Binge eating disorder can be defined as a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating. Everyone has a tendency to over eat on occasion especially during the holiday season however for some, they get an out of control feeling and overeating becomes a more regular occurrence.
Symptoms of binge eating include:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
- Feeling that you’re eating behavior is out of control
- Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
- Only eat when you feel hungry. (It may take you some time to recognize physiological hunger.)
- Use a hunger rating scale. This helps you avoid waiting until you are ravenous to eat. Try using a simple scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = lack of hunger and 5 = “starving” and at risk for eating out of control or choosing trigger foods. Work with your registered dietitian (RD) and therapist to make your own definitions for grades between 1 and 5.
- Notice possible signs of hunger:
- Empty stomach
- Stomach noise/growling
- Feeling irritable/cranky
- Feeling weak or light-headed
- Breaking out into a sweat (this can be a sign of low blood sugar)
- Try to find your own hunger cues and work with your RD and therapist to find more hunger signs. Note: Be sure to get enough fluids. Some people confuse signs of thirst and hunger.
- Identify triggers and alter your environment accordingly. When you are ready, work with your RD and therapist to challenge yourself to safely eat trigger foods. Have a plan, and start slowly. It takes time to normalize eating.
- Avoid eating in the following settings:
- In a car
- In front of a screen (TV, computer, video games)
- While reading
- While cooking
- While standing
- Eat until you are full, knowing you can save some for later if you want to.
- Try not to eat while isolated or alone.
- Enjoy your food.
- Remember there are no “forbidden” foods.
- Allow 20 to 30 minutes from the time you start eating for a signal to get to your brain that your body has had enough food. There is no instant message from the body to the brain to stop eating. Be patient. It takes time to learn to listen to your body
If you feel like you might suffer from binge eating disorder, here are some tips and helpful hints to help resolve the disorder. Do not forget to seek a mental health professional to also help you cope and come up with the best treatment for yourself.
Meaghan Edwards MS, RD/LD
Nutrition care manual