Binge eating disorder is a frightening condition that affects thousands of people in the UK and Ireland. However, it is a condition that is often overlooked or hidden because of the feelings of shame that are usually involved.
Signs of binge eating
- Regularly eat a larger amount of food than normal during a short period of time.
- Feel a lack of control over eating during the binge episode (i.e. the feeling that one cannot stop eating).
Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
- Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry.
- Eating much more rapidly than normal.
- Eating alone because you are embarrassed by how much you're eating.
- Feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after overeating.
Binge eating is marked by distress and occurs on average at least two days a week for six months. Other symptoms may include rapid weight gain or obesity, weight fluctuations, hiding or hoarding food, dealing with disappointment by eating, attributing your success and failure to weight and avoiding social situations, especially those involving food. Medical complications can range from aches and pains to severe heart problems.
We now have a name for the monster that plagues so many people. A person who suffers with binge-eating disorder often accepts and minimises the difficulties associated with the illness. However, once you acknowledge that you have an illness there ARE measures that you can take to remove yourself from this cycle of over-eating and self-loathing.
Overcoming binge eating disorder
Just take it one step at a time. Your long-term goal is simple: to eat normally. Meanwhile, there are the day-to-day changes that involve risk and courage. Binge eaters have used food as the drug of choice... to calm, nurture and numb uncomfortable feelings. Certainly, after a binge, the distress and shame experienced are very evident, but the shame is about the food and the weight.
It's easier to focus on the failure with diets or exercise plans than to really explore the issues that turn you to the food in the first place. Those who suffer know it's really about the feelings not the food.
Feelings do not kill but complications, like depression, from binge-eating disorder may. Sometimes the fear of facing the discomfort of sharing past trauma, a history of substance abuse, or emotional neglect will hinder you from doing what they need to do... to feel the feelings and learn to deal with them without abusing yourself with food.
Counselling is a great way to help you identify the issues that hold you back. It also helps develop better coping skills to deal with life.
Friendship is also extremely important. And joining others in support groups with the same goal is always beneficial. Stretch beyond the safety of your own comfort zone... take risks every day... eventually you will rediscover your passions, and feel joy, peace and contentment with a sense of pride that you persevered and won the battle in the end.