All of us have eaten too much at one point or another. Super Bowl Sunday or Thanksgiving Dinner comes to mind. However, Binge-Eating Disorder (BED) is different from periodic binging or overeating. Binge-Eating Disorder is a serious, but treatable mental health condition that affects more people than any other eating disorder. Research estimates that in the United States 2.6% of the population will have Binge-Eating Disorder at some point in their life.
Was it a binge? Here are 5 ways to tell:
- It was a large amount of food. Was it 3-5 times larger than the serving size? Think “sleeve(s) of Oreos” or a family-sized bag of chips. Clients often tell me they feel as if any “bad” food is equal to a binge. I disagree. Departing from your prescribed regimen of kale and quinoa is not a binge. A serving of french fries or a slice of cherry pie can still be part of a balanced diet.
- The binge eating episode had a beginning and an end. Binging is different from eating more than you would normally do at a buffet or even having a second slice of birthday cake. Maybe you didn’t mean to start binging, but once you did it may have been hard to stop.
- Hunger had (almost) nothing to do with it. Were you eating very quickly, feeling uncomfortably full, or eating even when you weren’t hungry? Were you secretive? These behaviors are all associated with binge eating. Sometimes people who only allow themselves to eat very little become so hungry that it triggers a binge.
- It is distressing. This is an easy one. If you didn’t feel distressed by your eating habits it’s likely that you wouldn’t still be reading this post.
- It happens regularly. If a person binges at least once a week for three months, then a diagnosis of Binge-Eating Disorder may be appropriate.
Binge eating is treatable. Recovery is possible. Whether you are bothered by occasional binges or are concerned that you have Binge-Eating Disorder, there are effective ways to get you back on track.
Helpful editorial style photo used to illustrate Binge Eating by Tom Sodoge
Helpful words about Binge Eating by
Emily K. Becker, LMSW
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