Identifying Signs and Symptoms of Binge Eating in Colorado Adolescents

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Though Colorado is sometimes labeled the “Fitness State”, eating disorders are prevalent among Colorado adolescents. Binge eating disorder is a condition where people eat large amounts of food in a short period of time, usually one or two hours, and feel unable to stop eating. Feeling shame after eating is another part of the disease, and those with BED do not purge regularly after binge eating, as bulimics might.

The typical onset of binge eating disorder is late teens to early 20s. The disorder affects both men and women, with about 40 percent of those affected being male. People with BED are often overweight, but some may be of normal weight. Some with BED diet when they are not binge eating, while others do not.

There is usually an emotional component to BED, in which the binge eating helps sufferers regulate their emotions and feel better when they are upset. Over time, binge eaters become dependent on the binging in order to feel better and the pattern is reinforced.

Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

The first sign of binge eating disorder is losing control of yourself while eating. This often happens in childhood or early adolescence, before the full-blown disorder develops. Here are some other signs and symptoms of BED.

  • Eating when full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly while binging
  • Eating until uncomfortably full
  • Often eating alone or secretly
  • Negative feelings about your eating, i.e. disgust, depression, shame, guilt
  • Frequently dieting but not losing weight

Restricting and dieting may make BED worse since the desire for food builds up and extreme hunger is harder to satisfy. The number of episodes of BED per week determines the severity of the disorder.

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Risks of Binge Eating Disorder

BED takes a toll on your body. Being overweight or obese exposes you to a whole host of possible medical problems including heart disease, bone and joint pain and diseases, diabetes, digestive system problems, and even infertility. Your lifespan will likely be shortened if you remain overweight.

Another risk of BED is that the stomach may rupture if too much food is eaten too quickly. This is a rare but life-threatening condition.

The emotional effects of binge eating include social isolation, poor self-image, depression, and anxiety. People with BED often have difficulty developing healthy relationships and may spend much of their time thinking about food, either to binge or to diet.

Treatment for BED involves teaching body acceptance no matter what your size or shape and emotional regulation to help you learn to stop impulsive eating behaviors and regain control even when negative emotions are present.

Learning to change thought patterns and responses to emotional stimuli will help those with BED stop those behaviors and replace them with healthier ones. They will learn to resist the urges to binge when they can deal with their emotions in healthier ways.

Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers treatment for substance abuse disorders and the eating disorders that sometimes co-occur with addiction. Contact us for more information about our programs.