What is Binge-Eating Disorder?

Published On: April 26, 2022Categories: Eating Disorders

Binge-eating disorder is the most common form of eating disorder in the United States, affecting nearly three million Americans every year. Unfortunately, awareness around binge-eating disorder is shockingly low compared to anorexia or bulimia, even though this is the condition most people are suffering from.

Unlike anorexia or bulimia, though, people suffering from binge-eating disorder do not try and “make up for” their binging episode with compulsive vomiting or extreme exercise. Feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment and depression are typically experienced after a session of overeating.

Chronically experiencing negative thought patterns like this in response to your eating habits is one of the ways you can foster a deeply unhealthy relationship with food, which opens up the possibility of developing an eating disorder.

In this article, we’re going to define binge-eating disorder, give you a quick summary of its causes, and then share with you the symptoms you should keep an eye out for in yourself or a loved one.

What is binge-eating disorder?

Binge-eating disorder is a type of mental illness that’s characterized by feelings of being out of control with what and how much food is consumed, leading to recurrent episodes of overeating, typically followed by feelings of guilt, embarrassment or depression.

BED is not restricted to any specific age, gender or life circumstance, but there are some people who are more susceptible to developing an eating disorder than others. 

Research suggests that females are more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than males, and that over half of the people who are dealing with binge-eating disorder are female. Due to stigmas around males, masculinity, and eating disorders, many men never come forward to seek treatment for their eating disorder, leaving statistics to show only part of the picture.

Causes of binge-eating disorder

There is never just one cause of an eating disorder, and BED is no different. While the exact causes of BED differ from person to person, genetics are believed to play a role. As does the environment, social issues or social life and the state of your mental health.

Some people overeat as a way to cope with sadness, anger, depression, loneliness, and if it becomes chronic — such as in the cases of major depression or clinical anxiety — it can escalate to the point of becoming a binge-eating disorder.

Sometimes BED can even develop accidentally or as a negative consequence after adopting a set of highly restrictive or unhealthy dietary rules. 

Perhaps you started eating in a caloric deficit to try and lose weight but hunger pains caused you to eat in a calorie surplus; as a result, you created an even smaller calorie deficit and then binging became a regular occurrence. This is one of the most common ways people develop a binge-eating disorder.

Maybe a rigorous lifestyle resulted in meals being consistently skipped due to perceived lack of time or exhaustion, and binging at night became the only time you actually consumed food.

It can be difficult to identify all of the different factors that went into causing someone to develop BED, but the symptoms are a bit easier to recognize as they are fairly universal. 

You never know, learning the signs and symptoms of BED might just save your or a loved one’s life one day.

Signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder

The widely recognized external symptoms of someone struggling with binge-eating disorder tend to be a combination of social, physical, and behavioral.

Some of these BED signs might include:

  • Dramatic fluctuations in weight
  • Consistently giving excuses to skip meals
  • Withdrawing from social gatherings and personal relationships
  • Eating alone because of feelings of embarrassment around what or how much is eaten
  • Exhibiting depressed behavior, such as apathy, isolation, being abnormally cynical or having suicidal tendencies

If you suspect you might be suffering from BED, here are some of the symptoms you’d experience:

  • Consuming large amounts of food, even when you’re not hungry
  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Feeling guilty, self-critical, or depressed after eating
  • Continuing to eat in excess, even when you’re uncomfortably full
  • Experiencing feeling a lack of control over what and how much food is consumed

Regardless of what is causing someone to engage in binging behavior and how extreme your symptoms are, BED can be a dangerously unhealthy disorder if left untreated; and that’s exactly what we’re here for.

Reach out for additional help

If you think you or a loved one is suffering from binge-eating disorder, we can help.

Our team here at Tapestry offers a variety of customized treatment plans to help you break the cycle of binging forever and heal your relationship with food so you can rediscover the joy of eating and experience true food freedom.

To speak with a compassionate member of our team and start your journey to recovery today, give us a call at 828-490-4032.

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