Here are the Facts About Binge Eating Disorder
Unlike mindless eating, bingeing often feels out of control and leads distress over the eating pattern. What’s more, binge eating may be more common than we think. Here are the facts!
You just cannot stop… You eat one cookie, and then go for another. Or one potato chip, and then the rest of the bag.
But as much as this sounds like mindless eating, and very well could be, it may also be indicative of a binge eating pattern. While mindless and binge eating seem comparable, there is a significant difference between the deserving of special care.
Because unlike mindless eating that often comes when distracted by doing something, binge eating can be described as an out-of-body experience, with a dramatic, emotional high from bingeing on favorite foods and warrants professional attention.
While overeating is a common phenomenon, especially on special occasions, bingeing often feels out of control and becomes a regular occurrence, which then leads to distress over the eating pattern.
What’s more, binge eating may be more common than we think. Here are the facts!
Binge Eating Disorder - Facts and Statistics
According to the Cleveland Clinic, binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder. Some estimates put the number of Americans with binge eating disorder at about 3 percent of all adults, which approximates to about 4 million people.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) suggests binge-eating disorder facts and research are limited compared to what is known about anorexia and bulimia eating disorders.
To bridge the gap, the NEDA compiled some of the facts and statistics on BED:
• About 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men has had BED during their life.
• Between 0.2 and 3.5 percent of females and 0.9 and 2.0 percent of males will develop binge eating disorder.
• Binge eating disorder often begins in the late teens or early 20s, although it has been reported in both young children and older adults.
• Approximately 40 percent of those with binge eating disorder are male.
• Three out of ten individuals looking for weight loss treatments show signs of BED.
Causes of Binge Eating and Overeating
The causes of binge eating disorder are not well-known, though genetics, biological factors, family histories, dieting patterns, societal pressures, and other psychological issues can increase the risk.
People who have binge eating disorders typically also display the following characteristics:
• Low self-esteem
• Lack of self-confidence
• Depression or anxiety
• Poor body image
• Stressful or traumatic past events
• Pressure to be thin
Signs of a Binge Disorder
Individuals with BED are often overweight or obese, though they can also be of average weight. However, binge-eating disorder signs and symptoms are predominately based on behavioral and emotional cues, including the following sourced by Mayo Clinic:
• Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a two-hour period
• Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
• Eating even when you're full or not hungry
• Eating rapidly during binge episodes
• Eating until you're uncomfortably full
• Frequently eating alone or in secret
• Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
• Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
In addition to signs and symptoms, there are also a variety of triggers that can cause an episode of binge eating. These include:
If experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away. And if hesitant to reach out for help, confide in someone you trust to support you through taking the necessary steps.
If noticing these patterns in a loved one, it is important to acknowledge them as empathetically and non-judgmentally as possible. Be open and honesty, along with being supportive and encouraging of getting out treatment.
Finding proper care is not only important to lower the risk of health conditions, malnutrition and heart disease, but could even be lifesaving.
How to Stop Binge Eating
First and foremost, it is important to seek out professional for a true diagnosis and binge eating disorder treatment.
Because overall, binge eating disorder may present an individual with a way of coping with problems of identity and personal control. That being said, it is imperative to dig deep to the underlying cause that raises the risk of a binge.
Bingeing may be related to a negative self-image or persistent stress, in which the following self-help and methods could be beneficial:
• Wearing clothes you feel both comfortable and confident in
• Steering clear from the scale
• Staying away from outlets that often distort an appropriate body, including magazines and social phone apps
• Getting a massage or facial
• Keeping active by hiking out in nature, biking with friends, and other favorite physical activities
• Relieving stress by taking warm bath, journaling, or calling a family member
The following techniques below have also been explored in the treatment of binge eating disorder and show to be effective in stopping binge patterns.
Meditation is a growing intervention for disordered eating patterns, including an effective component of treating BED.
A 6-week study found using meditation decreased binge eating frequency from 4 times per week down to 1.5 times per week by the end of the study. Their sense of control increased, while Beck Depression and Anxiety scores decreased significantly as well.
A more recent review published in Eating Behaviors suggests mindfulness meditation effectively decreases binge eating and emotional eating in populations engaging in this behavior.
Medications for Binge Eating & Depression
There are a number of known medications that may be effective in managing BED, including Vyvanse, which is a drug primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Topamax, which is an anticonvulsant prescribed to control seizures, may also reduce binge eating.
Using antidepressant and antianxiety medication has likewise been helpful for individuals managing BED. Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been shown to be modestly effective for reducing binge eating over the short term in individuals who have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder.
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, as useful for teaching how to develop healthier coping techniques. Sessions may be in individual or group settings, and may include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and family therapy.
Binge eating disorder treatment may be also be inclusive to a multidisciplinary approach, including with the assistance of a counselor and dietitian. A stepped care treatment appears to be a helpful strategy for individuals who are ready to tackle their binge eating disorder head-on.
Binge-Eating Disorder. Mayo Clinic.