Almost everyone overeats on occasions (just look back on your last Christmas dinner), but for some people, overeating crosses the line to a binge-eating disorder ifit becomes a regular occurrence done in secret.
Both men and women are affected and it is thought to be more common than anorexia or bulimia. Those affected by binge eating disorder may diet frequently, however they generally don’t engage in purging behaviour after a binge. On average a binge lasts for two hours, but some people binge on and off all day irrespective of feeling full.
Binge eating arises from a range of factors such as family history, biological factors, long-term dieting and psychological issues like low self-esteem.
You may have no obvious physical signs or symptoms. However, you are likely to have numerous behavioural and emotional signs and symptoms;
Eating unusually large amounts of food
Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
Eating rapidly during binge episodes
Frequently eating alone
Feeling that your eating is out of control
Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
Losing and gaining weight repeatedly
Like all eating distress presentations, binging can cause extreme harm with research linking the effects of continual binge eating to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease to name just a few.
Therefore, it is necessary to access help if you are concerned. Talk to your GP who will assess the level of food consumption compared to recommended amount and severity of binges within a defined length of time.
A concrete plan incorporating weight loss plans, cognitive behavioural therapy and support groups will ensure you are on your way to achieving a normal eating pattern.
Keep in mind that overcoming an eating distress is not about following a strict plan for the rest of your life, but rather learning to listen to your body, to your feelings, learning to trust, accept and love yourself. Below are some tips for overcoming binge eating that will help you on the beginning of your journey to a healthier you.
Eat Breakfast - this will help you avoid unnecessary snacking throughout the day
Avoid temptation - if you know chocolate is your downfall stay away from that aisle in the supermarket – Stay in the outside lanes!
Exercise - not only does itboost your mood but it maintains a healthy weight
Cope with stress – identify triggers of stress in your life and develop healthy coping methods such as reading a book, writing your thoughts in a diary, music or painting.
Avoid dieting – dieting has been known to trigger an urge to binge eat, especially if you have low self esteem and symptoms of depression. Try follow a balanced health diet plan that allows treats as well as healthier options.
Try to improve your self-image – when you base your self worth on physical appearance and body size alone you fail to see the other qualities that make you who you are. Acknowledge your positive qualities and challenge negative self-talk. Try and focus only on what you like about yourself and your body.
A person with binge-eating, similar to the other eating distress presentations can become an expert at hiding behaviour. If you have a loved one you think may be binge-eating, have an open and honest discussion about your concerns. Offer encouragement and support, help them to see a qualified professional.