Binge Eating Disorder

Food and feelings are deeply intertwined for individuals suffering from Binge Eating Disorder. Eating becomes a survival skill for coping with stress and intense feelings like anxiety and depression. During and leading up to a binge, individuals have feelings of brief comfort or release while eating; I refer to this as the “vacation, the numb out, or escape”. In the short-term, bingeing eases overwhelming feelings, but as the binge ends, comfort is replaced with shame, self-loathing, guilt, and feelings of helplessness. Equal to the emotional pain, the body is left in physical pain and extreme fullness, causing a sedative 'hangover' like effect. Post-Binge, many year for control over their behaviors, turning to diets, fasting, and goals for weight-loss, only to find themselves repeating the cycle: Bingeing again. This continues to repeat itself, creating a vicious cycle of self-loathing, dieting, and bingeing. Similar to other Eating Disorders, there is a strong preoccupation with body image, weight, self-loathing, and hopes of obtaining a smaller body size. Here are common emotional and behavioral signs of Binge Eating Disorder:

  • Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating
  • Shame over how much you’re eating
  • Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot or cruise control
  • Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat 
  • Feeling that you always want more 
  • Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating
  • Desperation to control weight and eating habits
  • Feel powerless to stop eating during a Binge
  • Disgust or shame about their physical appearance and body size
  • Hoarding Food or Stealing Food
  • Plans Binges and craves specific Binge foods
  • Destroying Evidence of Binges (ie. wrappers, trash, etc)
  • Engages in Yo-Yo type dieting, fasting, or skipping meals
  • Engages in Secret Eating or Bingeing (ie. Eating in car to hide binge)
  • Feeling numb while bingeing
  • Not realizing your eating and then suddenly realizing
  • Food has a very high subjective value
  • Failed weight loss surgery attempts

According to the DSM-V, the diagnostic criteria for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterized by several behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms:

Recurrent episodes of Binge Eating:

  • Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (any two-hour period)
  • Feelings of helplessness related to the lack of control during binges (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating)

Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:

  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full or feeling physical pain
  • Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment over quantity eaten
  • Feeling disgusted, depressed, ashamed, or guilty after overeating

In addition:

  • High levels of distress regarding binge eating behavior
  • Binge eating is not associated with frequent inappropriate compensatory behavior, such as purging, excessive exercise, etc.
  • Binge eating does not occur exclusively during the course of bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa

If you identify problems with any of the criteria listed above contact me for an assessment or a level of care assessment. 

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