Binge Eating – Eating Disorder

Treating Eating Disorders

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in Anorexia & Bulimia - Eating Disorders, Binge Eating - Eating Disorder, Eating Disorder - Members | 0 comments

Eating disorders are a classification of conditions in which the individual suffers from an unhealthy obsession with food, exercise and weight loss, often as a result of self esteem or poor body image. Eating disorders are highly dangerous, and can be life threatening in extreme cases. It is important for individuals suffering from eating disorders to get proper treatment as soon as possible.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are a variety of types of eating disorders, and many that most people don’t realize are disorders. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two most common eating disorders. People suffering from anorexia typically have a complete refusal to eat, while those with bulimia go through stages of starving themselves, to binging and purging. An additional type of anorexia is called anorexia athletica, where the individual is obsessed with excessive exercising in order to lose weight, and may occasionally be combined with other eating disorders.

Binge eating is another type of eating disorder, in which the individual eats a large amount of food in a very short amount of time, for two or more times a week. Overeating is the eating disorder defined as someone who feels out of control, and constantly eats more than they need to, specifically far past the point of being full. Night eating is a fairly new eating disorder, which is characterized by someone who regularly eats large amounts of food, primarily at night, and is linked to obesity.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

The signs and symptoms of eating disorders vary based on the type of eating disorder. Common symptoms of anorexia nervosa include a refusal to eat or denial of being hungry, a fear of gaining weight, negative self image and low self esteem, exercising excessively, a lack of emotion, constant irritability, fear of eating in front of others, social withdrawal, thin appearance to the point of looking ill, dehydration, irregular heart rhythms, and abdominal pain.

Signs of bulimia include the most obvious which are binge eating and self-induced vomiting, using laxatives to dispel food, excessive exercising, a distorted body image and low self esteem, feeling out of control when it comes to food, constantly running to the bathroom after eating, damaged teeth, and swollen salivary glands as visible in the cheeks.

Other eating disorders are usually easy to spot as well, as their symptoms are directly related to the disorder. Someone who is binge eating, is often eating very large amounts of food in a short period of time. On the other hand, symptoms of someone suffering from anorexia athletic will exercise obsessively and excessively without slowing down.

Treatment for Eating Disorders

A variety of treatment options are available for those suffering from eating disorders, with treatments ranging from medications to deal with underlying causes of the eating disorders, psychotherapy and counseling, nutrition education, family counseling, and possibly hospitalization. Therapy and counseling is often the first step as it is necessary to stop the cycle of bad eating habits and to get to the root cause of the eating disorder. If someone has serious healthy problems, hospitalization might be required before therapy can begin.

In addition to ongoing counseling, nutrition education is also essential. It is important to educate the individual on proper eating habits, as well as what their healthy weight is, and how to properly care for themselves. Many times, individuals with eating disorders are placed in a treatment facility, until they come to terms with normal, healthy eating and exercise habits. Medications are not used to treat the disorder, rather to help treat causes of the disorder, such as medication for anxiety or depression.

Benefits of Treatment

The benefits of treatment for eating disorders involve treating the adverse side effects of having the disorders, such as heart problems, organ failure, depression, suicidal thoughts, menstruation issues, bone loss, digestive issues, kidney damage, tooth decay, irregular blood pressure, and stunted growth.

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Medical Aspects of Obesity

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Binge Eating - Eating Disorder | 1 comment

We are currently experiencing an epidemic of obesity. Everywhere we look we read about the research and statistics supporting the dramic rise in obesity rates throughout the Western world. For example, thirty-five percent of men and twenty-seven percent of women in Canada were found to be obese (defined as persons having a Body Mass Index of greater than 27).

The economic burden of obesity is enormous. In 1995 it was estimated that the direct health care costs related to obesity (defined as a B<I of greater than 29) in the United States, was a whopping $51.64 billion dollars. In other words, the medical fall out from obesity was eating up 5.7% of the nations health care expenditure. To put this in perspective, the direct economic impact of obesity on health care expenditure is 1.25 times greater than that of coronary artery disease and 2.7 times greater than that of hypertension.

The risks of being overweight include developing hypertension, dyslipidemia or type 2 diabetes. Obesity is known to contribute directly and indirectly to a number of serious medical conditions.

  • Increased morbidity and mortality
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Dsylipidemia-i.e.-Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Hypoalphalipoproteinemia
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Altered Homeostasis via increased coagualbity and impaired fibrinolysis
  • Respiratory Diseases Via Reduced Lung Function and Sleep apnea
  • Gastrointestinal Abnormalities- Reflex
  • Gall Bladder Disease
  • Non-alcoholic steathepatitis (fatty liver)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Hyperurecemia
  • Cancers- ovarian, breast, cervical, prostate, gallbladder, pancreatic, liver, renal

In addition to all of these life threatening diseases, persons struggling with obesity report many other non-life threatening but life-hassling aspects from being very over weight. For example, people report not being able to walk short distances, find furniture comfortable to sit in, clothes to fit into, excessive sweating, and difficulty manourvering in isle ways. Patients also report difficulty completing small taken-for-granted tasks such as tying ones shoes, playing with their children, having a bath, and getting in and out of the car.

The number of limitations obesity places on a person is overwhelming.

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Notes to Therapists and Clients

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Binge Eating - Eating Disorder | 0 comments

Our clients report the subjective sense of impaired control during episodes of overeating and any number of the following symptoms:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food, even when not physically hungry
  • Eating alone out of embarrassment at the quantity of food being consumed
  • Feelings of disgust, depression or guilt with overeating
  • Continuing the cycle of overeating while believing that tomorrow they will have a fresh start on todays binge
  • Becoming disembodied from the experience of the unhealthy foods they are feeding their bodies and minds
  • An increased experience of unworthiness and poor self image in their personal, professional and social worlds

The primary goals of treatment should include:

  • Recognizing the strategies and patterns of the problem
  • Recognizing perfectionism and “all or nothing” thinking
  • Reducing self-blame by separating the person from the problem
  • Recognizing the cultural context that encourages binge-eating
  • Identifying physical vs. emotional hunger
  • Increasing capacity to tolerate feeling states (ie: identifying stress-driven eating habits)
  • Acknowledging your pre-existing knowledge of health and nutrition and putting this wisdom to work in new ways
  • Learning how to speak your unspoken needs to others and to yourself so that the need to “feed” and cover up the emptiness and anxiety is lessened over time
  • Improving body image and learning self-care
  • Identifying that eating slip-ups lead to a binge and an “I’ll start tomorrow” negative pattern of thinking
  • Recognizing recovery as a “process” of patience and positive thinking
  • Identifying and resolving depression, anxiety and fears that affect the problem
  • Offering alternative emotional options and possibilities
  • Involvement of family and friends
  • Keeping a diary of all the destructive strategies and tricks the inner conversations of emotional eating suggest as solutions
  • Keeping a diary of all the times you could have given way to the binge eating tactic but somehow were able to act on your own behalf and towards health
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Secrets, Isolation, and Hiding

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Binge Eating - Eating Disorder | 0 comments

Our relationship with our body is an intricate and delicate relationship to negotiate. The addition of a binge eating disorder makes this relationship negotiation much more emotionally difficult and complex.

It is not uncommon for people who are unhappy with their lives to find a temporary emotional solution through binge eating. They did not invent this solution on our own. Our society and institutions supports the “eating solution to solve problems” in many ways—they always have. Can you think of ways in your own life that your family and our community has pushed food as an answer to emotional problems?

This hideous food solution eventually becomes the problem.

The person has now added an unhappy relationship with their bodies and an eating disorder to their growing number of concerns. The overwhelming experience of unhappiness in life— with their bodies and with disordered eating—will often push people further away from their world of social contact and towards a life spent preferring isolation, secrecy and hiding.

Many persons report that their eating binges are rarely on public display. Rather binges are often done ritually, secretly and with no one else around to witness the self destruction. This promotes a world of secret inner dialogue— a dialogue that plots, plans and strategizes the what/where/when of the next binge. This inner dialogue supports the necessity of the binge because of the problem with stress, or perhaps anxiety, or as a reward for hard work or a job well done. Either way—good or bad—planning a solid worthwhile binge becomes the answer to just about everything.

As the hidden world of emotional eating grows, patients will report that slowly their bodies get covered up and hidden as well. It is through this pattern of hiding and secrecy that persons get entered into a very hidden and secretive lifestyle. It is vital to note that disordered eating problems excel in conditions of secrecy, isolation and hiding. It is here in this secret location that the binge eating often increases and people are slowly—almost seamlessly—pushed towards a certain futility and hopelessness about themselves.

Patients report that hiding their bodies away from public viewing and consumption is an emotional reaction that allows them to cover up the embarrassment and self hatred they feel towards their bodies. Through the course of binge eating, people slowly begin to feel that they must hide their bodies away from other people—lest their secrets be revealed. This cover up of their body includes hiding it away from their spouse and/or partner, their children, their colleagues and sometimes even themselves.

By denying and hiding their bodies from themselves people with binge eating problems gradually become cut off from their body’s experience and experience with their bodies. In fact, many people report feeling a dis-embodied experience with their bodies. When people are cut off from their bodies experience, the problem of binge eating will often intensify.

One 32 year old patient recalled the intensity of her hiding away and secrecy this way: It began slowly but the more I ate the more I was embarrassed to eat in public—I couldn’t seem to stop and it was always on my mind. So I began to cancel all social activities that involved food—which is a lot when you think about it! I then got rid of my very kind boyfriend and stopped contact with my family and friends because they were all viewed as interruptions to my binge. Before I knew it I had pushed everyone away. There I was—alone—with my pizza delivery numbers. After spending the entire holidays in complete isolation I realized that I had given up everything I ever wanted for the sake of this damn binge eating! I knew I needed help—fast!

It is not only those people who are over weight that make attempts to hide their bodies. People who are caught up in a binge eating problem who are not overweight often experience this hiding of the body from themselves and others as well. The primary example of this phenomenon is the person who struggles with bulimia nervosa. Despite trying to purge every morsel of food after the binge—most, if not all, regardless of their body weight, report a negative self body image.

As you might imagine, feeling uncomfortable with ones own body restricts a person from numerous social, physical and emotional activities—wearing certain kinds of fashion (preferring loose fitting sweat pants and baggy shirts etc.); avoidance of social gatherings like weddings and birthday parties; never participating in beach or water sports; and a loss of close contact intimacy.

Can you think of other activities that binge eating and being ashamed of your body restrict you from?

I am always struck by how very bright persons with binge eating problems are tricked into ridiculous solutions and destructive inner dialogues. I wonder:

  • How is it that very bright people continually get tricked into seeing binge eating as an emotional health solutions when actually they prove to be misery and death solutions?
  • How is it that very bright people continually get tricked by the same old binge eating strategies like “eat today and begin tomorrow” and other all or nothing strategies?
  • Why is it that no matter what information a person has about health, they will continue to be recruited into the deadly ways of emotional eating?
  • In what ways does the inner dialogue binge eating make McDonalds into the healthy alternative? Do you ever ask the dialogue for a nutritional report to back up its claims?
  • What are the ways that a person can begin to take a stand for themselves by standing up for themselves and the best parts of who they are and against these deadly conversational forms of emotional eating?
  • What are the ways to make it possible for a person to restore love with themselves by protecting themselves from the deadly internal over eating conversations that push them towards despair, shame and emotional eating?
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Shame, Guilt and Binge Eating

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Binge Eating - Eating Disorder | 0 comments

A 40 year old female patient described her experience this way: There was a time long ago that I had a relationship with my body, but for the last fifteen years I have been involved in an ongoing battle with it. I hate the way it looks; I hate the way it moves . . . I don’t like it at all. And when I experience this anxiety over my bad body relationship—I eat. I know I am not dealing with what’s really going on and so I just end up feeding it junk and making it weigh more each and everyday. One day I would like to fall back in love with my body, be kind to it, and make it mine again.

A 52 year old man described his self loathing relationship with his body this way: I am good at everything I do —absolutely everything—everything except overeating. In my thirties I could binge and get by and still feel a little bit of self control—it seemed easier then. But as I grew older the binges grew bigger and I felt more and more out of control. Now, each day, I feel more and more out of control. It was so hard to fight the urge not to over indulge that it slowly—day by day—donut by donut—took over. And as it continues to dominate my life I feel like I am such a failure—even though my friends and family would never think this of me. Binge eating is my terrible secret—and one I wish to expose someday.

From time to time most people living in our society experience some form of “normative discontent” with their bodies. This is considered a normal reaction to the corporate pressures which try and sell us on the need to have a perfect and thin body. Most people are able to deal with this pressure to some extent by not letting it take over their lives in any significant way. However, for the growing number of people struggling with disordered eating, the complex relationship issues between their body, appearance and weight can often take over their lives with an overwhelming amount of shame, self loathing and negativity.

Most people I speak with in therapy who binge eat are highly concerned and often embarrassed about their appearance, food habits, weight and their inability to stop binge eating. Shame, guilt and self blame often begin interfering with their abilities and skills to negotiate everyday life. And the more the binge eating cycle punishes their self image, the more people slip downwards towards a never ending cycle of feeling less than worthy.

These less than worthy negative feelings can often set up a repetitive shame/binge/guilt/binge cycle and thereby increase the size and scale of the binge eating disorder. As the disordered eating grows and takes over more of the persons thoughts, actions, and negative self image, it will stimulate more shame and guilt. The binge/shame/binge/guilt/binge recursion can become an ongoing vicious circle. Shame—emotional (binge) eating—more guilt—more binging etc..

I am always struck by how very bright persons with binge eating problems are. I wonder:

  • How is it that very bright people continually get tricked into eating patterns that can ruin their lives?
  • How is it that very bright people continually get tricked by the same old binge eating strategies like “eat today and begin tomorrow” and other all or nothing strategies?
  • Why is it that no matter what information a person has about health, they will continue to be recruited into the deadly ways of emotional eating?
  • What are the ways that a person can begin to take a stand for themselves by standing up for themselves and the best parts of who they are and against deadly forms of emotional eating?
  • What are the ways to make it possible for a person to restore love with themselves by protecting themselves from the deadly internal over eating conversations that push them towards despair, shame and emotional eating?
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Possibilities for change

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 in Binge Eating - Eating Disorder | 0 comments

by planet-therapy founder Stephen Madigan, PhD.

I recently joined a binge eating and obesity team as a group therapist. I work alongside a nutritionist and two medical doctors . Although I have spent many years running anti-anorexia/bulimia groups in hospitals wards, private practice and the community, I knew nothing of this “other” disordered eating group. As a way to educate myself on the issue, I set about soliciting the local knowledge from the persons attending the group. During the second group, I interviewed the group to solicit their expert knowledge and to re-locate the problem discussion. The following questionnaire was drawn up after the third group session and includes their voice, experience, and telling of events connected to the problem.

The Weight is Over – part one

  • Do you ever wonder how it is that on certain days you are able to stand up for your health and against the “damaging voices” that invite you into practices of poor health?
  • How do you make sense of your abilities to do this?
  • What aspects of you come forward to speak on your behalf when the stress of life forces you to eat?
  • In what ways do you notice and appreciate all the ways in which you are able to stand against the damaging conversations?
  • Are you in any way amazed at yourself for now being able to notice all the dirty little habits and tactics the problem uses that con you into going against your best knowledge of yourself?
  • Can you identify the number one tactic the problem uses to force its debilitating ways onto you?
  • Do you believe that it uses a sence of hopelessness by telling you that your efforts towards health on other people who are also struggling?
  • How do you explain how the problem is able to dominate the fears of so many smart minded people?
  • Can you locate where the problem of “emotional eating” originates?
  • Are there aspects of our community that help this problem along? Name them.
  • Once you have identified the conversation of guilt, are you able to recognize what you do that enables you to be free of its invitation?
  • What assists you most in being able to thwart off the idea that you are an illegitimate person because of your size?
  • Are there persons and ideas in your life that are problem conversation helping?
  • How do they help the damaging conversations along?
  • Are there persons and ideas in your life that are problem-resisting?
  • How do they stand alongside you and help you stand up for your health?
  • If you could give one bit of advice to another person struggling, what would this advice be?
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