What is Binge Eating?
Binge eating is consuming large quantities of food (at a very rapid pace), often to the point of physical discomfort. Those who struggle with recurrent binge eating episodes are frequently diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED). While primarily characterized by the intake of large amounts of food, there are many other challenging symptoms of binge eating disorder.
Symptoms of Binge Eating
Although binge eating disorder symptoms may vary from person to person, most experience effects physically, behaviorally, and emotionally.
Common physical symptoms:
- Extreme discomfort after a binge
- Unwanted weight gain
- Stomach cramps
- Digestive issues including irritable bowl syndrome
Common behavioral symptoms:
- Eating large amounts of food
- Eating very quickly
- Feeling out of control with food
- Eating regardless of hunger or fullness cues
- Hiding food
- Eating in private
- Planning binges; choosing special foods
Common emotional symptoms:
- Shame or guilt regarding food intake
- Low self-esteem
- Negative feelings about body shape and size
Binge Eating Causes
As with other eating disorders, symptoms of binge eating are frequently a result of a deeper struggle and/or external factor. Pinpointing the direct cause of BED is difficult, as there could be many contributing influences.
- Genetics- individuals who struggle with an eating disorder, including the symptoms of binge eating, often come from families with a history of disordered eating, or other psychological disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) or addictions.
- Social influences- sociocultural effects can be significant contributors to the development of eating disorders. Societal pressures to achieve a certain body type can lead to low self-esteem, negative self-talk, and the self-loathing that can lead many to seek drastic measures of weight loss.
- Trauma- although stress is a natural part of life, when stress reaches overwhelming levels, it becomes traumatic and can have devastating effects. For some, the symptoms of binge eating disorder stem from an attempt to cope with this distress.
Long Term Effects of Binge Eating
The symptoms of binge eating disorder are extremely challenging. Over time, if not treated, the binge eating disorder effects can take a serious toll on one’s body. Many of the long-term effects of binge eating stem from the gradual weight gain that regularly results in obesity.
- Joint and muscle pain
- Sleep apnea
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart disease
Treating Binge Eating Disorder
Choosing to seek treatment for binge eating disorder can be a difficult decision. Yet, with appropriate education on treatment options, you may feel more confident in making the right choice to help you on the path to recovery.
Because of the serious nature of the symptoms of binge eating disorder, effective treatment must address all areas of struggle-medical, psychological, and nutritional. This holistic approach can provide the best chance for recovery and relapse prevention.