Are You a Binger?

Are you a binger eater? A binge is defined as a short time period devoted to indulging in an activity. Binge eating involves excessive food intake over a short period of time. Binge eaters will frequently choose foods they have been restricting to binge on, such as chips, cookies, ice cream, breads. However, in other situations they may select anything available that is edible including bread and butter, cereal, graham crackers, cool whip or bags of vegetables. Binge eaters may make a special trip to purchase their binge foods and possibly eat all of the food in their car before arriving home. Binge eating is often a solitary activity, carried out in secret which generates significant remorse, guilt, shame, and disgust. Binge episodes can be very costly, considering the expense of the binge foods several times a week/month.

Binge eating behaviors stand in for underlying processes involving self-regulation, self-esteem, co-dependency, anxiety and worry.
So, what if you binge eat? The health consequences are significant.  They can lead to
o      high blood pressure
o      high cholesterol
o      heart disease as a result of
·       elevated triglyceride levels
·       secondary diabetes
·       gallbladder disease
The prevalence and recognition of binge eating disorder is growing rapidly. The fifth edition of “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM V) will be released in May 2013, and for the first time ‘binge eating disorder- BED’ will be included as a mental illness.
Controversy exists as to whether BED is actually a mental illness or problematic eating in an otherwise normal person. The thought is if BED is now a diagnosable disorder, patients may receive greater help from their insurance coverage which may or may not actually happen.
Criteria for diagnosis of BED according to DSM-V
Recurrent episodes of binge eating, characterized by both of the following:

– eating in a discrete period of time (within any 2 hr period) an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.

– a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

§    Eating much more rapidly than normal
§    Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
§    Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
§    Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
§    Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed or very guilty after overeating
§    Marked distress regarding binge eating is present
§    The binge eating occurs on average at least one day a week for 6 months
§    Binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as purging, fasting, excessive exercise
BED is differentiated from obesity in terms of greater concerns about shape and weight, more personality disturbance and a higher likelihood of psychiatric co- morbidity in the form of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. BED is also associated with lower quality of life than obesity.
If you are living with the shame, guilt, frustration of frequent or occasional binge eating episodes, seek help from a registered dietitian who is experienced with behavioral work in this area. Do not consult with someone who is going to talk about meal plans and eat this, not that! cb