Binge eating disorder is characterized by compulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop. A binge eating episode can last an hour or more, or happen periodically throughout the day.
Binge eaters are not eating because they are hungry, they are eating as a reaction to an emotional issue. This is why binge eating is tied to emotional overeating.
The key features of binge eating disorder are:
People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies, especially the weight gain, and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They feel as if they can’t stop and don’t think it’s a serious enough problem to get help.
According to the National Institutes of Health, two percent of all U.S. adults suffer from compulsive overeating-making binge eating disorder more common than bulimia or anorexia. Unlike other eating disorders, which primarily occur in women, binge eating disorder also affects a significant number of men.
Though emotional eating and binge eating are related, they are very different. A binge eater may eat because the food is there and they have no control to stop eating it. An emotional eater reacts from an emotion they are having.
If a binge eater happens upon a box of donuts in the break-room, they can react by eating several in one sitting for no apparent reason other than the fact they see the food there. An emotional eater would react to the food only if an emotion leads them to feel the donuts will numb their feelings.
To determine if binge eating is the cause for weight gain, examine the emotional reasons for it. Processing these emotions are hard and takes time, but there are some good techniques that can help you modify behavior and combat binge eating while working on the underlying issues. Here are a few:
Stay clear of binge foods. Don’t buy or let into the house anything that triggers a binge– whether it’s cookies, chips, pretzels, cheese, or ice cream. If it’s not there, it won’t be there for a binge. Avoiding binge foods at work and other social situations may take some patience, but if that includes avoiding break-room goodies and missing out of social events, do whatever it takes to protect your health.
Decorate the fridge with images that motivate you. Clip pictures of fit bodies from your favorite magazines and keep them right where you can see them before you grab some food. Even having a picture of your fit self (or unfit self to stay motivated) will keep you from binging on some of your favorite foods.
Call a friend. Instead of grabbing that bag of chips (which should not even be in the house) reach for the phone a call a friend. Distract yourself with lively conversation. If you really want the chips, pour out a couple and put the bag in a location where they can not be ready seen.
Grab your journal. Write about all the good things you have been doing for your health lately. Write about all the positive comments others have given you. Jot down notes on what you can do better with adjusting to a new healthy lifestyle. Draw pictures! Anything that gets the mind off eating saves inches off the waist.
Go pamper yourself. Do something positive versus destructive. Paint your toenails, take a bubble bath, get a massage or facial, Go to the gym and burn up a sweat. There are many places to go and healthy activities to take part in can lead you away from the temptation of food.
It takes time to break a bad habit. The weight did not appear over night and it won‘t disappear that way either. Each day is a new learning experience, so there are no slip-ups, back-slides, falling off the wagon, or do-overs. If you do have a binge, don’t beat yourself up about it, pick yourself up, and work even harder to finish the day strong.