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Eating Disorders

Binge Eating

Binge eating is a newly recognized eating disorder, first officially recognized in 1992. Binge eating is defined as frequently eating large quantities of food without self control and followed by extreme shame, guilt and embarrassment. Unlike those afflicted with bulimia, people with a binge eating disorder eat do not purge their food. Frequently they will eat in secret and will continue to eat even when they're not hungry. Binge eating is not just the occasional over indulgence in food but a regular, consistent compulsion to eat until physically ill.

It is important to know that binge eating can also occur as a response to self-starvation or anorexia, and it can occur as a step along the path of healing bulimia.

Often times, binge eaters suffer from depression, but it is unclear whether the depression causes the overeating or whether the lack of self-control causes the depression. The most common health risk in binge eating is those symptoms closely associated with obesity.

Other health risks include:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Gallbladder disease
  • High blood pressure

Binge eating is the most common eating disorder with over four million Americans suffering from the disorder. Unlike bulimia and anorexia, there are also a higher percentage of men who binge eat. Nearly 60% of binge eaters are still women, but surprisingly 40% of those who have the condition are men.

Binge eating has a level of shame associated with the disease. Treatment is not as frequently sought because the binge eater often believes she just needs to "get control" of her eating issues. She will often believe that her obesity and health problems are her fault. Treating binge eating is almost always done on an out-patient level:

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy In order to develop healthy and natural eating patterns, patients and therapists work together to plan and change eating behaviors. Therapy centers on attitudinal and behavioral disturbances in regard to weight, eating and body image. Treatment focuses on learning new coping skills for negative moods, unproductive thinking and stress. Clients are also taught meal planning, nutritional basics and relapse prevention.

  • Interpersonal psychotherapy Individual or group therapy address issues such as self-esteem and confidence, while also examining the relational dynamics. Traditional psychotherapy can be supplement by expressive or alternative therapies including art therapy, yoga, music therapy, role-playing and self-help groups.

  • Specialized weight-loss program Some studies have shown that people who binge eat are less likely to be successful in traditional weight-loss programs. Because the core eating disorder was not addressed, they will often quickly regain any weight they have lost. The most successful weight-loss programs for binge eaters are those that address the eating disorder head on and are used in conjunction with cognitive-behavior therapy.

  • Drug therapy Recently new drugs and clinical testing have seemed to help with binge eating disorder. Since there can be issues with depression, anti-depressants are often prescribed. Another drug called Topiramate (Topamax) has also had a positive effect on controlling binge eating disorder and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Since the binge eating disorder as a diagnosis is so new, there are no long-term studies yet, addressing the effectiveness of drug therapy.

  • Meditation Meditation can be very helpful in treating binge eating disorder. Over time, a regular meditation practice can begin to change habitual behavior patterns, allowing people to make healthier and more evolutionary choices.

It's promising to note that most people who suffer from binge eating disorder can do well in treatment and overcome its symptoms. The first step is asking for help ? don't let yourself be trapped by feelings of shame and secrecy!

Resources:

 Body-Image Coaching
 




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