About BED

What exactly is BED?

Binge-eating disorder (BED), also refered to as non-purging bulimia nervosa, is a less well-known eating disorder in which a person engages is extreme and excessive food behaviors. It is classified as a mental health disorder where an individual uncontrollably and compulsively consumes food. It should not be confused with simply over eating, or occasional indulgences in certain foods. People affected by BED experience a loss of control while in the presence food. The following excerpt  best describes the pattern of  “the binge” mentality  and the attempt of a forced escape of reality and self:

“…binge eating is motivated by a desire to escape from self-awareness. Binge eaters suffer from high standards and expectations, especially an acute sensitivity to the difficult (perceived) demands of others. When they fall short of these standards, they develop a pattern of high self-awareness, characterized by unflattering views of self and concern and how they are perceived by others. These aversive self-perceptions are accompanied by emotional distress, which often includes anxiety and depression. To escape from this unpleasant state, binge eaters attempt the cognitive response of narrowing attention to the immediate stimulus environment and avoiding broadly meaningful thought. This narrowing of attention disengages normal inhibitions against eating and fosters an uncritical acceptance of irrational beliefs and thoughts…”[1]

What are the symptoms of BED? [2]

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting

Who is affected by BED?

BED currently affects 2% of the population. [3]  It is independent of age, weight, gender, and race. While it is a common belief that obese individuals are expected to be the only ones to exhibit distress over a BED, findings from a study published in “American Psychologist” proves otherwise. It is reported that normal-weighted individuals tend to engage in “significantly greater usage of both healthy and unhealthy weight control behaviors compared to their obese peers”.[4]  This dismisses the notion of BED havoc being limited to those whom are obese or overweight.

The onset cause of BED is not exactly known. It could be the cause of external pressures from family, spouses, peers, coaches, media, workplaces, schools, and so forth. It may also be internal suffering caused by unrealistic self expectations or even predisposed disorders (anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive, etc.) Regardless of where a person’s BED stemmed from, one hypothesis suggests that chronic dieting could be a pre-cursor to developing a BED.

Chronic dieters usually  engage in “yo-yo dieting”  and create unreasonable demands and laws for themselves. Often enough these rules are broken and the dieter is left with a whirlwind of negative emotions.  In an attempt to “numb” their negative feelings they often find themselves in the comfort of food. An article published “American Psychologist”  suggests that “dieting usually precedes binge eating chronologically; dieting causes bingeing by promoting the adoption of a cognitively regulated eating style, which is necessary if the physiological defense of body weight is to be overcome”. [5] This article goes on to describe that while dieting is physiological based, BED is cognitive. The deprivation and metabolic changes causes the mind to take over and cause a person to  engage in binge eating tactics. Inevitably, this type of behaviour could pave a path to developing BED.

What are treatment options for bed?

Since BED is a thought to be less established in the eating disorder world, it may be thought that help is non-existent. However, BED is treated similarly to other eating disorders, more specifically to bulimia nervosa.[3]  Common forms of treatment include:

  • Cognitive therapy
  • Antidepressant
  • Self-help books
  • Meditation
  • Binaural beats/isochronic tones
  • Nutritional assessments
  • Excercise regimens

More often than not, BED is associated with another type of disease or disorder. If this is the case the appropriate measures should be taken to have the primary issue addressed.

As it can be seen, BED is more that a second helping of pasta salad at the Memorial Day BBQ or adding a scoop of ice cream to a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving dinner. It is underlying sickness that a simple “have some will power” won’t correct. Do what works. Educate your soul, exhibit perseverance, and be benevolent in all you do.


[1] Heatherton, Todd. “Binge eating as an escape from self-awareness .” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1991. Web. 26 May 2013.

[2] “Binge-eating Disorder.” CNN. Cable News Network, 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 May 2013.

[3] Nash, Joyce D. Binge No More: Your Guide to Overcoming Disordered Eating. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 1999. Print.

[4] Goldschmitt, AB. “Eating Disorder symptomatology in normal weight vs. obese individuals with eating disorder.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 19 July 2011. Web. 26 May 2013.

[5] Polivy, Janet, and C. Peter Herman. “Dieting and Binging: A Causal Analysis.” American Psychologist 40.2 (1985): 193-201. Print.



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  1. Pingback: Under construction | sex, lies, and cupcakes

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