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Binge Eating Disorder 101

Hand reaches for chips while struggling with binge eating disorder

Binge-Eating Disorder (BED), a serious eating condition and one of many potential psychological causes of obesity, can be described as chronically overeating a large amount of food over a short period. The key difference between simply needing to change into sweatpants after Thanksgiving dinner and having full-blown BED is that this overeating happens regularly and is not done deliberately. People with BED don’t wake up in the morning, planning to consume thousands of calories within an hour or later that night. This compulsive behavior continues to impact their life adversely and is beyond their control.

At Destination Hope, we specialize not only in helping to treat addiction to harmful substances but also in treating harmful behavioral addictions, like BED. If this disorder sounds like you or someone you know, reach out to us to see how we can help.

Symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder

BED is not always easy to spot in yourself or others. The afflicted person is more likely to be overweight, but that is not always the case. It is also a common misconception that everyone with BED purges after a binge eating episode. Bulimia, an eating disorder that involves purging food through vomiting or other means after eating, is separate from BED, although people may have both concurrently.

People with BED will suffer from some, if not all, the following symptoms:

  • Eating abnormally large amounts of food over a quick period
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Yo-yo dieting
  • Hiding their eating from others by eating alone
  • Eating well past the point of being uncomfortably full
  • Eating even when no hunger cues are present
  • Feeling shame and embarrassment about overeating habits
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Developing odd rituals around food and eating
  • Disrupting other parts of daily life to eat
  • Having an unhealthy preoccupation with body, weight, and appearance
  • Hoarding or even stealing food
  • Experiencing anxiety around eating food in public or with other people present
  • Experiencing gastrointestinal distress, including pain, constipation, and acid reflux

People with BED have likely tried to curb their eating to no avail. This includes restriction of calories, fad diets, or even trying to make healthy adjustments to their diet. Often these bouts of attempting to change their behaviors will result in an even more severe bingeing episode, leading to more psychological distress and triggering the cycle to start over again.

Consequences of Binge-Eating Disorder

Beyond the obvious physical discomfort and psychological distress resulting from BED, this disorder has many more immediate and long-term side effects. Many of these are the effects of clinical obesity, while others result from your body trying to keep up with the rapid changes during and after binges.

Short-term consequences of BED include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bacterial infections
  • Blocked or perforated intestines
  • Drastic fluctuations in blood sugar
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low libido
  • Isolating from friends and loved ones
  • Intense feelings of guilt or shame

Long-term consequences of BED include:

  • Deficiencies or excesses of specific nutrients
  • Heart disease
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder

Treatment

People suffering from BED are often ashamed of their compulsive behaviors, leading them to do their eating in secret and keep it quiet from the people in their lives. If you are suffering from this disorder, you likely want to stop these behaviors and know you need to do so for your health. This is very difficult to do on your own if your binges have gotten out of control and if, despite your best efforts, you cannot resist your urges.

As with any other addiction, this is where the secret-keeping has to end. To treat this disease, you must be honest about your eating and ask for help. Reaching out to a medical doctor and a mental health professional is the most critical step you can take toward treating and recovering from BED.

Destination Hope has a team of medical professionals with experience treating eating disorders, including BED. Being honest with a trusted member of your family or a friend will also be critical in your recovery.

How We Can Help

We specialize in helping people overcome behavioral disorders. Our team of doctors, mental health counselors, and certified addiction professionals are here to help you break free of BED. Our nutrition program helps our patients learn more about how to nurture their bodies and regain health as they recover from eating disorders.

Reach out to us today to see how we can help you on your path to recovery.

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