It doesn’t take long before the child becomes addicted to binge eating, a hard habit to break. It is easy for parents to ignore the first warning signs or rationally justify them. Parents may even come up with excuses for the behavior. Parents can even find reasons to support the phenomenon.
It’s important to note that binge eating and bulimia are two different things. Bulimia includes the habit afterward of purging. Please read our article Understanding Bulimia & the Different Treatment Options to learn more about this disorder. Everyone overeats occasionally. Everybody enjoys an extra pie from time to time, and Thanksgiving is a holiday that celebrates excess. When does binge eating become an issue? Who is affected? What can you do?
What is Binge-Eating?
Overeating is a disorder that has only recently been recognized. It can affect anyone. It is described in detail on MayoClinic.org, but the symptoms include:
- A feeling of being out of control when eating.
- Inability to stop eating.
- Even when you are not hungry, you can eat.
- Shame is a deep-seated feeling that comes with an act.
- Eat quickly and for an extended period.
- Ignoring feelings that you are satiated to keep eating.
- Eating alone out of shame or embarrassment.
It is easy to see how this situation can spiral into a vicious circle. Stress and emotional issues can cause a child to binge eat. The guilt and shame that follows the binge-eating act will trigger even more stress. This, in turn, will lead to more binge eating. This is a self-perpetuating problem that almost always needs outside intervention.
What causes binge eating disorders?
Binge-eating is often associated with an inability to manage or control stress. Bullying can amplify this feeling of being out of control, especially for children. What causes binge-eating disorders? No one knows, but you can look at a few common factors.
Scientists are not sure how much biology plays a role. Genetics likely plays a role since binge eating runs in families. The internal chemistry of the body is another critical factor. Depression can have a 50 percent greater impact on your internal chemistry. Of course, being overweight increases your chances of developing this disorder. Please read our article on the causes of binge-eating disorders to learn more.
What can overeating do?
Overeating has many consequences. Overeating can have many products. Some are physical, while others have emotional and psychological effects that can make it even more challenging to solve. Overeating is often done to reduce stress. It can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and regret.
Overeating for a long time can lead to depression and weight gain. It also leads to illness, high cholesterol, and obesity. Elevated cholesterol levels can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems, including death.
The other side of the coin is obesity, which has its risk factors. But that’s another article.
How to Stop Binge-Eating
It is a complex and detailed question. There are also multiple answers. Doctors and psychologists of repute say that the best solution is to combine several different actions and treatments.
First, you should apply cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is often combined with insight-oriented treatments. This method allows the person to change their thoughts, behaviors, and many of the triggers for binge eating. This page on PsychologyOfEating.com explains the matter further.
It is beneficial to combine this with group therapy. With group therapy, you are 75 percent more likely to break these patterns if you have an emotional support system. This success rate increases dramatically in teens and drops when the support system is missing. Group therapy can also help a person overcome the shame that may be causing this vicious cycle.
Some therapists combine these methods with self-help programs. These methods include journaling and meditation, which can help people identify dangerous, triggering, and destructive behaviors.
In addition to this, many doctors also provide educational support. This involves examining what the patient has been taught to eat. Talking to a nutritionist can help people understand what they should eat, when, and how much. It also allows them to make better food decisions and recognize the different types of hunger that cause overeating.
Antidepressants can help, in some cases, break the cycle caused by shame and guilt, which are often the root causes. Antidepressants may also help regulate appetite.
These are some alarming numbers.
More than 97 million Americans, or 65 percent, are obese. Over half of them are obese. If you are 20-30% over your ideal weight, that is considered obese.
According to reports, 4 million Americans suffer from binge eating disorder. The majority of them are overweight or will become so in the future. Half of them will be obese and develop all the associated health problems. Read our article Childhood Obesity – Epidemic of Tomorrow? to learn more about this issue.
When should someone seek help?
When is enough? When do you tell yourself, “This is unhealthy. It needs to stop”? You don’t want your child to be pre-diabetic or run out of breath just by climbing a few stairs.
Overeating is a shame problem. Shame is defined as the inability to accept the fact that you are overeating. If your child is struggling with an eating disorder, they may be aware of it but unable to ask for help or stop.