Binge Eating Disorder: The “New” Eating Disorder

In today’s society, one of the main mental health problems that is increasing in prevalence are Eating Disorders (from now on eating disorders). As we well know, these are serious psychiatric illnesses , with marked behavioral disturbances and excessive concern for weight and body shape. We have plenty of knowledge about anorexia and bulimia, the eating disorders par excellence. However, in 2013 it was classified a “new” TCA: the binge eating disorder (from now TPA). And I put the word new in quotessince it is not entirely true. In fact, there is evidence of the existence of this pathology since the 1960s, but it is now that it has been officially recognized and conceptualized as the 3rd ACT.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by a pattern of altered eating behavior, in which the individual who suffers from it has recurrent episodes of binge eating . During these episodes the intakes are, both in quantity and voracity, higher than what anyone would normally eat in the same period of time. Likewise, the feeling of lack of control over what is ingested during the binge episode always predominates . In fact, in a binge these people can eat a monumental caloric quantity, reaching in some cases 20,000 kcal.In addition, it must be taken into account that a single binge episode is not necessarily limited to the same environment, but, for example, the individual can start the binge in a restaurant and continue it at home.

EYE! Chopping food in small amounts during the day is not considered binge eating.

And now we will think, does this very thing that we just said not fit perfectly with the description that catalogs bulimia nervosa? Indeed. TPA and bulimia are very similar disorders, so much so that until a few years ago it was even thought that TPA could be a subtype of bulimia nervosa. However, there is a fundamental difference that is what causes them to be classified as two EDs independent of each other: the recurrence of compensatory behaviors inappropriate after the binge episode. While the individual with bulimia resorts to purging methods to avoid weight gain (such as self-induced vomiting, excessive physical activity and the use of laxatives and diuretics among others), the individual with TPA does not carry out any type of purging as a method. of compensation.

However, the fact of not resorting to any type of compensatory behavior in the TPA does not imply the absence of guilt and discomfort regarding the binge episode that occurred. In fact, these people experience intense discomfort after bingeing and are equally disappointed in themselves, ashamed and depressed. Likewise, many times binge eaters are given secretly out of shame that other people see them eat so voraciously.

Thus, the close relationship of TAP with overweight and obesity is to be expected, since the absence of compensatory measures after binge eating notably favors weight gain. Because of this, the main concern of people with APD is related, on the one hand, to the lack of control they suffer from eating and, on the other hand, to the effects that such binges can have on weight and figure, That affects self-esteem, leading the individual to progressive psychological and social deterioration.

With all this, we will also ask ourselves about the causes that lead a person to act like this when faced with food. Generally, as in all eating disorders, the origin tends to point to a set of factors, highlighting the sociocultural factor and the diet factor.. With the latter we do not come to refer to the repeated monitoring of inadequate diets or “miracle” diets without professional supervision that have ended in failure or that have been governed by an important food ban. This is coherent with the body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem of the individual, which generates frustration. This frustration translates again into an episode of lack of control over eating, which will be followed by the feeling of guilt that will take the person to the starting point: starting another period of diet in order to reduce guilt and body dissatisfaction. Therefore, we are faced with a complex vicious binge-diet cycle mediated by the emotions of the individual from which it is very difficult to get out.

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