“People with a binge eating disorder lose control of their life to food. Instead of eating for life, their life centers on eating. The urge to eat becomes strong enough that it blocks rational thought. The best laid goals are disregarded, and the focus becomes food. Those suffering from a binge eating disorder gorge themselves on a regular basis, and this behavior leads to feelings of shame and embarrassment. As part of a cycle, they follow binging with renewed promises to change their ways. However, the compulsion to eat does not go away and their good intentions are not enough to help them overcome their eating disorder.”
BED is a silent struggle that many face on a daily basis. I know. I struggled with it for 5 years. I hope that by writing this and sharing my story, that it will help someone who is going through the same thing. What exactly is BED? Why is it not talked about? What did I do to overcome it? Read below to find out.
What is BED (Binge Eating Disorder) and how do I know if I have it?
Binge eating disorder is characterized bycompulsive overeating in which people consume huge amounts of food while feeling out of control and powerless to stop. The symptoms of binge eating disorder usually begin in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after a major diet. A binge eating episode typically lasts around two hours, but some people binge on and off all day long. Binge eaters often eat even when they’re not hungry and continue eating long after they’re full. They may also gorge themselves as fast as they can while barely registering what they’re eating or tasting. The key features of binge eating disorder are:
- Frequent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating.
- Feeling extremely distressed or upset during or after bingeing.
- Unlike bulimia, there are no regular attempts to “make up” for the binges through vomiting, fasting, or over-exercising.
People with binge eating disorder struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They worry about what the compulsive eating will do to their bodies and beat themselves up for their lack of self-control. They desperately want to stop binge eating, but feel like they can’t.
What are the signs and symptoms of BED?
You may have no obvious physical signs or symptoms when you have binge-eating disorder. You may be overweight or obese, or you may be at a normal weight. However, you likely have numerous behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms, such as:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food
- Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Experiencing depression and anxiety
- Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting
After a binge, you may try to diet or eat normal meals. But restricting your eating may simply lead to more binge eating, creating a vicious cycle.
BED for me started when I first started dieting back in 2008. I would eat ‘clean foods’ and restrict calories on a daily basis, then when I wanted to have a ‘treat’ it always spiraled out of control. I couldn’t just have a piece of chocolate and put the rest in the fridge to eat at a later time. I would inhale the whole 500g block within 10 minutes. Even when you are full, you can’t stop. It is hard to describe. You cant control yourself or tell yourself to stop. You just have an impulsive urge to eat, and eat, and eat, even when you are stuffed.
Because I would have consumed a massive amount of sugar, of course I would crave more so I would take a trip to the shops late at night, buy large amounts of junk food (usually chocolate, cake and lollies), and sit in my car in the parking lot and eat as much as I possibly could to the point that I felt sick.
One night last summer I was sitting in the grocery store carpark at 8.30pm stuffing my face with wonkas raspberry twists and a bag of mini milky ways. I just happened to look up at a lady sitting in a car across from me and I noticed that she was doing the same thing. That was the first time I actually stopped and thought ‘what the hell am I doing?!’. It had to stop.
Once I got home, I started doing research to find ways to overcome the binging. Up until that point I thought it was normal and just what people did when dieting, apparently it isnt. Overcoming it wasn’t easy, and it has taken a good 6 months to start eating like a normal person again and have a normal relationship with food. Thankfully I never got the depression or anxiety, but I did often feel guilty and would restrict my calories for a week until I had another ‘episode’. This routine caused a bad yo-yo dieting effect.
BED is fairly common, affecting 1 in 35 adult females. I am sure there are people out there that are suffering with it, but have no idea it is even a disorder, or what they can do to change it. I am hoping that by writing this that it will help someone to overcome it and know that they are not alone.
How do I know if I have BED?
Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.
- Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
- Do you think about food all the time?
- Do you eat in secret?
- Do you eat until you feel sick?
- Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
- Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
- Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?
See Part 2 here.