Binge eating is a disorder wherein a person consumes a large amount of food at one time, without even chewing it properly. A binge eater generally feels a loss of control while eating and feels great sense of guilt, even disgust after eating episode is over. “Sometimes I feel driven to eat as if it were a compulsion that cannot be ignored,” says Neetu Khanna who is getting treated for this disorder.
Binge eating can significantly and negatively impact your health and well-being. So it is important to identify the signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder and get help, when required.
Binge eaters have secretive food behavior, including eating secretly (e.g. eating alone or in the car, hiding wrappers) and stealing, hiding, or hoarding food. Binge eaters eat throughout the day with no planned mealtimes; skip meals or take small portions of food at regular meal time; engage in sporadic fasting or repetitive dieting. They also create lifestyle schedules to make time for binge sessions.
Binge eaters feel depressed, angry, anxious, worth-less and have a feeling of shame preceding binges. Initiating the binge is a means of relieving tension or numbing negative feelings. They may also experience social isolation, moodiness, irritability, and feeling disgust about their body size.
An obese person may or may not be a binge eater, but the vice versa is most often true. Up to two-thirds of binge eaters are obese. The health risks are same as those of obesity. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, type II diabetes, gallbladder disease, fatigue, joint pain and sleep apnea.
1. Follow a regular meal plan
The most important thing to do is to get on a regular pattern of eating. Normally people go on diet, then have this strong urge to eat and then over eat and binge.
2. Focus on health, not weight.
Focus on having a fit and healthy body not a thin one. The desire to lose weight can actually keep someone stuck in a bingeing cycle.
3. Learn your triggers
Learn what feelings, moods, interactions and relationships cause bingeing.
4. Remove temptation
Don’t keep foods that you like to binge on. Look for other ways to feel good. People with binge-eating disorder often suffer from depression. Binge eaters should seek out non-food sources of pleasure and indulge in more physical activity.
5. When the urge strikes
Recognize you’re in the danger zone. The first step is that you actually have to notice the urge before you find yourself in front of a plate of food. Becoming very aware of your own moods and anxieties will help.
6. Change your mindset and delay bingeing
Once you are good at noticing the urge, come up with ways to change gears. Try to stretch out the binge eating time a little bit. If you can delay bingeing long enough, you may be able to avoid it. Count your breaths, do yoga, take a walk, listen to music, or call a friend; in other words do anything that keeps you away from food.
7. Stop a binge in progress
Finally, even if you start to binge, stop after the fourth or fifth bite. Remember that more food doesn’t necessarily mean more enjoyment.
But if you feel you have no control over binge eating and are not able to follow the tips, visit a psychologist. Besides medication, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and Cognitive behavior therapy is very effective in treating binge eaters.