Binge Eating Disorder
If you find yourself eating until you feel uncomfortably full or sick., you may be struggling with binge eating. You may find yourself facing difficult emotions and unable to break out of a continuous cycle.
On this page, you can find out more about what binge eating disorder may feel like and the vicious cycle of binging and self-loathing that you may feel trapped in.
You can also find out more about how food addiction and compulsive eating can contribute to binge eating, and psychological and nutritional support can help you break out of binge eating patterns and help you reach wellness.
WHAT IS BINGE EATING DISORDER LIKE?
Binge eating behaviour can make you feel intense feelings of shame and self-loathing for the way you eat. You may experience secretly bingeing on vast amounts of food, even when you are not hungry, to the point of feeling uncomfortably full.
A difficult day at work, a bust-up with a loved one or just a feeling that your life is dull and boring can all be triggers that cause you to binge eat. At some point you have learnt that eating certain treat foods gives you an instant surge of pleasure and a release from the difficult, painful and uncertain stress or emotions that you feel. However, this is quickly followed by feelings of guilt and shame, and being disgusted by your binge eating behaviour.
Often people who binge eat struggle with their weight. You may follow a binge eating episode with restrictive dieting for several days to make up for it. This may create intense cravings for sugar and a physiological drive to eat, setting you up for another binge episode. With your physiology and emotions in chaos, it is easy to feel trapped in what feels like a constant binge eating cycle.
THE CYCLE OF BINGE EATING DISORDER
This is how some of our clients describe feeling trapped in a cycle of binge eating.
A few days into your healthy eating plan and things are going well. Then often out of nowhere you find yourself eating; eating everything that you can lay your hands on.
Cakes, crisps, biscuits, chocolate, bread, cereal, – you know you shouldn’t be eating it, however, you can’t stop yourself compulsively eating, and you complete your binge. Quickly and in secret you devour the food. For a brief period, you are in oblivion, finding release and feeling numb as you escape from your troubles.
You feel a momentary rush of pleasure and excitement. You have left the world and nothing around you feels as important as eating.
All too swiftly though, the food is eaten, the wrappers and packaging strewn on the side and you are perusing the damage. Guilt, shame and self-loathing quickly descend and you cannot believe it has happened again.
You berate yourself for your lack of willpower and feel hopeless to change. Tomorrow, you promise yourself, will be different.
If you struggle with binge eating, you may feel like you have an addiction to food. During a binge eating episode, you may feel like you’re on a ‘high’, and you may find it difficult to stop overeating once you have started.
After binge eating, you may feel deflated and overwhelmed with guilt. Just like any other addiction, you may start isolating yourself from others and start secret eating, to avoid embarrassment and judgment.
You may have tried several times to stop binge eating, but your cravings for food are too powerful to control. Just as with other addictions, you may experience a dopamine crash when you try to ignore your binge cravings, which makes you more sensitive to the sight, smell and taste of food – the cravings become too powerful to ignore.
Some people who struggle with binge eating may find themselves with compulsive eating. You may not feel hungry, but you feel unable to stop yourself from starting a binge.
When you have an obsessive compulsive behaviour to want to eat, it is often a way of diverting away from challenging, painful or overwhelming emotions.
During the binge, you may find yourself compelled to continue eating and unable to stop. This can lead to overeating until you feel uncomfortably full or sick.
It might feel like a mindless habit, where you go into autopilot and become unaware of what you’re doing. For others, you may be aware that you don’t want to continue eating, but find yourself reaching for the next packet anyway.
This can cause conflicting emotions inside you, feeling frustrated with yourself and helpless under the compulsion.
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BINGE EATING DISORDER TREATMENT
The focus of binge eating treatment is to discover which triggers cause you to binge eat, to help you build new ways of coping with the stress / emotions these events bring, and to help you develop new thinking styles to deal with life in a positive and empowering way. Binge eating disorder treatment may include:
- Nutritional interventions to balance your blood and brain chemistry, and help reduce cravings
- Challenge old unhelpful eating habits and patterns, and support you in creating new behaviours in your life around food
- Develop emotional agility so you can name, feel and manage emotions without the need to use food to cut them off
- Identify thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that are keeping you stuck in your binge eating cycle, and learn skills to challenge them
- Build greater levels of self-esteem and self-worth as you start to change the deep beliefs that shape your self-concept of who you are
- Challenge negative body image and construct new positive ways of how you think and feel about your body
- Learn how to manage stress in your life, and find ways to be more assertive in relationships
- Help you build a toolkit of strategies to keep you on track
We believe binge eating disorder treatment needs to look at your nutrition, behaviour, thinking and emotions. Our expertise lies in providing you with the interventions that will help you feel in control of your eating.
CBT FOR BINGE EATING DISORDER
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be a helpful therapeutic approach for tackling binge eating.
CBT might include understanding how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours all interact to maintain your binge eating behaviour.
You will explore the triggers that lead to a binging episode, such as certain emotions or events, and work on challenging thought processes you have surrounding your relationship with food and eating.
Our CBT therapists can work with you to develop and test behavioural experiments to analyse your assumptions about your binge eating, and find healthier ways to cope with your overeating urges.
Planning how you will think and act differently will often lead to a change in your behaviour, and will help you avoid the negative emotions you can feel after bingeing.
THERAPY FOR EMOTIONAL EATING
Sometimes we develop an unhealthy relationship with food due to past experiences and events from our life.
We may seek comfort from food in response to negative emotions, and feel that food is a constant that will not hurt or leave us. Without understanding the reasons for our emotional eating, we may struggle to tackle binge eating episodes.
Our experienced psychotherapists can work with you to explore the deeper rooted psychological issues that have influenced your relationship with food, bringing awareness to patterns of thinking that have developed from past events, and working with you to redefine your relationship with food and eating.
Learn more about Binge Eating Disorder
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