What is Binge Eating Disorder?
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What is Binge Eating Disorder?

When people think of the words “eating disorder” they may think of anorexia and bulimia. Did you know that binge eating disorder (BED)also known as compulsive eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States? Binge eating disorder is a newly recognized eating disorder according to WebMD. BED affects 3.5% of females and 2% of males.

When people think of the words “eating disorder” they may think of anorexia and bulimia.  Did you know that binge eating disorder (BED) also known as compulsive eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States?  Binge eating disorder is a newly recognized eating disorder according to  WebMD.   BED affects 3.5% of females and 2% of males. 

Eating disorders are mental health disorders which cause a person to adopt harmful eating habits such as starvation or overeating.  This habit is a way for a person to cope with depression, stress, and anxiety.  Binge eating disorder is characterized as uncontrolled eating which results in weight gain.  People with BED frequently consume  large amounts of food beyond the point of feeling full.  Binge eating is similar to bulimia nervosa.  However, the person with binge eating disorder does not engage in purging or vomiting after eating large amounts of food. 

Many people with binge eating disorder use food to cope with unwanted feelings and emotions.  In some cases, people with BED may have never learned to effectively cope with stress and anxiety.  During stressful situations, they will turn to food for comfort. Another characteristic of binge eating disorder is a person may often feel guilty or sad about their eating habits.  This will result in increased stress and fuels the binge eating cycle. 

What Are the Symptoms?

Persons with binge eating disorder may not have physical signs or symptoms of the disorder.  Binge eating disorder or compulsive eating disorder can affect people who may be at a normal weight, overweight, or obese.  According to the Mayo Clinic, people with BED may exhibit behavioral and or emotional symptoms such as:

  • Eating unusual large amounts of food
  • Eating when you are full or not hungry
  • Rapidly eating during binge episodes
  • Eating until you are uncomfortably full
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Feeling ashamed, disgusted, depressed, and upset about eating habits
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Gaining and losing weight repeatedly.  This is also known is yo-yo dieting.

What are the Risk Factors?

Risk factors for binge eating disorders include the following:

  • Family history and biological factors
  • Psychological issues
  • Dieting
  • Your Age
  • Psychological Problems
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Society’s Expectations
  • Biology

Patients who have had eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are at risk of binge eating disorder.  Some patients have reported that they were sexually abused when they were younger.  It is also suggested that society's expectations can be a risk factor for BED.  Why?  The media’s obsession with body image may trigger binge eating or other eating disorders. 

Getting Help

Persons with binge eating disorder have the ability to hide their behavior from friends and family.  If you believe that a friend or family member exhibits symptoms of binge eating disorder, it is important to have an honest and open conversation about your concerns. You should offer your friend or family member encouragement and support.  You should also encourage your friend or family member to seek professional help through a qualified physician or mental health specialist.  You may also offer to go along with them to their appointments.  If you recognize any signs of BED, you should encourage your loved one to seek help immediately.  Binge eating disorder doesn’t get better on its own; and symptoms can get worse over time if left untreated. 

Sources:

“Mental Health and Binge Eating Disorder.”  WebMD.

“Binge Eating Disorder.”  Mayo Clinic.    

“What is Binge Eating Disorder? What Causes Binge Eating?”  Medical News Today.  

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