“As I searched for food perfection, and as I gained weight, I began to realize that the race for perfection in anything was the path to destruction.”
Rachael Rose Steil , Running in Silence: My Drive for Perfection and the Eating Disorder That Fed It
In today’s era, the increase in awareness about eating right and staying fit has led to many eating disorders, especially in the millennials.
These maladies, are not merely character flaws but are evident disorders. But it’s difficult to simply look at an individual and diagnose the ailment. A particular person is suffering from an eating disorder can be deduced, by recording his/her history and taking in account the signs and symptoms.
One of the most common eating disorder, which at present has affected at least 2.8 million adults in America is Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D)
Binge Eating Disorder was first coined in 1959 by a psychiatrist, and researcher Albert Stunkard, as Night Eating Syndrome. Further, the term Binge Eating Disorder was established to explain a similar binge eating behaviour without the nocturnal aspect.
It affects both normal weighing men and women but again instances are seen more in the females. Patients grapple with emotions of guilt and disgust and are often also associated with depression or anxiety. These underlying conditions compel them to over eat(often very quickly and to the point of discomfort) thus leading to obesity, which can indirectly reinforce further compulsive eating. They feel a sense of satisfaction when they indulge themselves in binge eating; thus creating a vicious cycle.
The most common factors contributing are:
Genetic and psychological (stress induced)
Other factors are:
- Low self-esteem and self respect
- Feeling of hopelessness
copingup with emotions
Cultural or Societal (Peer pressure):
- An over-emphasis on appearance
- Beauty standards that promote being thin is being beautiful
- To avoid being body shamed and to fit in the scrutinizing society.
There are psychological and physical problems associated with binge eating which are:
- Poor quality of life
- Difficulties functioning at work, and personal life.
- Related medical conditions, such as joint aches, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and sleep-related breathing disorders
Psychiatric disorders include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Signs and Symptoms:
- Indulging in large amount of foods in short periods of time.
- Eating until one feels full and uncomfortable.
- Eating rapidly and frequently mostly in secret.
- Feeling depressed and guilty after the eating episode.
- Frequent dieting, possibly without weight loss.
The severity of the disorder is determined by how often episodes of bingeing occur during one week.
Psychological evaluation, including history of eating habits is recommended.
Labs for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, GERD and some sleep-related breathing disorders are also conducted.
The main goal in treating B.E.D is to provide both a healthy mind and body to the patient.
This is achieved through:
Psychotherapy and Counselling
Examples of psychotherapy include:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT basically helps to control the trigger factors for binge eating and also helps one cope better with depressed mood and eliminate the negative thoughts.
Interpersonal psychotherapy The goal of this therapy is to improve the interpersonal skills of the patient and thus reduce triggers due to problematic and unhealthy relationships.
Dialectical behaviour therapy. This therapy strengthens the patient’s will power and behavioural skills.
Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse), a drug for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, is the first line of drug approved by FDA to treat moderate to severe binge-eating disorder in adults. Being a stimulant, it can be easily abused
Other types of medications include:
Topiramate (Topamax), an anticonvulsant.
Behavioural weight-loss programs
Many people have a history of failed attempts to shed those extra pounds. However, weight-loss programs are recommended only when binge-eating disorder is treated, because dieting may further trigger more binge-eating episodes, making weight loss not possible.
Such programs are carried under medical supervision so that nutritional requirements are met.