Binge eating disorder is characterized by eating an amount of food that is larger than most people will eat in a short time. It is also marked by a sense of lack of control over the act of eating. It is not the same as occasional overeating; binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that is formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
The diagnostic criteria of binge eating disorder are:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating
- Distress regarding the binge eating
- Episodes of purging are not present, as in bulimia nervosa
- Episodes of binge eating are associated by three or more of the following:
- Eating quicker than normal
- Eating until uncomfortably full
- Eating alone because you feel embarrassed
- Feeling disgusted with yourself, depressed, or guilty afterwards
- The binge eating occurs at least once a week for three months, on average
If you are battling binge eating disorder, know that you are not alone. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States. Here are some tips that can hopefully help you as you heal from this illness.
Stop Letting Your Weight Define You
There is no such thing as a “perfect weight” to strive for. Don’t let the number on the scale rule your life. Your weight is just a number that represents the force of gravity on your person; it is not a measure of your worth as a human being or whether or not you are lovable or likable. While you are recovering from binge eating disorder, try to avoid weighing yourself more than what is necessary.
Give Up on Fad Diets
Studies show that commercial diets don’t work. Juicing, cutting carbohydrates, fasting – these diets encourage a feast/famine mentality that is not healthy, especially for someone recovering from a binge eating disorder. Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation and eat only until you feel content with your meal, not until you’re uncomfortably full.
A full recovery is possible if you get professional help for your binge eating disorder. You need treatment from a professional who knows the best practices for helping you recover. A professional will also truly understand what you’re going through and will do all that they can to help you.
Listen to Your Body
Make the distinction between physiological and emotional hunger. Physiological hunger happens if you deprive yourself of food while emotional hunger occurs as a reaction to your mood or emotions. If you think you’re hungry but your stomach isn’t rumbling or you just ate recently, then you’re likely not really physically hungry. You should let your craving pass.
Identify Your Triggers
One of the best ways to identify the patterns of your binge eating is by keeping a food and mood diary. Write down what you ate or wanted to eat, what caused the urge, how you felt before, during, and after you ate. If you do this, you’ll be able to see a pattern emerge and recognize any triggers you may have so that you can avoid them in the future.
Recovery is an uphill battle. If you have binge eating disorder, it doesn’t mean that you lack self-control. You simply have an illness that needs specialized care. Let go of the guilt and forgive yourself. There is no shame in having binge eating disorder, just as there is no shame in seeking help. Hopefully, these tips will help you on your road to recovery.