From time to time we all overeat, and many of us will occasionally engage in “emotional eating.” But what’s the difference between occasionally adding that extra serving of yummy potatoes to our plate after we’re full or eating that handful of M&Ms when we’re stressed and a legit eating disorder?
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) describes Binge Eating Disorder (BED) as recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food within a short period of time. It is important to understand that a binge is not characterized by caloric amount but rather, by the consumption of food significantly larger then what most people would eat under similar circumstances and period. There is also the emotional component with a binge, like most eating disorders, there is a sense of lack of control during the episode, often followed by shame, distress or guilt.
In order to diagnose BED and to distinguish it from other forms of eating disorders, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) adds a few more qualifiers to help determine the correct diagnosis such as level of distress over bingeing episodes, loss of control over amount of eatin, frequency of the bingeing episodes of at least once weekly for at least three months, as well as things like eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating more rapidly than normal (i.e. two hour period), feeling depressed, guilty, or disgusted with oneself after overeating, eating alone because of embarrassment associated with how much one is eating, and eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
A few interesting statistics about binge eating disorder:
- 40% of those with BED are male
- 3 out of 10 individuals looking for weight loss treatment show signs of BED
- Research estimates that only 28.4% of people with BED are receiving treatment for the disorder
- eating disorder can affect individuals at any age, for BED it often begins in the late teens or early 20’s.
- BED is actually more common than Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa, with data revealing that about 5 million women and 3 million men in the United States struggle with this disorder
What tips the scales from the occasional overeating episode into truly disordered eating? Studies have shown that many factors can play a role in the development of BED. Among those factors may be a family history of eating disorders, psychological issues such as feeling negative about yourself, your skills and accomplishments (triggers for a binge episode can include but are not limited to poor body image, stress, boredom and food), or a a history of dieting sometimes dating back into childhood.
Binge Eating disorder can lead to obesity which could create a host of health issues and medical conditions related to obesity (joint problems, heart disease, sleep-related breathing disorders etc). It can also influence quality life by leading to social isolation, problems at work, depression, anxiety, substance use, feeling bad about yourself, and a poor quality of life.
The good news?
Binge eating disorder is treatable. Here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center in Phoenix/Glendale Arizona, clients work with experienced, compassionate therapists and registered dietitians to reduce binges and address the underlying emotional and psychological components that lead to the binging. We offer a wholistic approach to eating disorder recovery which includes the dietetic management and education component, individual counseling and therapy, as well as Intensive Outpatient (IOP) group therapy for both adults and adolescents.
Sabrina Landa is a clinical intern who offers counseling services here at Empowerment Treatment & Counseling Center while she completes her Masters degree in Professional Counseling at Grand Canyon University.
If you or someone you know needs help, talk with your health care provider or give us a call! We have a caring staff of seasoned therapists in our Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona offices who have experience in helping people heal from the past, find meaning and joy in the present, and embrace hope for the future. (623) 810-1663
- Mayo Clinic Staff Print. (2016, February 09). Treatment. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20182948
- National Eating Disorder Association. (n.d.). Overview and Statistics. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder
- National Institute of Mental Health. “Eating Disorders Among Adults – Binge Eating Disorders”. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1EAT_ADULT_RB.shtml
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) http://www.dsm5.org