While the exact causes for binge eating disorder are elusive, researchers have come to understand that binge eating illness results from a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors.
Binge eating disorder is associated with certain psychological issues. About half of all binge eaters have a history of depression. People with binge eating disorder often complain that anger, sadness, boredom, or anxiety can spark a binge eating episode. Impulsive behavior or feelings of loneliness may be other factors for binge eating disorder.
Binge eating disorder also tends to run in families. These households overemphasis the merits of food and use it as a reward or to soothe ruffled emotions. Children who are criticized about their body images or children who have been sexually abused are at risk for binge eating disorder.
Scientists are also exploring the possibility of a link between brain chemistry and eating disorders. There is some evidence that low levels of serotonin play a role in binge eating. It is also suspected that the hypothalamus may not be sending correct messages about being full or being hungry in the brain of those people who have binge eating disorder.
Stop Binge Eating
There are things a person can do to help address the problem of binge eating.
The first is stress management. A person needs to find alternative, functional methods to handle stress such as exercise, meditation, sensory relaxation, and breathing exercises.
Eat three healthy meals daily along with healthy snacks. Maintain scheduled mealtimes and do not skip meals because this can promote binge eating at some other point in the day.
Remove junk food from the house and stop dieting. Eat nutritious foods in moderation and stop eating when you feel full.
Stay busy to combat boredom.
Get the sleep you need and take naps if you need to.
Keep a food diary such as FitDay, and seek professional help if necessary.
Also, see my article, “What To Do About Binge Eating” for a list of associations offering free resources to download and hotline numbers to call.
Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder
A comprehensive treatment plan for binge eating disorder will be needed. Professional help will address individual patient needs.
Cognitive therapy, also called behavioral therapy, can be used to address faulty thought processes or behaviors. Counseling sessions will help the binge eater develop a more practical attitude about food and weight. As well, counseling can help adjust the way a person approaches situations in general.
A psychiatrist may prescribe medications to address the depression and anxiety that often accompany binge eating. Nutrition counseling may be implemented to help reestablish normal eating patterns.
Prior to meeting with a professional you might want to write down any symptoms you are experiencing. Include any important personal information. Be sure to bring a list of medication you are taking. And ask a friend or family member if they would be willing to accompany you on your first visit. In addition, make a list of any questions you need answered.
Group therapy with a trained professional can explore concepts ranging from eating healthy to coping with urges to binge eat. Support groups, such as Overeaters Annonymous, are led by experienced group members and can be useful. In these groups, members share advice and lend support to one another.
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