The majority of people who experience binge-eating disorder are overweight or obese, but you can have the disorder and be of normal weight. Binge-eating disorder is when people are unable to stop themselves from eating unusually large amounts of food in a short space of time, its severity is determined by how often binges happen in a week. People who binge eat feel out of control, and unable to stop, so may eat in secret.
This can lead to feeling embarrassment, shame, and feelings of self-loathing. You might even tell yourself that you are going to stop…until the next time you feel the uncontrollable urge to eat excessively. Although the act of binge-eating is a behaviour, it is important to recognise that it is likely a symptom of an underlying emotional issue. The compulsion to binge-eat is now a recognised disorder, so help is available.
People feel the urgency to take control of the situation and lose weight, this can mean they try lots of ‘fad diets’ and are often on one, but this can lead to more binges when they feel hungry, low, or stressed.
During binge episodes, people often eat fast and cannot stop, even when feeling full.
People who experience BED tend to eat unusually substantial amounts of food in a specific timeframe, for example, over a two-hour period
The inability to stop the binge means that people often feel full to the point of discomfort.
BED makes people feel a lack of control when it comes to their eating behaviour. This is because they are unable to resist the compulsion to overeat.
Often individuals who binge-eat feel a whole host of emotions about themselves and what they are doing, they may experience stress, depression, shame, disgust, upset, embarrassment, guilt, and self-loathing.
BED creates a gamut of negative emotions about oneself, and one’s behaviour, often leading individuals to secret eat or eat alone so they won’t be judge by others.
It is unknown what causes BED but there are a number of possible risk factors that can make someone vulnerable to the disorder.
Upbringing and genetics: family history can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, you are more likely to be impacted if you have a parent or sibling who has currently, or in the past experienced an eating disorder. This could be due to learned behaviour, genetics, or both.
Dieting: Often those who binge eat will have a history of dieting. If they are dieting and restricting food during the day, they may feel the urge to binge in the evening, especially if they are feeling hungry and the go-to binge food is available, and if they feel stressed, or depressed, and wish for comfort.
At Phinity we can offer a thorough psychological evaluation, which will include a discussion of your eating habits. We may recommend physical examinations if there appear to be any medical concerns as a result of the bingeing.
Presumably your goals will involve reducing binge episodes and developing healthy eating habits and this will take up the initial focus to help you regain control. So initially the work will focus on the your eating habits, and then if you wish, what is influencing them.
As disordered eating is often underpinned by emotional issues, such as poor self-image, shame, depression, and other negative feelings, we may begin to address these.
One way we work with BDD is by using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which can help you learn to cope with things that might normally trigger a binge, for example, depression, or low self-esteem. It can also offer a sense of control as you begin to regulate your behaviour, and therefore binge episodes.
Another option is interpersonal psychotherapy which focuses on your relationships with others (including partner, family, friends, colleagues) with the aim of improving how you relate to them and your interpersonal skills. This is useful if your BED is influenced by difficulties in relationships and unhelpful communication skills.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) may be another useful option if you require help with behavioural skills in order to tolerate stress, manage emotions and improve relationships, as all of these can help you control the compulsion to binge eat.
You do not have to worry about which therapeutic approach to choose, our therapists can talk you through options and recommend what they think will help, based on your initial assessment with them.
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