At one time or another, we all overeat. It could be at the holidays when extra portions of Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing may not only be desired by any given individual but actually encouraged by family and friends.
I can recall oversized plates positioned at those points around the holiday table where specific relatives would be sitting. These were the family “eaters” who were preceded by their reputation for consumption. They did not disappoint, heaping impressive mounds of food onto their plates which would be eaten down to the last morsel with room enough left over for dessert. The odd thing was that the youngsters who took it all in became goal-oriented to one day have an oversized plate placed in front of their seats at the holiday table. It was something of a rite of passage I suppose, that and diabetes.
Some could gorge for the one day alone, sleep away the tryptophan effect, wake up to aching stomachs and Alka Seltzer, and then resume controlled eating habits by the following day. Then again, others cannot. Some people eat compulsively and can use a little help.
Binge eating is a disorder in which people compulsively eat large amounts of food while feeling powerless to stop. It usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood with episodes normally lasting about two hours.
Binge eaters eat when they are not necessarily hungry and continue eating after they are full. It is not unusual for the binge eater to feel extremely upset or distressed while binging or immediately after an episode.
Proposed strategies to address binge eating include stress management, exercise, and therapy to name a few. Medications are also accepted as an aid.
Topamax is an anticonvulsant used to treat migraine headaches and seizures, but the Mayo Clinic has stated that it may help reduce binge eating. Studies bare this out and have shown that Topamax helps to restore satiety after normal eating. Side effects include problems with memory, mental fogginess, sedation, and difficulty concentrating although these side effects can be reduced by lowering the starting dose.
Meridia, or subutramine, is a drug that the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved for the treatment of obesity but has not specifically approved for binge eating.
A study published in the 2008 American Journal of Psychiatry stated that the drug not only reduces the number of binge eating episodes but also reduces weight and related psychological disorders. Side effects include headache, dry mouth, constipation, insomnia and dizziness.
Dangerous changes in blood pressure is the most concerning of the reported side effects.
Anti-depressants such as Zoloft and Prozac have been shown to help binge eaters control their eating in the short-term. A 2005 review of seven separate studies on binge eating showed that forty-one percent of people taking anti-depressants were able to stop binging for eight weeks on average. All the anti-depressants used in the studies were SSRI’s, a class of drugs that increase the level of the mood-regulating chemical serotonin.