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“Eating disorders are estimated to affect approximately 9% of the Australian population.” National Eating Disorders Collaboration.
Like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, binge eating is classified as an eating disorder. Research has found that binge eating is the most common eating disorder in Australia and one of the factors that predispose obesity. Marked by frequent episodes of excessive over-eating, feelings of shame and a loss of control often accompany the “disorder”.
While many people who binge eat feel terribly alone, more people are stepping forward to get professional assistance to enjoy a healthier and happier life. Tennis champion Monica Seles went public about her experience with binge eating. Seles says she would often go home at night and binge excessively on pretzels and potato chips. Knowing the isolation that hiding the disorder from others causes, she’s keen to raise awareness about this crippling difficulty. Seles says the disorder surfaced as a result of stress associated with being an elite athlete as well as the trauma of her much publicised court-side assault.
We commonly hear people say that once they eat something they consider bad, they think there’s no point changing course since they’ve already eaten something which goes against their best intentions. If you step on broken glass, most people don’t say “oh well, I failed, so I’ll just keep walking on more glass.” But for many binge eaters, it can seem easier to turn one encounter with some “bad food”, into an out of control binge.
How do you know if you’re a binge eater who needs help?
If your eating habits are dominated by consuming large amounts of food quickly, and not being able to stop even when your stomach is full, it’s probable you’re a binge eater. Other predominant symptoms are feeling out of control during a binge and then experiencing shame and guilt afterwards. Also preoccupation with thoughts of food, planning and effort to suppress those thoughts are somewhat common.
What causes someone to become a binge eater?
Common reasons for developing symptoms of an eating disorder usually involve an underlying psychological disturbance, with symptoms such as:
- Poor impulse control
- Low self-esteem
- Distorted body image
- Unprocessed grief or trauma
- Relationship issues
- Social isolation
- Self loathing
- Difficulty tolerating distressing emotions that were not mastered during childhood
Associated problems can include digestive complaints, guilt, shame, joint pain and degeneration, self-hatred, fatigue, depression and more. Eating problems are also common in individuals who experienced sexual or emotional abuse in their younger years.
There are risks associated with binge eating
Do you stop with one slice of cake? If limit setting is consistently challenging, it may be time to reach out for help. Those who engage in regular overindulgence in food are at risk of becoming overweight or obese, which can pose further general health and medical problems.
Binge eating is treatable
Many binge eaters complain of feeling out of control. It’s curious how much demand our culture places on being in control, a demand which can paradoxically contribute to out of control eating. Mindfulness or other acceptance based methods therefore may be part of the treatment puzzle, but only to a point. The other essential component in addressing compulsive eating is uncovering and addressing the underlying unconscious conflict and unique meaning the binges have, which involves an in depth exploration of the past. The latter is achieved in therapy over time by saying more than you consciously know about yourself, with assistance from your therapist.
The trained psychotherapists at Bayside Psychotherapy can help you regain control of your eating patterns. Our aim is to address eating disorders not as simple food issues but at the level of particular thoughts and feelings which give rise to bingeing rituals. Such contributing thoughts are not always obvious or even conscious at first. Our methods come from extensive experience with many patients and are based on several treatment options. In addition to therapy some self help resources are popular, although they were intended to compliment therapy sessions:
How long will treatment to overcome binge eating take?
Treatment dosage and duration varies between people. Every treatment is tailored to your situation and adjusted to ensure you continue to progress. We may include one or a combination of Buddhist Psychotherapy, Mindfulness Therapy, Psychodynamic, Hypnotherapy and other counselling methods. The point is to find out what best suits you during the preliminary sessions. If psychoanalysis or even psychotherapy are engaged, treatment of the cause can often take months or years. Either way an initial session is necessary to gain a sense of what is necessary to address the source of your binge eating compulsion.
Call Bayside Psychotherapy today on (03) 9557 9113 to find out if we can help you overcome the temptation to binge eat. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.
We can work together so you can overcome compulsive overeating.
An initial online therapy session is the first step to take.
Otherwise make an inquiry by using our contact form.
Binge eating therapy sessions are conducted securely online by video conferencing software and can easily be booked online.
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8:30am – 5:30am
Monday – Friday
(closed on public holidays)
Choose your own date and time for an online session
- Monday 8:00am to 8:00pm
- Tuesday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Wednesday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Thursday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Friday 8:30am to 8:00pm
- Saturday 8:00am to 6:00pm