Almost everyone overeats from time to time. But if you regularly overeat while feeling out of control and powerless to stop, you may be suffering from binge eating disorder. People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression.
They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They desperately want to stop binge eating, but feel like they can’t. If this sounds familiar, here’s the good news: binge eating disorder is treatable. You can learn to break the binge eating cycle and develop a healthier relationship with food.
Binge eating disorder is a common eating disorder characterized by three key features:
Frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating Feeling extremely distressed or upset during or after bingeing Unlike bulimia, there are no regular attempts to “make up” for the binges through vomiting, fasting, or over-exercising It typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after a major diet.
During a binge, you may eat even when you’re not hungry and continue eating long after you’re full. You may also binge so fast you barely register what you’re eating or tasting.
Binge eating may be comforting for a brief moment, but then reality sets back in, along with regret and self-loathing. Binge eating often leads to weight gain and obesity, which only reinforces compulsive eating. The worse you feel about yourself and your appearance, the more you use food to cope. It becomes a vicious cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief.
People with binge eating disorder are embarrassed and ashamed of their eating habits, so they often try to hide their symptoms and eat in secret. This can make it tough for family and friends to spot the warning signs.
And you can’t identify a binge eater by appearance. While some binge eaters are overweight or obese, others are of normal weight.Warning signs that a loved one is bingeing include finding piles of empty food packages and wrappers, cupboards and refrigerators that have been cleaned out, and hidden stashes of high-calorie or junk food.