Binge eating is industrial strength overeating. An episode of binge eating generally has a trigger – usually a situation, a thought or a feeling that makes someone uncomfortable. Although there are some people who have “binge buddies,” most people binge alone and would be embarrassed if others knew what and how much they ate during a binge.
Binge eating is characterized by eating a very large amount of food, especially when not physically hungry, eating very fast to the point of discomfort and a general feeling out being of control. Once the powerful urge to binge has subsided, the binge eater is generally filled with shame, guilt, depression and/or remorse over the episode of binge eating.
Binge eating differs from ordinary overeating in its intensity. Generally when we overeat, we’re aware and present to some extent. In the midst of a binge, it can feel as if we’re in an altered state of consciousness. We’re aware of being driven to consume and not much else.
Here’s a new way to think about binge eating. Stop thinking of binge eating as a problem. Think of it as a symptom. The desperate need to binge is calling your attention to something in your life that is very out of balance. Your body is trying to get your attention. Learn to listen to your body’s wisdom.
What could a binge be signaling? It could be letting your know that your body is nutritionally deficient. This is ironic because you could be eating a lot of food and still feel the need to binge. However, if the quality of the food you’re consuming is poor, your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, so it’s compelling you to eat more in an attempt to nourish itself.
A binge could also be an expression of suppressed emotion. Is there something in your life that you’re not facing? Perhaps something happened to you that was too painful to deal with at the time. Perhaps you’re avoiding expressing certain emotions so as not to make others around you uncomfortable. Or perhaps you’re under a lot of pressure from ordinary irritations in life and haven’t been able to let it out. Alternately, if you exercise extremely tight control in other areas of your life, the compulsion to binge could be an escape valve for all that control.
Looked at this way, a binge can be a useful way of calling your attention to something that needs to be attended to. In a future post, I’ll share some healthy strategies for dealing with binge eating.
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon page on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest for healthy eating tips, inspiring quotes, videos and photos and more.