Help for Binge Eating

Patient Expert

I am sure there have been a number of occasions when I have eaten more than my share. And certainly there have been a number of occasions when I have eaten more than is good for me: an extra helping or, more honestly, helpings at Thanksgiving" multiple desserts that look too good to be true and taste about the same" Christmas and Girl Scout cookies" Summer picnics and birthdays.

I was not obese by chance or some poor luck of the draw. My contributions were steady. But there is, and always can be, something more. Overeating is a menace in its own right. Binge eating is the something more. What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating is a disorder in which people compulsively overeat and ingest large quantities of food, unable to stop despite feeling out of control.

Binge eating disorder usually begins in late adolescent stage or early adulthood. An episode normally lasts about two hours, but some people binge intermittently all day long. Binger eaters will eat despite the fact that they are not hungry and well beyond the point of feeling full. Often times, they are unaware of what foods they are eating or the taste of the food they are eating.

I have a vague memory as a teenager standing in front of the open refrigerator and eating the foods within, not fully aware of what I was doing. I also recall regularly skipping school so that I could binge all day in secret while my family was away.

Binge Eating Disorder Statistics

About 2% of  adults in the United States have binge eating disorder as do about 10-15% of people who are mildly obese and attempt to lose weight on their own. Those who are severely obese have binge eating disorder with greater frequency than those who are not severely obese.

Binge Eating Symptoms

There are a number of symptoms to indicate binge eating disorder. A person does not need to have all the symptoms to qualify as having the disorder.

Binge eaters feel unable to control themselves during a binge and feel unhappy about their bingeing. They also eat at an accelerated speed while bingeing and eat until they are full to the point of discomfort.

Binge eaters often eat to reduce stress or too self-soothe and often eat alone because of embarrassment about how much they eat. Personality traits that often accompany binge are exaggerated concern about body shape and size, low self-esteem, and depression. Complications of Binge Eating

Binge eating can lead to psychological and physical problems. Among the many complications are being overweight or obese and the erratic eating habits of binging that are followed by a restrictive diet regiment. In addition, foods consumed by binge eaters are often high in fat and carbohydrates and low in protein and other nutrients, thereby enhancing the possibility for general health problems.

Eating disorders are a serious matter that can have life-threatening consequences. Potential threats to health that stem from binge eating are high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, secondary diabetes, and gallbladder disease.

Binge eating can lead as well to certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis, joint and muscle pain, gastrointestinal problems, and sleep apnea.

How to Stop Binge Eating

If you or a family member or friend struggle with binge eating, resources to begin the journey to healthy recover can be found on the following association websites:

What to read next: Treatment for Binge Eating** References:** -  - accessed 8/8/12
Mayo Clinic -  - accessed 8/8/12
Psych Central -  -
accessed 8/812
WebMD - -  accessed 8/8/12

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