Eating disorders can be complex and difficult to fit into distinct categories. Many people think of eating disorders as Anorexia, which is an eating disorder but not the only or most common type. At Syeda we do see and support people with Anorexia and individuals with other common types of eating difficulty. If you have some but not all of the diagnostic symptoms of an eating disorder or a combination of different eating disorder symptoms, you may be described as having an Other Specified Eating or Feeding Disorder – OSFED. This does not make your condition any less serious and you should still seek to receive help and support.
Syeda is not a diagnostic service in that we do not formally diagnose you with a labelled eating disorder, at assessment we ask questions around how things are for you at the moment, what your eating habits are like and how our services may be of help to you.
Binge Eating Disorder
Binge Eating Disorder is characterised by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating that pushes you beyond the point of feeling uncomfortably full. Like Bulimia, binges are likely to result from a desire to ’swallow down’ unwanted emotions or to satisfy a need that cannot be met by food alone. Unlike Bulimia, if you are suffering from Binge Eating Disorder you will not purge after a binge although periods of binge eating may be interrupted by sporadic fasts or dieting.
How you might behave
- Uncontrolled, impulsive or continuous eating until you are uncomfortably full.
- Eating when you are not hungry.
- Eating rapidly.
- Periodically fasting or dieting.
- Being secretive about what and how much you are eating, eating alone.
- Hoarding food.
- Eating irregularly.
What you might feel
- Out of control and anxious around food.
- Distracted by thoughts of food and eating.
- Feelings of guilt and shame, especially after binging.
- Feelings of helplessness and isolation.
- Reduced self-esteem and confidence.
- Self conscious when eating with others.
How you might be affected physically
- Increase in weight.
- Poor skin condition.
- Reduced energy and feeling of lethargy.
- Problems with blood pressure, heart disease and lack of fitness.
Effects on your mood
A binge may be used initially to help you to deal with difficult emotions such as loneliness or anxiety or to ease tension caused by pressure or stress. It may help for a short while, but as you begin to feel full you are likely to experience feelings of guilt or shame. These feelings will add to the anxiety and distress that caused the binge pushing you into a vicious cycle. Discussing your concerns and behaviour with a loved one or professional may be hard at first but it will help you to untangle and escape this cycle.
Long-term physical effects
Many people with Binge Eating Disorder will become over weight or obese. This can lead to problems with blood pressure and can cause heart disease and diabetes. In the majority of cases, the physical symptoms of binge eating disorder can be reduced or reversed once you are eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking regular exercise.
What can you expect during recovery
How you might feel
Admitting that you have a problem and seeking help can be frightening. You may feel ashamed and confused by your behaviour. Sufferers who have broken through these barriers often report feeling of relief to have everything out in the open. Dealing with Binge Eating Disorder on your own is far more terrifying than dealing with it with the support and help of loved ones and professionals.
Talking about your behaviour and the emotions related to it will help you to unravel and break the cycle of binge eating and emotional turmoil. The urge to binge will not disappear straight away; you will have good days and bad days. But every time you resist the urge you will learn a little bit more about yourself and the ways in which you might cope with life without your eating disorder.
Some suffers of Binge Eating Disorder have reported feeling more exposed and anxious as they lose weight and the emotional protection that the eating disorder provided. You may find that your mood is more erratic without the option of binging to help you to control your emotions. These feelings will pass over time as you develop your self-esteem and confidence and discover alternative ways of dealing with stressful situations and difficult emotions.
With regular and balanced meals you will see a decline in the physical symptoms of binge eating disorder such as poor skin and feelings of lethargy. It will take your body a while to get used to eating regularly and you may find that weight fluctuates until your metabolism settles and your body learns to expect food in certain quantities at certain times.
It can be difficult to know how much to eat and when to eat at first. A professional eating disorders specialist, dietician or you GP can help you with this. Once you have an outline diet, try to stick to it and be patient in waiting for your weight to settle and the physical symptoms of binge eating disorder to subside.