Have you ever gone back for an extra serving of food when you were not hungry? What about that last bite when you’re so full your stomach is about to explode? I’m sure most of us at some time or another took an additional serving of food. And I’m most certain you were told about the “starving children” and the “clean plate” club. So, often we eat beyond full. But does this mean you have binge eating disorder? What about food addiction? How do you know?
During holidays, birthdays, and long weekends temptations to over-indulge are all around us. So, what makes the difference between an occasional over eating and binge eating? When is it an illness? When is it binge eating disorder and when it is food addiction? And—could it actually be a combination of the two?
If you look around I am certain you will see at every turn someone who binge eats. Do you? Millions of Americans are hiding, stealing, and hoarding food to secretly binge eat and after their indulgence they are filled with remorse and shame. One of the least discussed and most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder.
Binge eating is defined as over eating a large amount of food in a small period of time at least three times a week for six months or longer. Binge eating, or compulsive eating, as it is more familiarly known, affects more than 20 million people in the United States alone. And yet, we focus more on Bulimia and Anorexia when it comes to eating disorders.
In my practice, more than 70 % of my eating disordered patients suffer from binge eating disorder and/or obesity. This is not to say all bingers are obese or even overweight because some actually can be of normal weight. My biggest challenge is sorting out if the patient has an issue with compulsive eating or if it is a food addiction, or a combination of both.
Food addiction also is eating a large amount of food in a small period of time, and like compulsive eating, it comes with consequences that can be lethal, such as obesity, heart disease, relationship issues, body image, et cetera.
The big difference between the two disorders is food addicts crave specific foods that are uncontrollable no matter what they try to do to stop.
I liken food addiction to an uncontrollable craving for high sugar and processed foods, to recreational drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and nicotine. In all cases, the substance dependent consumes larger amounts and for longer periods than were normally intended with a persistent desire or repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit…even if it interrupts social, recreational, and family interaction because the addicted substance takes precedence.
When it comes to treatment for binge eating disorder it is often not about the food but rather about the emotional deficits. When it comes to treatment for food addiction it is about the food—specific foods that trigger the compulsion to consume large amounts of it no matter what the cost.
Although binge eating disorder and food addiction share many of the same symptoms, Food addiction shares the emotional component of binge eating disorder as well as the symptoms such as obsession with body, weight, mood shifts, closet eating, stealing where compulsive eating is about the inability to deal with emotions.
I suffered from food addiction as far back as I can remember, I just did not know what it was called. I thought there was something wrong with me mentally. I craved chocolate, doughnuts, chips, and anything gooey and sweet beyond normalcy and I tried every diet under the sun—including diet pills, commercial diet centers, starvation, over exercising, none of which helped me tame the compulsion to eat beyond full in spite of the detrimental consequences, which in my case was obesity.
I wish I knew then what I know now about eating disorders, treatment, and spiritual recovery. Perhaps I could have avoided all the pain and suffering with my weight up and my weight down—an endless battle—until now. Today, I live life without the torture of worrying about getting heavy. I am no longer craving foods I can’t control the amount of instead spiritually my cup is full.
So, if you are one to eat an extra serving, two, or three beyond holidays, birthdays, and long weekend temptations, when you weren’t hungry, to the point of devastating consequences that hamper the quality of your life, perhaps you may suffer from an eating disorder.
Do you fit in any of these categories? I’d love to hear from you.
My 23 years’ experience as a clinical psychotherapist, a PhD in addiction psychology, certified eating disorder specialist, certified addiction professional, and national board certified clinical hypnotherapist has not only made me a recognized expert in my field, but also made me privy to understanding the experience of those releasing their obsessions with food and turning to their connection with God and people.
Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander….
Hugs to you…I care…
Check out my recent book: Release Your Obsession with Diet Chatter: Heal from the Inside Out
Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.