Eating disorders are mental illnesses caused mainly, but not solely, by an altered perception of one’s body image. It can lead to severe medical complications that affect major organs and has the highest mortality rate among all mental illnesses and 12 times higher compared to people without the disorders. It is not a lifestyle choice, or a diet that has gone down the deep end as what many people believe. People suffering from eating disorders most often also suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or substance abuse. This sickness does not discriminate. Both men and women, young and old, rich and poor, can suffer greatly from these disorders. There are four types of eating disorder diagnoses, these are: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders or OSFED.
Binge Eating Disorder, or BED, is characterised by frequent engagement of eating excessive quantities of food for a very short period of time, with loss of control and not being able to stop. Most people who suffer from BED also have habits like eating excessively even if they are not hungry ur even when they are full, they have feelings of guilt over their behavior and would often hide this behavior from others. Binge episodes can be triggered as a compensation for emotions when one is stressed out, angry, or frustrated. Another key feature of BED is its lack of compensatory mechanisms, which are ways to control the binge, like vomiting, using laxatives and diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, and/or the inappropriate misuse of drugs for losing weight. People who have Binge Eating Disorder are mostly obese and overweight.
BED is a serious illness, and treatment should be done by medical professionals trained and equipped to care for such cases. There are researches done that show the benefits of self-help interventions for BED individuals who have low symptom frequencies, or those with low binge frequency, and are motivated to overcome the illness. Here are seven ways to wrestle your way out of binge eating:
Acknowledge and understand the root of the problem
People who binge eat usually cycle from dieting, bingeing, and starting another cycle of dieting and bingeing until they feel like they have lost all control over their situation and they cannot break away. What needs to be understood, however, is that addiction is actually in the belief that you cannot control yourself. What you have lost is not control, but the ability to starve yourself from dieting over and over again. Your body is not wired to survive such situations. You are born with the ability to eat when hungry, and stop when full. However, once you start messing up this inborn way of sustaining yourself by going on diets, your body is always on a hungry mode, since you are not heeding your natural need to eat. The more you diet, the more your body pushes back to remind that you need to eat. So, when you day turns awful, or when you ate something your diet doesn’t include, the dams break and a binge follows. Then the cycle repeats. Knowing this may not mean that there won’t be slip ups in your recovery, but understanding the root of the disorder is a dealbreaker. Now you know you have the ability to stop. And you know you can do it.
Find a person in your life whom you know would be there for you. It could be someone from your family, a teacher, or a friend, as long as that person knows your struggle, you know you are not alone in it. You also need to allow that person to interfere and intervene in your life. While this may seem scary at first, you need to know that you need help, and even if you feel like you can make it alone, it pays not to be isolated and to have someone else share the responsibility of your recovery. If that person is willing, please tell them to understand and learn more about your condition, that way they can help you positively, and you know that their support is based on real knowledge of your condition.
Join a coaching class
There are many life coaching classes you can enrol to, and there will be those that are specific to your needs. Find a class, and stick to it. There might be times that your will feel that it is such a chore to go, and that there are no real change that you see, just hold out and give it time. Engage yourself and commit to do the activities that you need to do. The success of these classes lie in your deep desire for change and freedom in your life.
Yes, the past may be hard to forget, but moving on would be impossible if you can’t make peace with the mistakes you made in your past. And while we are into forgiveness, cut yourself some slack if you slip up in your goal of overcoming binge eating. Take everything a day at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself. Don’t try to make your journey seem like a rigid training. Remember, that it was the attempt to control your diet that drove it to whack in the first place, so make yourself enjoy this time.
Eat as a normal person would
Kicking a habit takes time, but it should not stop you from trying. You can start by feeding the hunger you have, but instead of going for the usual high calorie, low nutrition junk you usually binge on, go for high nourishment foods that can make you feel full and satiated. Start eating three nourishing meals a day. Do not try to restrict your intake. Allow your body to learn how to recognise hunger and satiation, and in order to do this, eat meals that are nutritious and nourishing, and don’t go for fad diets that limit your intake to one or two food groups. Eat varied foods, but cut out the junk food. This is the time to divert the bingeing to foods that will fill up your hunger. Avoid snacking between meals, but if you feel hungry, go for a glass of milk, a piece of fruit, or a handful of nuts. Try to develop healthy eating habits by preparing healthy meals.
After a while, you will notice that your body has returned to a balanced state, and that you are now aware of its hunger and satiation cues. You can then start to see that somehow, you have overcome the guilt of bingeing, and since you have been weaned off from junk food, you are eating normally, as you should. Please note however that there will be times that the temptation to eat some junk food is there, but unlike when you are in a diet and you would try your darndest to avoid that cookie, a normal person with a healthy appetite would indulge in a cookie, ONE cookie. Grab that cookie, and conquer the guilt. Once you see that these foods are not forbidden and restricted, they actually lose the appeal, and eating them is no longer shameful, but enjoyable.
Make your meals a social experience
Bingeing usually happen in secret. It is when you are alone that the temptation to overeat is greatest. So to ease the temptation, try to eat around people as much as possible. Be it with friends, family, or even in a restaurant, eating around people will help take your mind off eating and just enjoy the company of people around you.
Don’t focus on losing weight
Most people give up the effort of dropping the habit when they notice that they are not losing the weight. Weight loss is not the issue at hand. The vicious cycle of dieting and bingeing needs to be stopped. The focus is in developing healthy eating habits that will help the body regain its balance and its ability to monitor its intake, and that is the key to breaking out of bingeing. When you start to eat healthy, and your body heals from what you have gone through, you will see that a healthier and more active lifestyle will be easier to maintain, and getting the ideal weight will come, but should never be the priority.
Binge Eating Disorder affects too many people today, and its management can be done personally, if the problem is still manageable. Never be too embarrassed to ask for help. Know that this illness can be debilitating, but there is always hope. All you need to have is the willingness to overcome.