Abusing food to heal isn’t healthy for body or mind

Tony Gorder

Tony Gorder

Overeating may be something that is made light of during the holiday season, but for some people, binge eating is a serious problem.

Binge eating is a disorder in which people consume unusually large quantities of food.

“It is usually accompanied by shame and secrecy,” said Jessica Remington, SDSU dietitian. “A binge eater may eat anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 calories in a single binge, whereas the typical range of calories in a day is somewhere between 1,500 and 3,000 calories for most people.”

The reasons for binge eating are not entirely known, said Remington, but psychological factors play a role.

“Psychological characteristics and emotions play a big role in binge eating. Often binge eaters have low self-esteem or self-worth and are not able to control their mood, impulsive behaviors or anger, which can lead them into binge eating,” said Remington.

Debra Johnson, clinical counseling supervisor at the Student Health Clinic and Counseling Services, said binge eating occurs as a nervous habit, a distraction from stress or as a response to negative emotion.

“Part of the case is by doing the binge eating, it becomes comforting,” said Johnson. “It gets to be a pattern of comfort. It usually provides a calmness.”

Some binge eaters show a binge-purge pattern by eating large quantities of food and after feeling guilt or shame, will exercise to the point of being unhealthy, said Johnson.

Bekah Kelly, a counseling graduate student from Lakeville, Minn., knows someone who is a binge eater.

“He only eats once a day, and when he does, he eats in very large amounts.”

Kelly said that her friend will eat as much as a whole box of Hamburger Helper, an entire jug of juice, a box of crackers and a bag of veggies all in one meal.

“Since he feels uncomfortable and repulsive after that, he won’t eat the next day,” said Kelly.

Physically, binge eating can lead to serious problems, such as being overweight. This can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems. It also heightens the risk of diabetes.

“If you do the pattern of eating and purging, you’re more at risk for cardio problems,” said Johnson.

Although Kelly said her friend has gotten better on his own without medical attention, seeking help is suggested.

“Someone who has a binge eating disorder should definitely see a doctor to get medical help,” said Remington. “Counseling is very beneficial, as well, and some medications can be used to help control underlying causes, such as depression and anxiety.”

#1.882153:3305618370.jpg:BingeEating.CMYK.ES.jpg::Ethan Swanson