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Binge Eating Disorder Series, Part 1: Is it Possible to Be Overweight and Have an Eating Disorder?


The common misconception is that only very thin individuals can have eating disorders. The sad truth is an eating disorder can affect anyone of any weight, even the obese. Although many think of anorexia or bulimia as the most prominent eating disorders, the fact is there are actually many eating disorders. Some of the most common eating problems among the overweight include emotional eating, compulsive overeating, and even bulimia.

The most serious eating disorder among the overweight is binge eating disorder, and although people of any weight may have it, it is mainly diagnosed in the overweight and obese. It is different from bulimia, in that those who overeat do not immediately purge (vomit) afterwards.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

This is a serious mental illness in which a person frequently consumes an unusually large amount of food and feels unable to stop eating. Unfortunately, the majority of those who have binge eating disorder never realize they have an actual mental illness. The main reason those who have the disorder get treatment is after many years of unsuccessful yo-yo dieting, and they may also suffer from depression or shame that they cannot conquer their unstable relationship with food.

Symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  1. Eating when you are full or not hungry
  2. Feeling you cannot control your eating
  3. Eating too quickly
  4. Eating even though you feel stuffed
  5. Eating in secret, away from others
  6. Feeling shameful about your eating
  7. Frequent, unsuccessful diets
  8. You do not purge, exercise excessively, or use laxatives after overeating (this is a symptom of bulimia)

Do I Have Binge Eating Disorder?

Although everyone overindulges occasionally, there’s a difference between splurging and going back for seconds versus having binge eating disorder. There is also a difference between mindless eating and binge eating, in that with mindless eating, you aren’t compelled to stuff yourself, and you don’t have a compulsion to keep eating even though you’re full. With binge eating, negative feelings about food are more common. You may feel like a failure, or a hopeless disappointment. You may have shame and anxiety about eating with others, and these feelings can even trigger the next binge. You may be triggered by stress, but even the availability of preferred binge foods can cause you to overeat.

You can bring the binge/diet/repeat cycle to an end, though, with hard work and dedication. Just like with other addictions, food addiction is real, and it’s likely something you’ll always struggle with even if you lose weight. Consider the possibility seriously that you could have an eating disorder and getting treatment, which is different from going on yet another failed diet.

Help for Binge Eating Disorder

If you have symptoms of binge eating disorder, it’s important to seek help from a doctor, and it would benefit you to seek psychotherapy, as well. A skilled psychologist can help you learn how to cultivate body positivity and a better relationship with food. Psychotherapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy, and dialectical behavior therapy. Medication may help moderate to severe binge eating disorder in an adult patient, such as the stimulant Vyvanse.

A behavioral weight loss program may be a part of your binge eating disorder treatment, but it you should be in psychotherapy first to be a good candidate, and be under medical supervision to ensure your nutritional needs are met. Your weight loss coach can help you address your triggers and help you learn how to love your body and the skin you’re in.

If you think you have binge eating disorder, seek immediate medical attention. To address the issue of weight loss, contact us at (504) 475-9817 to speak to a compassionate, friendly weight loss coach at Soza Weight Loss today.

Next week, we will discuss more about binge eating disorder, and whether weight loss is an indicator of BED recovery.

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