We talked about binging and its connection to loneliness during our Loneliness Series here two months ago. But, I feel like this is, not unlike the others, an often misunderstood section of eating disorders. The pain and self-hatred that goes with anorexia and bulimia is just as strong as this one, but the physical outlook of it to others is different. Those who struggled with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) really hurt.
So, BED. What is it? Basically, Binge Eating Disorder, more common than anorexia and bulimia combined, is an eating disorder where the individual feels like they have no control over their eating. They have episodes of binging followed by guilt and embarrassment. Like bulimics, those with BED sometimes hide what they eat. They feel out of control, with no hope of breaking their binging cycle. It’s not just over-eating. It’s a neurobiological disorder (www1.bingeeatingdisorder.com), and needs to be addressed.
Here are some symptoms that will help us understand a bit more:
– Binging at least once a week for a period of three months or more
– Can occur in those who have a normal weight and those who are over-weight, including obese
– Feeling loss of self-control over eating during a binge
– Feeling loss of self-control over the amount of food you eat during a binge
– When binge eating, you are eating very fast, eating beyond fullness, and/or eating a lot even if you’re not hungry
– Feeling distress/guilt after binging
– Eating alone as an attempt to hide how much you are eating
– Eating more than most people would under the same circumstances
– Don’t usually resort to over-exercising or purging
Many people with BED got there for a reason, and with many, there is something in their body or brain function that impairs food intake regulation and increases cravings. There’s still a lot of research to be done to find out the exact cause of this eating disorder, and as I’ve said before, it has only been recognized as a distinct eating disorder for three years. But, the recognition of this particular disorder means that hope and healing are more available now than ever before.
I’m willing to bet that for someone reading this post today, you can relate to some of these symptoms. Maybe all of them. My heart goes out to you. Binge eating is an emotionally painful cycle and for those with BED, that is even more true.
This Friday, I’m going to post on “Disordered Eating and Binging Struggles”, which I hope will give you hope and encouragement. But if you feel like you need help, I want to give you some suggestions for now:
What to Do NOW if You Think You May Have Binge Eating Disorder
1) Talk to someone. Make sure it is someone who will not make you feel bad – who will be understanding. Hopefully that can be your parent, a spouse, a friend. You may want to start out calling a helpline. Google one and make the call. Externalize so that you don’t have to carry the burden alone.
2) Start a conversation with your doctor/nurse. They are there to help you and they should understand that BED is a legitimate eating disorder.
3) Begin the journey of replacing food with something else enjoyable – something that won’t make you feel guilty. Start with an “Anti-Binge” list. I use mine often, and now I can even recognize when I need to read or journal without thinking about the pain I’m trying to destroy.
4) Try to forgive yourself. You are not a bad person just because you binge. Hold on to that truth.
As with all the eating disorders, you are not alone. It’s estimated that almost 3 million Americans struggle with Binge Eating disorder right now. You may feel alone, you may even feel like you are in the darkest depths of loneliness, but you are not. And that is something to always, always remember.