Advice by Kaela: Is Binge Eating Really An Eating Disorder?
By Kaela Scott
Q: I struggle with Binge Eating but everyone just keeps telling me it’s about willpower. Is Binge Eating really an Eating Disorder?
A: There are many tragic experiences that people who struggle with eating disorders experience and this is one of them. Often, when we see people bingeing, especially if they struggle with their weight as a result, it is assumed that their struggle is due to the individual lacking restraint and that the pain that’s caused is self-inflicted. Typically individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder feel as though they aren’t entitled to their seat at the eating disorder table. For those of you in this position I want to assure you, you are.
So what is a binge eating disorder? BED involves:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
-eating, in a discrete period of time (for example, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
-a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (for example, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
- The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
-eating much more rapidly than normal
-eating until feeling uncomfortably full
-eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
-eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
-feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards
- Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
- The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.
- The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behaviour (for example, purging) and does not occur exclusively during the course of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, or Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder.
Just as with anorexia, bulimia or any other eating disorder, this eating disorder causes significant pain and interferes with one’s ability to engage in their life as they would like. When someone struggles with binge eating disorder their relationships are impacted, they socially isolate, and the individual has a destructive relationship with self. If you are struggling with this eating disorder I strongly recommend that you give yourself permission to reach out and ask for support. I know it can be challenging to fight for your recovery when it feels like others don’t understand the severity of your pain. Your struggle is just as important and just as concerning as anyone else’s disorder and you deserve to receive support so you can invest safely in your recovery journey and get to the other side.
Kaela Scott is a Registered Clinical Counsellor who specializes in Eating Disorders. She runs her own private practice and works with the Looking Glass Foundation in both their summer camp and their Hand In Hand Program. She has been passionate about working with eating disorders since freeing herself from her own struggle and realizing what it is like to be happy and well. When she isn’t working, you can find Kaela either cozying up with a cup of tea and her friends or up in the mountains going for a hike.