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Binge Eating Disorder: Much More Common In Today's World

Updated on March 20, 2014

I want to say that I have never engaged in binge eating, but that would be a lie. I think it is fair to say that most people have had moments during diets that they binged. However, there is a difference between doing it once in a while and doing it all the time (even though I think binging is a sign that you are either eating unhealthy or your mindset is not healthy). When you binge all the time, then you may have a binge eating disorder.

Binge eating is defined in a couple of ways:

  1. Eating a ton of food in a short time period, such as a few hours.
  2. Lack of control while eating.
  3. Can't stop eating even though you are full.

This likely sounds family to most people. In America, millions of people are affected by eating disorders, and it is estimated that at least 4.4% will experience this disorder at some point in their lives. [Source]

Binge eating is a dangerous disorder.
Binge eating is a dangerous disorder. | Source

Why Binge Eating Occurs

From my research, I have found that binge eating most often occurs after calorie restriction occurs. However, there are hereditary, psychological, neurochemical, and sociocultural reasons as well.

Depending on where you live, you may be more prone to binge eat. There are a few factors that seem to contribute to binge eating.

  • Wealth
  • Accessibility to food
  • Outlook on body shape in regards to attractiveness

This makes sense. The more we are told our bodies are not perfect, the more we diet. And if we have an abundance of food available to us, it can become very easy to satisfy our hunger and cravings when we can't stand the 'diet' anymore.

Have You Ever Binged?

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What A Binge Episode Looks Like

Not sure whether or not you have binged before? A typical binge episode will look like this

  • Eating too fast
  • Eating way past the point of fullness
  • Eating huge amounts of food whether you are hungry or not
  • Eating alone so that no one else sees you
  • Loss of control while eating
  • Feeling negative afterwards - including depression, hopelessness, and guilt

Binge Eating Ice Cream
Binge Eating Ice Cream | Source

Diagnosing A Binge Eating Disorder

Sometimes it goes past the point of behavior and ends up being a disorder. Following are some criteria that indicate a disorder.

  1. Consistent episodes that occur for about six months a few times a week.
  2. No other eating disorders, such as anorexia, are present.
  3. Does not occur while engaging in extreme fasting

Treatment

The good news is that treatment often works for people who have a binge eating disorder. A simple change in lifestyle or mindset may be all it takes to help a person avoid binging and start eating a satisfying diet.

There are a few different treatments available.

1. Self Help

There are a ton of books that can offer support for binge eating. In addition, there are many forums, videos, and programs that are dedicated to helping people overcome binge eating. This is the beauty of the Internet - you do not have to leave your house to seek help, and many people who are reluctant to tell others about their problem may find help this way.

2. Therapy

Often people can start to understand their behavior through therapy. Identifying why binge eating occurs can help give people control over their diet. For instance, cognitive behavior therapy focuses on your behavior symptoms and thinking patterns, and is one of the most popular ways to effectively treat binge eating.

3. Alternative Medicine

Since binge eating can often occur from stress or low self-confidence, alternative medicine, such as meditation, can help bring the mind back to healthy and increase confidence and reduce stress.

4. Lifestyle Changes

Often a simple change in lifestyle can reduce eating issues. For instance, changing the hours that you work may help eliminate the need to fast and binge. In addition, consistently participating in fad diets can cause binge eating, and making a complete lifestyle change to your diet may help eliminate the need or desire to binge.

Diets And Negative Self Image Can Be Deadly

The photographer used the Barbie as she represents 'perfection'. She is covered in 'blood' and holding a blood covered sign that says 'diet' to show how the diet and obsession with weight is killing her.
The photographer used the Barbie as she represents 'perfection'. She is covered in 'blood' and holding a blood covered sign that says 'diet' to show how the diet and obsession with weight is killing her. | Source

Watch The Video From A Binge Eater

I think this video is a great example of binge eating. Not only is the person showing all of the food they are going to eat, but they are showing the calories of the food, which means that they are obviously extremely aware of how many calories they are putting into their bodies at any given time.

If there is one takeaway I got from this video, it is this: Going on diets can lead to binge eating.

Becoming obsessed with the food and calories we put in on our bodies can cause us to become obsessed about food and calories! And when hunger appears, and we eat everything we have been craving or wanting, we are acutely aware of what we are putting on our bodies, and this leads to more dieting to get rid of the extra calories that we consumed. It is a vicious cycle.

Great Video On Binge Eating: Must Watch If You Are Struggling

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    • Relationshipc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari 

      3 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      So true Maggie! I love the fact that I'm growing more comfortable with my body every day. When I was younger, I spent more time sucking it in than anything else!

    • Maggie.L profile image

      Maggie.L 

      3 years ago from UK

      You are so right in saying that dieting causes binging as you start to become obsessed with what you are eating. I very rarely binge now but used to binge frequently when I was younger. One of the few perks of getting older seems to be that you worry a lot less about trying to achieve the perfect body (or society's idea of what the perfect body is)!

    • Relationshipc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari 

      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Good point Hendrika. I think a lot of us are addicted to sugar!

    • Hendrika profile image

      Hendrika 

      4 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      I seem to have a problem, like everyone else I binge from time to time, but often because I am really hunger. So I suppose my reason is that I am not eating the right food as well as a sugar addiction. I am sure not everyone knows that a sugar addiction can also lead to a binge as it plays have with your blood sugar setting off a binge.

    • Relationshipc profile imageAUTHOR

      Kari 

      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thanks for sharing MsDora. When I talked to my friend about this article, it brought up a whole conversation about her body image and food issues, and I realize that this is a very huge problem right now.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I still binge occasionally--pure lack of control. I seem to turn off the control if I'm anxious or depressed, then I get more depressed. Mine is an emotional issue for which I will try meditation. Thank you for dealing with this issue.

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