Profile of Binge Eating
Binge eating disorder is characterized by consuming large quantities of food in a very short period until the individual is uncomfortably full. Binge eating disorder is much like bulimia except the individuals do not use any form of purging (i.e. vomiting, laxatives, fasting, etc.) following a binge. Individuals usually feel out of control during a binge episode, followed by feelings of guilt and shame. Many individuals who suffer with binge eating disorder use food as a way to cope with or block out feelings and emotions they do not want to feel. Individuals can also use food as a way to numb themselves, to cope with daily life stressors, to provide comfort to them or fill a void they feel within. Like all eating disorders, binge eating is a serious problem but can be overcome through proper treatment.
Binge eating alone rarely causes significant medical complications. Gastric rupture, the most serious complication, is uncommon. More often, patients describe nausea, abdominal pain and distention, prolonged digestion and weight gain. The combination of heightened anxiety, physical discomfort and intense guilt provokes the drive to purge the food by self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise or the misuse of ipecac, laxatives or diuretics. These purgative methods are associated with the more serious complications of bulimia nervosa.