What is Binge eating?

Binge eating disorder is a severe disorder that makes a person regularly eat a lot of food over a short period of time. Even when full, one has the urge to continue eating through regular binges. Most of these people plan the binges in advance with some even stocking up more food than is needed. The disorder can be life threatening though it’s treatable especially with the help of a professional binge eating Dietitian. Let’s dive in further to understand more about binge eating.

What causes binge eating?

Binge eating is caused by various factors or a combination of social, psychological, and biological factors. But, it can also be a symptom of an underlying issue which include anxiety, stress, depression, or low self-esteem. Some of the common factors that might result in binge eating include:

Psychological factors: Normally associated with negative feelings and emotions where an individual feels stressed, depressed, lonely, a low self-esteem or suffers from anxiety. Some people that experience these kinds of emotions normally resort to eating while using food to cope with the emotions or to distract themselves from problems they might be experiencing.

Genetics: Results from some studies also signify that binge eating might be linked to genetics. If you have binge eating or other eating disorders this might pose a risk to your future generations.

Brain chemistry: Some studies have shown an imbalance in certain brain chemicals, like serotonin or dopamine, which may contribute to binge eating.

Social/ environmental factors: Societal expectations resulting in pressure to look in a certain way might also cause binge eating. For example, people who are frequently teased or bullied due to their weight might resort to binge eating to curb feelings of being unwanted.

Symptoms of binge eating

Eating too much food within a short period or overeating is the main symptom of binge eating. The disorder makes you overeat without feeling like stopping even when the individual is full. Other symptoms include:

  • Feeling stressed and depressed or ashamed and disgusted after binge eating
  • Regularly eating even when not hungry
  • Eating at fast intervals during a binge
  • Hiding or eating alone when binge eating

There are also some warning signs that you might notice on another person which might show that they have a binge eating disorder which include

  • Eating too much food, very fast
  • Hiding the portion that they’re eating
  • Storing too much food supplies

What happens during binge eating episodes?

People with the binge eating disorder often eat even when they are full or not hungry and overeat even when they feel uncomfortable due to lack of space in their stomach to store more food. After binge eating most people experience feelings of shame and disgust but this doesn’t stop them from continuing to eat. Different from overeating which can occur every once in a while, binge eating is a recurring behaviour. If not treated it interferes with the physical and emotional health as well as daily tasks and social functioning.

Binge eating is a complex and life threatening eating disorder but you can get help. There are helpline volunteers and professionals that offer support, resources, and treatment options. A professional medical practitioner will be able to address the underlying causes and develop effective strategies for managing the behaviour.

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