What is Binge Eating?

BingeEat2.516509191Most of us have overeaten at some point in our lives and felt guilty immediately afterward. It usually happens at a holiday gathering or at one of your favorite restaurants, but what if it happens regularly? Consistently eating large amounts of food at once, and feeling upset after doing so can be considered a binge eating disorder (BED).

A binge is when you consume a large portion of food in a short amount of time – as much as 20,000 calories at once. BED is not the same as bulimia, another eating disorder that involves eating a great deal of food in a short period of time. People with bulimia are very concerned with their body image and attempt various methods to avoid gaining weight, including vomiting, taking diet pills or laxatives, or exercising too much. Those with BED, however, are not concerned with excess weight and therefore do not participate in these compensatory behaviors. For this reason, people with BED are often overweight or obese.

Characteristics of BED include: eating until uncomfortably full, eating when not physically hungry, eating alone, or waking up at night to eat. Binge eaters are usually excited while planning a binge and are frightened of being caught. After a binge, they feel a range of emotions including guilt, shame, disgust, self-loathing, or general numbness.

Binge eating may arise out of stress and an inability to deal with emotions, boredom, depression, or outbursts of hostility. It is very important to recognize binge eating disorder in its early stages and seek treatment before it leads to other health problems, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease. Therapy sessions can help the individual deal with these psychological aspects of binge eating disorder.

If you exhibit binge eating behavior, it’s important that you seek professional help. This kind of eating will lead to increased weight gain, low self-image and other related health issues. To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Mental Health Clinic, please call 718-206-5575.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.