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The Lesser Know Signs Of Binge Eating Disorder

Many people that seek out weight loss help or solutions may actually be struggling with binge eating disorder. These people may then feel defeated and frustrated when they find that the weight loss solutions they are trying are not effective. Perhaps they can stick to a diet or meal plan for a few weeks or months but then after this, they may find themselves over-eating and bingeing even more than they had before. Binge eating disorder can be resolved effectively with psychological treatment. However, a lot of the tools that are used for weight loss such as intermittent fasting, calorie counting, dieting or meal planning can often make bingeing worse long-term.

So how do you know if you are struggling with binge eating disorder? According to the diagnostic manual DSM-5, you would receive a diagnosis of binge eating disorder if you experience:

Criterion 1: Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances

  2. The 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)

Criterion 2: Binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

  1. Eating much more rapidly than normal

  2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full

  3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry

  4. Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating

  5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Criterion 3: Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.

Criterion 4: The binge eating occurs, on average at least 1 day a week for 3 month.

Criterion 5: The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (e.g., purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

This diagnostic criteria is very helpful for doctors and psychiatrists who are diagnosing binge eating disorder. However, you may have read the list above and still wonder whether what you are experiencing is something that can benefit from psychological treatment and support. Here are some other things that can often show up for people dealing with binge eating disorder:

  1. SECRET EATING: Bingeing often happens when someone is alone. If you struggle with binge eating, you may even look forward to having some alone-time so that you can finally binge. You may also feel the need to hide food wrappers from your loved ones and people you live with so that they don't know you have binged. Once you've eaten some food, you may also try and replace the food so that nobody knows you have eaten it.

  2. PROMISING TO START A DIET TOMORROW: Many people that struggle with binge eating will justify a binge by telling themselves that they can binge today so long as they start their diet tomorrow. They may also tell themselves that they should "finish all of the "bad" food in the house" and then be "good" after this. If someone is engaging in extreme and regular forms of dieting/restriction/fasting to compensate for their binges, this may then fall under the diagnostic criteria of bulimia rather than binge eating disorder. However, those with binge eating disorder may promise themselves to start diets but find it difficult to see this promise through.

  3. SKIPPING MEALS IN RESTAURANTS/ AVOIDING SOCIALISING AROUND FOOD: Someone with binge eating disorder may skip social occasions that resolve around food because they worry that they will break their "food rules" or over-eat, only then to find themselves feeling down and bad and binge eating at home.

  4. BEING VERY HARSH ON THEMSELVES: Binge eating is often associated with a lot of shame and guilt. This can often mean that someone that struggles with binge eating can be very harsh on themselves and critical of themselves. The problem however is that by being so mean to themselves, they may then feel very down and eventually this can often drive more over-eating or bingeing.

If you have identified with any of these signs above, know that binge eating disorder is something that can be effectively treated and resolved with the right psychological treatment. You should know that you are not alone and have that hope for recovery. You can certainly build a more helpful and healthy relationship with food.

We offer an 8-week online programme to treat and resolve binge eating. Most people believe that in order to lose weight and get healthy, they just need to eat less and exercise more... however this often just gets them trapped in a vicious cycle of dieting and then over-eating/ binge-eating/ comfort-eating. In this programme you will learn how you can set yourself free from this cycle - without counting calories, having to follow meal-plans, giving up food groups or obsessing over food and your weight all day long.

You can find out more about the programme here:

"The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives." – William James


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