Binge Eating


What Is Binge-Eating Disorder?

Food has a cunning way of impersonating friendship—so much so, that binge-eating disorder has become the leading form of eating disorder in the United States.

Even in individuals who lack sufficient symptoms to meet the criteria for the condition, our love of food rules supreme, with deep roots extending into our childhood, when we looked forward all year to that un-replicable slice of Thanksgiving pie that only grandma could bake perfectly.

But, for some of us, our love of food matured in harsher climes. We forged a faux-friendship with food because:

  • We were bullied about our weights as children
  • Our parents instilled in us complicated viewpoints about food
  • We were reared in turbulent or high-pressure home environments, where food became our replacement teddy bear for security
  • Our predetermined-at-birth physiology or mental health makeup gave us enhanced cravings for food
  • We tried—and failed—at dieting, and the feelings of shame lingered into adulthood
  • Media messages exalting thinness made us feel a long-term hopelessness about our weights
  • Our bodies constantly thrum with an anxiety that only food can silence

It’s not that we don’t know that the food is killing us! Our joints ache, our backs ache, our hearts ache. Instead it’s the chronic embarrassment about our “weakness” that prevents us from seeking change.

Recovery is never unattainable but is always something that you deserve!

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Binge-Eating Disorder?

Binge-eating disorder—as in bulimia nervosa—involves episodes of unrestrained calorie consumption, in which an individual:

  • Consumes an entire day’s allotment of calories in a single or brief sitting (from family size bags of chips; to entire gallons of ice cream; to a box of Boston crème doughnuts; or a rotisserie chicken, etc.)
  • Eats food until reaching a point of physical discomfort or sickness (including nausea, shortness of breath, or vomiting)
  • Ingests food at a rapid pace (for example: consuming 2000 calories in a single hour)
  • Intakes large quantities of food to alleviate boredom (when not otherwise hungry)
  • Conceals overeating habit from family, friends, and co-workers by binge-eating in secret (for example: driving to remote parking lots to avoid eating meals in front of family members)
  • Experiences feelings of self-hatred, guilt, depression, distress, or shame following an episode of binge-eating

However—unlike bulimia nervosa—individuals who are diagnosed with binge-eating disorder do NOT engage in compensatory purging methods (such as vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or extreme exercise) in order to maintain their pre-binge weight.

What Are The Long-Term Health Consequences Of Binge-Eating Disorder?

Compared to the rapid, deteriorating health consequences of anorexia and bulimia, binge-eating disorder is more of a silent killer; although in rare instances, binge-eating episodes may cause gastric rupture, or sudden death from the perforation (or tearing) of the stomach. However, more commonly, the long-term complications of binge-eating disorder are identical to those of obesity—which the disorder itself almost always causes. These complications include:

  • Hypertension, high cholesterol, or heart disease, which may precipitate a heart attack or stroke
  • Type II Diabetes Mellitus
  • Joint and back pain, including arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or nerve impingement
  • Sleep apnea (or obstructed breathing while lying flat at night)
  • Enhanced risk of developing certain types of cancers (including uterine, liver, kidney, gallbladder, breast, colon, and more+)
  • Gallbladder disease and Gallstones

How Can Counseling & Therapy For Binge-Eating Disorder Help Me?

The chief goals for binge-eating disorder recovery should include a two-tiered approach that involves:

  • Stabilizing your physical health by controlling binge-eating urges & combatting obesity or obesity-related health challenges
  • Enhancing your mental health by addressing the underlying causes for your condition (such as parental relationships; abuse or trauma; bullying in childhood, etc.) & boosting your body image

To help you achieve recovery, your therapist may recommend the following interventions:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to isolate and then modify destructive thought patterns about food that underpin your urges to binge-eat, and subsequently employ coping mechanisms to manage those impulses
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy, to strengthen your relationships and interaction skills when engaging with family, friends, and romantic partners (Binge-eating disorder often forms as a result of unstable parent-child relationships in childhood or in response to a traumatic, trust-shattering event; therefore, strengthening your relationships in adulthood can actually help you to alter unhealthy relationship patterns that maintain your desire to binge-eat)
  • Nutritional Counseling, to help you devise satisfying meal plans that curb your cravings to consume high-calorie foods or food portions
  • Group Therapy, to encourage you to form a support network with other individuals who are initiating the recovery process from binge-eating disorder
  • Alternative Therapy Techniques, including mindfulness, meditation, psychotherapeutic yoga, equine therapy, or expressive arts, as self-soothing tactics for food-related anxiety or deep-seated body image shame
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