It’s no surprise that binge eating disorder is the most stigmatized of all eating disorders. This is because it is associated with excessive weight gain and eating out of control. This post will help you better understand binge eating disorder and its treatment.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) may be the most stigmatized and misunderstood of all eating disorders. The eating disorder is often viewed as less serious because it is linked to a loss of control, excessive overeating, and a higher body weight. It’s also often attributed to a lack of willpower when it is actually a serious mental disorder that can have devastating effects on those who suffer from it.

The DSM-5 manual (which is a guide for diagnosing mental disorders) states that binge-eating disease can be diagnosed by.

  1. Recurrent episodes where you binge eat a lot of food over a short period. An overwhelming feeling of loss of control often accompanies this.
  2. Binge eating can be defined as three or more of the following: eating uncomfortably, eating too fast, eating without feeling physically hungry, eating out of shame, and feeling depressed, embarrassed, or disgusted afterward.
  3. Binge eating can cause intense distress and shame.
  4. On average, binge eating happens at least once weekly over three months.
  5. Binge eating does not only occur in anorexia, bulimia, or restricting/avoiding food intake disorders.

Binge eating is not limited to binge-eating disorder. It can also be part of another eating disorder. The majority of people who suffer from an eating disorder do not fit neatly into one diagnostic category.

A large part of the diagnostic criteria are subjective. Who determines how much food is considered a lot? If someone eats for part of the day, wouldn’t eating more food than usual be considered normal? Diet culture has distorted our perception of “normal” food amounts, so people often describe binges when eating a typical amount.

The fact that binge eating is widespread and not necessarily a sign of disordered consumption adds to the difficulty of diagnosing. It’s common to eat until you feel physically uncomfortable. This is not something that we should pathologize.

If your relationship with food impacts your quality of life, you deserve to be supported, regardless of whether or not you have been diagnosed with a binge eating disorder. Here are five facts about binge-eating diseases you should know before seeking treatment.

What you need to know about Binge eating disorder

Restriction can be a part of binge-eating disorder.

BED can be characterized as a binge-eating disorder, but there is also a case to be made that it’s primarily a restrictive eating problem. Bingeing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There’s a restrict-binge cycle whereby restriction fuels binge eating behavior. Some people may binge eat as a response to trauma or intense emotions. However, it is unlikely for binge eating to occur without any restriction ( physical OR emotional).

If you’re unfamiliar with the terms, the physical restriction means that one does not allow themselves to consume certain foods or food groups, or they undereat. Emotional regulation means one will enable themselves to consume certain foods but feels intense guilt or shame.

Binge eating disorder is not anorexia. However, the effects of undereating are still influential. Under-eating can cause our bodies to send strong signals, such as intense hunger cues. Each client diagnosed with binge-eating disorder I’ve worked with has a history of dieting, and many have had anorexia. Because the brain has been traumatized by starvation, it is more protective and reactive when restrictions are imposed. Even something as simple as missing a snack or eating too little can lead to binge eating. It’s incredible how your body protects you from starvation, even though it may not feel like it after a binge.

Emotional restrictions can also be very powerful. It can create a fear of food not being available shortly. How can you eat calmly and deliberately when you fear that a particular food may be restricted in the future? What happens if you do eat that food? Emotional restrictions create shame, which fuels binge eating.

Binge eating can affect anyone, regardless of size.

Although binge eating disorders are associated with higher weights (remember that is not scientific but is what most researchers use), people of all BMI ranges can also have the disease. Although many people gain weight from binge eating, this is not the case for everyone.

It is important to remember that eating disorders are dangerous regardless of how they affect one’s weight. Binge eating disorder, for example, is a mental disorder. Even if weight and health were synonymous with each other (which they are not), people should be treated when their quality of living is negatively affected.

Binge-eating serves a purpose.

Binge-eating is not about gluttony or lack of willpower. Binge eating is not about pleasure or taste, as it is an unconnected experience. Binges are a part of binge eating disorders. This varies from person to person, and standard functions include numbing from intense feelings and emotions, self-harm/punishment, and release of anxiety/stress. Binge-eating can be a part of trauma, an attempt to regulate one’s nervous system and return them to their Window of Tolerance.

Binge eating may be a bad habit, but it can also serve a purpose. For some, bingeing is their only option. In recovery, you learn how to cope with distress and reduce your vulnerability to bingeing. You also know other coping mechanisms that can be used instead of binge eating.