Occasional overeating is a natural thing, for example when there is a celebration or when gathering with friends. However, if done continuously, overeating can indicate binge eating disorder. If left unchecked, this condition can adversely affect health.
Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by guilt and discomfort after overeating, and this is done repeatedly.
In the long run, binge eating disorder will not only interfere with physical health, but also cause anxiety, depression, and increase insecurity.
Causes of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder usually occurs in adolescence to young adulthood. Eating disorders are more common in women than men.
The cause of the occurrence of binge eating disorder is not known with certainty. However, a study states that this eating disorder can be genetically inherited. Therefore, someone is more at risk of suffering from binge eating disorder if they have parents or siblings who experience this disorder.
In addition, negative feelings and dissatisfaction with body shape and weight, excessive dietary behavior, emotional trauma, depression, and anxiety disorders can also trigger this disorder.
Step Diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder
As a first step, the doctor will ask questions about complaints experienced by patients and their lifestyle. After that, the doctor will conduct an examination to detect whether there are diseases or medical conditions that cause this disorder.
Your doctor may also check liver function, electrolytes, and digestive enzyme levels if you suspect complications due to eating disorders. Furthermore, patients suspected of having binge eating disorder can be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Based on the diagnosis guide to psychiatric disorders, there are several diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder. Three or more of the criteria below must be met to diagnose someone suffering from binge eating disorder. These criteria include:
- Eat very fast
- Eat until you feel very full and the stomach feels uncomfortable
- Eat in large quantities even though you don’t feel hungry
- Eating alone because you feel embarrassed or guilty
- Don’t like yourself
The severity of this disorder can be mild, moderate, to severe. A person can experience 1-3 episodes of disturbance every week for 3 months. However, if the disorder is severe, sufferers can experience 14 episodes of the disorder each week.
Unlike people with bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder sufferers don’t vomit up food, take laxatives, or exercise excessively to cover up the guilt from overeating.
People with this disorder can return to eating normally or limit food intake after overeating. However, excessive dieting can actually trigger a recurrence of binge eating episodes.
Treatment Options for Treating Binge Eating Disorder
The main purpose of handling binge eating disorder is to stop excessive eating habits, adopt a healthy eating pattern, and overcome complications that have arisen due to binge eating, such as obesity.
In addition, treatment methods are also used to overcome psychological problems, among others, by increasing the patient’s confidence and eliminate the sufferer’s negative thoughts about him.
The following are some of the most common therapeutic methods used to treat binge eating disorders:
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most commonly performed method and is believed to be the most effective way to deal with this disorder. Through this therapy, a psychologist or psychiatrist tries to analyze the relationship between negative thoughts that arise with eating behavior.
After the analysis is done, the psychologist or psychiatrist will determine the best treatment strategy to change the overeating behavior experienced by people with binge eating disorder.
Usually, sufferers will be trained to deal with fear or anxiety gradually until self-confidence appears. That way, patients are expected to be able to provide a positive response to conditions that can trigger it to overeat.
2. Interpersonal therapy (interpersonal psychotherapy)
This therapy is considered as a mechanism to overcome personal problems that have not been completed, such as grief, family conflict, or problems in the social environment.
The goal of interpersonal therapy is to find and recognize specific things related to overeating behavior and arrange treatment steps according to the cause. This therapy is generally carried out for 12-16 weeks.
Interpersonal therapy is considered effective for people with binge eating disorder who have low self confidence or have poor communication skills.
3. Dialectical behavioral therapy
This type of behavioral therapy is done when binge eating disorder appears as a form of emotional reaction to something that is incapable of being faced by sufferers.
Therefore, dialectical behavioral therapy aims to enable sufferers to better manage their emotions when facing problems. However, this therapy has not been proven to be more effective than cognitive or interpersonal behavioral therapy.
4. Weight management
Negative thoughts and feelings due to body weight that is not ideal or not as desired often triggers binge eating disorder. Therefore, people with this disorder are advised to undergo weight management.
This method can be done by exercising regularly and setting a healthy diet. Weight management can be done with the help of nutrition specialists and sports medicine specialists.
Anticonvulsant drugs, antidepressants, lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, and orlistat can be used to treat this eating disorder. These drugs are given based on a psychiatrist’s prescription.
Besides being able to relieve the urge to overeat, these drugs can also reduce complaints caused by mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety disorders.
Steps to Prevent Binge Eating Disorder
The following are some steps you can take to overcome or avoid binge eating disorder:
- Never skip breakfast, because this will further increase your appetite at lunch or dinner.
- Apply a healthy diet by eating foods high in protein and healthy fats, and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.
- Inadequate sleep and rest, because of lack of sleep will make your eating patterns become irregular.
- Routine exercise to maintain ideal body weight, increase confidence in body shape, and foster a positive mindset.
- Reduce stress, for example by meditation or mindfulness techniques, to control your eating behavior and help you love yourself more.
- Record your daily eating patterns in a diary to make it easier for you to evaluate eating behavior and detect whether there is a relationship between mood or certain events with eating behavior.
- Talk about eating disorders that you experience with family or close friends, so you can get emotional support to recover from the disorder.
Not all overeating behavior is a sign of binge eating disorder.