The word binge has an association with indulgence.
Yet at least one in five young women today report binge eating.
It's clearly not an indulgence.
For the significance of binge eating varies from person to person. Some view it as an occasional indiscretion and it has little effect on them. For others, though it is a true problem, something that has negative impact on many aspects of their lives.
While no two personal accounts are identical, it turns out that true binges have two features in common:
Indeed, there in now an agreed-on technical definition of the term binge:
An episode of binge-eating has both the following:
(1) Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any two-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances, and,
(2) A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g.) a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).
What is central to binge eating is the sense of loss of control. This feature above all distinguishes binge eating from everyday overeating and mere indulgence.
"I randomly grab whatever food I can and push it into my mouth, sometimes not even chewing it. But I then start to feel guilty and frightened as my stomach begins to ache and my temperature rises. It is only when I feel really ill that I stop eating."
Here are some characteristics of a binge:
It’s hard to say at what frequency binge eating becomes a problem, but if you are binge eating one a week or more you should defiantly consider getting help.
Many things trigger binges, but some of the most common are:
Those who binge say they experience some immediate though temporary positive feelings. For example, they may feel a sense of relief. Feelings of hunger and deprivation will have disappeared. The binge may displace depression or anxiety. But these positive effects are short lived.
They are soon replaced by feelings of shame, disgust and guilt. Depression often sets in. Bingers often feel hopeless about ever being able to control their eating. Tiredness and stomach pains are common. Quite often, the fear of weight gain is so intense that it drives people to take compensatory measures.
Three things have to be present for a person to have bulimia nervosa:
Bulimia nervosa is largely confined to woman, most in their twenties. The problem usually starts in the late teen years with a period of strict dieting.
People with bulimia nervosa have chaotic eating habits. All have objective binges. Typically their binge eating occurs on the context of extreme dietary restriction. Many make themselves vomit after each binge in an attempt to get rid of the food they have eaten.
Once established, this pattern of eating tends to be self-perpetuating. People end up on a cycle of fearing weight gain, dieting, binge eating, drastic measure to control weight, leaning back to a fear of weight gain. This cycle means that binge eating can last for several years.
To receive a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa a person must meet two main conditions:
Indeed, many people with anorexia nervosa regard themselves as being “fat” despite their low weight. For this reason they are often said to have a “morbid fear of fatness” or a weight phobia.” Their dieting is often driven by a relentless pursuit of thinness. These attitudes toward shape and weight are similar to those found in bulimia nervosa.
Anorexia nervosa mainly affects teenage girls and young women. People with the disorder achieve their low weight by eating very little. Sometimes excessive exercising contributes also. They avoid eating foods they view as fattening, and they may occasionally fast. About a third have “binges”.
During these their attempts to restrict food intake break down, and they lose control over eating. These binges are often small in size, nevertheless, in other aspects they are typical. There is a sense of loss of control over eating, and the amount consumed is viewed as excessive.
For example, a binge may consist of only a few cookies. Even this quantity of food will seem large to most people with anorexia nervosa, however.
Binge eating disorder is the other eating disorder in which binge eating is a central feature. People with binge eating disorder have repeated binges. The difference with bulimia nervosa (and sometimes anorexia nervosa) is they do not take extreme weight control measures.
About half of people with binge eating disorder are overweight. This differs from those with bulimia nervosa who on average have normal weight. While those with anorexia nervosa are usually severely underweight. Binge eating disorder also effect much more men than does anorexia or bulimia. Moreover, the age range tends to be a little older too.
The most effective approach to date for the treatment of all eating disorders is a form of cognitive behaviour therapy. Dr. Christopher G. Fairburn in the 1980s developed it in the 1980s. The program is a short term form of therapy. Most patients see it as relevant and appropriate. The treatment erodes the problem progressively, using a carefully planned sequence of interventions.
Planning for the future, including having realistic expectations and strategies to use should problems reoccur.
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