Winter 2014 Edition
Does Food Rule Your Life?
Do you feel “out of control” when it comes to food? Do you sometimes eat enormous amounts of food very quickly, until you feel uncomfortably full? Are you distressed by your inability to control your eating and subsequent weight gain? Do you try hard to diet, yet end up bingeing again?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, read the information below about compulsive overeating, also known as binge eating disorder.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is characterized by uncontrollable eating and consequent weight gain (see “Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder,” below). The most important thing you need to understand if you are struggling with compulsive overeating is that bingeing and weight gain are not the problems, but rather symptoms of the real cause(s) of your disorder.
All forms of eating disorders are emotionally based. Your struggle with bingeing, weight gain or dieting will not end until the emotional reasons for bingeing are dealt with. According to experts who treat people with eating disorders, compulsive overeaters use food to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and daily problems.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
Symptoms of binge eating disorder include the following:
1. Regular episodes of binge eating.
An episode is characterized by:
- Eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short period of time (less than two
- Lack of control over eating during the binge episode
2. Binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eating alone because you are embarrassed by how much you’re eating
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating
3. Feelings of emotional distress regarding overeating
4. Binge eating occurs at least two days a week for six months
5. Binge eating is not followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as vomiting,
fasting, using laxatives or compulsively exercising.
Note: The information above is for educational purposes only. Diagnosis of an eating disorder can only be given after a full examination by an appropriate health professional.
How to stop binge eating
Although you may feel powerless toward food and may have suffered with compulsive overeating for years, you can learn to live a life free of compulsive overeating. Recovery begins with your decision to deal with the emotional issues in your life that have lead to your disorder. Successful treatment most often includes the following:
- Psychotherapy - In general, therapy helps patients learn to recognize feelings that trigger compulsive overeating and learn new ways to deal with these feelings.
- Nutritional counseling - A nutritionist is often useful to help establish a safe diet plan and restore proper eating and nutritional habits.
- Self-help groups - Support groups can provide a supportive environment for individuals and their families.
- Medication - Antidepressants have been found to be helpful in the treatment of binge eating disorder. Other medical treatment may also be necessary to treat and monitor the physical health problems that often accompany binge eating disorder.
Other Types Of Eating Disorders
People with anorexia nervosa literally starve themselves by dramatically restricting their food/caloric intake. Symptoms include significant weight loss, refusing to maintain minimum normal body weight, loss of menstruation, dry skin, sallow complexion, disturbances in the perception of body shape, and an intense fear of gaining weight, even when underweight.
Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent periods of binge-eating in which the sufferer eats until overly full, often while feeling out of control. As the binge ends, fear of weight gain causes the person to develop compensatory behaviors such as purging, generally by intentionally vomiting, using laxatives or compulsively exercising.
What Causes Eating Disorders?
An eating disorder is not about food or weight. According to experts who treat people with eating disorders, an eating disorder is an attempt to control, hide, stuff, avoid and forget emotional pain, stress and/or self-hate.
Who Gets Eating Disorders?
- According to the most recent statistics, approximately 10 million Americans age 18 and older have an eating disorder.
- Approximately 5% of adolescent and adult women and 1% of men have anorexia nervosa,
bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder.
Helping A Family Member Or Friend
Keep the following in mind if you want to help a family member or friend get better:
- Educate yourself about eating disorders.
- Do not focus immediately on food and weight, those are not the real issues.
- Encourage them to seek professional help.
- Assure them that they are not alone and that recovery is possible.
- If you are the parent of a child under 18, you must stay very attuned to what is happening with
your child. You may have to force them to go to doctors and/or the hospital. Keep in mind
how serious eating disorders are and that they can kill.
- Listen to them. Do not be quick to give opinions or advice.
- Be patient. Recovery takes time.
Call your EAP for help
An eating disorder is an illness that requires professional diagnosis and specific treatment. Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you devise the recovery program that is just right for you. Call our toll-free telephone number for confidential counseling, referrals and information. You are not alone and your EAP can help you.