Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia have serious health implications if left untreated, but one eating disorder is rarely discussed as being a serious illness: binge-eating. Binge-eating disorder (BED) is becoming commonplace in the United States, even outranking anorexia and bulimia.
Binge eating disorder affects nearly 3.5% of women and 2% of men in the United States, making it the most common eating disorder in the United States. Unlike bulimia and other eating disorders, the binge eating act is not followed by purging or excessive exercise, which leads to the obesity and the health concerns that are associated with being overweight.
Binge eating disorder is more than just overeating. The disorder leads to a myriad of health concerns that span the sufferer’s life because they are associated with other mental illnesses and an increased risk of suicide.
Some symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
- Eating more rapidly than usual and in greater quantities than usual
- Eating in secret and alone
- Not being honest others and/or oneself about the amount of food being consumed
- Feelings of guilt follow the binge eating
- Eating when not physically hungry
Binge eating is described as happening in episodes. Episodes are described as having these characteristics:
- A loss of control; the person does not have the ability to say no to the food or stop when hunger is satiated
- The person will eat a larger than normal quantity of food that should be consumed at that rate
People that experience binge eating disorder are oftentimes overweight however, this is not always a side effect of this disorder. Some mental and emotional characteristics of people susceptible to the binge eating disorder include:
- A strong desire to be in control
- Feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and worthlessness associated with pre-binge eating sessions
- A need for perfectionism
- Symptoms of depression may be present, as well as feelings of isolation, loneliness, and moodiness
- A difficulty in their ability to express their feelings and emotions to others
What’s important to understand is that binge eating is a treatable disorder. When the symptoms of binge eating are present, there is always help available to learn ways to cope with the compulsion to eat large quantities of food.