Binge eating disorder affects millions of Americans, and it can be challenging to detect. In this article, we go through signs of binge eating disorder and risk factors associated with the condition. Read on to find out more about binge eating disorder, including signs and symptoms to look out for.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
What is binge eating disorder, anyways? Binge eating disorder is a condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that describes the compulsive consumption of food. People struggling with binge eating disorder are unable to control their food intake, and often eat very large amounts of food in one sitting.
Someone with binge eating disorder may also try to stop overeating by going on diets. Inevitably, diets fail, which has a significant impact on self-esteem. People with binge eating disorder may also constantly eat in response to emotions, or eat when not feeling hungry.
Keep in mind that someone with binge eating disorder will usually not compensate for bingeing by purging, starving, taking laxatives, or overexercising.
Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder
Other eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can sometimes be easier to detect. For example, individuals struggling with anorexia are usually severely underweight. On the other hand, binge eating disorder can be trickier to pick up on. In some cases, overeating can be normal. We’ve all eaten too many plates of food at Thanksgiving, for example. But when overeating happens too often, this may be a sign that something is wrong. Do you think you or a loved one may have binge eating disorder? Here are a few signs of binge eating disorder to look out for.
- Feeling ashamed or guilty about eating behaviors
- Feeling a loss of control over food consumption
- Eating secretly or hiding the amount you eat
- Attempting to conceal wrappers and food packaging
- Fluctuations in weight
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to diet or control eating habits
- Feeling depressed or anxious in regards to eating habits
- Eating in response to emotions
- Continuing to eat even when you feel full
- Body image insecurities
Physical Repercussions of Binge Eating Disorder
As listed above, many individuals struggling with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese. As a result, there are several clinical signs that may arise at your routine doctor’s appointments, if you are struggling with binge eating disorder and subsequent weight gain. Here are a few health problems that you may experience if you have binge eating disorder and subsequent weight gain.
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Fatty liver disease
What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?
There isn’t one underlying cause of binge eating disorder. Instead, the development of binge eating disorder is likely the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here are a few factors that may increase the risk of developing binge eating disorder:
- Family history: If a close family member struggles with disordered eating patterns, there’s a higher chance that you may too.
- Other mental health problems: Other mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder, and depression may increase the risk of developing binge eating disorder.
- Nutrient deficiencies: Nutrient deficiencies may also contribute to extreme cravings and overeating.
How Can You Manage Binge Eating Disorder?
If you struggle with binge eating disorder, rest assured that there are effective treatment options and management strategies.
Though making dietary changes alone won’t cure binge eating disorder, they are an integral part of the treatment plan for the condition.
1. Eating Enough Protein
Protein is a satiating nutrient because it digests slowly, making you feel more full for longer. Because of this, high-protein foods provide lasting energy that may help curb the urge to overeat.
Amino acids are another reason why getting plenty of protein is critical for managing binge eating disorder. Essential amino acids are the smallest units of protein that the body utilizes to build muscle tissue, neurotransmitters, hormones, and enzymes. Getting optimal ratios of essential amino acids helps ensure that the body has enough building blocks to create hormones like leptin and ghrelin, which help regulate our appetite by notifying us of when we’re hungry and full.
Getting optimal ratios of essential amino acids is also important for maintaining muscle mass, supporting metabolic health, and improving longevity.
So how can you ensure that you’re getting the protein you need? There are a few ways that you can ensure that you’re getting sufficient amounts of protein in your diet.
- High-quality animal proteins: High-quality animal proteins each provide optimal ratios of essential amino acids. Reach for products like egg whites, skim milk, low-fat cheese, chicken breast, turkey breast, and fish.
- Varied plant proteins: Unlike animal proteins, all plant protein sources are missing at least one essential amino acid. As a result, it’s important to eat a variety of plant proteins throughout the day to meet your essential amino acid needs.
- Supplementation: Taking a high-quality supplement is a convenient and healthy way to ensure that you’re getting the essential amino acids you need.
2. Staying Away from Refined Grains and Added Sugars
Both refined grains and added sugars are quickly broken down into glucose, which spikes your blood sugar levels. As a result of high blood sugar levels, we experience an energy rush and an energy crash. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can also have a similar impact on appetite. Moreover, sugar and refined grains can be addicting and trigger binge-eating episodes.
As part of your binge eating treatment plan, try cutting back on your intake of foods that contain refined grains and added sugars. For example, steer clear of foods like white bread, white pasta, white rice, candy, ice cream, sugary breakfast cereals, and pastries.
Instead, choose whole grains for a sustained source of energy. Whole grains have not been industrially processed or have only undergone minimal necessary processing. As a result, the outer layer of the grain has been kept intact, making the product more nutritious and packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein. On the other hand, refined grains have been processed to remove the outer layer, resulting in a starchy end product that is devoid of nutrients. Whole grains tend to be darker in color and nuttier in texture than refined grains.
3. Eating Balanced Meals
When you are eating a meal, try to ensure that you’re eating a balance of all macronutrients. Getting sufficient amounts of fat, protein, and complex carbohydrates in your meal help to keep hunger at bay for longer.
Plus, it’s important to eat a varied diet. Getting a range of fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, lean meat, and dairy can help reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies that can worsen cravings.
Mental Health Care
If you find that you can’t control the amount of food you eat, it’s a good idea to see a mental health care provider. Both specialists in psychiatry and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can play an important role in managing binge eating disorder.
A psychiatrist can evaluate your symptoms and create a treatment plan that fits your needs. In some cases, antidepressants can be helpful for preventing binge eating episodes. Lisdexamfetamine is a stimulant medication that is also used as a treatment for binge eating disorder. Psychotherapy can help reframe habits and find healthier alternatives to managing emotions.
Getting regular physical activity can help regulate your appetite. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity each day to help boost your mood, manage stress, and modulate your appetite. Exercise can be an integral part of the treatment plan for binge eating disorder, along with eating a balanced diet, medications, and psychotherapy,
Treating Physical Comorbidities
Binge eating disorder is often accompanied by weight gain and associated conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. Managing the root cause of binge eating disorder will likely naturally result in weight loss, in turn helping to resolve weight-related issues. However, medications can still be a helpful tool for managing blood pressure and insulin levels.
In addition to eating disorder treatment and interventions, joining a support group can be a crucial strategy for managing binge eating disorder. Regularly attending support group meetings allows you to connect with other people who have similar experiences. Together, your group can share coping strategies and help each other stay accountable.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you have any concerns or warning signs of binge eating disorder, it’s important to reach out to your health care provider. Your physician will be able to evaluate your symptoms and design a treatment plan that works best for your needs.
Conclusion: What Are the Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is a serious condition that often goes undiagnosed because it can be hard to detect. Signs of binge eating disorder include loss of control over food intake, failed attempts at dieting, and eating in secret. If you have binge eating disorder, there are many treatment options to manage the condition and improve your quality of life.