Everyone overeats occasionally ― from taking extra helpings of favorites to indulging in tempting special-occasion desserts. But binge eating disorder causes repeated, uncontrollable, excessive eating. Food helps you cope with negative emotions. Although you feel worse afterward, this unhealthy pattern continues. Fortunately, it’s treatable. Medication and support can help you relate to food in healthier ways and learn how to restrain compulsive eating.
Identifying the Condition
If you have an unstoppable need to eat foods in huge amounts but feel powerless to quit, you’re a binge eater. This eating disorder starts from late adolescence to early adulthood usually, often following a significant diet. Excessive eating episodes last about two hours typically, but some individuals binge intermittently throughout the day.
This eating disorder’s key features are:
Frequent uncontrollable eating sprees
Feeling extreme distress or upset with yourself while or after gorging
Unlike bulimia, you don’t vomit, fast, or over exercise to compensate for overindulging
Food frenzies might be comforting briefly ― until reality, self-loathing, and regret emerge. Compulsive overeating can lead to weight gains, which reinforce your behavior. The worse you feel about your appearance and yourself, the more you rely on food to cope. While worrying how your compulsive eating is affecting your body, you beat yourself up for your inadequate self-control. An unrelenting cycle develops. You eat ravenously to feel better. But when you feel even worse, you eat more, hoping for relief.
Examining the Symptoms
Behavioral signs include:
Inability to quit gorging or control your food choices
Wolfing down large food amounts rapidly
Eating even of you aren’t hungry
Stuffing yourself although you’re full
Overeating quickly while hardly registering what you’re devouring or tasting
Pigging out until you’re sick
Stockpiling or hiding food to binge secretively later
Eating normally with other people but gorging alone
Ignoring mealtimes to devour food continuously
Emotional symptoms include:
Dwelling on food constantly
Tension or stress that only eating relieves
Overeating to comfort yourself or avoid worries
Embarrassment over the huge food amounts you consume
Numbness during binges as if you’re on autopilot or aren’t really there
Never feeling satiated, despite eating to excess
Depression, shame, disgust, or guilt after overindulging
Desperation to rein in voracious eating andweight while feeling powerless
Exploring the Consequences
Overeaters suffer from medical problems, suicidal thoughts, stress, substance abuse, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Weight gain is the most prevalent consequence of obsessive overindulging. Obesity can lead to:
Type 2 diabetes
Muscle and joint pains
Explaining Combined Causes
Biological abnormalities: Low serotonin levels may be at fault. Prozac (Fluoxetine), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), balances that brain chemical. Your appetite-controlling hypothalamus might send incorrect hungry and fullness messages. Or genetic mutations could trigger food addictions.
Emotional reasons: You may eat to manage undesirable emotions like stress, anxiety, depression, fear, sadness, loneliness, and boredom. Food might be a comforting friend that makes these feelings disappear. But relief is fleeting.
Social sources: Pressures to look slim may compound your shame while fueling your emotional eating. Using food for comfort or rewards can trigger benders. Recurring body and weight criticisms and childhood sexual abuse can make you vulnerable to overeating.
Psychological origins: Food splurges and depression have a strong link. Low self-worth and poor body image can be contributing factors. So can difficulties controlling and expressing feelings and impulses.
Revealing Life-Changing Strategies
Because food is essential for survival, eating to meet your nutritional ― not emotional ― needs is vital. These tactics can help you overcome your binge habit.
Manage stress: Exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, and relaxation strategies can minimize stress and overpowering feelings without food.
Avoid temptations: Remove junk food, unhealthy snacks, and desserts that increase your overeating odds.
Quit dieting: Restrictive diets involving hunger and deprivation may trigger cravings and compulsive eating urges. Eat vitamin- and mineral-rich balanced meals you enjoy in moderation instead. Stop when you feel contented ― not uncomfortably overstuffed.
Follow a daily eating routine: Skipping meals can encourage gorging later. So adhere to three set mealtimes with nutritious snacks in between.
Exercise: Besides promoting healthy weight loss, exercise relieves depression and stress, curtails emotional eating, and boosts health.
Fight boredom: Pursue a hobby, walk, contact a friend, or read to avoid snacking during boredom.
Distinguish emotional and physical hunger: If your stomach isn’t rumbling after eating recently, you probably aren’t hungry. Give cravings time to fade.
Use a food journal: Track what, when, and how much you consume with your feelings while eating. Patterns may link certain moods to binges.
Get adequate sleep: If you eat when you’re tired to get an energy boost, nap or turn in early instead.
Obtain treatment: Consult a doctor, nutritionist, psychiatrist, therapist, eating disorder expert, and/or obesity specialist. Besides your eating habits and symptoms, treatment should address your problem’s root causes. Learning to control emotional triggers, stress, and uncomfortable feelings is key. If excess pounds are threatening your health, you may need help losing weight.
Seek support: Talking to family, friends, and/or a support group can help you avoid binge triggers.