Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. and binge eating is the most common.
If any of this sounds familiar, it could be an indication of Binge Eating Disorder:
- You are on a diet and you stock up on foods that you like to binge on occasionally.
- You plan for your food binges.
- You just eat and eat large amounts of foods at one time and do not actually taste it.
- You feel as if you have lost control over your eating.
- Regardless of your appetite, you eat until you are overstuffed.
- You frequently feel shame or guilt regarding the amounts of food you are eating.
- You do not spend a great deal of time fantasizing about food, and you may even not be particularly interested in the food, you just eat it in large quantities.
- You hide you food consumption from others and may eat alone very quickly.
- Your are not obsessed with food but you find yourself unable to stop eating a certain food until it is all gone..
- You consume all of one food and then move onto another food.
Binge eating has been around since 1958 when it was first described as “night eating syndrome” by Albert Stunkard, a world renowned research pioneer in the causes, consequences, and treatment of obesity. In the absence of the nocturnal eating factor, it has come to be known as “binge eating disorder”. In the May 2013 edition of that American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). this behavior is classified as an eating disorder.
The DSM provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders and is used in the United States and, in varying degrees, worldwide. Defining, “binge eating disorder” in such a way, has legitimizes it as a behavioral based eating disorder. This has led the way for clinicians to put a label on the disorder, researchers to seek funding to find treatments and a cure, pharmaceutical companies to develop treatment drugs, agencies that regulate psychiatric drugs to establish/monitor new or existing treatment drugs, and health insurance companies to use it to establish payment/coverage limits. It also has given individuals diagnosed with this disorder a definitive treatable diagnosis. Unfortunately for some it carries the stigma of a “mental disorders” and for others many simply offer a reason for their behavior.
Research have shown that BED can occur in normal weight individuals, however it usually leads to obesity and is also commonly seen in up to 30% of overweight or obese individuals seeking treatment for lose weight.
Research also indicates that there may be a genetic inheritance factor involved, as well as higher incidence of other associated psychiatric factors such as “lifetime rates of major depression, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, borderline personality disorder, impulsive behaviors such as compulsive buying, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), personality disorders, and avoidant personality disorder in individuals with BED. According to an article featured in the National Institute of Health’s PubMed almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.
BED can be the result of a psychological release for excessive emotional stress. In adolescents it may also be influenced by cultural attitudes towards beauty and thinness. Families who place emphasis on food as a source of comfort, especially during times of stress, and who insist that children finish all their food regardless of their degree of hunger or satiety … the clean plate club … may also lead to binging.
According to one reference, a pattern of strict dieting and later binging may explain why there is a high incidence of individuals who end up in a recurring cycle of dieting to lose weight only to regain weight at higher and higher levels after each dieting and binging cycle. In such cases, binging on large amounts of food in a relatively short span of time is less an issue of self control and more likely to be an issue of recovering from being on a deprivation diet.
An all or nothing approach to a strict dietary control that dictates what and when to eat can lead to an occasional relapse. In some cases this relapse is perceived by the dieter as a total collapse of the diet and the individual simple gives up on the diet for the day or longer and decides to binge, with the mindset of planning to start up the diet again the flowing day or future date.
Another source uses the following criteria to identify someone with a typical Binge Eating Disorder: Consumes 5,000 – 15,000 calories in one sitting, Eats three meals a day plus frequent snacks and Overeats continually throughout the day, rather than simply consuming large amounts of food during binges
The biochemistry of the body that included hormones and neurotransmitters, can also contribute to BED. These include imbalances in the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, and neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
Medical conditions such as infections and tumors can also contribute to imbalance that are contributing factors.
Identification of BED usually involves a a team of professional care givers. This includes a physician to assess influencing medical factors and psychiatrist and/or a psychologist trained in interview techniques and assessment tools. Treatment may include applying interpersonal psychotherapy to help assess relationships with friends and family and making behavioral and cognitive changes where necessary. A Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Health Coach trained in Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques such as mindful eating practices, changing responses to stress or challenging situations/events, tracking food consumption, maintaining hunger logs and development of healthy lifestyle changes, that include components of diet and exercise, may also be an important component of the treatment plan.
Dietary restrictions and regulated meal times are also key treatment strategies. Drug therapy, to treat related depression or other associated psychiatric factors is common. Medications to treat medical conditions resulting from poor nutrition including foods that are high in fat, sugar, and/or salt, calorically dense and nutritional weak, low in vitamins and minerals. These conditions can include obesity, high blood pressure, elevated total cholesterol levels, decreased HDL’s (good Cholesterol, increased LDL’s (bad cholesterol) triglycerides, fatigue, gallbladder disease, inflammatory conditions, joint pain, Type II diabetes, gallbladder disease, heart disease and some cancers.
This information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical/nutritional/fitness advice. Additional future research and additional published studies may offer additional information that may or may not support information presented.
Click here for part 1; Eating disorders, the most common lethal category of mental illness.
Additional Statistics published by the National Association of Anorexia, Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. (ANAD) indicate that:
American Psychiatric Association. 1400 K Street NW, Washington DC 20005. Web site: www.psych.org.
American Psychological Association (APA). 750 First St. NE, Washington, DC 20002–4242. Web site: www.apa.org.
Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention. 603 Stewart St., Suite 803, Seattle, WA 98101. Web site: www.edap.org.
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). 603 Stewart St., Suite 803, Seattle, WA 98101. Web site: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Overeaters Anonymous World Service Office. 6075 Zenith Ct. NE, Rio Rancho, NM 87124. Web site: www.overeatersanonymous.org.
Resources: umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/eating-disorders, www.treatmentcenters.net/eating-disorders/binge-eating-caused-by-rigid-dieting/ National Association of Anorexia, Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc., The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, Wikipedia.com, Answere.com, MayoClinic.com, American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , National Institute of Health’s PubMed, TreatmentCenter.net, wiktionary.org, Department of Psychiatry Penn Behavioral Health – Perelman school of medicine University of Pennsylvania, WebMD.com, University of Maryland Medical Center Medical Reports, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8379549 ,