Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious but treatable condition that involves recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food. In addition to eating large food in excess and to the point of discomfort, the condition is also characterized by feeling out of control when eating and a sense of shame or guilt over the behavior.
BED typically starts in the late teens to early twenties, although it can occur at any age. People generally need support to help overcome BED and develop a healthy relationship with food. If left untreated, BED can last for many years.
The two main symptoms of binge eating are:
• Eating a larger than normal amount of food over a short period of time
• Feeling that this eating behavior is out of control
The binge-eating episodes are also marked by three or more of the following symptoms:
• Feeling uncomfortably full
• Eating faster than normal
• Eating when not hungry
• Feelings of disgust, guilt, or sadness
• Eating alone out of embarrassment
The causes of binge-eating disorder are unknown. But genetics, biological factors, long-term dieting and psychological issues increase your risk.
Risk factors –
Binge-eating disorder is more common in women than in men. Although people of any age can have binge-eating disorder, it often begins in the late teens or early 20s.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing binge-eating disorder include –
• Family history.
You’re much more likely to have an eating disorder if your parents or siblings have (or had) an eating disorder. This may indicate that inherited genes increase the risk of developing an eating disorder.
Many people with binge-eating disorder have a history of dieting. Dieting or restricting calories during the day may trigger an urge to binge eat, especially if you have symptoms of depression.
• Psychological issues.
Many people who have binge-eating disorder feel negatively about themselves and their skills and accomplishments. Triggers for bingeing can include stress, poor body self-image and the availability of preferred binge foods.
The major complications of binge eating disorder are the conditions that often result from being obese.
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Gallbladder disease
• Heart disease
• Shortness of breath
• Certain types of cancer
• Menstrual problems
• Decreased mobility (inability to move around) and tiredness
• Sleep problems
In addition, people with binge eating disorder can be extremely distressed by their binge eating. And in some cases, people will neglect their jobs, school, or social activities to binge eat.
Your doctor may ask you questions such as:
• Once you start eating, can you stop?
• How do you feel about how much you eat?
• Do you eat really fast?
• Do you keep eating even after you’re uncomfortably full?
• Have you ever lied to someone about how much you eat?
• Do you want to eat alone? Why?
People with eating disorders often try to hide it. In order to get diagnosed, though, you need to be open with your doctor.
Your doctor may consider binge eating mild if it happens 1-3 times a week, moderate if it happens 4-7 times a week, severe if it happens 8-13 times a week, or extreme if it happens 14 or more times a week.
The goals for treatment of binge-eating disorder are to reduce eating binges and achieve healthy eating habits. By getting help for binge eating, you can learn how to feel more in control of your eating.
Whether in individual or group sessions, psychotherapy (also called talk therapy) can help teach you how to exchange unhealthy habits for healthy ones and reduce bingeing episodes.
Examples of psychotherapy include:
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT may help you cope better with issues that can trigger binge-eating episodes, such as negative feelings about your body or a depressed mood. It may also give you a better sense of control over your behavior and help you regulate eating patterns.
• Interpersonal psychotherapy.
This type of therapy focuses on your relationships with other people. The goal is to improve your interpersonal skills — how you relate to others, including family, friends and co-workers. This may help reduce binge eating that’s triggered by problematic relationships and unhealthy communication skills.
• Dialectical behavior therapy.
This form of therapy can help you learn behavioral skills to help you tolerate stress, regulate your emotions and improve your relationships with others, all of which can reduce the desire to binge eat.
Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse), a drug for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the first FDA-approved medication to treat moderate to severe binge-eating disorder in adults.
Several other types of medication may help reduce symptoms. Examples include –
° Topiramate (Topamax)
In addition to getting appropriate treatment and outside support, there are also things that you can do that will help you control or prevent episodes of binge eating.
• Recognize when you are hungry.
Sometimes people binge eat when they get over-hungry. Learn to recognize your hunger cues and focus on eating a healthy meal or snack before you reach the point of being over-hungry.
• Eliminate binge foods from your home.
If you know that there are foods that are more likely to trigger a binge-eating episode, get rid of them, and avoid keeping those items in your house.
• Focus on your food.
Don’t eat when you are distracted by a TV program, movie, book, or other activity. Turn off your devices and keep mealtime a separate activity.
• Keep a food journal.
Writing down everything that you eat can help you watch for patterns. Note how you were feeling since emotions can often trigger overeating or binge eating.
• Avoid boredom.
You are much more likely to overeat when you are feeling bored, so look for ways to fill your time with activities that are productive and enjoyable.
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