Eating disorders are among the fastest growing process addictions. These disorders are often thought of as conditions that only affect teenage girls, but men and women of any age can suffer from eating disorders.
Binge eating disorder (BED) refers to the type of eating disorder in which individuals eat large amounts of food without feeling hungry, or to the point of discomfort. Binge eaters lose control when they eat, and often feel shame and embarrassment about their behavior.
According to National Eating Disorders.org, the prevalence of BED is estimated to be approximately 1-5% of the general population. It does affect women slightly more often than men (about 60% of people struggling with binge eating disorder are female, 40% are male), but men and women and individuals of any age can suffer from binge eating.
Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
BED is often associated with anxiety, depression, and other mental illness. Binge eating disorder often causes shame and guilt among sufferers, which can lead to additional mental illness. Many, but not all, of the people who suffer with binge eating disorder are overweight. It can cause the sufferer to experience not only mental and emotional consequences, but physical risks as well. Potential health risks of BED include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, high cholesterol, and muscle and joint strain.
Binge eating disorder, like other eating disorders, is not as much about the food as it is about the stress, unhappiness, and anxiety in the person’s life. Individuals that suffer with binge eating often rely on food or the act of eating to meet a need in their life. They may feel a loss of control because of dysfunctional relationships, past traumatic experiences, or lack of contentedness of their current situation. They feel that eating helps them feel calmer, takes away their anxiety, and manages stress. The problem is that binge eating only makes the person feel good for a few moments, after which time they feel more depressed and unhappy than before.
Celebrities and Eating Disorders
Binge eating disorders and other eating disorders have been brought to light in recent years by the vast number of celebrities and athletes that have suffered with the conditions. Candace Cameron, Paula Abdul, Lily Allen, Justine Bateman, Katie Couric, Sally Field, Tracy Gold Elton John, and Demi Lovato are just a few celebrities that have had a public struggle with binge eating.
Eating disorders are commonly seen among those that feel pressured to look a certain way. Models, athletes, and actors and actresses may be told that they will be more successful if they have a certain body type. Young, impressionable men and women fall into the trap of emulating others’ appearance and actions, and may turn to eating disorders in order to be like their idol. Other people, as in the case of binge eating sufferers, simply use food as a way to deal with the stress and unhappiness in their life, and quickly become hooked on eating or trying to control their food intake.
Eating disorders like binge eating have caused many people to feel hopeless and unloved. These conditions can lead to other health conditions, emotional health problems, and long term issues. Many organizations and advocates, such as the Binge Eating Disorder Association have worked tirelessly in recent years to create awareness for these serious conditions, as well as work to provide treatment for those that are still suffering from them.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
Treatment for binge eating disorder is effective, and many treatment centers are now equipped to help individuals with this type of illness. Timberline Knolls, Sober Recovery, Castlewood, the RecoveryVillage, FitRx Brentwood, and the National Eating Disorders Association are just a few organizations that can help.
Treatment involves individual, group, and sometimes family therapy. Treatment providers will provide medical care and close supervision of patients, as well as nutritional counseling. As a person recovers from an eating disorder, they must not only learn to manage their food intake and develop healthy eating habits, but they must address all the underlying issues that have contributed to the eating disorder. Those that struggle with feelings of insecurity, self loathing, depression, and anxiety will need to develop techniques that enable them to live without relying on food to meet their emotional needs.
Binge eating is a disorder that can be treated, and sufferers can go on to live healthy, happy lives. It is important for anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder to find help as soon as possible, in order for complete recovery to occur.