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Binge Eating Disorder

What is a "binge eating disorder"?

Binge eating is characterised by frequently eating unusually large amounts of food. Binge eating is different from bulimia because people with a binge eating disorder do not usually purge after eating by vomiting in order to lose or maintain weight. People who have a binge eating disorder are usually overweight (BMI 25 - 30) or obese (BMI > 30).

Binge eating is characterised as follows:

  • Eating larger amounts of food than most people in a specific time frame
  • Having no control over food e.g. having the feeling that one could go on eating and that one cannot control what and how much should be eaten.

You have a binge-eating disorder if:

  • You binge at least twice a week
  • You are really suffering as a result of the bingeing
  • You are not purging the food afterwards by vomiting or using laxatives.

The following are also symptoms of the binge eating disorder:

  • Eating much more rapidly than usual
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food even when not physically hungry
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment at the amount of food being eaten
  • Feelings of disgust towards your behaviour
  • Depression or feelings of guilt after overeating

Possible psychological reasons for the binge eating disorder:

Many obese people say that they eat larger amounts of food if they have psychological problems for instance if they have emotional distress or feel lonely. Most people with emotional distress are not capable of distinguishing hunger from other feelings of discomfort or between being hungry and being full.

How common is the binge eating disorder?

About 2% of the population is affected by binge eating. About 4 - 9% of obese people (BMI > 30) have a binge eating disorder. Binge eating is slightly more common in women, with every three women affected for every two men.


How to treat the binge eating disorder

There are two treatment goals when treating the binge eating disorder:

  1. Normalising eating patterns and weight
  2. Helping the patient to overcome their psychological problems.

The therapy involves boosting the self-esteem, making changes in problem areas with regards to personal relationships and normalising eating patterns.

Binge eating, which often comes hand in hand with the development of obesity, usually brings about a number of medical risks. Diabetes mellitus, fat metabolism disorders and high blood pressure are binge eating related illnesses. Consequently, these illnesses increase the mortality rate.

Exercise is an absolutely essential part of the treatment in order to reduce the weight of the patient.


Overcoming Binge Eating  

The Binge Eating and Compulsive Overeating Workbook: An Integrated Approach to Overcoming Disordered Eating (The New Harbinger Whole-Body Healing Series), Carolyn Ross

Why Can't I Stop Eating? : Recognizing, Understanding, and Overcoming Food Addiction

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