Binge Eating Disorder

People with Binge/Compulsive Eating Disorder find themselves unable to control intense compulsions to binge eat in a similar way to those with Bulimia. It is defined as recurrent periods of eating significantly more food in a short space of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances. These episodes are marked by feelings of a lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when they're not hungry. There may be associated feelings of guilt, embarrassment or disgust and the sufferer may binge eat alone in order to keep the behaviour a secret.

Compulsive eating lacks the purging stage of Bulimia, and subsequently those with this disorder tend to have higher body weights. People can gain weight for various reasons though and not everyone who is obese has an eating disorder.

Until relatively recently, Binge Eating Disorder was not fully recognised by the medical profession and fell under the category of EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified). However, in the last edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition – the official rulebook of mental health diagnosis - it was recognised as a disorder in its own right. In the past 20 years, there have been over 1,000 research papers published that support the idea that Binge Eating Disorder is a specific diagnosis that has validity and consistency.

What is happening?

As with other eating disorders, shape, size and weight can become a focus in place of sorting out painful and difficult problems. The extra weight carried by compulsive overeaters gives a confusing message. It may be used to keep people at bay. It can be a protective amour against feelings of weakness and vulnerability, or used either to hide or emphasise strength and determination.

Possible Signs & Symptoms

“I saw a SWEDA support worker on campus at university. I had been struggling with binge eating disorder and compulsive exercise for about ten years. The SWEDA support worker was able to help me look at my relationship with food and my body in a different way. I have learned to be kinder to myself and they taught me techniques which helped me to slow down my thinking. Now I can go out and have fun without worrying all the time.”

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