binge-eating-at-nightBinge Eating Disorder (BED), the little-known yet most common eating disorder, has a profound impact on a BED sufferer. They may lose confidence in their ability to control the amount of food consumed once a binge begins. This lack of control quickly spills over to other areas of their life and can have dramatic ramifications on school, career, and relationships with family and friends. The symptoms and effects of BED are often more extreme in the cases of those also suffering with co-occurring disorders, for example, depression or substance abuse. Co-occurring disorders can make it even harder to understand and respond to emotions, and trigger more frequent and more severe binges. Here are some other physical and emotional after-effects that often accompany a Binge Eating Disorder: 1) Obesity Obesity is the No. 1 side effect of a Binge Eating Disorder. Binge eating episodes may vary in duration from 2 to 24 hours, and sufferers of BED may consume thousands of calories during a single episode. While many sufferers of Binge Eating Disorder manage to maintain a healthy weight for years, due to a naturally high metabolism, many others eventually become overweight and then obese. This can lead to a number of serious health complications, including:

  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Sleep apnea
  • Arthritis

2) Malnutrition Binge eaters often binge on foods that contain few healthy nutrients, such as chips, sodas and various types of sweets and desserts. These foods may also be high in unhealthy food additives like sugar and salt. People who binge eat often don’t get all of the vitamins and minerals that they need from the unhealthy food they consume during binge eating episodes. They may also fall victim to a number of illnesses related to nutritional deficiencies. 3) Depression Binge Eating Disorder sufferers often struggle with feelings of depression. They often feel depressed, guilty and ashamed about their inability to control their own eating habits. Those with BED may experience any of the following symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and sadness
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

binge eatingBED sufferers often feel dissatisfied with their bodies and may feel lonely. They often suffer from low self esteem and anxiety. 4) Social Anxiety Sufferers of Binge Eating Disorders may feel socially anxious due to their weight. They may feel uncomfortable in social situations that involve food. They may have trouble maintaining relationships or advancing at work because episodes of binge eating interfere with work and social activities. 5) Substance Abuse Problems Those who binge eat frequently may abuse alcohol or drugs in order to cope with feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and guilt associated with episodes of binge eating. Binge eating is often described as an addiction in itself–an addiction to food. Binge eaters often struggle with feelings of emptiness, despair, disgust and shame that is related to their eating habits. They typically have problems expressing their emotions, and often have problems coping with negative feelings and managing stress. Lizabeth Wesely-Casella, an advocate for people with binge/impulse control disorders and Founder of BingeBehavior.com*; wrote the article “What would I want my sister to know?” about shame and Binge Eating Disorder. Here are some great excerpts from the article:

If I had a sister I would want her to know too that when the episodes of self loathing, binge eating, binge shopping, binge behavior of any kind, when those episodes were over and the shame and isolation come in to crush her, that she doesn’t have to cycle any longer. Also that maybe, in order to change the behaviors that make her ashamed, she would be better served by finding an outlet to quiet the voice that tells her she’s shameful. So, with this in mind, what else would I want my sister to know?  I would want her to know that there are a wide variety of options for her to find relief from the voice of shame.  There are professional resources to help her to manage the behaviors and there are both online and offline resources to give her a place to feel accepted by others who battle similar shame based behaviors. Clearly, more women battle these ‘secret flaws’ than is readily apparent, so there truly is a culture of understanding to be tapped into.

* BingeBehavior.com is a social network created to support people who struggle with bingeing and impulse control disorders, specifically binge eating, binge drinking and binge shopping.  It is a place where members can feel understood and where nobody diminishes the feeling of being out of control or in despair.  It is a forum to discuss, learn and share experiences with others both in groups or in private. It is important to understand the seriousness of Binge Eating Disorder and to acknowledge the physical and emotional consequences of this disease. When BED is more well-known and people become more educated, there is a greater chance of diagnosing and treating this condition. Info sources: Timberline Knolls, BingeBehavior.com, 3 Fat Chicks If you are interested in following along with BED Week,  you can join the event on facebook or follow it on twitter by using the hashtags #BEDWEEK, #DSM5, #BEDAWARENESS, #EATINGDISORDER and #ED. We will also be taking questions (option to remain anonymous) at the email address BEDWEEKQUESTIONS@gmail.com for our live tweetchat on May 29th at 12-1:00pm (EST)!