With the arrival of Eating Disorders Awareness Week on Monday 26th February, we saw people all over the world sharing their stories, raising money and providing help and advice to those of us who may be struggling in a similar situation. However, an important part of raising awareness on any taboo subject is making sure we address it in its entirety. It’s time to talk about the ignored eating disorder: binge eating.
Although many people may not even consider binge eating on its own to be an illness, it is the most common eating disorder in the US at present. For plenty of us, it’s easy to place it outside of these realms because we overeat regularly. I am personally all too familiar with continuing to eat way past the point of hunger, whether it be finishing that huge meal that I really didn’t need, or ordering dessert in a restaurant despite knowing it’ll be a squeeze.
However, more severe levels of binge eating than this affect much of the population, to the point where it becomes a disorder (commonly referred to as BED). Eating disorders are often characterised as being emotionally charged or compulsive and demonstrating a loss of control. Binge eating, in particular, tends to involve eating a lot of food in a short period of time and feeling guilty or distressed afterwards; in many cases, it leads to excessive weight gain.
Yet it is neglected in the place of labelling people with the disorder as greedy or lacking in willpower, meaning that huge numbers of the population either don’t know that they suffer from BED or are too embarrassed to seek the help they really need. In addition to this, it can be difficult identify BED in ourselves and other people due to it being in the nature of our society to overeat, but it exists nonetheless.
It’s about time we broke down the stigma surrounding binge eating and gave people with this disorder the proper support and treatment they deserve to aid a healthy recovery. It is a real issue and it’s affecting people all over the world. It is not a choice, it is a mental illness and similar to other mental illnesses, should not be shamed or disregarded.
The following websites contain more information and advice on BED and other eating disorders:
(Image courtesy of Metro)