Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and mental health condition. It is sometimes described as having a food addiction or compulsive eating. You might feel like you can’t stop yourself from eating, even if you want to. If you experience binge eating disorder, you may have come to rely on food for emotional support, or be using food to mask difficult feelings. Binge eating affects men and women equally and the condition tends to be more common in adults than in younger people.
Janet Jackson has spoken about binge eating in her autobiography saying that “Food has always brought me comfort and the bingeing is triggered when I’m in a space that is not positive”. Loose Women star Nadia Sawalha has also bravely admitted to seeking support for binge eating. Monica Seles is known for her remarkable tennis career, but not many people know that the tennis great struggled with binge eating disorder.
- Consuming large quantities of food in a short time period
- Eating rapidly, often when alone
- Eating until you feel sick or discomfort
- Eating in secret or hiding how much you are eating
- Sensing a loss of control around food, even if you want to stop
- Eating large amounts when you are full or not physically hungry
- Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat
- Rapid weight gain
- Constantly thinking about food/ the next binge
- Binges are often planned like a ritual/ often involve special binge foods
- Feeling sad or upset about your body, in particular if you are gaining weight from binge eating
- Embarrassment over how much you’re eating
- Feeling numb while bingeing – like you are not really there or you’re on auto-pilot
- Guilt and disgust following binge eating.
- Unhappiness and low self-esteem.
- Depressed and/or anxious (you may be masking depression or anxiety through bingeing)
- Feelings of stress, anger, boredom or loneliness
- Feeling driven towards the next binge, particularly in times of emotional distress or in stressful situations.
- Feeling out of control
- You may feel distressed about your reliance on food and the physical effects of bingeing.
Accepting that you need help and support is the first step to recovery, but this may be a very difficult step to take as you may have tried to hide the extent of your binge eating for a considerable length of time. People with binge eating disorder/ compulsive eating difficulties can helpfully explore and understand the underlying issues and feelings that are leading them to binge, changing their attitude towards food. This can be done through a course of counselling.
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