness can may play a role in excessive overeating.
  • Environmental Factors - Although in Western culture there is an implied desire for thinness, the overwhelming presence of food in advertising and general society can cause some people to excessively overeat. These conflicting messages may cause those who suffer from BED to become angry at themselves.

Possible Symptoms

  • Eating even though you're full
  • Feeling that your behavior is out of control
  • Eating when you're not hungry
  • Depression
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Eating when bored or depressed
  • Anxiety

Binge Eating Risk Factors

  • Age - BED most commonly shows up in adolescents and young adults in their early twenties.
  • Gender - Women are more likely to develop this disorder than men.
  • Dieting - Extensive dieting may contribute to a strong urge to binge eat.
  • Family History - As is the case with many diseases and disorders, those with relatives who have BED are more likely to suffer from it themselves.

Treatment

To remedy BED, sufferers rely on a variety of treatments, including psychotherapy, medications, behavioral weight loss programs, and self help strategies (e.g. books, videos, etc.). Specifically, though, realistic ways to beat BED include:

  • Sticking to your plan. Only eat the food each day that you plan on eating; don't eat impulsively.
  • Eating breakfast. Skipping breakfast may cause you to overcompensate with food in later meals.
  • Exercising. Keeping the body active can reduce impulses to eat what you don't need. A healthy body wants to eat in a healthy way.
  • Keeping a tidy pantry. The more food you keep at your house, the easier it will be to overindulge. When at the grocery store, buy only what you need for a few days.

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