Binge eating disorder (BED) is an officially recognized eating disorder in 2013, with publication in the fifth edition of the Manual of Diagnosis and Statistical of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Although the recognition of overeating as a mental disorder is recent, in daily life the disorder of compulsive eating is the struggle of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. How to combat overeating?
In the United States, compulsive eating or overeating is the most common eating disorder in both women and men.
A statistic of the American Institute for Mental Health shows that in most cases, overeating is a long-lasting problem throughout life.
The same statistic said that the average age for compulsive eating is 25 years, although most episodes begin in adolescence.
Compulsive eating is the existence of recurrent episodes in which a large amount of food is consumed in a short period of time (compared to how most people are eating normally).
During compulsive eating episodes, the affected person feels unattended on the amount of food they consume and tends to eat very quickly, whether they are really hungry or not.
Often, after an episode of compulsive eating, feelings of guilt, shame, mischief, disgust for one’s own personality appear. For this reason, most people who suffer from this disorder hide it from family and friends and eat in secret.
However It is emphasized that compulsive eating should not overlap with the idea of rare overeating.
Regular overeating is rather sporadic and voluntary and often caused by food cravings, variety of dishes, social habits, everyday program, boredom, and so on.
Symptoms of overeating
As we say, the differentiation of compulsive eating disorder overload is often problematic.
In principle, we can talk about the existence of a compulsive disorder in case the episodes are repeated at least once a week for at least three months. Thus, regular but frequent overeating episodes may mean compulsive eating disorder.
What are the signs of compulsive eating:
- The person eats greedy, much faster than he would normally eat
- The person eats much, until a feeling of discomfort occurs because of overflow
- The affected person eats much even when he is not hungry (not to be confused with sporadic cravings)
- There is a constant preference for eating alone, as there is a sense of shame over the amount of ingested food. Often the person is eating in secret (long and fast, in order not to be discovered).
- During compulsive eating, the person feels pleasure, safety, he feels comfortable, but immediately after the unpleasant feeling of over-fullness, these states disappear.
- Following compulsive eating episodes, a feeling of guilt and low self-esteem occur.
- The person feels constantly sad and depressed due to eating disorders.
- Unlike bulimia, the person does not resort to compensation mechanisms through the voluntary provocation of vomiting or by extenuating physical training.
- Food is used as a means of escape, reward, refuge in a stressful situation, loneliness, subdued emotional state or as a stress management mechanism.
Causes and risk factors
A study indicates a certain implication of genetic factors in the predisposition to eating disorders such as bulimia and overeating.
A study published in 2006 in Arch Gen Psychiatry mentions that complications at birth and even maternal health during pregnancy could be implicated.
Overeating disorder may also occur due to depression, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or borderline disorder, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Family conflicts, dissatisfaction with own sentimental life, financial instability, professional dissatisfaction are also factors that can create the “favorable” context for overeating occurrence.
Some people get refuge in food after experiencing a strong emotional trauma that has disturbed their psychological balance.
Chronic stress, social pressure, and low self-esteem can intervene in this gear, transforming episodes of overeating into reward mechanisms for failure, monotony, and even loneliness.
The current society is marked by sedentary lifestyle and less physical activity, the appetite for rich calorie foods, the multitude of fast-food (energy and nutritionally unbalanced) solutions, lazy customs and facilities that feed this cycle (cars, escalators, lifts, remote controls, electronic devices that do tasks in our place) and static entertainment and relaxation (TV, computer, games console, DVD player, etc.)
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