Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

04/30/14 James Winston

Oftentimes, binge eating disorder is confused with food addiction; however they are different. Binge eating disorder, also known as compulsive overeating, is used to describe a behavior that is often done in response to a person’s unresolved history of trauma and/or family difficulties. In addition, the person with a binge eating disorder may have difficulty understanding his or her feelings and may have limited healthy self-soothing skills to deal with difficult emotions. Instead, the person reaches for food as a coping mechanism to self-soothe when experiencing memories of traumatic events, is under significant stress, or may be dealing with many family difficulties.

In the case of a binge eating disorder, there is not one specific food that the person feels drawn to, rather the person will binge on what is available to help soothe the present pain, frustration, or current stressor he or she is experiencing. Using food as a way to manage these psychological stressors has been shown to be temporarily effective, hence the reason people continue to reach for food during these times. The problem is the long-lasting negative consequences of binging on food as a means of self-soothing and managing stress. It is not uncommon for people who struggle with binge eating disorder to also be overweight, and possibly have heart problems and/or diabetes, as well as other physical health complications. What is often an underlying psychological issue, may present itself as physical problems in the doctor’s office. Below are some things to think about, if you are questioning whether you have a binge eating disorder:

  • Do you find yourself eating large amounts of food in short periods of time and do not realize at the time what you are doing? Later on you may find lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Have you developed food rituals, i.e. only will eat particular foods or food groups, excessive chewing, or do not allow your food to touch?
  • Do you often hide your body with baggy clothes?
  • Do you create lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-sessions?
  • Do you skips meals or take small portions of food at regular meals?
  • Do you find that you have periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full?
  • When you binge, do you NOT purge your food?
  • Do you engage in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting?

If you answered “Yes” to many of these questions, you may want to explore in more depth your relationship with food. There may be a connection between your food intake and possible traumatic event(s) that occurred in your life or on-going family stressors you are experiencing and have possibly been experiencing for years.

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