What is Professional Help for an Eating Disorder
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  • Kate Ringwood, LPC

Binge Eating Disorder

According to the DSM-5, Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the recurrent episodes of binge eating. Otherwise described as, eating more than most would in a specific period of time, while experiencing a lack of control. The binge eating episodes are associated with eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food, despite not feeling physically hungry, eating alone due to guilt or shame of how much is being eaten, or feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty after eating. This leads to distress around binges and occurs at least once a week for three months.


Facts


It may surprise you, but BED is the most common eating disorder and is three times more common than Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa. BED is also more common than Breast Cancer!


About 30-40% of those seeking weight loss have Binge Eating Disorder. Check out our article on diet culture to see ways to fight the stigma of fitting the thin ideal. Despite the stigma of those with BED being in a larger body, only 70% of those with BED are considered “obese”.


Eating disorders do not discriminate. About 40% of those with BED are males.


Warning Signs and Symptoms


If you fear you may be struggling with binge eating, here are some signs to look out for:


Eating large quantities of food

Lack of control

Eating until uncomfortably or painfully full

Weight fluctuations

Feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or disgust after eating

Heightened levels of anxiety or depression

Low self-esteem

Isolation

Using food as the only coping skill

Eating alone or in secret

Hiding or stealing food


Health Risks


Diet culture focuses on thinness being equivalent to health. This places weight stigma on many, leading to folks dieting in order to fit what diet culture says they need be in order to be healthy. Having internalized negative thoughts about weight has been shown to increase risks of high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and high cholesterol.


Diets are often started when weight stigma is present. Dieting is classified as any form of restriction, mental or physical. Some are able to lose weight short term. However, more likely then not, the same weight or more is gained back. And lets be real, nobody does just one diet. This means cycles of restrictive eating, malnutrition, and weight cycling.


Weight cycling is the fluctuation of weight going up and down over time. This is very commonly seen within Binge Eating Disorder. There is a higher negative correlation with weight cycling and health risk, than with body size. Health risks include a shorter lifespan, increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.


Questions to Ask


If you believe you may be struggling with Binge Eating Disorder, here are a few questions to help guide you:


Do you ever limit yourself from eating food when you want to eat it? This may be anything from cutting out food groups to cutting out the extra cookie that you were really craving.


Do you eat what you feel is a larger amount of food than others may eat, in a specific amount of time? This may lead you to feel physically uncomfortable or even ill.


Do you feel guilt, shame, or regret after eating?


Do you sneak food or eat alone due to the shame of what or how you are eating?


If some or all of these questions reside with you, please do not hesitate to reach out for support. Whether you have had one binge-eating episode, or believe you may be diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder, you deserve to make peace with food and your body. Contact us at Serendipity Counseling for support.


For references to the facts in this article, please reference the following websites:

The National Eating Disorder Association

National Alliance for Eating Disorders

HAES Health Sheets

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