Effects of Binge Eating

As you read through this, if you feel that this may be an issue for you, I suggest taking caution around labeling yourself as someone with a “disorder” or “addiction”…it can be a double-edged sword. It’s a HUGE step to admit you have a problem, because then you can take action to overcome it.

The caution is around using the label to stay stuck.

See my article, “Do You Have Binge Eating Disorder, Compulsive Overeating Disorder or Food Addiction?” as well as “Why Labeling….Can Keep You Stuck.”

The following information is taken from Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center website, describing the effects of binge eating disorder.

Binge eating disorder is more accurately characterized by its emotional symptoms:

  • Lack of control once one begins to eat
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Anxiety
  • Shame
  • Disgust or self-hatred about eating behaviors

After a binge, one may try to diet or eat normal meals. Unlike bulimics, who habitally purge themselves following eating binges, for a binge eater attempting to restrict food intake may simply trigger more binge eating, creating a vicious cycle.

What are the Effects of Binge Eating Disorder?

Overeating on certain occasions is commonplace.

Sometimes, though, binge eating becomes a regular occurrence leaving the person engaging in the overeating filled with feelings of shame. This emotional component of binge-eating disorder is the biggest reason someone struggles to stop, and why someone with signs and symptoms finally seeks treatment.

Binge eating disorder has a profound impact on a person. A woman may lose confidence in her ability to control the amount of food consumed once a binge begins. This lack of control quickly spills over to other areas of her life and can have dramatic ramifications on her school, career, and relationships with family and friends.

The symptoms and effects of binge eating disorder are often more extreme in the case of women also suffering with co-occurring disorders, for example, depression or substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders can make it even harder to understand and respond to emotions, and trigger more frequent and more severe binges.

What are the Causes of Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorders differ significantly from the occasional excessive eating behaviors associated with events like birthdays or holiday meals.

For instance, a binge eater may eat 10,000 to 20,000 calories worth of food during a binge, compared to a normal diet of 1,500 to 3,000 calories in a day.

The proper classification of binge eating disorder has been a source of significant debate within the eating disorder treatment community. Clinically, patients with the characteristic symptoms are diagnosed as having Eating Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified).

The exact causes of binge-eating disorder are unclear. As with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders, it’s likely that a variety of genetic, biological, environmental and social factors are involved. Given the complex emotional elements of the disease process, factors contributing to binge eating disorder will likely differ person to person.

Psychological and emotional characteristics may also contribute to the condition. A person may have low self-worth and trouble managing emotions, expressing anger, or controlling impulsive behaviors. Or, she may suffer a loss or other trauma in her life that causes her eating behaviors to become closely intertwined with her feeling and emotions.

Without question, our society is obsessed with thinness. Images of unrealistically thin models and superstar actors surround us throughout the day. This can add to already distorted body image perception, especially for women.

Even people with binge-eating disorder who are overweight are acutely aware of their body shape and appearance, and berate themselves after eating binges. The constant reinforcement of thinness may worsen her self-image and actually lead to more frequent binging as a woman seeks relief from feelings of shame.

In Conclusion

Whether you’re reading this with a friend or family member in mind, or you’re curious about it for yourself…you’re not alone, and I can promise there’s a healthy, permanent way to break through the behaviors.

It takes time and persistence, sure. But it mostly takes compassion and self-awareness. If you’re anything like me, persistence and hard work weren’t hard for me, but compassion definitely was.

If you are dealing with something like this, keep reading, keep learning. Indulge yourself in information and relax knowing that you’ve already got everything you need to get it handled. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself.

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