Binge eating discussed and its health risks, symptoms and solutions.

Binge eating discussed and its health risks, symptoms and solutions.
  • PublishedJune 18, 2020

Binge eating is one of the most common eating disorders characterized by excessive consumption of food to a point of discomfort in a short time.

In the United States alone, 2% of the general population are victims of binge eating, which is approximately 2.8 million adults according to a national survey carried out by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

40% of people with binge eating disorder are men and 70% of those are obese.

What is binge eating (BED)?

Binge or binge eating disorder is a type of feeding and eating disorder where one may eat a lot of food in a very short period of time even when not hungry. 

Emotional stress or distress is a major cause and often triggers binge eating.

People with this disorder often feel a sense of relief during binge eating but later after eating they experience shame or loss of control.

They are often overweight, carry food on them always and they are often embarrassed socially with their eating habits.

Some of the symptoms of binge eating are;
  • Rapid eating than normal.
  • Eating large amounts of food even without being hungry.
  • Eating until uncomfortably satisfied.
  • Hiding and eating alone due to shame or embarrassment.
  • The feeling of disgust or guilt while eating.

What causes binge eating disorder (BED)?

The causes of binge eating disorder are linked to many factors and they include;

  • Gender: Women are more likely to experience BED than men. This is related to underlying biological factors that make women more likely to experience BED.
  • Body size: obese people are more likely to experience BED than people with normal weight.  Almost 50% of people with BED are obesity this likely linked to the big demands of food an obese body demands to function.
  • Emotional stress or trauma: this is one of the major causes of this uncontrolled eating disorders. Death of beloved ones, abuse, separation are some of the stress triggering factors. When people are stressed, they may seek comfort in eating which leads to BED. These, therefore, are just eating to satisfy stress, not hunger.
  • Psychological conditions: phobias, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety are other psychological disorders that may cause binge eating. Almost 8o% of people with BED have at least one of those disorders.
  • Availability of food: people who are more exposed to food may develop BED. Easy access to food makes some people eat without control.
  • Boredom: Some people who eat uncontrollably often do it when they are bored. It can be one of the causes of binge eating.
  • Genetics: this disorder may be inherited as people with BED may have increased sensitivity to dopamine a chemical that is responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure.

How do you know if you binge eat?

what is binge eating
Photo by Robin Stickel from Pexels

You will know that you are binge eating when you eat uncontrollably huge sums of food in a short period.

When you eat frequently even when you are not hungry.

You will know that you are binge eating when you think your eating habits are embarrassing making you hide or eat secretly.

How much food is considered a binge?

According to NCBI, ” Whereas laboratory feeding studies suggest that individuals without eating disorders will consume around 850 kilocalories (kcal) in a laboratory meal (Walsh, Kissileff, Cassidy, & Dantzic, 1989), binge episodes in individuals with bulimia nervosa (BN) range from 3,000 to 4,500 kcal and binge episodes in individuals ”.

Basing on that, if you consume food worth 3000 calories and above, trace your eating habits you may be binge eating. However, just one day of overeating will not define the situation as binge eating

What happens after binge eating?  What are the health risks associated with BED?

There are many health risks are associated with BED. They start slow but then increase gradually. BED has physical, emotional and social risks which include;  

Obesity: due to the high-calorie intake associated with overeating, a person will gain weight rapidly.

Many risks are associated with obesity such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. It is therefore a chain of health risks that are all linked to the rapid weight gain.  Studies show that people with BED have a greater risk of developing these health problems compared to those without BED.

People with Bed Also happen to experience sleep problems such as insomnia, midnight cravings and snacking. 

In women, conditions associated with BED lead to infertility problems, pregnancy compilations, and development of polycystic ovary syndrome. 

Binge eating disorders cause challenges with social interactions making life hard for people with BED. They often get into embarrassing situations, especially at social gatherings.

Healthwise, people with BED have a high rate of hospitalization, outpatient care, and emergency department visits compared to those without BED.

Mental health problems such as food addiction which worsens the condition and causes a chain of health risks.

Will I get fat after one binge?

Have you ever got so excited at a party and start eating uncontrollably? Does a day of binge eating add to your weight? Here is what you need to know.

Overeating on a party doesn’t mean that you have BED even when you experience certain symptoms related to binge.

A day of binge eating will not cause a person to gain weight just as a day of dieting to cause weight loss. It is rather repeated actions and a series of binge eating that will cause weight gain.

How can I overcome binge eating?

However, after binge eating or while trying to break do these to get back to the track.

You should accept that it’s not the end of healthy living but also acknowledge that it’s not a healthy habit to keep.

  1. Practice mindful eating.

mindful eating

Mindful eating is eating while putting all the emphasis on food without distractions. It helps you focus on your eating behaviors and get rid of eating habits.

With mindful eating, you eat slowly while listening to the body signals of hunger and satisfaction. You stop eating immediately you feel satisfied.

There are many benefits associated with mindful eating for example getting rid of binge eating. To learn more about mindful eating read the article here that talks about Can mindful eating help you with weight loss?

  1. Drink water.

Water will give you satisfaction helping you to overcome overeating.

Many people eat actually when they are just thirsty. They confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking water also reduces appetite making you eat less and stop cravings.

Water has many benefits towards weight loss and eating control, you can read the related article here.

  1. Get busy.

Some people overeat just because they are bored. Getting involved in doing activates that keep them busy can help BED. Outdoor sports are great for starters to keep one busy, reading or studying is another and many other activities.

  1. Do simple exercises.

Engaging yourself in simple exercises like walking immediately after binge eating can accelerate stomach emptying,

You will get relieved of the uncomfortable feeling caused by overeating. Exercising will also help you burn extra calories that were consumed during binge eating.

Many other advantages are linked to doing exercises for example improving your moods and reducing negative feelings that would have led to binge and prevent future binge eating too.

  1. Keep a food diary or log.

Some people may find it hard to keep track of food eaten in a day. However, monitoring the food eaten through a log and food planner can help to manage your eating habits.

Writing down how much a person eats can help realize the cause of binge eating. This helps realize the binge eating pattern and getting a solution for it.

  1. Get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep is one of the ways to fight cravings that may lead to binge eating. Most people who stay awake for long periods of time at night are more exposed to overeating during the night. This is because the body craves food in order to stay energized and stay awake.

Lack of sleep is also associated with an increase in appetite as it has a great effect on the hunger hormones of ghrelin and leptin.

People who sleep less have increased ghrelin levels which is a hunger causing hormone. This makes them consume more food throughout the day. Although this may not lead to binge eating immediately, as time goes on, it can happen.

Aim at getting between 7-9 hours of sleep.

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast.

Although it may feel appropriate skipping after binge eating, it isn’t a wise decision.

Starting your day with a healthy breakfast can help you make wise food decisions and also avoid the temptation of cravings.

Eating a high protein breakfast decreases the levels of ghrelin which is the hunger causing hormone. It is ideal to pick a meal that has both proteins and fiber which are both foods that add bulk to the stomach and will make you feel satisfied longer.

Everything you need to know about weight loss breakfast is in an article that will teach you about a healthy breakfast. Read it here

  1. Watch your diet.

what is binge eating
Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Switch to healthy foods that can keep you satisfied for longer hours. These are usually meals that a high in proteins and fiber content.

Avoid foods that have a lot of added sugars, these aren’t satisfying and they increase your cravings for more added sugar foods. This leads to a chain of cravings, overeating, and binge eating finally.

Foods that are rich in proteins and fiber are often satisfying and reduce appetite compared to others.

  1. Do yoga.

Yoga is associated with many health benefits like improving sleep, reducing appetite, and can prevent emotional eating by reducing stress and anxiety.

All these make yoga a great solution to BED. Examples of yoga pose to do are in an article that will teach you weight loss yoga poses which you can read here.

  1. Get support

You should get help by joining support groups, allowing help from your family and friends, or the use of an app that will help you control your eating habits.

The bottom line.

Binge eating disorder has a lot of health risks some of which are fatal. It will cause obesity and a chain of related risks.

In order to find a solution for your BED, first, find the cause. Generally, binge eating can be solved by mindful eating.

Mindful eating can help you control the eating. To learn more about mindful eating, read the article here that talks about how mindful eating can help you lose weight and get rid of eating disorders.


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