Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder amongst American adults, affecting millions of individuals nationwide. B.E.D. affects roughly 3.5% of the adult female population, 2% of adult males, and nearly 1.6% of adolescents. The DSM-5, which was released in 2013, finally characterized binge eating disorder as a diagnosable psychological disorder – rather than as a subcategory of the eating disorder section (as it was listed in the DSM IV, which was released in 1994). This is extremely significant in the sense that many insurance companies will not cover eating disorder treatment for an individual unless his or her specific affliction is listed in the current DSM.
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Before we dive into facts about BED you may not know which can help to identify the disorder in your own life, we must identify what the disorder is. Essentially, Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by two specific components. The first is eating excess amounts (more than a normal portion for a meal) of food in a specific time-frame (1-2 hours). The second defining characteristic of BED is experiencing, during these episodes of binge eating, feelings of no self-control. So, many individuals feel as though they cannot stop eating or don’t know how much they are eating during binge eating episodes. Additionally, periods of binge eating can also include:
- Rapid eating
- Eating past the point of feeling full
- Eating even though one isn’t feeling hungry
- Experiencing shame, remorse, and/or guilt after eating
- Avoiding eating in front of others for fear of judgment
If you are experiencing both of the defining characteristics of BED, you may be struggling with the disorder. Fortunately, this condition is now diagnosable. And, getting a diagnosis can help to determine what the next step for treatment may be.
B.E.D. is Now Classified as a Diagnosable Disorder
If you struggle with B.E.D. and are in need of professional help in order to thoroughly and successfully recover, there is treatment available to you. We at Willow Place for Women have extensive experience in treating B.E.D. and all related disorders. So, for more information on eating disorders and for a comprehensive list of available treatment options, please feel free to contact one of our trained representatives today. If you are unsure as to whether or not you suffer from BED, take a look at the following facts. They may help you determine whether or not professional help is a necessity.
10 Binge Eating Disorder Facts That go Unnoticed
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about Binge Eating Disorder. And, these common misconceptions can hinder people from getting the help they need. But, fortunately, since BED is now a diagnosable disorder, more people may get the help they need by getting proper diagnosis and resources for treatment. Now that it’s a diagnosable disorder, it’s important to spread helpful information which may help individuals determine if they’re struggling with BED. So, we’ve come up with a list of common facts about BED that many may not know. This way, they can identify the disorder in their own lives and hopefully get the treatment they need to establish healthy behaviors and methods of thinking.
1. BED Doesn’t Always Affect Overweight People
People struggling with binge eating disorder are not always overweight. In fact, many individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder are underweight or of average size. Body size has nothing to do with eating disorders. In fact, mental health has everything to do with eating disorders, as every eating disorder is considered a mental health issue. And, mental health issues can affect people of all shapes, sizes, religions, genders, sexualities, and ethnicities.
2. BED is About More than Self Control
Binge eating is far from a simple lack of self-control. It’s about perfectionism, maintaining anxiety levels, and unhealthy thoughts that lead to self-harming behaviors. Recovery from binge eating disorder entails acquiring a deeper understanding of how food can be an unhealthy coping mechanism. And, the regaining of emotional health and stability. This way, individuals can both establish new methods to dealing with unhealthy thought patterns and healthy lifestyles.
3. BED Often Comes with Unhealthy Eating Habits
Most binge eaters will restrict their diets during the day. This can include only eating during binge eating episodes. And, refraining from eating all other times. So, if you are wondering if a loved one struggles with an eating disorder, know that even if it doesn’t seem that they eat at all, they may not necessarily struggling with anorexia. And, they may be avoiding eating in front of you due to characteristics of BED.
4. BED is About Changing in Brain Chemistry
When binge eaters engage in overeating, both dopamine and serotonin release in the brain. This provides a pleasurable chemical reaction similar to shooting dope or taking painkillers. The problem with this is that these “feel good” chemicals are supposed to release naturally, rather than during periods of binge eating. And, are supposed to motivate us to take care of ourselves by this self-reward system. However, in the case of eating disorder patients, this reward system is thrown off. And, the only time these brain chemicals are released for those living with binge eating disorder is during binge eating episodes. This essentially leads to the development of an addictive behavior. And, a pattern of self-harm by craving these natural reward chemicals as they aren’t releasing as they normally would.
5. One Main Characteristic of BED is Experiencing Shame
Binge eaters often feel an immeasurable amount of shame regarding their own behaviors and bodies. Not only do they feel shame about how they eat, but their behaviors leading up to binge eating episodes. Furthermore, often, individuals feel shame about how their eating disorders may have affected their loved ones. Overcoming this shame is often the most difficult aspect of recovery. But, fortunately, it is possible with supportive treatment and therapy.
6. It’s Important to Address People Struggling with BED with Care
Commenting on food intake and exercise patterns will typically only make matters worse. This is why it’s incredibly important to understand how to approach someone about their eating disorder behaviors. True recovery will come from involvement in a supportive and nurturing 12-step program, such as Overeaters Anonymous or EDA.
7. BED is a Mental Health Condition and Should be Treated as Such
Binge eating is essentially in the same category as anorexia and bulimia. This is in the sense that treatment methods are similar and psychological processes are very much alike. While eating disorder has its own defining characteristics and symptoms, they are all mental health disorders. And, can be treated with the same types of therapy, support groups, and supportive housing environments.
8. Perfectionism is a Common Personality Trait in Women Struggling with BED
Most individuals who suffer from binge eating disorder simultaneously struggle with perfectionism. Rather than being lazy or weak-willed which many might think, BED has a lot to do about wanting to achieve personal goals and people-please. So, those struggling with BED may fast for periods of time to appease their perfectionism. But, then later binge eat to appease their shame for not achieving personal goals or help to manage anxiety brought on by a perfectionist outlook.
9. Individuals Living with BED Often Portray Avoidance Behaviors
Most binge eaters will avoid eating in front of others. This is out of fear that their peers are constantly judging their food intake (which is, of course, merely a projection). So, if you notice that you don’t like to eat in front of people, especially friends and family, this may be a sign that you’re struggling with BED.
10. BED is Not Uncommon
Binge Eating Disorder is more common than you might think. Nearly 2% of all adults throughout the US (close to 4 million men and women) suffer from binge eating disorder. So, if you’re struggling, you are not alone!
Get Help for Binge Eating Disorder at Willow Place for Women
Willow Place for Women is a facility that helps women gain the education, support, and accountability they need to recover from trauma, substance abuse, and eating disorders. If you or a loved one is struggling with binge eating disorder, we are here for you. Contact us today on our website or give us a call at 1-888-651-4212 to speak confidentially with one of our specialists.
**Originally posted on December 19, 2018. Updated on March 20, 2019.