Binge eating is when a person eats a much larger amount of food in a shorter period of time than he or she normally would. During binge eating, the person also feels a loss of control. Binge eating is a common problem that everyone has faced before, however; for some, binge eating occurs every time we sit down at the table, overeating is regular and uncontrollable. Food is used to cope with stress and other negative emotions, even though afterwards you feel even worse
A binge eater often:
- Eats 5,000 - 15,000 calories in one sitting
- Often snacks, in addition to eating three meals a day
- Overeats throughout the day
Binge eating may occur on its own or with another eating disorder, such as bulimia. People with bulimia typically eat large amounts of high-calorie foods, usually in secret. After this binge eating they often force themselves to vomit or take laxatives.
The cause of binge eating is unknown. However, binge eating often begins during or after strict dieting
Effects of binge eating disorder
Binge eating leads to a wide variety of physical, emotional, and social problems. People with binge eating disorder report more health issues, stress, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts than people without an eating disorder. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are common side effects as well. But the most prominent effect of binge eating disorder is weight gain.
Obesity and binge eating
Over time, compulsive overeating usually leads to obesity. Obesity, in turn, causes numerous medical complications, including:
Strategies for overcoming binge eating
- Manage stress. One of the most important aspects of controlling binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings without using food. These may include exercising, meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.
- Eat 3 meals a day plus healthy snacks. Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism in the morning. Follow breakfast with a balanced lunch and dinner, and healthy snacks in between. Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.
- Avoid temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.
- Stop dieting. The deprivation and hunger of strict dieting can trigger food cravings and the urge to overeat. Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and eat only until you feel content, not uncomfortably stuffed. Avoid banning certain foods as this can make you crave them even more.
- Exercise. Not only will exercise help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it also lifts depression, improves overall health, and reduces stress. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to emotional eating.
- Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you're bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.
- Get enough sleep. If you're tired, you may want to keep eating in order to boost your energy. Take a nap or go to bed earlier instead.
- Listen to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
- Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, when, how much, and how you're feeling when you eat. You may see patterns emerge that reveal the connection between your moods and binge eating.
- Get support. You're more likely to succumb to binge eating triggers if you lack a solid support network. Talking helps, even if it’s not with a professional. Lean on family and friends, join a support group, and if possible consult a therapist