The Eating Disorder Many Women Don’t Know They Have

A quart of ice cream after a break up, finishing an entire pizza by yourself, waiting to be alone in your kitchen so you can raid the fridge. Eating disorders aren't about avoiding food, it can be about eating far too much. Binge Eating Disorder(BED) is estimated to affect 2.8 million women and men.

BED is different from bulimia, which is characterized by a cycle of eating large amounts of food and purging to get rid of extra calories. Unlike anorexia sufferers, people with BED aren’t bent on controlling their weight and shape.

As explained by Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD, a renowned expert on eating disorders:

• The age of onset is typically around 21 years old; other eating disorders tend to start in the teen years.

• People with BED typically quickly consume abnormally large amounts of food in one sitting. They feel out-of-control and unable to stop themselves, and eat until they are over-stuffed—well past the point of feeling full.

• Binging at least once a week for three months is a defining criterion for having BED.

• People with BED come in all shapes and sizes—they can be overweight, underweight, normal weight, or obese. The condition occurs equally among men and women, and among all races.

• Binging is often done secretly, and the drive to do it is so consuming that a person will miss out on social events to eat.

• A heavy sense of shame follows the binge.

• The basis of BED is a mix of neurochemical reactions and family history.

Sunny Sea Gold, a journalist and eating disorder advocate recalls a time when she went on a trip to South Beach, Miami, with coworkers. One night, she recalled, “everyone was going out to a club and I didn’t go—I couldn’t wait to be alone in the hotel room and eat.”

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