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What is Binge Eating Disorder or (BED)?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is a serious eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of consuming large quantities of food in a short period of time, often accompanied by a sense of loss of control during the episode. Unlike bulimia nervosa, individuals with BED do not regularly engage in compensatory behaviors such as vomiting or excessive exercise to counteract the binge eating episodes.

Key features of binge eating disorder include:

  1. Binge eating episodes: Consuming an unusually large amount of food in a discrete period of time (e.g., within two hours).
  2. Loss of control: Feeling a lack of control over eating during the binge episode, such as feeling unable to stop eating or regulate what or how much is eaten.
  3. Emotional distress: Binge eating is often associated with feelings of guilt, shame, or disgust afterward, which can exacerbate the cycle of binge eating.
  4. Frequency: Binge eating episodes typically occur at least once a week over a period of several months.

People with binge eating disorder may eat rapidly, eat alone due to embarrassment about the quantity of food being consumed, and may eat until they feel uncomfortably full. BED can also look like all day grazing on food out of an emotional need resulting in unusually large amounts of food being consumed outside of meal time. BED can lead to significant physical health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It is also associated with psychological distress and can co-occur with other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.

Treatment for binge eating disorder often involves psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), which helps individuals address the emotional triggers and dysfunctional thoughts associated with binge eating. Nutritional counseling and support groups may also be beneficial. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms and support recovery.

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