Binge Eating

September 28, 2013

Many people who are binge eaters don’t realize that this is an eating disorder that is even more common and more dangerous than bulimia. The difference between bulimia and binge eating is that with bulimia, you know that you have a disorder because it involves bingeing and then sticking your finger down your throat to induce vomiting.

With binge eating, you may not even be aware that you are eating excessively because you don’t take laxatives or try to induce vomiting to stop you from gaining weight. Yet, according to a new study of 20,635 people by the World Health Organization, the effects of binge eating rival bulimia and underscores the life-long impairment that afflicts those who struggle with chronic bouts of uncontrolled eating.

Because binge eating is often done alone or at all-you-can-eat restaurants where people routinely stuff their faces with as much food as they can eat, it is often overlooked as being more dangerous than bulimia.

Teenagers are often encouraged to eat large amounts of food with adults saying things like “He’s a growing boy; he needs to eat more.” What they don’t realize is that the earlier this binge eating starts, the greater the risk for health problems from type 2 diabetes to bone problems.

Binge eating is especially hard to diagnose in people whose job it is to cook for a family. They are always tasting the food as it’s cooking, then sitting down to eat a full dinner with the rest of the family. After dinner, when they are putting everything away, they are often seen eating the leftovers without even realizing the quantity of food they have already consumed.

A woman once told me about a couple she had invited to dinner. They were both grossly overweight so she made two large chickens, thinking there would be more than enough to eat for everyone. While she was in the kitchen plating the vegetables and salad, these two guests ate both chickens, in their entirety, before she got back to the table with the other courses.

Most people don’t go to that extreme. At least in public. But the binge eater can still put away large quantities of food in private with no one being any the wiser.

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