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Running head: BINGE EATING DISORDER

Eating Disorders: Binge Eating


Nancy Romero
Alverno College

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Binge Eating Disorder

Life is a gift that has been given to us. Our body is the most precious treasure that we
humans have in this life. Our body is the best tool that we have to perform many activities such
as eat, dance, study, express ourselves, and many others that are part of our daily life. Each
individual has the responsibility to take care of their body and to do everything possible to
preserve health. Unfortunately, in the world that we live in now, there are many barriers that
prevent us from keeping our body in good shape. These obstacles can be our daily diet, life
activities, and in my opinion, the one that influences us the most, the media. Society has created
an image of the ideal woman sending the wrong message to many young women. The idea of
beauty has been disturbed by the media when they present the image of a perfect woman as tall,
sexy, and most importantly skinny. This image has caused women to make wrong choices that
lead them to harm their bodies to achieve the image the media has set for women. Eating
disorders are the result of many women trying to obtain acceptance from society. There are
many eating disorders that are killing women trying to fulfill their necessity of being beautiful as
well as being accepted by people that surround them.
Although many of these eating disorders make women lose weight, there is an exception,
binge eating. Binge eating is a disorder that unlike anorexia or bulimia causes a person to eat as
much as possible without watching the amount of food consumed or the calories gained from
each meal. Binge eating is an eating disorder that is developed by people who have no control of
their emotions, suffer from anxiety and depression as the social pressure.

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What is Binge Eating?

Binge eating is an eating disorder that is characterized by compulsive overeating (Smith,


Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012). This disorder is where people consume enormous amount of food
when they are in a situation that makes them feel out of control. This disorder is more common
in adolescents or early adulthood. Binge eating consists of episodes that can last hours or even
the entire day. People with this disorder force themselves to eat even when they are not hungry.
Also binge eaters eat their food as fast as they can without noticing what they are eating or
tasting. (Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012, para.1). Binge eaters often feel guilty and
depressed after an episode. They feel powerless and lose control of the situation. Unlike bulimia
they do not have attempts to make up for the binges. People with this eating disorder are
constantly trying to stop their episodes and eventually feel that they cant. Binge eating can lead
to weight gain or obesity which leads binge eaters to regret their action. Binge eating is a cycle
where people eat to feel better, and then feel bad for what they have done, and then to feel better
again they will have another episode of compulsive eating.
Biological Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating can be a biological disorder. One of the organs that can contribute to binge
eating is the hypothalamus (an organ on the brain that controls appetite). When the
hypothalamus is not operating correctly then the message of hunger and fullness will not be send
correctly. This error might cause the person to be out of control about their eating habits
resulting in a binge episode. Also researchers have found that generic mutations can be the cause
of food addiction. Finally, there is evidence that low levels of serotonin might cause compulsive
eating episodes. (Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012, para.12).

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Social and Cultural Causes of Binge Eating


As many other disorders, binge eating can be also caused by social pressure. The fact that
binge eaters feel shame causes a constant feeling of embarrassment of their body shape. Children
who are exposed to frequent critical comments about their bodies and weight are also vulnerable,
as are those who have been sexually abused in childhood (Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012,
para.13).
Behavioral Symptoms
Binge eating is also manifest in the persons behavior. There are certain behaviors that
binge eaters develop through their disorder. Most of the times these behavioral symptoms are
easy to identify and will be a warning sign for people around them. It is important for those
people to pay attention to these behaviors in order to assist the binge eater and find a treatment to
prevent the health consequences of binge eating disorder. The most common behavioral
symptoms are inability to stop eating or control what they are eating, hiding or stockpiling food
to eat later in secret, and eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes
(Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012).
Emotional Symptoms
Another phase of binge eating disorder is the emotional symptoms. These are also warning
signs that are important to identify to search for professional help. Emotional symptoms can be
manifested in a variety of ways such as feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating,
embarrassment over how much you are eating, never feeling satisfied, and desperation to control
weight and eating habits(Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012, para.8).

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Warning Signs

Binge eating has some warning signs that help family members or close friends of the
binge eaters with the problem that they are developing. It is important for people around these
eaters to learn how to recognize these signs to help the binge eater to overcome this issue and
prevent the consequences of this disorder. The signs of binge eating are: rapid weight gain,
because of the huge amount of food that binge eaters consume, eating large quantities of food
even when they are not hungry, and eating until they are in pain. Also when they use food as a
relief, another sign is change of mood and the lack of self- esteem (The Alliance for Eating
Disorders, 2013). Binge eaters can also develop depression and anxiety as a result of their
eating episodes and their constant feel of guilt.
Diagnosed
Finding out about someone having binge eating disorder can be challenging. Most of the
people with this issue maintain their disorder in secret by hiding whenever they have a binge
episode as well as their denial. A good sign of someone having binge eating disorder is the rapid
weight gain as well as the request of help to rapidly lose weight (Cleveland Clinic Foundation,
2006).
Diagnostic Criteria
Binge eating is characterized by eating in a discrete amount of time, divided into episodes
with a difference of 2 hours between each binge. Binge eaters will consume their meals more
rapidly than normal; they will continue eating even if they are uncomfortably full. Another
criteria point is that binge eaters will eat even when they are not hungry as well as eat alone to
not feel embarrassed by the way they eat as well as the quantities. (The Alliance for Eating

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Disorders, 2013). Binge eating disorder is not associated with other compensatory behaviors
such as fasting or compulsive exercising.
Health Complications
As with other disorders, binge eating also brings health complications and harm the
persons body. Binge eating leads to physical and emotional issues. People with this disorder
present a variety of health complications such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure,
heart disease, sleep apnea, and the most visible, weight gain (Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal,
2012). People with binge eating can also develop mental health conditions like anxiety,
depression, and personality disorders (Binge eating disorder;2009).
Binge Eating Emotional Issues
Emotions are highly related to binge eating disorder. Because of the social pressure that
eaters constantly suffer, the chance that they will develop depression or anxiety is high. They
often feel that they do not have control over their eating habits as well as the situations that life
presents for them daily. Many feelings such as low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, sadness,
embarrassment, and loneliness also contribute to having an eating disorder. In this case food is
the only relief that can satisfy their necessity of feeling well.
How Binge Eating Disorder Differs from Other Eating Disorder
Binge eating is considered an eating disorder as well as anorexia nervosa and bulimia
nervosa. Binge eating is considered an eating disorder because the unhealthy patterns of eating.
Unlike Bulimia, people with binge eating disorder do not try to puke as an alternative of weight
control. Although binge eating and bulimia consist on overeating and not having control on their
emotions, for binge eaters actually try to control their diet, but they often fail (The Nemours
Foundation,2013). Anorexia on the contrary restricts food consuming. People with anorexia

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are constantly worried about their weight and prevent themselves from eating because they
believe they are fat, when in reality they are extremely thin (The Nemours foundation,2013).
Also unlike binge eaters, people suffering from bulimia or anorexia might be obsessed with
exercising in order to lose weight and reach their ideal weight.
Binge Eating Prevention
Preventing binge eating might not be easy to prevent, but it is not impossible. The best option to
help people with this disorder is to identify that they are suffering from it and search for
professional help. Encouraging binge eaters to consume healthy meals as well as maintain a
healthy diet will definitely help. Also searching for help to prevent other eating disorders as well
as psychiatric treatment will help them learn how to manage their emotions and have control of
their life.
Overcoming Binge Eating
It is never too late to overcome an eating disorder. The first step as well as the most
important is recognition, which will help to make the process easier since the person with this
disorder is aware of the problem and is ready to seek help. Overcoming any type of eating
disorder is never easy, in the case of binge eating; it might be more difficult since the root of the
problem is food, a resource that is needed to maintain our body running adequately. But there is
always a solution to every problem. There are many strategies to help overcome binge eating
disorders. Some of the strategies that can help overcome this disorder are managing stress which
is very important to manage binge eating since it is crucial to learn how to handle emotions and
have control of them to avoid a binge episode. Another strategy is to avoid temptation to overeat
and control the quantities of food consumed. Exercising is also helpful because it helps to get rid
of the stress as well as to relieve depression. Probably the most important strategy is to search

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for support and professional help to totally overcome binge eating and live a healthy life (Smith,
Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012). Finding help and strategies to overcome binge eating disorders
might not be easy but it is always important to search for alternatives and new activities to clear
your mind and fight to overcome this disorder.
Treatment
Binge Eating Disorder can be easily treated in therapy. With the help of a professional
therapist overcoming this disorder and the necessity to binge can be solved. There are many
different types of therapies designed to treat binge eating by helping developing better eating
habits, learning how to manage mood more effectively, and stress manage skills. These
therapies are cognitive- behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical therapy.
Another treatment option is group therapy which is led by a trained psychotherapist and can help
to control eating habits as well as to prevent binge episodes. Also support groups might be very
helpful to help overcome binge eating disorder. As any other disease or disorder there are
medications to help combat this disorder such as appetite suppressants, and antidepressants
(Smith, Barston, Segal & Segal, 2012).
Conclusion
Social pressure can lead people to make the wrong choices to be accepted, eating
disorders can destroy many lives as well as disturb the image of real beauty. Our body is the only
place we have to live in. It is important to be aware of the things that are happening to it, and be
conscious that it is our responsibility to take care of it. It is necessary to raise awareness about
this issue to prevent youth from developing eating disorder in order to fit in their social circle or
in any place where beauty means being tall and skinny. Every person is beautiful no matter their

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shape, weight or height. Our body is the most precious treasure that we own. It is crucial to learn
that we are special and beautiful the way we are. We are perfect just the way we are.

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References:

The Alliance for Eating Disorders. (2013). Retrieved from


http://www.allianceforeatingdisorders.com/dsm-bed
Binge eating disorder fact sheet. (2009, June 15). Retrieved from
http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/binge-eatingdisorder.cfm
Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (2006). Retrieved from
http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3800/3822.asp
Smith, M., Barston, S., Segal, R., & Segal, J. (2012,
November). Help guide org. Retrieved from
http://www.helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm
Nemours foundation. (2013). Retrieved from
http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/problems/binge_eating.html?ETF=22113