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Let’s talk about Binge Eating disorder (BED) – a common yet often misunderstood eating disorder that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. Binge eating is a common eating disorder. Unfortunately, people with binge eating problems still do not have access to the right treatment on time.
In 2022, the NHS revealed that we were fighting another pandemic during the COVID-19 pandemic as we observed an ‘explosion’ of children and young people seeking help for eating disorders.
Perhaps you’re a mother worried about your child’s eating habits or a young person struggling with eating disorders. You’re not alone. BED can be a distressing experience, but there is hope. We at CATCH Recovery offer immediate access to therapies and counselling.
Let’s explore the signs and symptoms of binge eating, its impact on mental and physical health, and how to seek help if you or someone you love is struggling with this disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
If you’re worried that a loved one might be suffering from a Binge Eating Disorder, the first thing to do is observe them. If they continue showing worrying eating habits, especially when combined with a problematic self-image or understanding of their body image, you should raise your concerns with one of our treatment specialists.
Those with a binge eating disorder may plan binges. It may happen suddenly due to compulsivity, usually triggered by overwhelming feelings that they experience. Another behaviour you should look out for is if they go to great lengths to access and eat food late into the evening, as this is often when difficult feelings or emotions can surface. Additionally, the loneliness and lack of observers during these hours allow for more introverted thoughts and binging to go unnoticed.
The following might be observed when struggling with Binge Eating Disorder:
- Purchasing a large amount of food for a planned binge
- Eating in isolation or declining to eat with others when invited
- Eating quickly and compulsively
- Eating when not hungry
- Eating large amounts of food until uncomfortably full
- Irritability and mood swings
- Preoccupation with getting and eating food
- Strong cravings for certain foods
- Not being mentally present with colleagues, family and friends
- Feeling out of control over eating habits
- Low self-confidence and self-esteem
- A deep sense of shame and guilt after bingeing
- Difficulty sleeping, lethargy and fatigue
- Weight gain
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea
- Abdominal pain
- Other general stomach issues
- Skin breakouts
- Physical pain
Binging and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Compulsive Overeating is often used instead of Binge Eating Disorder. This is because a compulsion often causes binging episodes. It can be based on a harmful coping mechanism for stress or trauma or a way to enjoy food when no one is watching. Some binge to feel calmer by consuming foods they enjoyed as a child, bringing them back to when they were free from responsibilities or pain.
Whatever the reason for this damaging behaviour, it is done regardless of the consequences. If there is no underlying obsessive-compulsive disorder, when we plan your therapies for binge eating disorder, we will focus on discovering causes for the compulsive behaviour related to eating that you are experiencing.
We have talked to our clients, whom we helped redefine their food-related behaviours. Often, they will admit they recognise the warning signs of a binging episode but cannot stop it from happening. CATCH Recovery has multiple methods to help you discover the best ways to counter these emotions and feelings and stop the process before it reaches the peaking point.
Causes and Risk Factors
Binge Eating Disorder can exasperate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Binge Eating Disorder is not caused by laziness, gluttony or lack of willpower. It’s a complex psychological condition with biological and environmental factors. Genetic predispositions, combined with traumatic events or mental health issues such as depression, can contribute to a binge eating episode.
Additionally, growing up in an environment where caregivers exhibit compulsive eating behaviours can put children at higher risk of developing unhealthy eating behaviours. The main risk factor for developing binge eating disorder is having an unhealthy self-image or body dysmorphia, meaning that you might be perceiving your body differently than it is.
Fixation on ‘normal weight’ and ‘weight loss’ are not the only causes of this condition. This can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness, triggering compulsive binge-eating episodes. Many people suffering from other eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa, will look at binge eating as a way to refill their bodies quickly.
Many health risks are linked to Binge Eating Disorders. Research has uncovered various health concerns that can arise from this type of disordered eating. People with BED are more likely to suffer from obesity, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), type 2 diabetes and other conditions related to overweight or obese.
We Can Help
At CATCH Recovery, we provide comprehensive treatment for binge eating disorders and mental health problems. Our experienced therapists are highly skilled in helping to identify the root causes of binge eating episodes.
Often, binge eating and other mental health problems need to be addressed concurrently for optimal outcomes. Our mental health professionals provide a compassionate and non-judgemental space for you to explore the nature of your condition.
We offer a number of therapeutic approaches to help you understand your binge eating disorder, develop healthy eating habits and improve your self-image. Although binge eating is a complex disorder, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do this alone.
Exploring the Root Causes of Binge Eating Episodes
We emphasise the benefits of understanding the root cause of compulsive behaviours to identify potential triggers and develop effective coping strategies. When it comes to such an eating disorder, binge eating is often a method to handle the stress accumulated over time.
As part of your comprehensive treatment plan, you will have a confidential assessment with our team of professionals to explore your family history, relationship with food and any pre-existing mental health concerns to understand the motivations behind binge eating episodes better.
Developing an Action Plan
Before your first session with your dedicated therapist, you will have a face-to-face or online consultation with our in-house psychiatrist. If you are taking any psychiatric medications, we will need to weigh the benefits and risks before therapeutic care can be offered. Medications, including antidepressants and antipsychotics, can exasperate weight gain due to side effects, so it’s important to understand if these medications contribute to excessive eating habits.
Refocusing through Mindful Thinking
At CATCH Recovery, we use mindful thinking as part of our approach to helping you refocus and gain control of your thoughts and behaviours. Mindful thinking involves focusing on the here and now, paying attention to your emotions, physical sensations and environment without judgement.
Mindful thinking helps reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to become more aware of your thoughts and be present. By focusing on being mindful of your thoughts, feelings, sensations and environment, you can begin to understand the triggers behind your binge eating and develop healthier coping strategies. We will provide you with various mindfulness-based therapies, such as yoga, meditation and breathing techniques, to help you refocus.
Using Meditation instead of Self-Harm
Meditation can be an effective tool for managing the urges to self-harm that are so common with BED. It’s a powerful way to refocus your thoughts, allowing you to gain control over your emotions and behaviours. Practising meditation can help you become aware of your body and environment without judgement, helping you to break out of the cycle of harmful behaviours associated with Binge Eating Disorder. Refocusing on your well-being will help you recognise healthier eating behaviour and usually helps achieve long-term recovery.
Rediscovering the Pleasure of Healthy Eating
Recovering from BED involves more than just addressing binge eating and related behaviours. Learning to enjoy healthy eating and develop healthier, more enjoyable food habits is also important. We need food to survive, but it is also sweet, sour and warm. You can experiment with different flavours and textures in food and learn how to create delicious meals using fresh ingredients. You can also make meal times enjoyable by taking your time when eating and savouring different meals and organising tasting events for you and your friends.
A nice meal can bring us together around the table where the entire family, or our circle of friends, can enjoy the holidays. The smell of roasted turkey, potatoes, and vegetables wafts through the air, mingling with the aroma of freshly baked mince pies and mulled wine. Everyone gathers around the table, sharing stories and memories while passing plates of food. Laughter and chatter fill the room as loved ones come together to enjoy a delicious meal and each other’s company.
Food can bring people together and create a sense of warmth and comfort. Sharing a meal can foster connection and community, from big holiday feasts to casual dinners with friends. It’s not just about the food itself – although that can certainly be a highlight – but about the experience of coming together and enjoying each other’s company. Our goal is to allow you to feel safe and enjoy these moments and the freedom they give us. Whether it’s a simple brunch or a fancy dinner party, we strive to allow you to enjoy sharing food with those you love.
Ready to kick Binge Eating Disorder to the curb and take control of your life? Let’s work together to make it happen! Contact us, and let’s get started.