Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Lifting the Lid on Binge Eating

Whilst most people will admit they have done this at least once, the effects of binge eating can last much longer. Here is an insight it to what classifies it as binge eating, what to look for, why it occurs, what affects it has and what you can do about it.

What is it?

Binge eating is defined as “uncontrolled ingestion of large quantities of food in a discrete interval, often with a sense of lack of control over the activity” according to the medical dictionary.  It is not to be confused with over eating. Over eating is simply knowing your body has had to much food & continuing to eat, this may take place in public, private and happen at any particular point of the day & is often unplanned.  Binge eating is classified a disorder when it happens twice a week for six months (I personally believe that 1 month is long enough to classify it). The 2 biggest points to take from these definitions is lack of control, and ingestion of a large amount of food in a short space of time. The biggest misconception is that it is always junk food that is ingested. This is not always to the case. It is also different as once the event is over, it becomes very traumatic for the person, as the binging has taken place in private and triggered by a specific situation/occurrence.  Binge eaters often do not feel the physical hunger pains, rather an emotional cue, and you will find most of them will avoid eating in public fairly often prior or post a binging event (which can often be planned hours or days in advance)

What to look for in yourself?

  •  Surprised at how much food you can eat in one go & then feeling guilty and depriving yourself from food or purging 
  •  Constantly starting a diet tomorrow  
  •  Guilt after eating in general  
  •  Inability to stop eating   
  •  Rapidly eating a large amounts of food in a small period of time   
  •  Severe remorse, guilt and depression after binging

What to look for in others?

  • Lack of eating in public 
  • Saying they have eaten earlier (before going out)  
  • Constantly starting a diet tomorrow & desperate to lose weight  
  • Joking about ‘naughty’ foods they’ve eaten & awkwardly laughing them off   
  • Finding stockpiled food hidden in the house

Why do I binge eat?

This is different for each person, depending on what has triggered them to start in the first place. Here are some common reasons:

  • Feeling down, depressed, isolated and alone   
  •  A particular stressful event   
  •  Poor self-image and self esteem 
  •  Competitive Sport 
  • Family history of eating disorders or poor food management growing up 
  • Obsessive dieting

What affect is binge eating having on my body and my health?

Can be as minor as:
  •  Increase stress 
  •  Poor sleep 
  •   Digestive upsets 
  •   Headaches
To more serious health issues:
  •  Depression 
  •  Menstruation and Reproductive issues 
  •  Gallbladder disease 
  •   High blood pressure and cholesterol 
  •  Type 2 diabetes 
  •  Metabolic syndrome
And much more.

What can I do?
  • Seek health professionals advice: source out a nutritionist, PT and or psychologist to help you create safe new habits and a better relationship with food and weight loss 
  •   Eat 5-6 small meals per day: Star with breakfast and eat every 3-4 hours, this will allow you to regulate metabolism, teach your body to have hunger signals and prevent you from over eating (by not skipping meals). Dieting & restricting your intake will only lead to more binging episodes. 
  •   Exercise: Is good for just about everything! It will get you to your weight loss goal, allow you to relax your mind, reduce stress, and overall make you feel great 
  •    Keep temptation away: out of mind out of sight.  Don’t buy junk food or keep it readily accessible. Only eat at the kitchen table and no other room in the house, this way you will associate food with eating it around other people & not in private. 
  •  Find new triggers: If you find you binge eat out of emotion, find a new trigger for when you’re feeling down instead of food as a reward.  For example, instead of binging because you’ve had a bad day go do an exercise class (i.e. Pilates or boxing), go shopping, see a movie with a friend etc.

Do you struggle with binge eating? Contact me at to find out ways on how you can beat it!