What is Binge-Eating?
Binge-eating is a disorder with the unusual compulsion to consume large amounts of food on a given time or episode. This disorder makes you feel helpless and powerless to control your eating urges. You may feel extremely embarrassed by your actions but the compulsion is so strong that you just can’t stop eating.
Most people will overeat on occasion especially during holidays. They will have one more glass of beer or one more slice of cake even if they’re already full. For binge eaters, it is different experience. The urge to overeat happens on a regular basis, sometimes daily, and always uncontrollable.
Binge-eating can usually be detected when you are in your late adolescence period or early adulthood. It frequently begins after a major diet. Binge eating period can last from a couple of hours to one whole day. You will eat even if you’re not hungry and the eating continues after you’re full. You’ll eat so fast that you can barely register the taste of food in your tongue.
The key points of this disorder are the habitual episodes of uncontrollable overeating, misery during and after overeating. Compulsive eating doesn’t involve fasting, over-exercising, and nausea which usually happens in bulimia.
People who are suffering binge-eating disorder have this awareness of their compulsion but they are unable to control it. They are overly self-blaming, self-conscious, and a bagful of guilt and depression. When their feelings worsen, the bingeing worsens too. It’s a cruel cycle of overeating for relief, feeling guilty for bingeing, and overeating again to get rid of the guilt.
Signs to Watch Out For
Bingeing makes people feel guilty of their appearance and their destructive habit. Many are overweight as a result of gorging but a number of them have normal weight. Do you think you have a binge-eating disorder? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I hide when I eat?
- Do I eat out of control?
- Do I think about food all the time?
- Do I eat when I’m angry, tired, or hurt?
- Do I eat until I feel sick?
- Do I feel disgusted of myself after eating?
- Do I want to stop eating but I feel like I just can’t?
The more you answer “Yes” to these questions, the bigger the odds of binge-eating disorder. What if you are suspecting your loved ones? How do you spot someone suffering from this disorder?
The symptoms of compulsive overeating can be divided into behavioral and emotional signs. Behavioral symptoms include:
- Helplessness in controlling their eating behavior
- Rapid consumption of food in large amounts
- Hoarding and hiding food
- Eating normally in the presence of others but overeating when left alone
- Nonstop eating through one whole day
- No meal time plans
- Eating even if they’re not hungry or even if they’re uncomfortably full
- Regularly eating in secret or alone
The emotional indications of binge-eating disorder include:
- Mortification over the amount of food they just consumed
- Guilt and depression after bingeing
- Seeking relief from stress by eating
- Numbness and on auto-pilot mode when eating
- No satisfaction over any food
- Desperation over weight control
- Frequent dieting without weight loss
Bingers don’t make up for the food or extra calories they just consumed by force vomiting or over exercising. However, they may try another diet plan without foregoing their regular meals. This will just boost their eating compulsion. The level of binge-eating disorder depends on the frequency of the binge episodes in a day or in a week.
Why Do You Eat So Much?
There is still so much argument over the real cause of binge-eating. There is no precise reason than anyone can point to, but it seems to be a contribution of several elements. Binge-eating disorder’s probability is higher with some families whose members also suffer the same syndrome. The genetic material may contribute to the risk of developing the disorder. More women go through the disease than men. In the United States alone, the number of women who suffer this eating disorder is 3 million more than men. Unsuccessful diet plans can also be the cause for the binge. Calorie deficiency may trigger the urge to overeat as a way of making up.
Though people with normal weight can also go through binge-eating, obese people are in greater risk. Two out of three obese persons have this condition. Bingeing also becomes a way of coping with emotions brought by alcoholism, emotional and physical abuse, or sexual exploitation.
Experts also found some abnormalities in the biological makeup. The hypothalamus in the brain, which controls appetite, may not be performing properly. Serotonin, the neurotransmitter in your brain responsible for mood, digestion, appetite, sleep, memory and sexual desire, is extremely low for persons with binge-eating disorder.
Society as well can largely contribute to the shame that bingers feel. This shame becomes their energy for compulsive eating. In some families, parents establish the atmosphere for binge-eating by using food as a punishment or reward. Children, who regularly hear harsh comments about their physical appearance and weight, are most likely to be bingers in the future.
Depression is closely associated with binge-eating. Poor sense of worth and body image becomes the drive to overindulge. Food becomes that pal who will drive away your loneliness, anxiety, despair and boredom. But the respite that binge-eating gives is temporary because in an instant, it becomes the enemy.
What Happens If You Eat So Much?
Certain complications can happen if your body is regularly subjected to overeating. The number one crisis that most bingers face is obesity. There is no question that being obese is dangerous for your health as it can also bring about several medical complications. Such complications may include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, gastro esophageal reflux disease, sleep apnea, joint problems, osteoarthritis, and some types of cancer. It is undoubtedly a serious disorder.
Some psychiatric disorders associated with binge-eating can also grow and intensify even harder than before. Depression, as mentioned, is the most prominent of these. Bingers always fight the mixed emotions of disgust and guilt. They beat themselves up for they cannot control their compulsion. There is that nagging concern on what bingeing will do to their body.
Bipolar disorder and anxiety are also the children of binge-eating. The feeling that life will persist without positive changes or that your body will only worsen becomes a regular thing. As a result, your personal life suffers. Bingeing will cut off your social life and even your work life. Because of this, there will be occasions that it gives birth to another type of bingeing- alcoholism and drug addiction. Substance abuse becomes an element of the regular binge-eating process.
If you already have pinpointed the sure signs of binge-eating disorder, the first and the best decision is always to seek professional help. It may worsen if it’s left untreated in its early stages. Though there are a number of ways that you can help yourself, it is important to get the support of an expert for an effective treatment. There are health professionals who address not just the symptoms of your bingeing but also the root of it.
If weight loss is impertinent because of obesity problems, you need a professional’s help for close monitoring. Doctors who specialized in eating disorders are there to listen and understand the emotions you are going through. If you are still nervous about the doctor’s visit, talk to a friend or your family and ask them to go with you for support.
Prepare for your appointment by knowing what you’re about to face. Initially, the doctor will check your physical health. Be ready for a physical exam, perhaps a urine or blood test, and close checkup for diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and sleep-related diseases.
Before going to the doctor, it is vital to list down some things for an easier process. These are things which you are going to disclose to your physician. Write down the symptoms you noticed, even those which appear unrelated to your problem. The doctor will be the one to discern its relationship with the disorder. This may be too personal but note down your information, problems, and life changes.
Don’t be ashamed to reveal all medications and supplements that you have taken or still taking. This will help the doctor understand your physical wellbeing. Talk to them about your typical amount of food intake in a day. It may be hard at first but tell them everything, including your whim thoughts about food. This is one way for the doctor to fully comprehend your eating habits.
When you get to your appointment, don’t be offended by questions about your daily consumption, your feelings and thoughts about food, and eating mannerisms. The doctor will also inquire if you have tried losing weight or tried to get rid of food from your stomach. Questions about your body image and exercise routines will also arise. Don’t take this as an insult. The doctor is only trying to get as much information as he can about the causes of your bingeing.
On that note, it’s not too bad either for you to prepare your own questions. Ask if your condition could possibly be temporary. What treatments would they recommend? If prescription is recommended, ask about the availability of affordable and generic drugs. Ask for any reading materials you can take home and if there are any other sources you can go to. Doctors also recommend the most fitting therapy groups for you.
The main goal of treatments like medication and therapy is to decrease and eventually eliminate the periods of eating binges and sometimes lose some weight. This is where you’ll learn to manage your eating habits, improve your self-image, and eradicate the negative thoughts.
Drugs are not the cure but they aid in treating the symptoms of binge-eating. Unaided medication is not recommended. It should go hand in hand with a treatment program including therapy groups and self-help methods.
The first FDA-approved drug for binge-eating in adults is Vyanse or lisdexamfetamine dimesylate. It was initially used as medication for ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactivity syndrome. Now, Vyanse is used to curb the overeating compulsions. However, you shouldn’t rely too much on Vyanse because it could be addicting. Side effects may include restlessness and dry mouth. Always get the authorization and proper dosage from a doctor before trying Vyanse.
The anticonvulsant or seizure medicine topiramate or Topamax is used to control binge-eating and increase the possibility of weight loss. Discuss the risks of burning sensation, dizziness, and fatigue with your doctor.
Antidepressants are helpful in controlling compulsive eating. Though normally used for bulimia, bingers also gain from antidepressants. They significantly affect the chemical balance of the brain that’s responsible for mood. Don’t self-medicate because it is extremely dangerous without a professional’s help.
Psychotherapy in individual or group sessions can help you fight the compulsions, supervise your eating habits, and change them to healthy habits. Additionally, this therapy will teach you how to reduce your stress.
Interpersonal psychotherapy and dialectical behavior therapy’s focal point is on your relationship issues. Interpersonal problems often became the triggers for binge-eating. These therapies will help you develop a healthier relationship through communication. You can now manage your feelings, endure stress, and lessen the urge to overeat.
Cognitive behavioral therapy will help you cope with your binge-eating triggers. It will let you take back that control which you seem to have lost during bingeing and regulate your meal patterns. Coping skills, proper nutrition, and relaxation methods are the key points. It’s all about educating yourself on how to combat your binge-eating.