Binge Eating Disorder: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Binge eating disorder is a complex and severe mental health illness in which a person frequently eats large amounts of food and feels unable to stop. Although everyone may experience overeating on occasion , this is different. Binge eating is an uncontrollable feeling that becomes a compulsive habit.
People living with binge eating disorder often feel embarrassment and shame about overeating. They struggle to stop these episodes when urges take over.
Help and treatment is available to support those with binge eating. They can take back control of their lives. On this page, you will find information on binge eating disorder and common signs to watch out for and information on suitable treatment to overcome it.
What is binge eating?
It is a term that is used when an individual overeats frequently. In some cases, it is commonly used to describe episodes of overindulgence, such as having seconds or eating too much junk food. However, for people living with binge eating disorder, it can be a very dangerous illness that severely impacts health and wellbeing.
Binge eating means consuming large amounts of food frequently and feeling unable to stop. This excess of food can cause discomfort, pain, and gastrointestinal complaints.
What are the causes of binge eating disorder?
There is no specific cause or one reason why a person binge eats. Everyone is different, and this condition varies in severity.
What triggers a binge?
Deep-rooted issues can present themselves, and people may have had negative experiences in the past that causes a binge such as:
- Criticism for weight, eating habits or body shape
- Feeling social pressure to be slim
- Low self-esteem, anxiety and obsessive behaviors
- Sexual abuse
- Addiction abuse
Women may also be facing other issues such as stress, grief, and trauma, which contribute to the disorder.
What are the symptoms of binge eating disorder?
People that binge-eat can show symptoms of the disorder in myriad ways. It can be difficult to recognize some aspects, since they will conduct most of their binging in secret. Professional help is usually required to break this addiciton.
Some common signs of binge eating include:
- Eating when not hungry or full
- Consuming frequent and large amounts of food in a short period of time
- Eating rapidly during binges
- Feeling unwell or uncomfortable after eating
- Withdrawal from social eating
- Secretive eating
- Feeling ashamed or disgusted about eating habits
How do you know if you binge eat and how much food is a binge?
If you overeat on occasion, this is fine, just a natural aspect of life. However, a common factor of binge eating disorder is the frequency that bingeing occurs. If you are overeating, every day or many times a week, and have compulsive eating patterns, this could be considered binge eating, and would be advisable to talk to a professional.
How can you tell if someone is living with binge eating disorder?
Although this disorder is more common as people age, it is not exclusive to any age group. It can affect anyone of any background. However, certain signs and behaviors exist when this disorder is present, such as:
- Defensive and secretive behavior about eating habits
- Significant weight gain over a short space of time
- Finding stashes of food in their room or workspace
- Eating quickly and avoiding social eating
People with binge eating disorder are typically too ashamed, guilt-ridden and disgusted in themselves to seek help. They may also have mood swings and irrational behavior when confronted.
Other signs of binge eating
Alongside the common symptoms of binge eating, there are other noticeable aspects that someone is living with this condition; these invlude:
- Fad dieting or developing eating rituals
- Checking appearance frequently
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Refusal to eat in front of people or eating quickly
- Depression and low self-esteem issues
- Gastrointestinal complaints and stomach cramps
- Lack of concentration and low motivation
What happens when you binge eat?
During the actual binge, the person is essentially fine. However, it must be noted that this food consumption is not actually enjoyable. Often, the person is numbed out, nearly unaware of what they are doing. The aftermath is what might be expected—there is an enormous amount of discomfort. Unlike bulimia, there is no compensatory behavior, meaning they do not get rid of the food, it just remains in their stomach as the body tryies to digest it. The emotional consequences of shame and disgust are immediate. This can lead to deeper issues of depression and anxiety. The root cause of this disorder has to be identified during treatment to overcome triggers, and the healing process can take time.
What happens to your body when you binge eat?
There can be severe repercussions on physical health for people living with binge eating disorder. Weight gain is a serious and significant factor, which can contribute to fatigue and low motivation. Obesity can also lead to life-threatening conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Overeating can also lead to stomach pain and gastrointestinal issues, which cause frequent pain.
How to overcome binge eating disorder
Binge eating is a complex mental health condition that often cannot be confronted alone. The first step to take is to identify the severity of your binge eating. As mentioned above, if you are feeling uncontrollable urges to eat lots of food frequently, you may need professional advice to treat your condition.
Minimizing triggers and improving your relationship with food can help reduce binge eating. For someone living with this disorder, it can be overwhelming. However, there are some long-term strategies to implement to overcome binge eating.
Create a regular meal plan
Getting into regular and moderate eating habits is essential. However, it is also important to maintain a healthy balance of meal planning in contrast to creating food rituals. This method can help you stop binge eating and lose weight. Eating insufficient amounts will also reduce feelings of hunger, which may have previously triggered a binge.
Know your triggers
During binge eating disorder treatment, you will identify and understand what triggers your overeating episodes. Learning about your feelings and interactions with food will ensure that if these emotions return, that you can maintain control.
If there is particular food associated with binge sessions, do not buy it. By removing temptation, you are eliminating the feelings and relationships connected to it.
Focus on your health and not appearance
It can be challenging to get away from the social pressures and conceived idea of appearance. However, an essential part of overcoming binge eating is accepting and loving your body and mind for what they are. Good health is vital, and without it, you will not be able to live a happy and long life.
Learn to control urges and turn off autopilot
After treatment for bulimia and binge eating, the urges do not just automatically stop. The road to recovery is different for everyone and can include periods of potential relapse. This urge can be controlled, and your therapy sessions will give you a chance to develop coping strategies. If binge eating does reoccur, it does not have to continue. You have to turn off the autopilot in your head and stop yourself before it goes too far.
Changing your mindset
Goals are a great way to help manage your condition. Start with small steps and tailor your goals as you progress throughout recovery. One aspect of binge eating treatment may be to lose weight. However, it is crucial to focus on a healthy and manageable way of doing this. Your change in eating habits may naturally contribute to weight loss, and it is vital not to get into other food rituals to try and reduce it.
How to treat binge eating disorder
It is crucial to recognize the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder, as you may require professional help to treat the condition. Bingeing is rarely an issue in isolation, as sufferers will experience other mental health concerns.
Seeking medical counsel is one of the best ways to recover from binge eating. The process is different for everyone, and there are a variety of treatments available at our mental health treatment centers.
People living with binge eating disorder may find it challenging to come to terms with a diagnosis. However, therapy can help overcome the fears and associations with this complex condition.
What treatment programs are available for binge eating disorder?
There are several treatments available to begin your journey to recovery. Inpatient therapy provides a safe and secure space to open the conversation about your thoughts, feelings, and fears that connect to the condition. Talking therapy is an excellent way to express yourself in a non-judgemental environment. It also gives you the chance to heal and recover in a tranquil location away from the pressures of daily triggers.
Group and family therapy
In some cases, group and family therapy is a helpful treatment. These sessions give you a chance to open up in front of others, and for them to contribute their feelings too. Family therapy can be an excellent way to help each person share concerns and thoughts to help your recovery. It is essential to know that you are not alone in this process, and group therapy is a way to acknowledge this.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a well known and successful treatment for a range of mental health illnesses. This therapy identifies underlying issues you may be struggling with that contribute to your condition. For binge eaters, it looks at the root cause of overeating. It also develops strategies to challenge and change your compulsive behaviors. This well-regarded practice also provides long-term coping mechanisms to prevent relapses.
Body image workshops
A significant part of binge eating disorder revolves around appearance and lack of self-esteem. As part of treatment, body image workshops can help change the way you look at yourself. This will include talking about how you feel about the way you look, and what emotions this spurs when connected to your bingeing episodes. By determining these deep-rooted issues, the treatment progresses to help you change your mindset about body image to focus on overall health.
Supported meal planning and diet advice
Binge eating recovery also involves improving your relationship with food and eating habits. Inpatient treatment options give supported meal planning workshops and diet advice to help you get back on track. This advice will also be available after your treatment. It will also provide you with helpful guidance to create a healthier connection with food and your health.
Are you ready to take the next step?
At Eden, we understand that it can be difficult to ask for help if you are struggling with binge eating disorder. We offer fully-supported treatments at our inpatient centers with medical professionals on hand to support your recovery.
We know that no two people are the same; that’s why we tailor treatment according to your needs and diagnosis. Our safe and tranquil centers offer a space to take treatment at your own pace away from unhealthy triggers.
By seeking help for binge eating, we assure you, you are not alone on your road to recovery. If you have any questions about the above information on binge eating disorder, contact Eden today. Our team will be happy to help and are available to discuss treatment options available at our Los Angeles centers.