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Binge Eating Disorder Definition
What is binge eating disorder?

An illness that resembles bulimia nervosa is binge eating disorder. Like bulimia, the disorder is characterized by episodes of uncontrolled eating or bingeing. However binge eating disorder differs from bulimia because its sufferers do not purge their bodies of excess food. Individuals with binge eating disorders feel that they lose control of themselves when eating. They eat large quantities of food and do not stop until they are uncomfortably full. Usually, they have more difficulty losing weight and keeping it off than do people with other serious weight problems. Most people with the disorder are obese and have a history of weight fluctuations. Binge eating disorder is found in about 2 percent of the general population -- more often in women than men. Recent research shows that binge eating disorder occurs in about 30 percent of people participating in medically supervised weight control programs.

Diagnosing Binge Eating Disorder:

BED is formally characterized according to the following five criteria:
  1. Recurring binge eating episodes. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
    • Eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar amount of time under similar circumstances
    • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode.
  2. The binge eating episodes are associated with three or more of the following:
    • eating much more rapidly than you usually would
    • eating until you feel uncomfortably full
    • eating large amounts of food when you don't physically feel hungry
    • eating alone because of embarrassment at how much you are eating
    • feeling disgusted with yourself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
  3. Binge eating causes emotional and physical stress or remorse.
  4. The binge eating occurs, on average, at least two days a week for six months or more.
  5. The binge eating is not followed by other inappropriate behaviors such as purging, fasting, excessive exercise and does not occur exclusively during episodes of other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

If you find that you have these criteria, it is important to seek support immediately.

How to support those with Binge Eating Disorder?

Several studies have found that people with binge eating disorder may find it harder than other people to stay in weight loss treatment. Binge eaters also may be more likely to regain weight quickly. For these reasons, people with the disorder may require support that focuses on their binge eating before they try to lose weight.
Even those who are not overweight are frequently distressed by their binge eating and may benefit from support.
Several methods can be used to support binge eating disorder.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients techniques to monitor and change their eating habits as well as to change the way they respond to difficult situations.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy helps people examine their relationships with friends and family and to make changes in problem areas.
  • Treatment with medications such as antidepressants may be helpful for some individuals, but drug therapy should be avoided or used as last resort.
  • Self-help groups are an important source of support.

Researchers are still trying to determine which method or combination of methods is the most effective in controlling binge eating disorder. The type of support that is best for an individual is a matter for discussion between the individual and their support group.
If you believe you have binge eating disorder, it's important you realize that you are not alone. Most people who have the disorder have tried unsuccessfully to control it on their own. You may want to seek the help of a support group.




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