Binge Eating Disorder and tips to manage the condition

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Binge-eating can cause long-term health issues. (Photo: Getty Images)

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a form of eating disorder when a person regularly consumes more food than intended. It is also commonly referred to as compulsive overeating.

People who are diagnosed with BED consume food excessively until they are uncomfortably full without purging. The aftermath of their episode is usually an overwhelming sense of guilt or shame and can result in an extended period of self-loathing. Regular bingeing can also lead to various health issues such as weight gain and heart disease. However, BED is more than just about food. It is a recognised psychological condition that is best treated with a plan designed by a medical professional.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been an increase in binge eating cases in Singapore, with Singapore General Hospital seeing a 15% uptick in cases as compared to pre-pandemic. According to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, “Despite the medical complications and relatively high prevalence, eating disorders are not referred early for effective treatment due to the lack of specificity of the initial presentation and the range of clinical presentation.”

In this piece, Yahoo Life SEA outlines six helpful strategies on how to reduce episodes of binge eating which one can incorporate into their daily lives to support their recovery.

1. Seek medical help

The first step in overcoming BED is speaking to a medical professional. A treatment plan can involve a combination of therapy and medications, which can help bring the compulsive behaviour under control. Talking to a medical professional can also help identify and treat any underlying conditions that might trigger the disorder. Singaporeans can reach out to the Singapore General Hospital Eating Disorders Programme or KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital Adolescent Medicine Service to know more about seeking treatment.

2. Meal planning

Planning meals ahead of time allow one to make use of healthier ingredients and cooking methods for a healthier meal. Meal planning cultivates a regular eating schedule, which is proven to help decrease binge eating episodes.

3. Food journaling

Starting a food journal can help you keep track of what you eat and how you feel for that day, aiding in recognising patterns that might trigger binge-eating episodes. Learning your triggers can help reduce episodes and control impulses. A small study had also identified lower binge-eating frequency with the help of an online app that included keeping a food diary.

4. Practising mindfulness

By practising mindfulness and listening to your body, you will be paying more attention to how you eat and what your body needs. This also helps to increase awareness of the triggers that might kick off a binge-eating episode and help to control these impulses. A review had concluded that practising mindfulness by meditating decreased the occurrences of binge eating.

5. Setting a meal schedule

Setting up and sticking to a regular meal schedule is a great way to help those who binge eat. Avoid skipping meals as they can increase the chances of binge-eating when one suddenly feels an increased sense of hungriness. A study had found that adhering to a regular eating pattern helped to decrease the frequency of binge-eating.

6. Forget about dieting

While BED triggers can stem from insecurity in body image, dieting and fasting can do more harm than good for people with eating disorders. A five-year progressive study concluded that “fasting for weight control purposes is a more potent and consistent predictor of risk for future onset of binge eating and bulimic pathology.”

Instead of fasting, be more mindful of the foods you are eating to ensure a healthier diet. Increase your intake of whole and unprocessed foods and moderate your food intake to reduce binge-eating and achieve better health.

Previously, we erroneously attributed a quote to National Cancer Center. The article has been updated to reflect the edits. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.