Binge Eating

by Courtney Frerichs, LMHC : Director of Counseling Services | Posted on February 8th, 2016

Who doesn’t binge once in a while at a buffet, church luncheon, or holiday meal? I feel confident in saying all of us have eaten to the point of being uncomfortably full. And we must eat to survive, therefore we can’t avoid food entirely. So when does sporadic overeating become binge eating?

Binge eating is defined as eating, in a discrete period of time,
an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances (DSM 5). To qualify as binge eating disorder, this must occur at least once per week for three months accompanied by feeling a lack of control over the eating.  Binge-Eating Disorder has become the #1 Eating Disorder in the United States, followed by Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa. Eating disorders are also common with those who have other diagnoses, such as depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders.

If you think you or someone you know may have a binge eating disorder, or an unhealthy relationship with food, I’ve listed some warning signs:

  • Experiencing feelings of anger, anxiety, worthlessness, or shame preceding binges. Initiating the binge is a means of relieving tension or numbing negative feelings.
  • Co-occurring conditions such as depression may be present. Those with BED may also experience social isolation, moodiness, and irritability.
  • Feeling disgust about one’s body size. Those with BED may have been teased about their body while growing up.
  • Avoiding conflict; trying to “keep the peace.”
  • Certain thought patterns and personality types are associated with binge eating disorder. These include:
    • Rigid and inflexible “all or nothing” thinking
    • A strong need to be in control
    • Difficulty expressing feelings and needs
    • Perfectionistic tendencies
    • Working hard to please others

So, what can a person do if they believe they may be experiencing binge eating? The following was taken from www.eatingdisorderhope.com :

Evaluate your beliefs about the purpose of eating.  There are two reasons to eat: nourishment and enjoyment.

Acknowledge that there may be a problem.

Don’t diet. This is a mistake, since dieting involves restriction, which leads to feelings of deprivation, which in turn leads to bingeing.

Seek help. A therapist or counselor can help you get to the “whys” of your eating behavior and find new ways of dealing with the emotions that underlie the behavior. Therapists who use cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques are usually the most successful (LFS Therapists are well trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).