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Do You Have a Binge Eating Disorder? How You Can Tell

How can we safely discern the difference between occasional overeating and binge eating disorder?

Most of us overeat every now and then. We may even use the word “binging” to describe such episodes. It’s not a healthy choice but, for the most part, overeating is nothing to dwell on. We stuff ourselves on, say, Thanksgiving, express regret, and move on.

But what if this behavior is more frequent? What if we feel out of control when consuming large amounts of food?

Common Symptoms of a Binge Eating Disorder

The best way to define binge eating disorder  (BED) is to understand how it presents in daily life. For example, symptoms include:

  • Consuming large amounts of food in a relatively short amount of time
  • Eating when you’re not hungry
  • Rapid eating
  • Feeling no control over your eating behavior
  • Eating past the point of fullness
  • Choosing to eat alone
  • Always being on a diet, yet experiencing little or no weight loss
  • Diet restriction leading to more binge eating

People with bulimia may engage in “corrective” behavior after a binge, e.g. laxative use, vomiting, and extreme exercise. With a binge eating disorder, this is rarely the case. However, after binging, you may experience feelings like shame, guilt, and depression.

Who Gets Binge Eating Disorders?

While we may hear more about anorexia and/or bulimia, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It impacts 3.5 percent of adult women and 2 percent of adult men.

  • Men most commonly get a binge eating disorder between the ages of 45 and 59
  • For women, it occurs much younger: between 18 and 29
  • Less than 2 percent of teenagers are affected

Of course, these statistics cannot reflect unreported cases. In other words, it is not recommended that anyone dismiss their risk if they do not match the usual profile.

Causes and Risk Factors

The causes remain not known for binge eating disorders but the following factors may increase your risk:

Genetics/Family History

It is unclear when this is due to inherited genes or environmental factors — or a little of both. Either way, if your parents or siblings have an eating disorder, your risk is higher.

Psychological Factors

Binge eating may be triggered by negative self-image. These negative thoughts can run the gamut, e.g.

  • Feeling inadequate
  • Dissatisfaction with one’s accomplishments or status
  • High levels of stress
  • Poor body image

Dieting

As mentioned above, unproductive dieting is a symptom of binge eating disorder. Any form of dieting can trigger this order as a backlash of sorts — particularly in those struggling with depression symptoms.

Convenience

Simply put, the easy availability of preferred binge food can dramatically increase the incidence of binge eating.

Do NOT Leave Anything to Chance

There are many emotions connected to eating. We eat to feel comforted. We eat to feel safe. Whether we do not eat enough or eat too much, these behaviors may provoke deep feelings of guilt and shame. For these and other reasons, it is best to seek help. Our perception and the perception of those close to us can be skewed — often with the best intentions. Talking with an experienced therapist is a giant step towards clarity. Counseling sessions are like a safe space when actions and motivations are openly discussed. In such a setting, we can speak bluntly and get bluntness in return.

Any form of disordered eating has the potential to cause serious health problems. In some cases, they may be life-threatening. If you or someone you know is struggling with eating issues, reach out for help. Talk to a therapist to get the guidance, support, and professional input you need. Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has many experienced therapists that specialize in binge eating disorder and other disordered eating habits. Reach out to us today by calling 832-559-2622 or booking an appointment online.

Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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