Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is when you consume large amounts of food in a short period of time (two hours or less) two or more times a week, with a lack of control of how much you are eating, for a period of at least six months.

Those are characteristics of binge eating which can be found in the DSM-IV which includes the criteria above as well as such things as feeling ashamed about eating, being unable to stop eating, and eating much more rapidly than normal. BED is a mental illness which affects more people (3.5% of women and 2% of men) than Anorexia or Bulimia.

I sat in my car today parked in a local large supermarket parking lot eating fast food. One car pulled up in the spot next to me, then another on the other side. We were parked way out in the lot, away from most other cars near a garbage can. All three of us sat eating fast food in our cars. I don't know if the other two people have a binge eating disorder, but I do. Hiding in your car, eating as much food as you can, and throwing the wrappers away in a public garbage can so no one knows what you ate - that is a typical binge eater. 

Here is what binge eating disorder is like from my experience of it:
  • You eat tons and tons of food and you can't stop eating even when you feel sick
  • You hide the food you eat by eating in the car, bathroom, or other "safe" place
  • You eat food out of the garbage can
  • You eat quickly, like a pack of wild wolves ripping apart a carcass
  • You may be thin or may be overweight- BED does not descriminate based on size
  • You think about food all day and dream about food at night
  • You plan out where you will get your next binge foods from and how you will hide them
  • You know all the stores where you can buy food and their hours, especially the ones open after 1am. 
  • You plan out your food buying so none of the cashiers ever get to know you very well and you will not get "caught" as having a problem
  • You choose food over time with friends and family
  • You may miss work or events because you have eaten so much it makes you
  • You wish you could stop and just can't which causes extreme angst and the feeling that you are worthless 
  • You gain 14 pounds in two weeks
  • Your disorder ruins your life by making you physially and emotionally ill due to all the chemicals and calories you are eating
Gingerbread House. Photo by Jeff Norris

I have had BED since a very young age. I remember sneaking food from the pantry and running up into my room to eat it. Hiding the wrappers in my bookbag until I could find a safe place to throw them out. I have never really delt with my eating disorder though. Why? Because it is extremely embarassing. Actually, in my exerience, telling someone I am a binge eater has caused more ridicule and pain than telling them I have bipolar disorder. People just think you are fat, lazy, and don't have enough willpower. They find you disgusting, repulsive, and weak.

I dieted and kept the weight off for two years actually by eating unhealthy foods in small amounts. I was still a binge eater but it was just infrequent enough that I could excerise off the calories and stay at a decent weight that did not look too big. The problem was that all I focused on was loosing weight, not treating the underlying disorder of binge eating.

I am finally addressing the binge eating disorder because I have to take care of it so I can follow the eating plan needed to treat my bipolar and because I have gained 20 pounds in the last two months.

As I go through this process, I will let you all know how it goes and what might be helpful to other people with BED. I already have a few book reviews in the works.


Rev. Katie

Read more here:
Binge Eating Disorder

1 comment:

  1. There should really be a support from friends or families that can be called as intervention eating disorder to help the patient.