Think back to the last time you ate so much food, you felt uncomfortably full. You could barely move. Perhaps it was the last Christmas when you were busy relishing chicken or it was last week when you were alone in the comfort of your room and loading up on jam donuts and cocacola.
Everyone overeats every once in a while, but sometimes it gets out of control for some people and it results in compulsive eating or binge eating disorder. Recent studies reveal that many people around the world are living with different eating disorders.
Global eating disorder prevalence increased from 3.4 percent to 7.8percent between 2000 and 2018, and it is estimated that binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder among Americans, affecting people of all racial and ethnic groups.
What is compulsive overeating?
compulsive overeating, sometimes called “binge eating” is when a person eats a large amount of food in a short period or eats more than they can usually handle even when they are not hungry. Unlike binge eating disorder, compulsive overeating is defined by the behaviour and lack of control around food.
Why do people indulge in compulsive overeating?
There are various reasons why people overeat, and these include boredom, stress, heartbreak, anxiety, depression, social pressure, etc.
What is a binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder, (BED) is a serious mental health problem that is often overlooked and underdiagnosed.
The DSM5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) characterized binge eating disorder as a diagnosable psychological disorder in 2013, which is defined as a severe and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurring episodes of eating large quantities of food often to the point of unease; feeling a lack of control during the bingeing, experiencing shame or guilt afterward; and not using unhealthy compensatory means, e.g vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics or exercising excessively) to control binge eating.
Myths and Facts about Binge eating disorder
Myth: People who binge eat are all overweight or obese.
Regardless of body size, anyone can binge eat based on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviour around food. More often than not, in an attempt to lose weight, many people resort to harmful and restrictive dieting plans, and in the long run, the person feels extremely hungry on most days, frustrated, and they end up binge eating.
Myth: People who binge eat just need more discipline and willpower.
It takes more than willpower to curb binge eating disorder since it’s a psychological issue. People who binge eat are often perfectionists who, in their attempts to lose weight or for whatever reasons, subject themselves to a lifestyle of unrealistic dieting and end up craving more food.
Myth: Binge eating disorder is not a big deal.
Binge eating is a mental health disorder, and it affects far more people than other eating disorders. And studies reveal that people that eat compulsively are prone to develop substance abuse problems, alcoholism, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc.
What are the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder?
The following signs and symptoms are diagnostic of binge eating disorder:
Eating uncontrollably, even when you are not physically hungry.
Eating faster than normal.
Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
Feelings of shame, guilt, and disgust after overeating.
Eating alone or in secret because of embarrassment about the quantity of food eaten.
Complications of Binge eating disorder
Binge eating disorder is often associated with obesity, heart disease; high blood pressure, sleep apnea; type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease; certain cancers, depression; anxiety, suicidal tendencies; social isolation, poor quality of life, etc .
How is binge eating disorder treated?
The good news is that binge eating disorders can be managed and treated, and there are various treatment options tailored to meet your individual needs.
There are different treatment strategies and they are broadly classified into:
Consult with your doctor or therapist to get the best treatment if you suspect you have a binge eating disorder.
10 Facts about binge eating disorder. (2019). Willowplaceforwomen.com. Available at: https://willowplaceforwomen.com/10-facts-about-binge-eating-disorder
American Psychiatric Association. ( 2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). Fifth edition. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association.
Davis C, Carter JC. Compulsive overeating is an addiction disorder. A review of theory and evidence. Appetite. 2009 Aug;53(1):1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2009.05.018. Epub 2009 Jun 12. PMID: 19500625.
Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder. (2021 ). Webmd.com. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/binge-eating-disorder-treatment.
Udo T, Grilo CM. (2018).Prevalence and correlates of DSM-5-defined eating disorders in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. Biological Psychiatry. 2018;84(5):345 354. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.03.014
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Marvellous Olayinka is a medical student and a freelance medical writer. In her spare time, she reads fiction and non fiction books, watches Kdramas, and draws with lead pencils.
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