Binge-eating disorder is a type of eating disorder affecting one in 50 people. Usually young people who are suffering with this condition, find it very difficult to tell anyone about it, and so often don’t get help early enough. Without help, people may live with this condition secretly for years, with serious impacts affecting their social, physical and mental health. People with binge-eating disorder do not choose to over eat, they are unable to prevent themselves from eating large quantities of food, often in secret and in a way that feels out of control.
Feelings of guilt and shame
The person might feel shame at eating in this way without being able to control urges, and guilt and loneliness at keeping this secret from family and loved ones. Sometimes going to extreme lengths to maintain the secret, hiding, stealing and lying to keep it secret, increasing the feelings of shame, guilt and loneliness. Life can become revolved around food binges which can start to take over the usual functions daily life. It can be very hard to ask for help. The UK eating disorders charity B-EAT (beating eating disorders) or Young Minds, a mental health charity for young people, provides further information about the condition, and how to get help.
For some young people, binge-eating may appear to offer some benefits – initially good feelings, freedom do-what-I-want, rebellion even. This is usually short-lived with negative feelings such as exhaustion and emotions of shame and guilt. People who binge eat describe feelings of numbness, being zoned -out or emotionally absent following a binge. A time when they are not “present” to their feelings, sometimes not remembering what happened. This activity can be a coping strategy for other difficult to manage problems. Whether it’s a way to escape anger, conflict, uncertainty – finding other more healthy coping strategies, and asking for help are really important ways to improve mental health and actively avoid problems like depression and anxiety in adult life.