Binge eating is a kind of eating disorder in which a person feels compelled to overeat on a regular basis through regular binges.
People who binge eats consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time, even when they are not hungry.
In some of the rare cases, people describe themselves as being in a "dazed state" during a binge – particularly binges during the night – and they are not able to recall what they ate.
People who binge eats feel they have no control over their eating. Sometimes they binge in private as they feel embarrassed, guilty or disgusted with their behavior after they have finished eating.
Phases of binge eating sometimes alternate with periods where the person cuts down on the amount of food they eat.
This can further lead to a vicious cycle that is difficult to break in which blood sugar levels rise, fall rapidly and false messages are sent to the brain, which result in cravings for food when your body doesn't need it.
Who is affected from Binge eating?
Anyone can be affected by binge eating. While the condition is slightly more common in women than men, the numbers of men and women affected are more equal than in other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.
The disease tends to develop first in young adults, however many people do not seek help until they are in their 30s or 40s.
Generally it is estimated that around 1 in 30 to 1 in 50 people have chances of developing binge eating disorder at some point during their life.
What causes binge eating?
Still the cause of binge eating is not clear, but, like most of the eating disorders, it is seen as a path of coping with feelings of unhappiness and low self-esteem.
Factors which can increase your risk of developing problems with binge eating include:
- a lack of confidence and low self-esteem
- depression or anxiety
- moments of stress, anger, boredom or loneliness
- Unsatisfied with your body and feeling under pressure to be thin
- Had stressful events in the past
- Variation in brain or the amount of hormones made by your brain compared to people who don't binge eat
Sometimes, binge eating can develop following a strict diet, specifically if you skipped meals, cut certain foods out and didn't eat enough food. These are unhealthy ways to lose weight and may mean you're more likely to binge at another time.
How binge eating is treated?
The main treatments are:
- self-help programmes – this can be done individually with a book or online course, or as part of a self-help support group
- self-help guided (self-help supervised by regular contacts with a professional)
- specialist group intervention
- individual psychological therapy – like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- medication called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
If you are obese, doctor may also draw up a weight loss plan to follow during treatment or after any psychological issues have been dealt with.