5 minute reads: Am I binge eating?
When reading about diets, eating and anything else health-related you might come across the phrase binge eating. But what constitutes binge eating compared to binge eating disorder - and should you be concerned?
First things first, what is binge eating?
Binge eating is when you eat a large amount of food (relative to what you normally eat) in a short amount of time while feeling out of control of how much you are eating. We’ve all overeaten every now and again (Christmas anyone….) but it is the lack of control that highlights a binge.
And if you binge at least once a week for three months, you might be considered to have Binge Eating Disorder (BED) but of course, consult a doctor if you are worried about your binge eating.
Facts about binge eating disorder
Some facts all regarding BED and binging isn’t as easy to measure.
- Binge eating disorder accounts for 5% of eating disorder rates in the UK according to BEAT, but worldwide may be the most common but goes undiagnosed.
- Binge eating disorder occurs most often in women in early adulthood (teens to early 20s) and in men in midlife.
- Binge eating disorder is seen among all age groups, races and income levels.
In fact, many experts believe binging is much more common than we initially think - it’s just a social taboo. People may go longer without getting diagnosed, or never be diagnosed.
Do I binge?
Some questions that may indicate if you suffer from binging:
- Do you experience episodes of eating to discomfort?
- Do you find episodes of eating distressing?
- Do you ever feel yourself being disconnected when you eat?
- Do you sometimes eat and afterwards not remember what / how much you’ve eaten?
- Do you have a cupboard/drawer of foods that you save to eat all at once?
- Do you eat in private / away from friends and family because you worry they’re judging you?
- Does eating leave you feeling guilty after?
- Do you find food is your main way of coping with your emotions?
- Do you eat a large quantity of food in response to negative emotions?
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking about food?
If you said yes to one or more of these you may be experiencing binge eating. And as with many eating disorders you don’t have to meet a checklist to be diagnosed - you don’t have to be ‘sick enough’. If you’re worried then consult a healthcare professional.
It’s like a switch is turned on in your mind and the only thing you can do is eat until you physically cannot anymore. It’s terrifying because it’s like the real you is still in your head but has no power over what you are doing and you’ve suddenly become something else.
Some tips from me
- Ditch your diet - if you find you’re restricting and that’s triggering some overeating it may be time to step away from the diets. To the body diet = starvation, and so it will increase cravings and focus on food.
- Make sure you’re not skipping any meals - whether it’s due to logistical reasons or you worrying about your intake. Skipping meals will mean that food intake will be made up elsewhere. Maybe pre-plan or prepare breakfast/lunch so you’re not too busy.
- Start to check in with your own hunger and fullness - maybe using a hunger and fullness scale, or employing some mindfulness methods. This will help you find where you’re full and stop the discomfort of eating more than your body wants.
- Make sure no foods are off limits - it’s the age-old red button analogy. If I say don’t touch it you want to touch it. If you have forbidden foods in a cupboard you will be more likely to grab them when stressed and eat them all at once. Especially if you’re on a diet this causes ‘the last supper effect’ / diet starts tomorrow mentality.
- Socialise socialise socialise - A hallmark of BED and binge eating is feeling guilty and shying away from friends and family. Because you worry they'll judge you. But support can help you address what may be triggering these binges, and gently assist you when you need it. Maybe it’s eating with someone, or calling them when you feel the urge to binge.
The main thing is that it’s okay to ask for help. There are various professionals working in this area, whether you have just started experiencing binging or worry you have a disorder.
If you would like to chat through your relationship with food, and emotional eating, with me just send me a message or book in a discovery call.
Please note this article is aimed to inform and should not be used in place of medical diagnosis/advice.