Binge eating or out-of-control eating is a way of eating and using food that has no relationship to hunger or to nutrition and is a form of self-abuse. The size of the binge eating population group is under-estimated at 3.5% of women and 2% of men. Keep in mind that most binge eaters do not report their problem in a way that gets included in an "official" statistical headcount. A more accurate estimate is that binge eaters represent anywhere from 20% to 40% of the dieting population.
If you're a binge eater, you know it. For those of you who need a definition, it's this. Food is rapidly eaten over a short period of a time, usually within an hour. Eaters are agitated during a binge, meaning they may be pacing, frequently getting up and down, or they may go out to buy food. Eaters experience a sense of being out-of-control with food and eat way beyond fullness, often to extreme discomfort. They often feel like they're in an altered state or mind or trance. Binges are usually done in secret or at least out of sight of others. The difference between pigging out and binge eating is that binge eating occurs more frequently and regularly, at least once a week. And lastly, binge eaters often feel shame and guilt after an eating episode.
Binge eating disorder (or BED) was just recently designated as an official mental illness in 2013. Since then it's been aggressively promoted on TV as a real, treatable disease by Shire Pharmaceuticals. Shire, of course, is the maker of Vyvanse, the first drug specifically developed to curb binge eating. Because it's an amphetamine, Vyvanse is a controlled substance and has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Vyvanse works by elevating levels of endorphins and other neurotransmitters, which can make you happier. The drug, however, can also work against you by causing anxiety, increasing blood pressure, heart rate and other undesirable side effects.
In addition to the side effects, reliance on a drug treatment is highly controversial because it doesn't cure the problem, it just masks it. In fact, all treatments for Binge Eating Disorder are highly controversial. There are two basic but radically different theories to consider.
Theory #1 is that binge eating is a food addiction, and like all other addictions, the cure is to abstain from the substances that make you crazy with food and that you can't control. This includes all foods made with caloric sweeteners and wheat products. It may also include abstaining from alcohol because alcohol enhances appetite and allows eaters to forget the intention to abstain from trigger foods. People who believe they're food addicts have great success with this approach and quickly normalize their eating practices and weight.
Theory #2 is that binge eating is an emotional disorder, and underlying emotional problems have to be solved. The specific foods you eat have little role in treatment. Even more, avoiding so-called trigger foods is thought to exacerbate binge eating, and the "all or nothing " approach of abstinence is perceived as extreme and unreasonable. The most popular treatments are cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), other psychological treatments, or some combination of talk therapy and drugs.
CBT is a particular form of talk therapy that relies on educational and behavioral interventions to teach eaters how to regain control over eating. It has a strong clinical success record and is often featured in many psychologically-oriented books about binge eating. The biggest complaint with all talk therapies is that they don't always result in weight or shape change, and they can also take a long time.
Which cure is best? You have to choose for yourself. A practical and useful way to get started on this is to consider conducting an experiment of one. The easiest approach is to focus on diet. Simply abstain from foods made with caloric sweeteners and wheat for one week, and see if it's too hard or if it makes a difference. After your short one-week experiment, you'll have a baseline reference point for making a longer-term decision.
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Annoying but necessary - I'm not a Healthcare Professional so please check with your Healthcare Professional before changing anything concerning your well being.