Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is commonly known by compulsive overeating or consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop and a loss of control. People who binge eat feel they have no control over their eating. They often binge in private because they feel embarrassed, guilty or disgusted with their behaviour after they have finished eating.
Episodes of binge eating sometimes alternate with periods where the person cuts down on the amount of food they eat. This can lead to a vicious cycle that is difficult to break, where blood sugar levels rise and fall rapidly, and false messages are sent to the brain, which result in cravings for food when your body doesn’t need it. It’s not clear what causes binge eating, but, like most eating disorders, it’s seen as a way of coping with feelings of unhappiness and low self-esteem.
Things that may increase your risk of developing problems with binge eating include:
- low self-esteem and a lack of confidence
- depression or anxiety
- feelings of stress, anger, boredom or loneliness
- dissatisfaction with your body and feeling under pressure to be thin
- stressful or traumatic events in your past
Signs & Symptoms of BED:
- Continually eating even when full
- Inability to stop eating or control what is eaten
- Stockpiling food to consume secretly at a later time
- Eating normally in the presence of others but gorging when isolated
- Experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating
Treatment / cure for BED
1. Self-help programmes – this may be individually with a book or online course, or as part of a self-help support group
2. Guided self-help (self-help supervised by regular contacts with a professional)
3. Specialist group intervention
4. Individual (one-to-one) psychological therapy – such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
In addition to these methods, group therapy sessions led by a trained eating disorder therapist, as well as eating disorder support groups, may also be effective methods of establishing recovery from binge-eating disorder
Binge eating can be associated with serious psychological problems, including depression and anxiety disorders. A common physical effect of binge eating is weight gain, which can lead to obesity. This can put you at risk of a number of related physical health problems, some of which can be life-threatening e.g. diabetes, stroke etc. Therefore, it’s important to seek help if you think you may have a binge eating problem, because you may need support to help you tackle both your psychological and physical problems.