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Binge Eating – A Growing Problem for Adult Women

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Binge eating is commonly thought of as being connected to the eating disorder of bulimia.  In fact, binge eating is an eating disorder in and of itself and has become a serious health concern for many adults, particularly women.  Simply put, binge eating is a cycle where a person routinely eats an excessive amount of food, usually without even thinking about it.  While most people have over indulged on occasion, binge eaters engage in overeating on a regular basis and usually as a response to some kind of stress.

The Cycle of Binge Eating

The cycle of binge eating can begin at any time and for any reason.  In fact, sometimes binge eaters aren’t sure what kicked off their binge in the first place.  It could be something they see on TV, a difficult conversation with a family member or friend, an argument or even simply remembering something from their own past.  Whatever the cause, the result is the overwhelming desire to eat.  Binge eaters may have a certain food they crave or they may open the cabinets and refrigerator and just begin pulling out anything that looks good.  Other binge eaters will hide food somewhere for moments when they really need something.  Binge eaters will eat mindlessly, without registering what they’re eating, until the binge is over.  This may happen when the food runs out, when the eater gets sick or when they simply snap out of it.  Although a binge can be wildly different from one person to another, the basic symptoms and signs of a binge eating include:

The inability to control eating while it’s happening (i.e. not being able to just stop)

  • Eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time
  • Eating past the point of feeling full
  • Hiding food from others
  • Eating all day without any set meal times
  • Feeling stress or tension lessen as you eat
  • Feelings of shame or embarrassment over the binge

Tuning out while binging – eating but not feeling there, sometimes described as feeling mentally numb

Treatment for Binge Eating

Since the root of binge eating is psychological, mental help is required in order to fully recover from binge eating.  Nutritional information and education can help patients to make smarter decisions when they eat, but tackling the underlying issues will help them to combat the automatic response of simply eating to fill a void or soothe their nerves.

For most patients, working to change their behavior as they deal with the underlying issues proves challenging, but worth the effort.  While a patient works through their emotional issues with a therapist, he or she can also begin to take steps to modify their own behavior at home.  Stopping a binge before it happens is difficult at first, but many patients have reported success with taking small steps to modify their behavior.  Stopping to ask themselves why they are about to eat, leaving the house when they feel those familiar feelings building or even distracting themselves with a physical activity have all been shown to help curb the desire to eat.

Considering the long term effects of binge eating can be as simple as becoming overweight but can also be as serious as developing diabetes or developing conditions related to obesity, dealing with the problem as quickly as possible is advisable.  Those suffering with binge eating should immediately contact their own doctor for a physical in order to get an idea of their current health as well as to discuss the problem.  A combination of treatments which address the physical issues as well as dealing with the psychological roots of the problem will offer the greatest chance of recovery.



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