Obesity is on the rise, and with it the incidence of eating disorders. While most people associate the term eating disorders with anorexia and bulimia – two conditions that cause people to lose unhealthy amounts of weight – binge eating (characterized by compulsive, uncontrollable overeating) has actually become far more prevalent.
People with eating disorders struggle with feelings of guilt, disgust, and depression. They desperately want to stop, but feel like they can’t. One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. But the relief is fleeting and the condition is self-perpetuating.
Eating disorders can lead to severe medical complications, depression and feelings of isolation. But they need not be a life sentence. Understanding
the root causes of the dysfunctional behavior is key to controlling it. There is no quick fix or magic pill, but there is hope for a future unburdened by issues with food. Talk to us. We can help you set yourself free.
Binge Eating Disorder
Is emotional eating an issue for you? You don’t have to be overweight to have an emotional eating problem. Eating large amounts of food doesn’t always mean that you have an eating disorder. Most of us overeat from time to time as the stresses of every day life often cause us to turn to food for comfort. It’s true—eating can be very soothing! But when does this eating emotional response turn from a simple pleasure into an emotional eating problem?
Do any of the following sound familiar?
- You feel your eating is out of control.
- You feel you don’t matter, that you’re unappreciated.
- You feel consistently bored.
- You find confrontation frightening.
- You eat to avoid (choose one or more) work, sex, family obligations.
- You find intimacy difficult.
- You find it difficult to get in touch with your feelings.
- You find it hard to say no.
- You diet frequently, but rarely lose weight.
- You have feelings of shame and guilt associated with overeating.
Is this you? Using food for self-comfort began when Mom gave us our first cookie for being good. Is it any wonder that we want to recreate those positive reinforcements? Food and feelings are bound together. But when we use food to cover up emotions, it becomes unhealthy eating.
BINGE EATING DISORDER
Binge Eating Disorder is probably the most common eating disorder. The mental and emotional consequences of binge eating disorder and distress of losing weight and bingeing can be overwhelming. Clinical depression, impulse control, “all or nothing” thinking, may be part of the clinical picture. Most people with Binge Eating Disorder are overweight or obese, but those with normal weight may also be affected. Considering the number of celebrities with Binge Eating Disorder, this is a problem for even the most famous among us.
Typically with Binge Eating Disorder, inappropriate behaviors such as laxative abuse, self-induced vomiting, fasting and excessive exercise are not common, although they may be present. Medical professionals agree about what are the symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder:
- Eating large quantities of food without really tasting the food, and when not really hungry.
- Eating alone, usually out of embarrassment over the quantity of food.
- Feeling out of control frequently during binges.
- Eating large quantities of food frequently in short periods of time often secretly, without regard to feelings of hunger, or fullness.
- Feeling shame, disgust or guilt after a binge.
Although the cause of Binge Eating Disorder are still unknown, it’s estimated that at least half of those with the disorder suffer from depression, along with anxiety, impulsive behavior, and other contributing emotional issues. The effects of dieting are also unclear at this time however it’s felt that strict dieting may worsen binge eating for some people.
Anorexia nervosa is a severe, potentially life threatening disorder characterized by excessive weight loss and self-starvation. Typically striking during adolescence, it’s estimated that 90-95% of those with anorexia are women. Because treatment is more successful the earlier anorexia is detected, it’s important to be alert to the warning signs:
- Distorted image of body shape and weight
- Intense fear of gaining weight, even though underweight
- Infrequent or loss of menstrual periods in women past puberty
- Refusal to maintain normal body weight
- Extreme exercise despite fatigue and injury
Anorexia nervosa isn’t simply an obsession with food or weight, it’s an attempt to use these to cope with emotional problems. Treatment may involve more than changing a person’s perception of food, as those with anorexia often suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and a need to the need to control their emotions and surrounding, as well as low self-esteem.
Anorexia nervosa is a serious problem. If you are one of your loved ones indicate any of the warning signs, please contact us today.
As with anorexia nervosa, bulimia often begins in adolescence and is found predominantly in women, although men are also affected. Repeated binge and purge episodes using laxatives, enemas, and self-induced vomiting are characteristic of bulimia. Other symptoms of bulimia may include:
- Feeling out of control while eating
- Distorted body image
- Binge eating of high-carbohydrate foods, usually in secrecy
- Body weight that fluctuates
- Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, gas, abdominal pain
- Irregular menstruation or cessation of menstrual periods
- Stealing, especially food
- Substance abuse, especially alcohol
The cycle of bingeing and purging, while seemingly related to food, is actually used to anesthetize feelings of sadness, anger, and low self-esteem.
Family, friends, and physicians may have difficulty detecting bulimia in someone they know. Many individuals with the disorder remain at normal body weight or above because of their frequent binges and purges, which can range from once or twice a week to several times a day.
Bulimia is a serious problem. If you are one of your loved ones indicate any of the warning signs, please contact us today.
Yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling, refers to the cycle of losing weight and regaining the amount lost, or more. A weight cycle can range from small weight losses and gains (5-10 pounds per cycle) to large changes in weight (50 pounds or more per cycle). Not confined to people who are overweight, the repeated losses and gains may have negative health consequences.
It’s disheartening to successfully lose weight, only to regain it and it’s easy to fall into a loss-gain-loss cycle. Fad diets, which are often a part of yo-yo dieting, are only a temporary fix to a problem that often has its roots in poor body image and a lack of self-esteem.