Binge eating is something that up until recently hasn’t been taken very seriously because we all have days where we over-indulge and from time to time, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
However, regular binge eating is a serious medical condition and it is in fact classed as an eating disorder, because it can manifest into a compulsive, out-of-control relationship with food. Typically, a person suffering from this will consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time - even when they’re not hungry.
Classed as ‘binges’, these will often be planned in advance and can involve the person buying ‘special’ foods for the occasion. In rare cases, people describe themselves as being in a dazed state while they’re doing it and sometimes can’t even recall what they ate.
Binges are often conducted in private because the sufferer feels embarrassed, guilty or disgusted with their behaviour when they have finished eating.
Yo-yo dieting and binge eating
It is incorrect to assume that all binge eaters are overweight because episodes are commonly followed by periods of cutting down on food intake. Yo-yo dieting, trying out the latest diet fads, fasting and participating in vigorous exercise between binges is very common in order to prevent noticeable weight gain which can make the disorder very difficult to detect.
Binge eating can be very difficult for sufferers to beat because unlike drug and alcohol dependency, food consumption is necessary for survival and therefore complete abstinence simply isn’t an option.
One of the biggest problems about binge eating is the stigma attached to it. Women in particular find it difficult to come forward because whereas men consuming as much food as they possibly can in a short space of time may be seen as a ‘challenge’ or something to be celebrated, amongst women it’s seen as disgusting and something to be ashamed about.
If you’re worried that you or someone you know may suffer from a binge eating disorder, please feel free to visit our Binge Eating/Overeating Treatment Programme page for more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments available.