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Marisa Rodriguez


HLTH 1020

29 November 2017

What You Need to Know About Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder, also known as BED, is serious when one frequently consumes a

large amount of food and feels unable to stop (Binge Eating Disorder). Someone with this

disorder is excessively overeating and feels out of control and it becomes a regular occurrence

where it's a vicious cycle of feeling and depriving oneself, consuming a lot of food and then

feeling guilty and ashamed and some tend to diet which fuels the

cycle one is trapped in, as seen in the image below (see image to

the left). Some symptoms of this disorder include behavioral and

emotional signs. These signs look like one who eats an unusual

large amount of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a

2-hour period, their eating behavior is out of control, or will eat

even when they are full or not hungry (Binge-Eating disorder).

One also will frequently eat alone or in secret and feel depressed,

disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about their eating. If one has any of these symptoms they

should seek medical help from their doctor to get diagnosed before it worsens over time (Binge-

Eating disorder).

So how is Binge eating diagnosed? It is diagnosed by your doctor and includes a

psychological evaluation and some test to check for other health factors like high cholesterol and

high blood pressure(Health Consequences of Eating Disorders). These test may include a
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physical exam, blood and urine test and a sleep disorder center consultation (Binge-Eating

disorder). With being diagnosed there is a criteria for the diagnosis of binge-eating. For a

diagnosis of binge-eating disorder, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

(DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists these points:

Recurrent episodes of eating an abnormally large amount of food, feeling a lack

of control during bingeing, such as how much you're eating and whether you can

stop eating, binge eating that's associated with at least three of these factors:

eating rapidly; eating until you're uncomfortably full; eating large amounts when

you're not hungry; eating alone out of embarrassment; or feeling disgusted,

depressed or guilty after eating, concern about your binge eating, binge eating at

least once a week for at least three months, binge eating that's not associated with

purging, such as self-induced vomiting, or other compensating behaviors to lose

weight, such as excessive exercise or laxative use (Binge-Eating disorder).

According to multiple sources like the Mayo Clinic, Todays Dietitian and The National

Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases the causes of binge eating is unknown

but there are a combination of factors that increase one's risk for BED . These include but are not

limited to: genetics, biological factors, psychological issues, dieting, emotions and experience

which all increase one's risk according to Christin L. Seher, MS, RD, LD from Todays Dietitian

magazine. Firstly, genetics plays a role in a way that makes one prone to a eating disorder. For

example, if someone in your family has an eating disorder it is more common for a family

member to inherit genes that increase the risk for developing an eating disorder (Binge-Eating

disorder). Secondly, according to Help Guide Organization, they state how Biological

abnormalities can contribute to binge eating...the hypothalamus (the part of your brain that
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controls appetite) may not be sending correct messages about hunger and fullness. Thirdly,

psychological factors impose a risk because most people with BED are depressed or have been

as well as they have low self-esteem and have a difficult time managing and expressing their

emotions which all contribute to binge eating (Binge Eating Disorder). Those who have binge

eating disorder also have triggers that make them binge which includes boredom, poor self-

image and stress (Binge-Eating disorder). Fourthly, according to the authors in Wardlaws

Contemporary Nutrition with social and cultural risk factors it create social pressures for one to

be thin fueling one's emotional eating (Wardlaw et al.). Furthermore, children who are exposed

to frequent negative comments about their weight our bodies are vulnerable to have BED later in

life as well as those who have been sexually abused (Binge Eating Disorder). Lastly, those

who diet and restrict their calorie intake during the day may trigger a binge which can create an

ongoing cycle. Also the authors claim that overly restrictive diets can lead to hunger and a sense

of deprivation that triggers binge eating (Wardlaw et al.).

Do not get BED mixed up with bulimia and anorexia nervosa. A few major differences

are explained in Today's Dietitian magazine by Christin L. Seher, MS, RD, LD where he states


BED people dont engage in excessive exercise, purging, laxative abuse, and

fasting to compensate for the large number of calories consumed. Secondly, the

onset of BED typically occurs during adulthood rather than in adolescence when

the risk of developing other eating disorders is at its greatest. Finally, when

compared with both anorexia and bulimia, BED is more common (Seher).

With binge eating those who are mostly affected are adults, especially women. According

to the National Eating Disorders Association, Russell Marx writes in their blog that it affects
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3.5% of adult women, 2% of men and 1.6% of adolescents. According to Gordon Wardlaw,

author of Fifth edition Wardlaws Contemporary Nutrition, she claims that about 4 million

people among the general US population have this disorder. Although this disorder is usually

diagnosed later in life (Wardlaw et al.). With women in early adulthood is is more common for

them to develop BED and men at midlife. Marx also mentions that BED affects blacks and

whites equally and how one would think that people with obesity would have BED but that is not

the case. Although, up to of people with BED are obese but there is no correlation to obesity

and binge eating. Marx also states Compared with normal weight or obese control groups,

people with BED have higher levels of anxiety and both current and lifetime major depression.

One can see the differences in this disorder.

Binge eating often times lead to weight gain and too much weight causes a number of

risk and serious conditions and diseases. One can develop diabetes where there is too much

glucose in the bloodstream or high cholesterol where there is an excessive consumption of fatty

products increases the likelihood of fatty deposits (cholesterol) building up in the

arteries.(Binge eating disorder, Fetters). Wardlaw points out physical effects like hypertension

from excess weight and high sodium intake or cardiovascular disease which contributes to

deaths from heart attacks and strokes (Wardlaw et al.).Furthermore scientists can even explain

the impulse to snack on crackers or desserts according to Michael Macht who explains in his


Carbohydrates and fats are thought to elevate a persons mood by lowering stress

hormone levelsand in the case of carbohydrates, by increasing the amounts of a

mood-altering chemical messenger in the brain. The taste of foods can also

change a persons emotional state. Sweet foods are thought to induce the release
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of pain-relieving substances in the brain and to activate the brains pleasure

centers in the same way addictive drugs do. .

Adding to this matter, according to Fenster, who is a cardiologist, professional chef, and author

of The Fallacy of the Calorie states binges could definitely cause you not only to gain weight,

but influence how your body reacts to salt, sugar, and fat to make you crave more of those

health-wrecking ingredients. Furthermore, research from the University of Montreal shows that,

just like with drugs, overeating triggers a vicious cycle of emotional highs and lows in the brain

that can lead to progressively worse binging. Plus, Abby Langer , R.D., a nutrition counselor in

Toronto writes that the levels of fats and sugars floating through your bloodstream consistently

rise and fall with each of your binges, you become prone to fatty liver disease. Ones liver has to

process all of the sugars and fats consumed and your liver and heart take an even bigger hit if

you pair your food binges with alcohol. Not to mention Kathleen Murphy, LPC, clinical director

Breathe Life Healing Centers, which works to help people overcome eating disorders states that

overeating upsets the balance of the system and extreme overeating unnecessarily taxes the

body, putting your biological systems through severe stress that can have damaging effects in the

long run (qt. in Fetters).

Dr.Oz explains in his video what a healthy stomach looks like which has a thin wall, with

little folds that is thin so it is allowed to grow if needed once you had a big meal. He talks about

the problem with binge eating, is the very delicate friable structure with little blood vessels going

into it that can be damaged and it can expand a lot. When it expands a lot it can cause big

problems which have to do with your intestines that lay under your stomach. When you binge eat

it begins to swell the stomach and the key organs begin to get crushed and intestines gets

squeezed. When this happens he explains that food can't get passed through. The pancreas can't
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get rid of food that is responsible for digesting the it and it eats itself up. This is why one should

seek treatment...the sooner, the better.

Binge eating is considered a psychological problem with nutritional consequences

according to the Wardlaw (Wardlaw et al.). With this being said the first step in treatment is

addressing an individual's psychological needs in order to see success. Without doing so could

result in seeing no improvement and recovery because unless they find a way to overcome

negative emotions, the nutrition and healthy eating habits will be hard to grasp. When treating

someone with BED the main focus is to decrease and eventually eliminate episodes of binge

eating (Wardlaw et al.). With treating an individual's psychological needs that means they first

need to go to psychological therapy. They need to seek help to recognize buried emotions in

anxiety producing situations. This is why cognitive behavioral therapy is help and comes in

many forms from group therapy or one-on-one sessions or self-help groups. These therapy forms

create an environment of encouragement accountability to overcome one's eating disorder

(Wardlaw et al.). The second thing a binge eater should do is seek a registered dietitian who can

help them through Nutrition Therapy because it will help reduce weight loss where

psychological therapy doesn't always help in. A dietitian helps one develop normal eating

patterns and make smart food choices. They also need to learn how to eat in response to hunger

instead of emotions (Wardlaw et al.). One will also be told to avoid weight-loss diets because

they could trigger a binge from the feeling of food deprivation. Although Nutrition therapy is not

always 100% effective. So the third therapy one needs to possibly seek is pharmacological

therapy although it isn't always effective (Wardlaw et al.). According to Wardlaw, in 2015 the

first drug to be approved for treatment of binge eating is lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse)

which is a stimulant that has been used to treat ADHD. Some antidepressants have also
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demonstrated some success in reducing binge eating like fluoxetine(prozac) and

duloxetine(cymbalta). Although these medications are useful they are not always guarantee to

induce significant weight loss during recovery. But Orlistat(Xenical) and phentermine (Adipex-

P) can help with weight-loss after binge eating is under control (Wardlaw et al.).
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Work cited

Binge Eating Disorder. Binge Eating Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment, and Help for

Compulsive Overeating,


Binge-Eating disorder. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research,

23 Aug. 2017,


Binge eating disorder. Nutritionist Resource,

Fetters, K. Aleisha. Is Occasional Binge Eating Okay? Shape Magazine, Shape Magazine, 8

Apr. 2016,

Health Consequences of Eating Disorders. National Eating Disorders Association,

Marx, Russell. New in the DSM-5: Binge Eating Disorder. National Eating Disorders

Association, 20 Apr. 2015,

Macht, Michael. Feeding the Psyche. Scientific american, vol. 18, no. 5, 2007, pp. 6469.

Jstor, doi:10.18411/a-2017-023.

Seher, Christin L. Binge-Eating Disorder - Learning About This Condition Can Help RDs

Counsel Patients More Effectively. Today's Dietitian, 2012,

The Dr. Oz Show, 19 Sept. 2012,

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Wardlaw, Gordon M., et al. Wardlaws contemporary nutrition / Anne M. Smith, Angela L.

, Colleen K. Spees. McGraw-Hill Education, 2019.

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