Identifying and Managing Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder

Identifying and Managing Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery of Binge Eating Disorder

Suffering from Binge Eating Disorder can feel like you’re out of control, constantly trying to get on track and falling back into old habits. It is common practice that after a binge, the individual makes an authentic and concerted effort to break the cycle freeing themselves from this cyclical behaviour that leaves them feeling shame and embarrassment. Simply “choosing” to stop binging is not enough. Allowing yourself the opportunity to understand what causes and triggers a binge is critical in breaking the cycle. Taking the time to understand enables you to work through your disorder slowly, instead of trying to recover from cold turkey, which oftentimes is entirely unsuccessful. As a gentle reminder, Binge Eating Disorder, is an eating disorder that manifests in episodes of binge eating, or binges. A binge, as defined, is a period of excessive indulgence in an activity. Binge Eating Disorder’s activity is eating food, an objectively large amount of it, in a short period of time.

What are symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder?

Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder can include but are not limited to the below list. If you, or anyone you know displays a few or all these behaviours, this may be a sign Binge Eating Disorder is active. It is important to remember and remind yourself that if you identify with the below, you may be suffering from an eating disorder, however the first step to recovery (which you have done!) is identifying. There are resources and outlets available to help you start on the road to recovery, whenever you are ready.

  • Eating large amounts of food in unusually small amounts of time
  • A lack of control when eating, feeling like you can’t stop
  • Eating beyond the point of satiation or feelings of being full, extreme discomfort ensues
  • Ignoring hunger cues and eating without feelings of being hungry
  • Eating alone or in secret
  • Hiding or storing food
  • Feelings of remorse, guilt, and shame once the binge has concluded
  • Recurrent binges that are followed by restrictions, followed by binges, followed by restrictions, etc.

What are Physical Effects of Binge Eating Disorder?

Consuming such large volumes of food in an inappropriately small window of time is tremendously taxing on the body. It creates hormonal imbalance, gastrointestinal distress, high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, etc.

 What are the psychological side effects of BED?

Binge Eating Disorder does not exclusively impact our physical bodies, its psychological impacts are equally as distressing. Some potential side effects of living with Binge Eating Disorder are anxiety, depression, body dysmorphic disorder, feelings of shame and guilt, feeling socially isolated and becoming withdrawn, etc.

What are common triggers of Binge Eating Disorder?

Although the triggers that cause an individual to binge are different, there are certain triggers that are commonplace amongst most people who suffer from BED. They are as follows:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Pre-existing mental health challenges
  • Trauma
  • Social anxiety

What are ways to manage Binge Eating Disorder?

One of the best ways to manage Binge Eating Disorder is to seek the help and support of health care professionals who are well-versed and comfortable guiding you through BED recovery. However, below is a list of ways to manage BED on your own.

  • Plan meals in advance
  • Remove trigger foods from your house until you are in a more evolved place
  • Eat at regular hours, even if your appetite is wavering
  • Consume well-rounded meals consisting of proteins, fats, and complex carbohydrates
  • Don’t be hard on yourself! The road to recovery is not linear, and it may feel like at times you are taking steps backwards. However, it is important to give yourself credit for the work you are doing.

Related Article: Binge Eating Disorder Recovery

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What triggers a binge? 

A: Specific binge triggers differ by individual, however, below is a list of possible triggers that may affect those who have BED:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of sadness, disappointment, isolation
  • Boredom
  • Challenging social situations
  • Conflict
  • Tension
  • Habit

Q: What is a trigger food?

A: A trigger food is a highly palatable, satiating, and satisfying food that is typically filled with sugar, salt, and fat. Food that is often deemed “bad” to be eaten in large quantities.  Think chips, cookies, chocolates, etc.

Q: How do I stop a binge trigger?

A: Stopping a binge can feel like an impossible task, you feel out of control and without any autonomy over your own body or ability to stop consuming.  The best way to stop a binge trigger is to identify what your binge triggers are to begin with. It is possible to identify these with the help of a trained professional and engage in therapy.

Dr. Natalie Mulligan graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM). She completed her clinical internship at the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic with a focused interest in mental health. Prior to attending CCNM, she completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Waterloo.