Binge Eating Disorder (BED) refers to eating vast amounts of food, without feeling hungry, to forget and drown out emotions. The person then feels shame and guilt after engaging in this act. So, what drives a person to binge eat? This disorder comes from a complex combination of several factors, be it sociocultural, genetic, or psychological. Let us explore these causes one by one.
Almost 50% of individuals who binge eat have depression. However, experts are not yet sure whether binge eating causes depression or the other way around. Nevertheless, depressed people most likely came from a stressful life event, such as the death of a family member or physical and emotional abuse. Feeling the emotions brought about by the trauma leads them to overeat and wallow in pity.
During the holidays you are literally surrounded by triggers that could lead to disordered eating behaviors. — Danielle Swimm LCPC
There are two ways to acquire BED from the family—either through the genes or lifestyle. Approximately 90% of those diagnosed with BED get it genetically through a parent with the same condition. Professionals say that neurobiological components occur inside the body. This activity leads to these individuals losing control of their eating behaviors.
Your parents’ genes might also increase the sensitivity of dopamine, a hormone responsible for stirring pleasure after a reward. Hence, you’ll feel more attracted to the idea of binge eating being your prize.
Having BED also depends on your family’s behavior. Remember, the habits you observe from your family or other people close to you will most likely influence the way you eat. If you see that your dad or mom overeat often, the tendency is that you’ll see this as acceptable behavior.
Implementing your diet process in the wrong way may lead to binge eating. It happens whenever individuals follow improper diets like eating too little or skipping several meals. The more you practice these, the more you’ll feel hungry all the time, and this can lead to the possibility of binge eating.
On the other hand, people also acquire BED due to expectations. If they do not reach their weight goals on time, they feel more frustrated and guilty with themselves, which leads them to eat even more.
Just because someone is overweight does not mean he or she binges or overeats. — Jennifer Kromberg PsyD
Society dictates and influences the way you see your body. Chances are, you’ll feel more obligated to do something just so your body image conforms to the standard of society. And once you fail to reach this, your feelings of embarrassment and shame might trigger binge eating.
Those who struggle with BED exude the following characteristics:
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Unaccepting with his or her body image
These psychological factors drive a person to binge eat. The desire to eat a lot even increases once these psychological factors concur with other mental health disorders such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
People sometimes take BED for granted. Little do they know it leads to adverse effects such as increasing the health risks and messing with both your physical and mental health. By engaging in healthy lifestyle strategies, you can address this bingeing problem and live a happier and healthier life.
With practice, you can learn how to sit with and ride out the urges that you experience. — Jennifer Rollin MSW, LCSW-C