Binge Eating Disorder
What is binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder which is characterized by frequent and reoccurring episodes of binge eating without the presence of compensatory purging behavior. An individual with binge eating disorder does not meet the criteria for a similar eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, because they do not follow up their episodes of binge eating with a purging behavior such a self-inducted vomiting or excessive exercise. An individual with binge eating disorder will typically engage in binge eating after emotional or social triggers, which is also common in individuals with bulimia nervosa. However, unlike anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder—as of 2012—is not considered a separate eating disorder and is currently listed under the umbrella of the more general diagnoses, eating disorder not-otherwise-specified.
What causes binge eating disorder?
It is not known if there is a single factor which causes an individual to develop binge eating disorder. It is believed that there are multiple factors which may contribute to the development of this eating disorder. These factors are genetic or biological factors, social factors and psychological factors. It is believed that binge eating disorder is much more common in families wherein one or more individuals are overweight or obese and in families wherein one or more individuals has or has had binge eating disorder. It is possible that binge eating disorder could be linked to some genetic factor which may also indicate a prevalence for obesity within a family. However, social factors which can influence the development of binge eating disorder are the most well researched in the psychological field. The current modern emphasis on thinness and low body weight can contribute to a low self-image and a lowered self-worth which, in some individuals, may increase the chances of binge eating behavior. It is known that food and binge eating can have both a psychological and biological addictive factor, which is one of the reasons that binge eating is sometimes considered to be an addiction. Other social factors include social pressure from peers and the general presence of negative towards individuals who are overweight or obese, which is a common trait of people who have binge eating disorder. This negativity may have an emotional impact which contributes to the triggering of binge eating episodes.
What are the symptoms of binge eating disorder?
It can be difficult to diagnose binge eating disorder due to the generally secretive nature of the disorder. Individuals with binge eating disorder often go to great lengths to hide their binge eating from family and friends, which may make it hard for an outside party to recognize the presence of an eating disorder. The most common symptoms of binge eating disorder include:
Unexplainable food receipts; individuals with binge eating disorder may make frequent trips to grocery stores or other areas where food is available and will be hesitant to explain the presence of multiple food receipts to family and friends
Hidden stashes of food; due to the nature of binge eating disorder, individuals with the disorder often hide stashes of binge food—usually junk food—to keep their binge eating secret.
Depression; Individuals with binge eating disorder also often suffer from depression due to low self-image and self-worth
Lying about eating food; because an individual with binge eating disorder often feels shame about their binge eating, they often lie or make excuses about the presence of abundant food in their home, about full grocery carts or about the discovery that they have eaten a large amount of food—for example, one psychologist reported that a patient with binge eating disorder would often order binge food from restaurants that delivered and, to hide the fact that all of the food was for themselves, turned on background noise which sounded like a party whenever they answered the door to receive their order.
Weight gain; Individuals with binge eating disorder may engage in such frequent binge eating that they may gain weight with seemingly no or little explanation, especially if their binge eating is kept entirely secret.
It should be noted that although it is much more common for individuals with binge eating disorder to be overweight or obese, anyone at any size can develop this particular eating disorder.
How is binge eating disorder diagnosed?
Binge eating disorder, as of the DSM-IV in 2012, is not considered to be its own separate diagnoses. It is currently diagnosed as a subset of an eating disorder not-otherwise-specified, which is essentially the umbrella diagnoses for eating disorders outside of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. However, the current revision plans for the DSM-V indicate that binge eating disorder will be given its own diagnoses outside of an eating disorder not-otherwise-specified.
The guidelines for diagnoses binge eating disorder are somewhat similar to the guidelines for another eating disorder, bulimia nervosa. Both eating disorders are characterized by the presence of recurrent binge eating, for example. However, binge eating disorder does not contain criteria which indicates the occurrence of purging behavior. The guidelines for diagnosing binge eating disorder include the following: Recurrent episodes of binge eating behavior, or eating a large quantity of food in a reasonably short period of time while feeling out of control of the situation; these binge eating episodes occur at least twice a week for about six months time; the binge eating episodes are not followed by compensatory behavior such as self-indicated vomiting. Additionally, binges in an individual with binge eating disorder must be associated with at least three of the following: eating food at an unusually rapid pace; eating food until the stomach feels uncomfortably full; eating large quantities of food without feeling physically hungry; eating alone, hiding food or lying about eating because of feelings of shame.
How is binge eating disorder treated?
Current NLP specialists who treat eating disorders indicate that treatment which targets emotional, psychological and physical factors of binge eating disorder are the most successful methods of treatment. NLP may also be beneficial when targeting the emotional factors of binge eating disorder, such as low-self worth and self-esteem which may lead to episodes of binge eating.