Individuals who suffer from binge eating
disorder frequently consume large amounts of food, sometimes up to 15,000
calories in one sitting. They often eat when no one is around, and they might feel compelled to hide and hoard their food. Binge eaters don’t induce vomiting after eating and are often overweight or obese. Those who binge and purge suffer from a different eating
disorder called bulimia. About 2 percent of adults in the United States suffer from binge
What Causes Binge Eating?
Causes vary depending on the individual. In some cases, the
cause of the disorder may never be known. Binge eating is often the result of a
series of abnormal activities in the brain.
Depression, extreme dieting, and stress might cause these. Some theories
suggest that binge eating may be genetic, as it often runs in families.
Who Is at Risk for Binge Eating?
Eating disorders are unpredictable and can
affect anyone. The following factors indicate
- female gender
- age range from late teens to early 20s
- family history of eating disorders
- history of depression, substance
abuse, or impulsive behavior
- history of frequent and extreme dieting
What Are the Symptoms of Binge Eating?
It can be difficult to identify a binge eater
by outward appearance. If you suffer from this eating
disorder, you may be overweight or obese, or remain at you’re ideal body weight. Also, the following symptoms often occur in private:
- eating large amounts of food even when you’re not
- eating quickly
- feeling ill after
- eating alone
- feelings of depression and loss of control
- embarrassment at eating around others
- frequent dieting without long-term weight loss
Diagnosing Binge Eating
If you suspect that you may have a binge eating
disorder, your healthcare provider may examine you for signs of health problems
that may have occurred due to frequent overeating. A mental health professional will usually make the eating
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,
published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists specific criteria that you must meet to be diagnosed with binge eating
disorder. These criteria include:
- recurrent episodes of binge eating
- at least three of the following factors:
eating rapidly, eating until uncomfortable, eating
large amounts despite lack of hunger, eating alone, feeling guilty after eating
- concern about binge eating
- bingeing at
least twice per week over six months
- bingeing is
not associated with purging (bingeing and
purging may warrant a bulimia diagnosis)
Treating Binge Eating
If you start bingeing on occasion and are concerned, it’s important to take steps to prevent the issue from becoming
a true eating disorder. Consider the following tips:
- Associate with people of varying sizes.
- Avoid images that make you feel ashamed or
insecure about your body.
- Talk to trusted friends and family and your healthcare provider about your
concerns. When others are aware, they can assist you in seeking help should
occasional overeating develop into regular bingeing.
There are also a number of treatment options
that you could seek out, including:
Talk therapy is the typical treatment for
psychological disorders such as binge eating. Sessions with a therapist may be
conducted one-on-one or in a group or in a family
In some cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication to treat the
depression or anxiety that sometimes trigger binge eating. In extreme cases,
you may be given the antiseizure medication topiramate. It has a history of reducing binge-eating episodes. This
medication has extreme side effects, so it’s only
offered in rare circumstances. Newer medications such as Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) has been FDA-approved
for the treatment of binge eating disorder.
You may also be referred to weight management
programs, either during or after psychological
treatment. These programs provide nutritional counseling and can help you learn
to reach a healthy weight in a safe manner.
What Is to Be Expected in the Long Term?
Binge eating can be treated with regular therapy. Because
some people have a biological predisposition toward binge eating, relapse is
possible. If you have a history of binge eating, it’s important to seek help as soon as you notice habits
associated with the disorder returning. Binge eating can be difficult to treat once it becomes a compulsion, as those who
suffer from it are often ashamed and secretive.
If left untreated, binge eating can lead to be
obesity and other medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.