What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is characterized by regular episodes of eating large amounts of food rapidly, usually when you’re not even hungry. BED affects people of all ages and sizes, and it is actually considered the most common eating disorder in the US.
Many confuse BED with overeating, but it’s much more than that. Most people, at some point, will eat much more than they normally do but people suffering from binge eating disorder not only eat unusually large quantities of food but also feel ashamed, guilty and try to hide such eating habits.
What are the signs and symptoms
If you feel flustered and ashamed about your eating habits and attempt to hide your signs and symptoms by consuming food in secret then, of course, you have binge eating disorder. So in this article let us discuss in detail about the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorders.
Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating
- Inability to finish eating or unable to control your eating
- Eating unusually large quantities of food
- Consuming food even when you’re not hungry
- Hiding the food to have later in secret
- You eat normally with others but frequently overeat when you’re alone
- Without maintaining mealtime you continuously eat throughout the day.
- Feeling stressed depressed or tension that is only released by eating
- Feelings of low self-esteem
- Perfectionistic tendencies
- Lack of control once you begins to eat
- Feeling guilty, disgust or self-hatred about eating behaviors
- Fear to eating habits and control weight
On average, at least once a week for 3 months, binge eating occurs and it is not related to the repeated use of improper compensatory behaviors including purging via self-induced vomiting, enemas, fasting or limiting, colonics or diuretics, and misuse of laxatives in bulimia nervosa and does not occur particularly during anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
What Are Its Side Effects?
Binge eating can have a significant impact on a person’s mental and physical health. If you are developing binge eating disorder it not only affects you but also affects your family members. Usually, it uses a combination of things including your experience, emotions, and genes.
In this blog let us discuss in detail about the physical and psychological side effects of BED
In terms of physical side effects, BED can lead to:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Heart disease
Psychological side effects include:
- Alcohol or substance use disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
What Can You Do to Stop BED?
Apart from treatment, which is recommended in more severe situations, there are lifestyle changes you can make to gain back control and get rid of binge eating.
Discover 11 ways or tips that you can try to head off binge eating and improve your life:
1. Forget about the diet
In a society that is constantly telling you that your happiness depends on the way you eat and look, it can be quite difficult to give up dieting.
But specialists warn that many restrictive diets, apart from being unhealthy, can also trigger binge-eating episodes. So, if you’re drastically cutting back on calories in order to lose weight you could set yourself up for much more intense cravings and higher risks of overeating.
The aim should be to eat in a way that makes you forget about restrictions but still eat less in order to lose the extra pounds. If you want to find out more about weight loss and how to do it in a healthy way, here’s a good resource you can start with!
2. Don’t skip breakfast
There’s a reason breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast can set the mood in terms of what you eat for the rest of the day, reducing hunger and curbing cravings.
This is especially important for people with binging problems. Their eating pattern usually consists of skipping breakfast, eating something really light for lunch and ending up ravishing the fridge in the evening.
3. Set a regular eating schedule
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that doesn’t mean it’s ok to skip lunch or dinner.
A regular eating schedule with planned meals is the most efficient method to overpower binge eating. It helps in reducing ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone, and controlling blood sugar levels.
It doesn’t matter if you have three larger meals throughout the day or smaller, more frequent ones. The idea is to stick to a regular pattern in order to reduce overeating.
4. Stay hydrated
It may not seem much, but don’t underestimate the power water can have on your body.
As a famous saying goes, “Water is the world’s first and foremost medicine”.
Besides the fact that every cell in your body needs water to function, studies also show that increased water intake can efficiently curb cravings and reduce hunger. More precisely, water makes you feel full and satiated and no longer in dire need to eat whatever you can get your hands on.
5. Eat more protein
Binge eating and satiety, or lack thereof, go together like traffic and weather. You feel famished and you end up overeating.
To prevent binge eating episodes, it’s important to feel satiated. And there’s no other nutrient out there that can make this happen better than protein. Considered the building block of our body, protein has been demonstrated in various studies to have the best effect on the levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone called ghrelin.
Higher protein intake from foods that detox your body such as meat, eggs, seeds, nuts, can help binge eaters keep their cravings at bay by enhancing the feeling of fullness and consequently consuming less food.
6. Keep a food diary
A good way to keep track of what you eat and how you feel when doing so is keeping a food diary. It makes it easier to identify possible problems and triggers of binge eating, such as eating patterns or foods that give a false feeling of fullness.
There are a lot of apps that can help you in this endeavor. You take responsibility for what you eat, adopt healthier eating habits and avoid future binge eating episodes. Not to mention you also lose weight in the process, should you also want this.
7. Relieve stress
People become stressed or depressed due to various reasons, from relationships to work or financial issues. For individuals suffering from BED, stress is heightened by social and environmental stressors and can lead to destructive binge eating episodes.
How to manage stress and anxiety? To cope with all this and channel stress into something productive and relaxing, the following are useful stress-relief techniques:
- Massage therapy
- Yoga or tai chi
- Deep breathing exercises
All these practices have been found to reduce cortisol levels and, thus, prevent overeating.
8. Distract yourself
Our eating is often driven by our emotions. Same with stress-induced binge eating, our ever-changing feelings can transpose into poor eating habits such as binging.
That’s why it’s important for individuals in such predicaments to find enjoyable activities that help them take their minds and mouths away from food, such as:
- playing games
- going to the park
- going for a walk
- mowing the lawn (don’t judge!)
- reading a book
Sky’s the limit!
9. Get quality sleep
Sleep, or better said poor sleep, can affect many aspects of our lives. Like hunger and appetite.
Various studies suggest that sleep deprivation can increase the levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and decrease those of leptin, the hormone in charge of the feeling of fullness. In other words, the less you sleep, the hungrier you get and the more frequent you end up overeating.
Specialists recommend getting between 7-9 hours of sleep every night to be able to control your appetite and prevent binging episodes.
10.Find a ‘support’ group
A friend in need is a friend indeed. This means, for the purpose of this article, that whenever you feel the urge to go rampant on food, find someone you can talk to about your struggles and can encourage you.
When people feel stressed, angry or down in the dumps, a hormone called oxytocin gets released into their system and drives them to seek social connection. This simple ‘strategy’ is very efficient because it can help you cope with emotional eating, which can also be considered a form of binging.
11. Identify emotional triggers
People with binge eating disorders can experience episodes caused by a multitude of factors. That’s why it’s important to understand what triggers you to start eating. Is it frustration? Sadness? Parties? It may be difficult at first.
But once you identify what types of triggers push you into eating like there’s no tomorrow, you will start to recognize the warning signs easier and become able to nip the binging in the bud.
Binge eating is not something to be taken lightly. Some people manage to control it without any medical treatments while others are not as lucky.
To overcome your eating disorder kindly follow this above ways or tips like the ones we discussed in this article that might help you too, but if you feel that binge eating is affecting your quality of life and health, remember you’re not alone and don’t hesitate to seek help with specialized doctors, licensed psychologists or even eating disorder helplines!