What is binge eating disorder?
Binge Eating Disorder is a psychological illness. And as you may have guessed, it’s where you frequently eat large amounts of food quickly in a single sitting – even when you are not hungry.
But… Binge eating is not the same as overeating. I mean, we have all filled our belly to the point of exploding at Christmas, right?
You’ll know you have a problem if your binge eating is a regular occurrence – at least once a week. Especially if you feel guilty, depressed or disgusted in yourself after a binge-eating session.
You know that you shouldn’t rapidly eat that whole packet of Tim Tams, or smash that bag of Doritos, but you can’t help it. You just can’t stop – you are out of control.
In some instances, you might only binge once or twice a week. If your Binge Eating Disorder is really out of control, you might binge more than once each day!
You just can’t get the same feeling of satisfaction when you eat with other people – you do it alone.
In many cases, binge eating is your dirty little secret. Your friends and family don’t even know about your binge sessions. You might have been hiding your binge-habit for years, binging in private.
All of my clients agree that In the heat of the binge, everything feels “right.” For that brief moment, everything feels good in the world. Many of my clients even look forward to their binge, planning it out ahead of time.
It’s not until after the binge that the guilt kicks in, you feel disgusting. Not only do you feel physically sick, but you hate yourself for doing it – how could you lose control, again?
Does that sound like you? You are probably suffering from binge eating disorder.
Don’t worry. You are not alone.
Binge eating disorder is more common than you think. In fact, it is estimated that it affects 47% of Australians with an eating disorder 
This cycle of binge-eat, regret, and repeat can lead to depression, anxiety, digestive issues and other serious physical health problems.
That’s why binge eating disorder should be treated as soon as possible – your future self will thank you.
Are you ready to overcome your binge eating disorder?
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For many people, binge eating occurs at night.
Does that sound like you?
It’s possible that eating isn’t an issue during the day. A light breakfast, a healthy lunch. It’s no big deal.
In more extreme cases, you might restrict your daily food intake. Skipping meals entirely, in preparation for the feast to come…
After work, in the privacy of your own home things change. Once night falls, you unleash the beast…
It’s like you transform into this food-obsessed werewolf. You lose all control, you can’t stop eating.
And when the morning comes? You are back to normal – you don’t want to binge eat again.
But giving up isn’t that easy. You can’t simply will yourself to stop…
Just like a werewolf waiting for the next full moon, it’s only a matter of time before your next night time binge session.
As always, too much of a good thing is bad for you. And binge eating is no exception.
You see, overloading your body with too much food can take a heavy toll on your mind, body and emotions.
Here are some of the health issues our clients have faced who suffer from binge eating disorder:
Physical Health Issues
Long-term binge eating can lead to a variety of physical health issues, all of which can dramatically decrease your quality of life.
Obesity – All that food has to go somewhere. Binge eaters are at serious risk of becoming overweight.
Digestive Issues – Overloading your stomach with food can lead to acid reflux, cramping and heartburn. In serious cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, constipation or even rupture your stomach.
High Blood Pressure – Binge eating can lead to high blood pressure, which puts you at greater risk of heart attack or stroke.
Type 2 Diabetes – If you binge eat, you are more likely to get Type 2 diabetes, a lifelong disease.
Feeling physically tired – It’s hard to be active with all that food in your belly. After a binge you’ll feel overwhelmed and sluggish.
Mental Health Issues
While the mental issues cannot be seen, they can have a worse impact on your everyday life than the physical issues.
- Helplessness – The feeling that no matter what you do, you won’t overcome this binge eating cycle.
- Obsession – An unhealthy fixation with eating, food or losing weight.
- Embarrassment – Oversensitivity to comments from others about food, dieting, exercising or body image.
- Shame – Feelings of guilt and self-hatred, especially after a binge eating session.
- Distress – Experiencing, irritability, depression or anxiety, especially after a binge eating session.
Obviously, you don’t want any of these health problems, right? In a healthy person, just the risk of these medical issues would stop someone binge eating for good.
But Binge Eating Disorder is a mental health issue – even knowing the worst possible outcome, you cannot stop this impulsive behavior.
That is why you need professional help, to return to a balanced mental state before Binge Eating Disorder causes you further health problems.
Think back to your last binge eating session. It was a craving for comfort, right?
You use binge eating as a means to reconnect with yourself. Some quality “me-time” – you get a stark sense of control and satisfaction.
But what led to that moment was probably the exact opposite…
You see, binge eating is often set off when you are suffering from feeling disconnected and out of control.
Common triggers for binge eating include:
- Lack of sleep
What happens when you experience these?
The next private moment you get, you eat. And eat. And eat.
In that brief binging moment, you feel better. You feel connected to yourself. You feel in control. You feel pleasure. You feel fulfilled.
Binge eating is your way of compensating for not feeling good – balancing out the unhappiness.
Unfortunately, if you are suffering from binge eating, triggers can be hard to identify.
Some people misidentify binge eating as a love of food.
Unfortunately, if you cannot identify the trigger, treatment of binge eating is difficult.
Fortunately, a medical professional can help you get to the unique underlying issues that are causing you to binge eat – and move you towards a solution.
What caused your first binge eating session?
I mean, you didn’t wake up one day and decide: “I’m going to start binge eating today.”
Instead, something happened that set in motion this binge eating cycle you are now stuck in. Something made you decide that binge eating behavior would benefit you.
Unfortunately, the exact causes of binge eating are not widely known. However, there are a variety of risk factors that make it more likely you will get trapped in a binge eating disorder cycle, including:
- Genetics – If your parents suffered from binge eating disorder, then it’s possible you will too.
- Gender – Binge Eating Disorder is more common in women than in men.
- Predisposition – A love of food and lack of self-control puts you at risk of Binge Eating Disorder.
- Body image – Binge Eating Disorder often appears in people who are unhappy with their body and the way they look.
- Body size – Being overweight is often associated with Binge Eating. Many patients seeking weight loss surgery suffer from Binge Eating Disorder.
- Social conditioning – Your family encourages you to overeat by finishing every food on your plate. Overeating behavior is rewarded with praise.
- Emotional trauma – Binge eating can follow stressful life events such as abuse, death, loss of a loved one, car accident or even childhood trauma.
- Other Psychological Issues – Many people with Binge eating disorder suffer from another psychological condition, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, phobias, or drug abuse.
But here’s the thing…
While it’s important to understand the initial cause, the problem is far greater than your first binge eating session.
The problem is that you are compulsively continuing to binge eat – it’s become a habit and you couldn’t stop if you wanted to.
You need to break this cycle. And the only way to do that is to seek professional help.
If you are still reading this, you are likely thinking:
Oh no! I have Binge Eating Disorder!
And you might.
But before you start to panic, you should know that Binge Eating Disorder is often confused with other eating issues.
Food Addiction: Using food the same way you would alcohol or cigarettes. You rely on certain types of foods, such as Chocolate, to get you through your day. When eating these foods, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel happy
Compulsive overeating: When you regularly eat after you are full or when you are not hungry. E.g After finishing dinner, you go for seconds – you don’t hide the fact you overeat.
If you compensate for your Binge Eating by forcing yourself to vomit, over-exercise or take laxatives, then it’s possible you have Anorexia or Bulimia instead – these are different eating disorders.
To make things even more confusing, you can have more than one eating disorder or food related issue at a time (we can help you overcome any of these!).
Fortunately, there is a simple test you can take to determine if you have an eating disorder, and which one. All you have to do is take a test…
The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q). This test accompanies a medical examination (called the EDE) that will be administered by your doctor, who will diagnose your eating disorder and prescribe treatment.
You can also take this test yourself online for free, however it will only reveal if you potentially have an eating disorder. It won’t provide a diagnosis or further details – you need to see your Doctor for that.
If your Doctor determines that you do have an eating disorder, you may be eligible for medicare funded treatment under one of two different plans:
1. Eating Disorder Management Plan (EDMP) – allows eligible clients with an eating disorder to access medicare rebates for up to 40 sessions of Psychological under an eating disorder psychological treatment plan (EDPT.)
2. Mental Health Care Plan (MHP) – provides up to 20 individual and 20 group sessions of Psychology therapy per year.
Please discuss these options with your doctor. Happy Body Clinic is able to provide treatment under both of these plans with a referral from your doctor.