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Are You a Binge Eater?

Published on 12. 08. 2014

The holiday season is proof that we all overeat from time to time— an innocent enough reaction to occasionally allowing our eyes and noses rule over our brains and stomachs.  But for binge eaters, overeating is regular and uncontrollable. They use food to cope with stress and other negative emotions, and  like all addictive behaviors, afterwards they feel even worse. Such is the vicious cycle of Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.

  • Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
  • Do you think about food all the time?
  • Do you eat in secret?
  • Do you eat until you feel sick?
  • Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself?
  • Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
  • Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

In 2007, researchers at Harvard published a survey finding that binge eating is by far the most common eating disorder, occurring in 1 in 35 adults, or 2.8 percent — almost twice the combined rate for anorexia (0.6 percent) and bulimia (1 percent)

“I learned where the few all-night mom-and-pop shops were located so I could pick up the evening’s supply on my way home from work. Then I would spend the night eating nonstop, first something sweet, then something salty, then back to sweet, and so on. A half-gallon of ice cream was only the beginning. I was capable of consuming 3,000 calories at a sitting. Many mornings I awakened to find partly chewed food still in my mouth.”

As with most addictions, there are no specific causes for BED, only characteristics that create a common thread.

Biological abnormalities can contribute to binge eating. For example, the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls appetite) may not be sending correct messages about hunger and fullness. 

Social and Cultural
Social pressure to be thin can add to the shame binge eaters feel and fuel their emotional eating. Some parents unwittingly set the stage for binge eating by using food to comfort, dismiss, or reward their children. 

Depression and binge eating are strongly linked. Many binge eaters are either depressed or have been before; others may have trouble with impulse control and managing and expressing their feelings. 

Binge eating disorder can be successfully treated. Therapy can teach how to fight the compulsion to binge, exchange unhealthy habits for newer healthy ones, monitor eating and moods, and develop effective stress-busting skills.

Three types of therapy are commonly considered helpful in the treatment of binge eating disorder:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. One of the main goals is to become more self-aware of how you use food to deal with emotions, triggers and how to avoid or combat them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy also involves education about nutrition, healthy weight loss, and relaxation techniques.

Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on the relationship problems and interpersonal issues that contribute to compulsive eating. The therapist will help improve communication skills and develop healthier relationships with family members and friends. 

Dialectical behavior therapy combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness meditation. The emphasis of therapy is teaching how to accept themselves, tolerate stress better, and regulate their emotions. The therapist will also address unhealthy attitudes you may have about eating, shape, and weight. Dialectical behavior therapy typically includes both individual treatment sessions and weekly group therapy sessions.

Hawaii Island Recovery has highly specialized therapists in all modalities.  Additionally, they offer unique and proven therapies that incorporate the unique qualities of the island.  Natural healing and reflection through equine and dolphin encounters, the serenity and quiet of living among healing aromas and visual cues that invite reflection on a profound level.

How Hawaii Island Recovery can help? Learn more here



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