Nutrition Expert: Sana Saiyed, practicing clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Mumbai.
Binge eating is a very common effect of extreme stress these days. We have made ourselves so comfortable with binging on anything and everything that is available around us.
Binge eating disorder (BED) is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating.
In a study conducted in 2018,It was found that 26.06% of participants were prone to ED due to their abnormal eating attitudes. (https://www.indianjpsychiatry.org/article.asp?issn=0019-5545%3Byear%3D2018%3Bvolume%3D60%3Bissue%3D4%3Bspage%3D433%3Bepage%3D437%3Baulast%3DNivedita)
It affects almost 2% of people worldwide and can cause additional health issues linked to diet, such as high cholesterol levels and diabetes.
Causes of Binge eating disorder:
Everything has a cause or a reason to happen, binge eating disorder has various causes, let’s see few of them.
Genetics. People with binge eating disorder may have increased sensitivity to dopamine, a chemical in the brain that’s responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. There is also strong evidence that the disorder is inherited. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25894358/)
Body size. Almost 50% of people with BED have obesity, and 25–50% of patients seeking weight loss surgery meet the criteria for BED. Weight problems may be both a cause and result of the disorder. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26258270/)
Emotional trauma. Stressful life events, such as abuse, death, separation from a family member, or a car accident, are risk factors. Childhood bullying due to weight may also contribute.(https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25044613/)
Low Self-Esteem: Often, people who binge aren’t happy with the way they look. You might think badly about your body because of what others say or have said. You might compare yourself with TV and magazine photos that emphasize thinness.
It can be useful to remember that, just as one day of dieting will not cause a person to lose weight, a day of binge eating will not cause weight gain. Although an episode of overeating can happen to anyone occasionally, some people have a binge eating disorder, which usually requires professional attention.
Tips to Help Control Binges
If you think you have binge eating disorder, work with a doctor to get well. Treatment might include counseling and, sometimes, medicine.
Try these tips to avoid food binges:
- Keep a food diary. It will help you learn when you tend to binge. You can also see what was going on in your life that may have led you to do it.
- Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. They’ll keep your blood sugar steady, so you won’t feel hungry enough to binge.
- Portion out your food. Don’t just grab a big bag of chips and head to the couch to watch TV. Measure out one serving into a small bag or onto a plate. You’ll be less likely to eat too much if you have to get up for more.
- Think about why you’re bingeing. Are you depressed or anxious? Find another way to soothe these emotions.