The comfort eating curse

Binge Eating Disorder

For many men and women alike, exists a battle with weight control.

As a species we attempt many different approaches to food and movement in efforts to lose excess body fat.

In the 21st century research has tried to go further into understanding the success and failures of diets, the science behind how what we eat shapes and maintains our bodies, and most importantly for this post, how our emotional connection with food affects how much, what, when and sometimes even where we eat.

Comfort eating.

More accurately I’m talking about what the NHS refer to as Binge Eating Disorder.
‘regularly eating large portions of food all at once until you feel uncomfortably full, and then often upset or guilty’.

I find personally that when I experience a period of stress and upset I will find reasons or excuses to condone over-eating in the evening. I may suggest a film or decide that I’m going to start a diet the next day so I just want one last chance to eat the things which make me feel distracted enough but inevitably lead to weight gain. The problem is that after I’ve gone out and bought this food (usually junk like cream cakes, chocolate, and chewy sweets – because they take longer to eat) I feel ashamed. I might then eat some in the car so that I go into the house with less. This makes the guilt worse but at least I’m not thinking about the actual cause of discontentment right?
So then the thoughts return and here I am with all this food left from earlier, my daughter has gone to bed and no longer am I being mommy… I feast. I eat everything and I feel full again for a while until the next time I’m faced with those hard to face emotions. I impulsively act to gather food that I need and then regardless of not wanting to eat it all, I just do. I cannot stop myself from trying to fill the void or silence the uncontrolled emotions inside. What is unusual is that I have no control after the split second decision that I need to binge. I can’t stop myself.

I’m just now wondering if this is subconsciously a move towards a tangible and present stimulation over the more harmful internal stimulation?

Symptoms of binge eating disorder…
• Eating fast during a binge
• Eating until uncomfortably full
• Eating when not hungry
• Eating in secret or deliberately alone
• Feeling ashamed, depressed, guilty or disgusted after binge eating.

Symptoms in others…
• Hiding what they are eating
• Gathering large supplies of food
• Weight gain (not in all cases)
• Eating large amounts very quickly

It’s not about choosing to eat extra-large portions, nor are people who suffer just “overindulging”. Binges are very distressing for some and are not periods of happiness through food as many non bingers assume. Sufferers find it difficult to stop during a binge even if they want to, and whilst binge eating some feel disconnected from what they’re doing and may even struggle to recall what they’ve actually eaten.

Cause of binge eating?
While the cause of binge eating is not clear in all cases, it seems that for many there is an emotional need as much as there are habitual behaviours.
The NHS determine that you are more at risk of developing an eating disorder if:
• There is a family history of eating disorders, depression, alcoholism, or drug addiction
• You have been criticized for eating habits, weight and body shape
• You’re concerned with being slim particularly if this is motivated by societal pressures or job
• Suffering from anxiety, low self esteem, obsessive personality or seeking perfectionism
• Having suffered sexual abuse

This week I have gained 5lbs which I know will take a while to lose if I cant discover a way to sever the emotional dependance I have on particular foods.

My hope is that in sharing this you might recognise someone close to you as struggling with their weight, binge eating for comfort or distraction etc and help them to see how counterproductive the cyclical behaviour of comfort eating and the quest for good health can be.
If we can better identify and support people who over eat in this way, then with little effort we could enable those around us to feel supported and strong enough to put the food down and seek a genuinely healthy connection and alternative.

When we reduce a genuine problem to the term ‘comfort eating’ without really understanding what this means to the individual, we are putting others at risk.

Over eating is as much a problem as not eating or not eating enough. The impacts on health can be significant.

Please find below a list of resources and contacts for support with eating disorders if you feel that you or someone close to you may require advice.

With love and hope for your success, Unchained Inside.


Useful links

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