What is Binge Eating?
Binge eating disorder BED can be defined as eating out of relation to physiological hunger and satiation, meaning that binge eaters eat for reasons outside of hunger itself. This disorder can be considered compulsive in nature. A person suffering from this illness might experience uncontrollable indulgence in food that happens at least once a week for over three months. These episodes usually continue to lead to excessive weight gain.
We all eat compulsively at times, but people with eating disorders seem to have repetitive compulsive reactions towards food or eating. When a person dealing with BED eats compulsively, they are feeding a terrible cycle that essentially leads to consistent feelings of shame about their behaviors and about the effects (weight gain, feelings of being sick from over eating) they are experiencing based on their actions. Research has shown that when a person compulsively eats on a regular basis, these experiences are so accompanied by shame and guilt that it begins to turn “normal” binge eating (like we all experience on occasion) or compulsive eating, into a repetitive pattern of anguish, shame, blame and guilt.
Behavioral Patterns Associate with BED
Like most eating disorders, binge eating has been shown to have emotional and psychological issues stemming from the root of the problem. These issues seem to affect very specific parts of the brain. Because of these commonalities found in the emotional state of people dealing with eating disorders, we are able to identify patterns that seem to be adopted by most compulsive eaters. For example one might experience or notice a loved one:
- Eating when not hungry
- Frequent rapid eating
- Avoiding eating when family is at the table
- Attitudes of guilt or depression following an episode of overeating
- Episodes of wondering around
- Feeling disturbed or agitated (as an effort to overcome their unexplained compulsive desire to eat)
- Constant talk or focus on reducing weight with little to no success
These patterns associated with binge eating are often detected through the presence of mood swings associated with the stress that bingers undergo. These fluctuations affect one’s self esteem to a point of complete destruction and the quality of life and becomes compromised that was once present becomes compromised. These fluctuations and affects, when not treated, can easily lead to depression, thoughts of suicide or in a lot of cases substance abuse out of desperation.
Binge Eating is Dangerous
Because eating disorders affect emotional and psychological health, they can become extremely dangerous when not treated properly. The emotional stress that binge eaters undergo can be life threatening. Because of the frequency of binging and the emotional stress of the cycle, most binge eaters are overweight or obese. Aside from loss of mental quality of life, often times leading to depression and thoughts of suicide, many people dealing with BED also experience physical quality of life which can be just as dangerous if not more so. Obesity is a medical illness, not a psychiatric disorder but unfortunately, binge eating can cause obesity and studies have shown that upwards of 30% of binge eaters do become obese.