The Characteristics of Bulimia and Binge Eating

Most people overeat at some stage during their lifetime, and some may feel guilty for doing so, but this is entirely normal. However, for some, binge eating is a real problem and something they have absolutely no control over this eating disorder. After a period of binge eating, they may feel deep shame and some feel so much remorse that they will try to purge themselves of the food they have eaten. They may do this by making themselves sick or by taking laxatives. This can often lead to a devastating cycle of binge eating and purging that can cause terrible physical and mental health problems. This is known as bulimia nervosa and is a very common eating disorder.

The Process of Binge Eating

It is important to note that a true binge is defined as a period in which an excessive amount of food is consumed in one sitting accompanied by an intense feeling of no control. Bulimia sufferers tend to eat in secret and, because they are regularly purging themselves, their weight tends to stay steady. This means that they can keep their secret for many years without their loved ones ever noticing.

Those who suffer from binge eating disorder will eat excessive amounts of food but will not purge themselves. They often gain a lot of weight, putting themselves at risk of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Many people describe binges as frantic and desperate with them stuffing food into their mouths without thinking about what they are doing. Some say they do not even chew their food and will only stop eating when they feel physically sick. It is often described as an overwhelming need to eat.

Those with bulimia will feel a desperate desire to rid themselves of the food they have consumed, and may force themselves to be sick until they feel empty.

Binge Eating Triggers

In many instances, the food eaten during binges will be food considered fattening, filling or high in calories. Many binge eaters go for food that they would normally describe as ‘forbidden’, such as cakes, biscuits, sweets, and chocolate.

Obsessing About Food

There are a number of things that can trigger a binge, with many sufferers describing a binge as following a period where they have been thinking about a particular food. Those who feel hunger may eat anything that they can find instead of finding something small or healthy that will keep the hunger pangs at bay.

Worrying About Weight

Others will eat if they see that their weight has gone up. They may feel as though there is no point in watching what they eat because they are just gaining weight anyway. This can lead to a binge followed by a period of regret and feelings of guilt.

Negative Feelings

Those who feel sad, depressed, miserable, isolated, anxious, lonely, angry, or fearful may reach for food to make them feel better, which can lead to binge eating. Many individuals comfort-eat, but those who suffer from binge eating disorders or bulimia will eat excessive amounts of food before feeling ashamed and guilty.

Compensating for Binge Eating

Bulimics tend to compensate for their binge eating episodes by fasting, dieting, taking laxatives or making themselves sick. Some will take diet pills that are meant to suppress their appetite. Those with eating disorders often feel an intense desire to reverse the effects of their overeating and most will do whatever they feel is necessary to make up for having eaten more than they wanted to. They may go periods without eating, or will exercise intensely for hours at a time.

Getting Help

Eating disorders such as bulimia and binge eating disorder are problems that need to be treated with counselling or therapy. Here at Addiction Helper, we can provide the information and advice required to access the most suitable treatments for your requirements. Contact us today for information on how we can help.

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