Binge eating is an eating problem that causes you to eat large amounts of food within a short time. It is one of the most common eating disorders. When you binge, you cannot control your eating. It is not just a matter lack of willpower or poor eating habits. Binge eaters do not usually throw up (purge) or exercise too much after they eat. Most, but not all, binge eaters are overweight. Binge eating disorder can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, tiredness, joint pain, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and heart disease. It can also lead to sadness and other emotional conditions.
The exact cause of this disorder is not known. It may be related to problems with the chemicals in the brain that control mood and appetite.
You may be at risk of developing binge eating disorder if you:
Many things such as stress, depression, loneliness, or anger can start a binge.
Binge eating often starts in the late teenage years or early adult years. It affects both males and females, but is a little more common in females.
During a binge, you eat a much larger amount of food in a short period of time than you normally would. Binges often include foods like cookies, candy, chips, ice cream, and other high calorie foods. Most people with this problem do not binge on healthy foods, such as vegetables.
Binge eating usually involves at least 3 of the following:
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. He will ask about your eating patterns.
Treatment involves learning healthy eating habits. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you meet with a dietitian to create a healthy eating plan. You may need therapy to help you change how you think about yourself and food.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a way to help you identify and change views you have of yourself, the world, and the future. CBT can make you aware of unhealthy ways of thinking. It can also help you learn new thought and behavior patterns. Interpersonal therapy (IPT) may also be useful. IPT is time-limited, usually 8 to 16 sessions. It focuses on your relationships, what you expect from other people, and how to resolve conflicts.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help reduce constant thoughts about food. Medicines that help reduce depression and anxiety may help binge eating.
You may think constantly about weight and food for many years. Even after you reach a healthy weight, you may need to continue treatment for many months. Being under a lot of stress can cause the symptoms to get worse. The earlier you seek treatment, the more successful it is likely to be.
Plan your meals ahead of time and eat only at regular meal times. Eat a healthy diet. Do not keep foods around that may start binge eating. Avoid fad diets or very restrictive diets.
Keep a food diary. Write down when you eat, how you are feeling, how hungry you are, what you eat, and how much you eat. Keeping a food diary can help identify the feelings that cause binge eating.
Get emergency care if you or a loved one has serious thoughts of suicide or harming others.
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