What is Binge Eating?

This post was written for Slimsticks.

One of the words that commonly comes up when talking about diets and weight loss is Binge. For many this means a one off slip/lapse or an over-indulgence. For others it’s a recurring cycle that they hate but are stuck in….

A binge is defined by the American Psychiatric Assoication (1) as:

  1. Eating in a discrete period of time (e.g. 2 hours) an amount of food that is definitely large than most people would eat during a similar period of time and circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control during the epsiode of eating.

People describe being out of control and in another zone when bingeing, some people can’t actually remember a binge at all. Whereas other people plan a binge, buying the foods and working out when and where they can eat it. The majority of binges happen in secret and are not talked about. Binge foods are usually high sugar high calorie foods, high fat foods or carbohydrate rich foods, for example chocolate, biscuits, cakes, bread, cereal. However it can just be whatever is available.

The first moments of a binge bring pleasure and a sense of euphoria, but these feelings don’t last. People tend to eat rapidly during a binge, researchers have found women with bulimia are food twice as fast as women with no eating disorder (2).

The typical binge is 1,000-2,000kcal, but they can range up to 10-15,000. (3) To put this in context the average women should be looking to eat no more than 2,000kcals per day.

Binges where more normal amounts of food are eaten but the person still has all the feelings of being out of control are called Subjective Binges and binges where large amount of foods are consumed are known as Objective Binges.

What can trigger a Binge:

One of the keys to stopping binges is to work out what triggers them, here’s some of the common triggers:

  1. Feeling fat
  2. Gaining Weight “I’ve failed so may as well give up”
  3. Hunger and Dieting – The thought of food can become overwhelming.
  4. Breaking a Dietary Rule
  5. Having free time or a lack of routine.
  6. Boredom
  7. Premenstrual Tension
  8. Alcohol

I’ll be dealing with tips on how to break the binge cycle in the next blog post.

References:

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnositc and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).
  2. Effect of eating rate on binge size in Bulimia Nervosa. Kissileff H.R et al (2008). Physiology and Behavior 93 (3): 481-485.
  3. Overcoming Binge Eating. Dr Christopher G. Fairburn (1995). The Guildford Press

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge