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Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2021: Focus on Binge Eating Disorder

 

Focus on..... Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Binge Eating Disorder or BED is often characterised by someone consuming very large amounts of food over short period of time, even if they are not hungry. Although, we often see another form of binge eating that is characterised by an almost constant 'grazing' of food, which may amount to a large volume of food over time. 
 
BED is almost 2x as common in women than in men, although gender differences are less pronounced than in Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. BED has been found is all cultures and ethnicities.
 
BED was formally classified in 2013/14 as distinct Eating Disorder and now has formal classification in DSM-5.
 
Keeping in mind that everyone experiencing BED is different and BED may present differently (we are all different and unique, after all!), some of the signs and symptoms of BED include:
 
* Feeling out-of-control when eating during a binge episode.
* Often hiding food (before it has been eaten or hiding empty packets after i has been eaten).
* Consuming large amounts of food over short period of time.
* Lying about what you have eaten.
* Eating when depressed, anxious, lonely, negative thoughts/feelings.
* Eating large amounts of food even when not hungry.
* Can exhibit rapid weight gain, often leading to obesity.
* Eating until physically uncomfortable. The person may even feel physically sick by amount of food eaten.
* Severe depression can develop.
* Negative opinions about appearance.
* Feeling easily agitated.
* Not purge to compensate for eating large amounts of food (e.g., dietary restriction, laxatives, diuretics, over-exercising, enemas, self-induced vomiting).
* Feeling guilty, ashamed, exhibit low mood after binge-eating episode.
 
When someone engages in binge-eating, there is a rapid increase in blood sugar levels that causes insulin to be produced.
 
This insulin causes a rapid drop in blood sugar levels and this sends a false signal to brain, indicating that more food is required to top-up sugar levels.
 
This can result in cravings for sugary or fatty foods which provide a ‘quick fix’ way of topping up sugar levels. To meet demand for this for sugar, someone experiencing BED will then eat large amounts of sugary foods. This causes a rapid increase in blood sugar levels and, again, the production of insulin.
 
The ‘binge-eating cycle’ starts yet again. It's important to remember though, it's not your fault and binge eating does not indicate a lack of motivation or will power. It's a vicious cycle than can be really difficult to stop.
 
It's easy to see how someone experiencing BED can become trapped in cycle which only serves to perpetuate this BED behaviour. This is why is can be really important to access some help and support with interrupting this vicious cycle so that you can take control of this trap rather than you being trapped by this cycle.
 
(Alexandra O'Brien, Talking EDs, 'Understanding Eating Disorders: Basics and Beyond (2012; 2019).
 

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