Binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, a feeling of loss of control during the binge, experiencing shame, and regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.
Although it is the most common eating disorder in the United States, binge eating disorder is widely misunderstood. Many people are not able to identify the symptoms of binge eating disorder in themselves or their loved ones and fewer than half of those with binge eating disorder ever seek treatment for their disorder. They may think they merely need tips to control themselves around food, without recognizing the seriousness of their experience.
Myths About Binge Eating Disorder
Myth: Bingeing is no big deal.
Truth: A binge is not the same as emotional eating or overeating. Characteristics of binge eating disorder include:
- Eating, in a short period of time, an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
- The sense of lack of control about eating during the episode or a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating.
According to these characteristics, bingeing is different than eating a large restaurant meal or feeling stuffed after a holiday dinner. Most people are likely to eat past fullness on those occasions. Rather, binging is a unique experience. It is usually done in secret and followed by feelings of guilt or remorse.
Myth: Binge eating disorder only affects higher-weight individuals.
Truth: One of the biggest myths is that body size determines an eating disorder diagnosis. Nothing could be further from the truth. An accurate diagnosis relies on an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors around food, and also includes feeling distressed about body size. Binge eating disorder has no size. The behaviors and level of distress inform the diagnosis, not the size of an individual.
Myth: People who binge just need more willpower.
Truth: Although bingeing may seem to be self-indulgent, it’s quite the opposite. Binge eating disorder is as much grounded in restriction as are anorexia and bulimia. Most people with binge eating disorder try to atone for their binges by dieting or at least trying to counterbalance with “healthy” eating. This typically means undereating, which helps drive ongoing binges from a psychological perspective.
Myth: Finding the right weight loss plan will cure binge eating disorder.
Truth: Effective eating disorder treatment is weight-inclusive, where each patient is evaluated on their relationship with food and body, apart from their body size.
The first step in overcoming binge eating disorder is to ask for help. If you or a loved one is suffering from an eating disorder, please give us a call at 435-938-6060.