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Binge Eating Disorder




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BLOGATHON 2009

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Binge Eating Disorder

Facts, information, and what to do with it

Photo

Something I avoid now...


So what am I doing, sitting in the same seat for a whole day, blogging for a charity that's trying to help young people with eating disorders? I'm continuing a healing process that began because of a really disappointing and sad conversation I had with a man about why we couldn't be in a relationship at the time, even though we appreciated each other deeply. In that conversation we also discussed my weight, because I brought it up, and I realized  by the way I was talking that I truly hated myself and something was obviously wrong. That conversation could have been a total disaster, were it not for the fact that I was in a pretty good place in my life at the time. Mere days later, I looked up eating disorders and found out that the list of symptoms matched everything about my experience with food since puberty. And then I began doing everything I could to expose it, to draw it out of myself. I was doctor-diagnosed in April of this year with Binge Eating Disorder. And along the way, that same man started helping me fix my broken mirror when he told me I was attractive and I had to believe him. Dozens of friends both supported and actively helped me to regulate myself without being negatively obsessive. And here, mere months later, I haven't had a full out binge episode since I nailed down the problem. Sure, I've struggled with eating too much for emotions, but nothing like what I used to do. Food can still be my crutch sometimes, but I am no longer drawn to it without being able to stop.

I did a whole lot of research to find ways to get out of it. Here is what I found. I have not referenced the following, but you should be able to search and find lots of information on your own.

Binge eating is similar to another eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, and some experts think it may be a form of bulimia. But unlike people with bulimia, who purge after eating, people with binge-eating disorder don't try to rid themselves of the extra calories they consume by self-induced vomiting, overexercising or other inappropriate methods. That's why most people with binge-eating disorder are overweight. In fact, other theories say binge eating may be a type of obesity disorder. As in other eating disorders, in binge-eating disorder people are often overly focused on — and unhappy with — their weight, body shape and appearance.

Diagnostics:

Binge eating is associated with at least three of these factors: eating rapidly; eating until uncomfortably full; eating large amounts when not hungry; eating alone out of embarrassment; feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after eating.

Factors that account for BID:

Biological
Some people may be biologically vulnerable to developing binge-eating disorder. Both genes and brain chemicals may be involved in the disorder. In addition, researchers are studying appetite regulation of the central nervous system for clues, along with gastrointestinal changes that might shed light on causes.

Psychological
People with binge-eating disorder may have psychological and emotional characteristics that contribute to the disease. They may have low self-worth, for instance. They may have trouble controlling impulsive behaviours, managing their moods or expressing anger.

Socio-Cultural
Modern Western culture often cultivates and reinforces a desire for thinness. Although most people who have binge-eating disorder are overweight, they're acutely aware of their body shape and appearance and berate themselves after eating binges. Some people with binge-eating disorder have a history of being sexually abused.


The first US national survey of individuals with eating disorders shows that binge eating disorder is more prevalent than either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. The study, conducted by researchers at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, also calls binge eating disorder a "major public health burden" because of its direct link to severe obesity and other serious health effects. "For the first time, we have nationally representative data on eating disorders. These data clearly show that binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder," says lead author James I. Hudson, MD, ScD, director of the Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Program at McLean Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. [...] Binge eating disorder, a condition in which individuals experience frequent uncontrolled eating binges without purging, afflicts 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men at some point in their lives.

Something I found out from my doctor is that generally eating disorders come with periods of fasting and starving oneself - long term eating disorders are a combination of anorexic and bulimic urges, because your brain's food stuff is just screwed up. My pattern was generally to starve myself and then binge. That's fairly typical. I got very, very good at hiding how much I ate from people. It was easy with the way restaurant food was served. Buffets are easy to sneak food from. Potlucks are a perfect place for binging. Parties. Any occassion with human beings is practically binge central.

One of the things that I found out is that true binges are often like going into a trance. That was actually the thing I read that utterly convinced me that this is what I was doing. I would often begin to eat and then look down at an empty plate. I binged nearly every meal like that for years of my life, especially when stress was high.

I grew up in a farmer-descendant, prairie, Mennonite family. It's all about the food, all about the comfort of it, and it's a big family thing to eat together and to eat a lot. My Grandma loved to cook amazing meals. There's nothing wrong with any of this except when an eating disorder is involved So when I hit puberty I was torn between the love and hate pull of food.

At my peak weight I hit 330 pounds, a size 28 in women's jeans. This was in 2007 when I was in 3rd year University. I was already losing weight before I figured out the binge disorder, but now I'm losing more. It's very encouraging. I am now a size 20, at around 270-280 pounds. I don't actually know how much I weigh right now, because I avoid scales and numeration. I want to be healthy, I don't want to be a certain size.

Ways To Fix Binge Eating Disorder

Isn't that just the key everyone wants to know? I've gotten through many of these steps, I've lost quite a lot of weight already, and I'm becoming much less obsessive.

Drugs, especially SSRIs - my doctor said I was doing pretty good without them and I should keep doing what I'm doing, but more severe cases with less support than I have may need this sort of help. Avoid dieting and talking about food - of course, all your friends are trying to figure out what's wrong and how to help you, so that one might take a while. I'm still exhausted from talking about food constantly. Don't stock lots of food. (I've started buying groceries a week at a time.) Don't isolate yourself from people who care. No matter how many times they trigger and irrational *poof* of anger from the disorder. Find healthy ways to nurture yourself and do things you enjoy.

Oh, and my personal favourite: "Consider journaling about your feelings and behaviors." No, really?