Binge eating is a pattern of disordered eating which consists of episodes of uncontrollable eating. During such binges, an individual rapidly consumes an excessive amount of food. It could occur in people of all ages and genders and across different cultures and in any age. In most cases, the traces of binge eating are seen at adolescence.
The key features of binge eating include:
- Eating a very large amount of food within a relatively short period of time (e.g. within two hours) and/or
- Feeling a sense of loss of control while eating (e.g. feeling unable to stop yourself from eating)
When such episodes are a normal feature, a couple of times a week to once a day, it is considered a disorder.
Reason of binge eating could be many and differ from person to person. Both physiological and psychological factors could contribute to binge eating.
The body goes through different stages of hunger and the hunger builds up gradually. Many times we tend to ignore our body’s signals of hunger due to our busy schedules, till the time we are very, very hungry. This stage is often called as “famished/ravenous/starvation” modes or worse “physically faint”. At this stage, an individual would tend to eat uncontrollably as quick energy giving foods as at this stage the brain and the stomach is starved for energy.
The hunger scale ranges from
- Physically faint
- Fairly hungry
- Slightly hungry
- Pleasantly satisfied
1 is the highest form of hunger and 10 is the extreme condition of fullness.
An individual generally tends to binge eat to satisfy an emotion or to satisfy a sense of deprivation. Emotions related to binge eating are generally negative such as “stress, anger, humiliation, etc.”. Indulging in food at this stage addresses two important factors here – comfort and disassociation or distraction. Favourite foods offer comfort and it also helps the individual to move away from the issue. Many times, one sees an increase in episodes of binge eating after an individual has taken on an unscientific diet program or a fad diet.
Solutions to overcome binge eating
Eating balanced nutrition at regular intervals (typically every 3 to 4 hours) will avoid getting to the famished state and therefore reduce episodes of binge eating.
Indulging in a physical activity can be a great stress buster and will also release endorphins that shift the mood. Post indulging in any form of exercise of one’s choice, people are in a much better frame of mind to deal with the issue.
Identifying triggers of binge eating and recognising them as an issue is the first step towards correcting the disorder. A disorder like binge eating can be easily corrected by using scientific methods, cognitive behavioural therapy or going to a specialist in this area.
For more information on stress eating, refer to emotional eating.
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- The success rate of sustainability of weight loss and the ability to follow an appropriate nutrition plan is as low as 1%. Using scientific mind and body processes, we can improve it many fold
- Emotional Eating, stress eating, binge eating and cravings are the biggest reasons for unsustainable weight loss. We identify the issue accurately and help you move out of the condition comfortably with scientific mind and body processes