Our question today comes from K.
How do I know if I’m a binge eater, or just an emotional eater or whether its just some sort of pattern that I have?I work in the mornings and usually eat two rusks with a fruit and yogurt or provitas with cheese and marmite on it, and eat a lot of small meals every hour or so….. but in the afternoons at home, especially after 3 and 4 in the afternoons I’ll eat EVERYTHING that is available to eat….
Is it just because I’m home and studying or is it a binge eating disorder?
Whenever there is a packet of chips for example, I’ll almost never have left overs, and if I do it will only be to give my husband a taste, but if its in the house, it has to be eaten. I’ll even eat chocolates and chips and strawberries and cream all at once, just to get them into my mouth and not leave them in the fridge for days.
I am very overweight and are Insulin resistant and on pills. I’m down from 3/4 sugars in my tea to 1 sugar, which is great but still struggling to get the weight down due to mostly afternoon ‘binging’ if that is what it is.
I have some sort of control in the mornings, and every day try to do the healthier lifestyle, but after 3 I don’t care about healty or not and just want to eat, whether fruit, nuts, leftover food, popcorn whatever there is to indulge in. I’m just not sure whether it IS binge eating, or maybe just a normal eating disorder, mind thing or just a very bad habit.
Thank you so very much for your note. The DSM criteria for Binge Eating Disorder is:
- Each binge consists of eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances, and is accompanied by a feeling of loss of control (i.e. they feel that they cannot stop eating and cannot control what they are eating and how much they are eating).
- Anywhere between 5,000 and 15,000 calories are consumed within a binge sitting.
- The binge eating occurs, on average, at least twice a week for 6 months.
- The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of appropriate compensatory behavior and does not occur exclusively during the course Bulimia Nervosa or Anorexia Nervosa.
- The person is seriously worried about the binge eating.
Also, an individual must have 3 or more of the following symptoms:
- Feels disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge eating.
- Eats an unusually large amount of food at one time, far more than a regular person would eat.
- Eats much more quickly during binge episodes than during normal eating episodes.
- Eats until physically uncomfortable and nauseated due to the amount of food consumed.
- Eats when bored or depressed
- Eats large amounts of food even when not really hungry.
- Often eats alone during periods of normal eating, owing to feelings of embarrassment about food.
So, given the behavioral criteria, I would say that you would qualify for BED. You didn’t say how you feel about your afternoon binges. Do you feel depressed afterward? Do you have feelings of guilt and shame? Do you feel anxious about the binges?
I’m sorry that your binges are affecting your physical health.
I think we have to look and see what’s happening to you in the afternoon. Are you tired? Do you need a nap? Is that why you are binge eating? Are you procrastinating doing work? Do you need to get out of the house in the afternoon?
I do have some tips for you to help with the afternoon binge eating.
1. You say that if there is food in your house, it has to be eaten. In early recovery, it’s important to make your house a safe zone. Just sit down with your husband, look through your cabinets and make your house a safe zone. Get binge foods out of your house. If you were recovering from cocaine addiction, there wouldn’t be piles of cocaine all over your counters. When you have BED, food is your drug, so it’s okay to keep yourself safe from it for a little while. Once you are feeling stronger in your recovery, you can certainly reintroduce these foods into your house and see what works for you.
2. Get out of your house in the afternoon. Are you home all afternoon studying? Maybe you need some fresh air, or perhaps it might be better to study in a safe place, not a cafe, but a library.
3. Are you eating because you are procrastinating? If so, please do read this post to get some ideas on how to stop procrastinating.
4. Do get yourself to a support group, or support forum for binge eating or seek out therapy or coaching to help you through this. Binge eating is not a life sentence and recovery is possible.
Please do add a note in the comments if you have more questions about this.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started.
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