Binge Eating Disorder is a serious mental illness characterised by regular episodes of binge eating. They will not use compensatory behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting or over-exercising after binge eating. Many people with Binge Eating Disorder are overweight or obese.
Binge eating involves two key factors:
- Eating a very large amount of food within a relatively short period of time (e.g. within two hours)
- Feeling a sense of loss of control while eating and are unable to stop even if they want to.
Individuals with Binge Eating Disorder may eat very quickly, eat when they are not physically hungry and continue to eat even when they are full and to the point of being very uncomfortably full. Feelings of guilt, disgust and depression often follow a bingeing episode. Eating in secret or eating alone is a way to hide their eating behaviours. Binge eating can often occur at times of stress, anger, boredom or distress. At such times, binge eating is used as a way to cope with challenging emotions.
Having awareness about Binge Eating Disorder and its signs and symptoms can make a huge difference to the duration and severity of the illness. Seeking help at the first warning sign is much more effective than waiting until the illness is in full swing. Learning to use more helpful coping strategies, engaging in more healthy eating habits and improving one’s self-esteem and body image is all a part of the recovery process.
If you are concerned about someone you know who you think may have an eating disorder it is vital to seek help and support as soon as possible. Recovery is possible and the path to recovery can be long and challenging that is why they need specialised health professionals who are specifically trained in the management of eating disorders. It often requires a multidisciplinary treatment team to provide the best evidenced based treatment to promote recovery and prevent relapses. This mental illness is complex, it requires psychological, behavioral, dietary and social support interventions. Your GP is a good ‘first base’ point of contact. They can refer you onto a health professional who is specialised in this field. Your GP will be able to help monitor your medical stability to ensure you are medically safe or if you require more intensive hospitalised treatment.
For more information about eating disorders please visit the National Eating Disorders Collaboration website.