The 5 Things They Won’t Tell You about Binge Eating Disorder
One of the worst parts about binge eating disorder (BED) is feeling embarrassed about it all the time. Those late-night snack binges turn into fiercely guarded secrets that really start to weigh on us after a while. It doesn’t feel good lying to cover up unhealthy eating behaviors. That’s exactly why we’re going to talk about the binge eating disorder experience, including the embarrasing parts. It helps to have things out in the open so we know we’re not alone.
Even though discussion about eating disorders is becoming more and more acceptable, shame is still a big problem for anyone struggling with BED. Opening up and talking about our experiences might be uncomfortable at first. But the thing is, once we start sharing, we realize how many other people struggle with the same problems too.
That brings us to our first surprising point about Binge Eating Disorder, so let’s get started with…
The 5 Surprising Things Most People Won’t Tell you about Life with Binge Eating Disorder
1. BED is a very common eating disorder, even though it doesn’t seem like it.
Did you know that more people struggle with binge eating than anorexia or bulimia combined? Even though it’s the #1 most common eating disorder, BED isn’t that well-known.
Considering that roughly 3% of US adults are currently struggling with this disorder, you most likely know 1 or 2 people who have it too. However, most people with BED do not get treatment and may not be open to talking about their symptoms.
2. People with BED might not eat anything all day long.
Similiar to those with anorexia and bulimia, people who binge eat often do things like restrict food and diet. In fact, you may never see someone who’s living with BED eat anything at all throughout the day.
A common binge-eating behavior pattern is to restrict food during the day, then binge at night. After late-night binging though, we usually feel so guilty and ashamed for eating that we decide to go on a strict diet the next day and eliminate all junk food. However, that cycle of guilt and restriction fuels the binging behavior. Cutting out food in order to “cancel out” the binge causes us to feel more cravings than we normally would if we were eating regularly. So, even though we’ve decided to diet and “eat healthy,” it’s easy to give in to the desire to binge at the end of a long day.
Check out Courtney’s account of her own binge eating and dieting experience. She explains how even though she ate nearly nothing all day long at school, she’d still come home and binge on thousands of calories all at once.
3. Yes, there is a link between Obesity and binge eating disorder. But that doesn’t mean everyone with BED looks fat or is overweight.
There’s no one “look” for people living with binge eating disorder. It’s important to make the distinction between BED and obesity. Both are weight related health issues, but BED is a mental illness and obesity is a physical condition.
Still, many people who live with binge eating disorder do become obese because of it. We know that because 1/3rd of the people who seek help for obesity also report struggling with binge eating disorder. Even though binge eating tends to cause weight gain, it’s still very common for average weight people to suffer from binge eating.
Remember, just because an eating disorder is “invisible,” that doesn’t mean someone’s physical and mental health isn’t suffering. Seek treatment even if you’re not obese or overweight due to binge eating.
4. Both men and women struggle with this eating disorder.
Even though it’s not completely true, we tend to think of eating disorders as a women’s issue. That’s because only about 10% of people who recieve treatment for anorexia and bulimia are male.
However, unlike those two eating disorders which affect a disproportionate amount of women, BED happens to both men and women equally (almost). One possible explanation for this difference is the fact that binge eating disorder is less about beauty standards, and more about issues with emotional eating and self control.
5. Binge eating disorder WILL make you lie and be shady
This is one of the hardest things for people to admit about their experience with binge eating disorder. It makes us lie, and do strange, embarrassing things to hide our unhealthy eating behaviors.
Since binge eating causes so much shame and guilt, we start to come up with some very shady ways to hide the evidence. It’s not uncommon for people living with active BED to do things like:
- Sneak out at night to buy fast food or eat in private
- Lie about one’s whereabouts and activities to cover up a binge episode
- Claim to be buying food for friends and family, when it’s really just for themselves
- Gradually become more and more solitary and secretive for fear of being seen while eating
Even though it’s painful to talk about this eating disorder, it’s well worth the courage it takes to open up. Getting treatment is about more than just fixing problematic food behaviors. It’s about changing our direction. Instead of allowing low self-esteem, anxiety and depression make us sick, we can turn our mental health around and develop a new, healthy relationship with food. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help.