Contributed by: Rachana Arya
Despite its widespread prevalence, binge eating disorder is an often misunderstood condition that lacks proper awareness among those personally impacted and their loved ones. This lack of understanding is because BED can be difficult to spot since binge bouts cause shame and guilt, which leads to secrecy.
What is a binge eating disorder?
BED is a severe, life-threatening, yet treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming unusually large amounts of food in one sitting, while the feeling of loss of control during the episode, coupled with immense shame and guilt afterward.
Common myths around BED
Because binge eating can be so entwined with poor self-image and other negative emotions, awareness of signs, symptoms, and treatment interventions is important so as to allow people with the problem to seek treatment without the fear of being judged.
Myth #1: Binge eating isn’t an actual condition
Absolute fiction. Binge eating disorder is a condition in which a person eats excessively. It’s a psychiatric health problem that necessitates prompt and effective treatment. It can have a substantial impact on one’s overall health and quality of life, including psychological issues. Some of the psychological effects include sadness, anxiety, and acute feelings of poor self-worth, as well as physical ailments like heart disease, cholesterol problems, and high blood pressure.
Myth #2: Overeating is the same as binge eating disorder
These phrases are frequently and wrongly used interchangeably. While both types require eating past a certain point – yet they have different meanings. Unlike overeating, which is an unanticipated session of overeating – which we all do from time to time – BED is an all-consuming and painful behavior that requires professional support. They can’t stop eating, even if they want to, during a binge eating episode because they don’t have control over what they eat. Another distinguishing feature is the severe feeling of shame and guilt that follows those eating episodes.
Myth #3: Binge eating disorder is a personal choice
Binge eating is not a “lifestyle choice” or a “phase.” It is not something that people just “catch” for a short period of time. It is a real, complicated, and debilitating condition with major implications for one’s health, productivity, and relationships. It is characterized by a variety of emotional (anxiety, mood swings, low self-worth, depression, social isolation) and medical (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease) complications.
Myth #4: People who binge eat are all obese
This is simply not true. Although BED is linked to obesity, it impacts people of all body sizes. BED can affect persons who are normal weight, overweight, or obese. It’s impossible to detect if someone has BED simply by looking at them.
Myth #5: BED affects only women
It’s a common misconception that eating disorders mainly affect women and girls – we know this to be untrue for all eating disorder diagnoses. Both men and women are affected by Binge Eating Disorder. Men are about five times more likely to be impacted by BED than other eating disorders. However, men may find it more difficult to seek therapy because of the belief that eating problems are only found in women. They may be embarrassed to come forward, or they may not even realize that something is wrong.
Myth #6: It isn’t possible to recover from BED
People suffering from BED. have a variety of management options. Psychotherapy can help address the emotional issues that may contribute to eating patterns. Other interventions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can also help to cope better with issues that can trigger binge-eating episodes, Antidepressants and certain anti-seizure medications have also been proven to assist in research studies — particularly when used in conjunction with therapy. These treatments can help you cut down on your bingeing.
Myth #7: Binge eating is not as dangerous as anorexia
BED, like other eating disorders, puts you at risk for major health problems. Many persons who suffer from it also suffer from other emotional or mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. They have a higher risk of developing substance misuse issues. If left untreated, this disorder can be incredibly dangerous and lead to the following:
Myth #8: Binge eating disorder can be easily treated – simply, ‘eat less’
A person’s binge eating problem cannot be totally treated by changing the type or amount of food they eat. It’s a complicated condition in which food wields a lot of power and compulsion. The meals that a person is most likely to binge on are those that they are attempting to avoid. Emotional desires and painful life situations are common triggers for binge eating.
Binge eating episodes can be reduced (and eventually eliminated) by making significant behavioral changes. This is a time-consuming process that frequently necessitates the assistance of a group of experts. Start talking to your family doctor if you suspect you could have B.E.D. Even if you don’t want to talk about it, asking for help is the first step toward healing.
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