Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by an obsessive relationship to food resulting in frequent weight gain. People suffering from binge eating disorder use food as a way to cope with stress, emotional pains, and day to day problems. Their eating habits consist of uncontrolled food binges resulting in feeling uncomfortably full and guilty. In addition to binge eating, over-eaters engage in grazing behavior. Grazing is when a person constantly eats throughout the day, consuming an unhealthy number of calories. Although a large percentage of compulsive over-eaters are overweight or obese, there are some that maintain a normal/average weight. Unlike other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, there are a high proportion of male binge eaters.
Compulsive overeating usually starts in early childhood where eating habits are formed. Most people with binge eating disorder have never learned to deal with stressful and emotional issues and therefore look to food as a coping method. Body fat can sometimes serve as a protective method for those who have suffered sexual and/or other physical abuse.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:
- Binge eating
- Feelings of guilt due to overeating
- Eating alone due to shame
- Withdrawal from activities due to weight
- Trying numerous, unsuccessful diets
- Mood swings
- Low self esteem
- History of weight fluctuations
- Awareness that eating habits are abnormal
Addiction to Food
During binges, compulsive over-eaters may consume anything between 5000 and 15000 calories a day. Researchers believe that there is an abnormality of endorphin metabolism in the brain which triggers an addictive process. Consuming triggering foods causes the release of serotonin. Serotonin is a mono-amine neurotransmitter that releases feelings of well being. An abstinence of trigger foods, which causes the release of serotonin, can result in depression and withdrawal. Thus an over-eater becomes addicted to their trigger foods.
Physical and Medical Conditions of Binge Eating Disorder:
- Weight gain
- Heart ailments
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep depravation
- High blood pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Cardiac arrest