It’s Time To Stop Risking Your Health. TAKE BACK CONTROL and Get back to healthy eating habits.

Unhealthy eating plagues many people, as the struggle to achieve a healthy diet rages on. For some this struggle goes beyond the typical and leads them down a road to serious eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder or B.E.D.

Experts report that diet is one of the key considerations, in living a longer and much healthier life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, lifestyle diseases are those that occur primarily as a result of diet or lack of exercise.

Conditions caused by poor diet include:

  • Obesity
  • Heart Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Cholesterol
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hypertension
  • Gout
  • Anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Dental Cavities
  • Cancer

The above makes is that much more important to do whatever it takes to address dysfunctional eating habits to ensure overall health and wellness. Those who suffer from B.E.D. also have deep-rooted emotional issues, and a reduced quality of life that further makes it that much more imperative to get help and treat the disorder.

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What Is Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder or B.E.D. is a diagnosable disorder which is characterized by recurrent and compulsive episodes of eating very large quantities of food, typically the food is consumed very fast, the eater does not have the ability to stop and eats to the point of great discomfort.

In May of 2013, the DSM-5, the psychiatric diagnostic manual deemed B.E.D. as a diagnosable eating disorder. While B.E.D. is considered to be severe and life threating, it is treatable and people do get better.

Everyone overeats sometimes, such as during the holiday season where over indulgence is common, or when dining out on occasion at a favorite restaurant. For the binge eater, excessive eating becomes a regular activity, and features a loss of control, making it a regular occurrence.

B.E.D. is the most common eating disorder in the United States; in fact, it is more common than Anorexia and Bulimia. According to Mayo Clinic and WebMD, binge eating disorder is severe, life threatening and also very treatable. [*]

While mostly characterized by specific dysfunctional eating habits, B.E.D. goes beyond food and features very real emotional and psychological aspects, in fact, these issues are the core of the loss of control over food.

Some of the key features are loss of control over eating, and chronic upset after binge sessions, which includes shame, guilt, and regret. The shame and embarrassment explains why often binge episodes take place in secret and in private. Consulting with a health care professional is the only way to diagnose if you have B.E.D. and get help to ensure successful recovery.

Key Statistics of B.E.D.

B.E.D. is the most common eating disorder in America and is diagnosed in:

  • 5% of the total population
  • 3.5% of women
  • 2% of men
  • 1.6% of adolescents
  1. Afflicts more women, with a 60% rate versus the 40% of binge eaters who are men
  2. Men are the least likely to seek treatment
  3. Affects people of all demographics and cultures

Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating

  • Consumption of unusually large amounts of food in each single sessions, as much as 2000 or more calories
  • Consumption of large amounts of fat and carbohydrates
  • Eating when not hungry or when full
  • Eating very quickly during binge episodes
  • Eating to the point of being very uncomfortably stuffed
  • Eating alone or in secret
  • Shame, guilt, remorse, severe distress and depression in regards to eating
  • Ongoing yo-yo dieting that typically results in no weight loss

Diagnostic Criteria

The DSM-5 [*] lists the following diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder:

Recurrent Episodes of Binge Eating

An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode, without ability to stop eating or control how much is eaten.

The Binge Eating Episodes Are Associated With Three or More of The Following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of foods when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward
  • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for 3 months
  • There are associated inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as purging or laxative use, such as seen in bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa

Behavioral Markers

  • Compulsive eating of large amounts of food in a single sitting
  • Secretive eating, eating alone or in hiding and hoarding food
  • Disruptive and erratic eating without planned meal times and skipping meals
  • Engaging in regular yo-yo dieting, fasting and sporadic times of dieting
  • Developing eating rituals, such as only eating from one food group, or not allowing foods on a plate to touch
  • Extreme rigidity when it comes to food
  • Designing schedule around binge eating sessions

Emotional and Mental Markers

  • Emotional eating, where anxiety, shame, worthlessness, anger and other negative emotions spur a binge eating event in order to numb these feelings
  • Social isolation, moodiness, and irritability
  • Depression
  • Poor body image, which may include disgust about bodyweight and size that may or may not be spurred by social stigmas, or childhood teasing
  • Avoiding conflict within relationships, acting as the peacekeeper

Thinking and personality patterns unique to B.E.D. include:

  • Rigid thinking and inflexibility
  • A fervent need to maintain and be in control
  • Lack of healthy coping skills in dealing with and expressing feelings, and personal needs
  • Perfectionism and the need to be perfect
  • People pleasing

Physical Markers

  • Body weight varies among binge eaters; some are of normal weight, but many have mild to severe obesity
  • While there is correlation between B.E.D. and weight gain not everyone diagnosed with B.E.D is overweight

Causes and Risk Factors For Binge Eating

The Mayo Clinic states that there is no one known cause of B.E.D., several factors play a role in the typical patient, including, biological factors, emotional state, and psychological issues.

Risk factors for B.E.D. are varied and include:

  • A family history of eating disorders increases risks for B.E.D., this includes, parents or siblings. This furthers the idea that there maybe a genetic link.
  • Psychological issues play a key role in increasing risks for B.E.D., as most of those who suffer from this disorder, have low self-esteem, and generally feel negative about themselves, their lives, and much of what they have achieved. Key triggers that lead to binging include a poor body image, boredom, low self-esteem, ineffective emotional coping skills, poorly managed stress and undiagnosed underlying mental illnesses.
  • Yo-yo dieting is a feature of B.E.D., as many who suffer from the disorder engage and regular, extreme and excessive dieting behaviors that can last for years and dates back to childhood. Severe calorie restrictions lead to binge eating, and especially in those who have low self-esteem or suffer from depression.
  • Age is another risk factor for B.E.D., as it typically begins in most people in the late teens or early 20s.

Health Risks And Complications

The complications associated with Binge Eating Disorder are varied, and include physical, psychological, and emotional consequences and some also suffer from dual diagnosis co-occurring mental illness.

Medical Risks and Complications

Medical complications are mainly those that stem from overweight or obesity, one of the main concerns of B.E.D.

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  •  Joint disorders
  • Osteoarthritis of the knees
  • High cholesterol
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Reduced physical mobility
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke
  • Shortness of breath
  • Back pain
  • Premature death

Those who are not overweight may also see medical complications as related to poor nutrition.

Physically, dealing with gastrointestinal distress and discomfort is frequent as the body attempts to digest a large volume of food that may lead to fatigue and lethargy.

Psychological Complications

  • Guilt, shame and extreme distress over binge eating
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of control over food and behaviors
  • Poor quality of life
  • Lack of healthy emotional coping skills
  • Self-hatred
  • Poor body image
  • Social difficulties, with poor functioning or complete isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Social stigmatization
  • Problems functioning at work
  • Problems functioning in relationships and maintaining unhealthy relationships
  • Problems functioning in personal life

Mental Illness

There are various mental illness that are linked with B.E.D, these are part of what is known as a dual-diagnosis and include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Substance abuse or addictions

Getting Help/Recovery

Recovery from B.E.D. is very possible!

The goals of B.E.D. treatment are to get the patient to stop binge eating, regain control over food and for those who are overweight or obese to lose weight.

Therapeutic remedies are also used to deal with the psychological effects of B.E.D. or those that lead to the condition, including, low self-esteem, shame, guilt, poor body image, and any other emotional issues that plague the sufferer, along with instilling healthy coping skills.

There are four main treatment modalities used for B.E.D. including psychotherapy, medications, and behavioral weight loss programs.

Each person is different and will have varied needs, this is why it is important for treatment plans to consider the individual’s needs in order to effect success in recovery.

Psychotherapy Modalities

Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy is key in treating and recovery from B.E.D. A mental health professional helps guide patients in teaching healthy copping skills for their emotions, and how to get eating under control.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a treatment model that focuses on instilling healthy coping skills for issues that trigger binge-eating episodes. This includes learning healthy coping skills and avenues to deal with negative emotions and depression instead of turning to food. CBT looks to get the patient to regain a healthy sense of control over their behavior in order to regulate eating towards the healthy.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal psychotherapy addresses relationships and its goal is to improve the patient’s interpersonal skills and help them to learn healthy ways to deal with family, spouses, and friends, with the end goal being to reduce binge episodes that are often triggered by relationships struggles, tendencies towards people pleasing and unhealthy communication skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

This therapy deals with reshaping behavioral skills to promote improved stress management, healthy emotional coping skills, and improvement of personal relationships. Addressing these key issues can reduce the compulsion to binge eating.

Behavioral Weight Loss Programs

Since yo-yo dieting is common in B.E.D., with multiple failures at weight loss a main feature of the disorder, behavioral weight loss therapy is a key component in recovery.

Any weight loss program considered should follow the treatment of B.E.D., as dieting can trigger further binge episodes. The best weight loss programs will be those that are medically supervised to ensure that nutritional needs are addressed and met.

In general, weight loss programs for binge eaters work best when implemented simultaneously with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Medication Options

There are various medications that can be used to treat B.E.D.

Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate (Vyvanse)

The first prescription drug approved for the treatment of B.E.D., it is used for moderate to severe levels of the disorder. Your doctor will explain how it works and common side effects and habit- forming potential.

Topiramate (Topamax)

This is an anticonvulsant drug that is normally used to treat and control seizures and has been found to be effective in reducing binge-eating episodes. Your doctor can explain any risks and benefits.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants or SSRIs are used for B.E.D. in helping to reduce binge eating. Antidepressants may also be prescribed for those who suffer from depression disorders along with B.E.D.

Impatient Care

In serious binge eating cases, an inpatient eating disorders setting may be needed, but starting with your doctor and your doctor and a therapist are your first steps in beating binge eating.

Final Thoughts

Binge eating disorder is a serious, life-threatening condition, but it is treatable. If you suffer from B.E.D., it is important to get help. You can start by speaking with your doctor.

Recovery will bring a new happiness and improve your quality of life.

Recovery allows you to take back control not over food, but of your physical and emotional health. Remember, recovery is possible; you can get better, happier and improve your body and your quality of life!

Stay well and take care!