by Brenda Genas
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)
Anorexia occurs when a person refuses to eat or eats a very small and restricted diet. This can be dangerous, as the body does not receive all of the nutrients it needs to function.
However, the opposite of this condition, eating too much, is also a very serious kind of eating disorder. Called binge-eating, overeating can cause a myriad of health problems now and in later years of life.
If you or someone you know is battling a binge-eating disorder, seek help from a medical professional immediately.
Binge-eating is different from bulimia because the person does not purge the food after eating it. With bulimia, a person usually excessively eats and then purges (vomits or abuses laxatives) to remove the food from the body.
Binge-eaters do not purge, so they are less at a risk for stomach ulcers, tooth decay, and throat problems. However, because they binge-eat several thousands of calories at a time, binge-eaters are usually overweight, sometimes grossly overweight and other times just moderately overweight.
Binge-eaters are overly concerned with food and their bodies in most cases. They use food as comfort and usually have specific food on which they binge. Sometimes, in a single sitting, binge-eaters can consume over 20,000 calories.
The foods binged on are often junk foods that have little nutritional value, so binge-eaters may also suffer from nutrient deficiencies.
Binge-eating leads to being overweight, which causes a number of health problems. Heart disease is the most commonly associated problem with being overweight, and high blood pressure and cholesterol can also occur.
All of these can lead to both stroke and heart attack, which many times result in death. Binge-eaters also suffer from mental diseases as well, such as depression and anxiety. For these reasons, binge eating can be very dangerous.
Help is available for those who want it. Steps include medication to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, operations such as gastric bypass surgery to stop feelings of hunger, and counseling to help people with depressive tendencies. Education about the food pyramid and how to plan healthy meals is also important.
Binge-eating is just as serious as anorexia and bulimia, although it is a problem that is less portrayed in the media. Males are especially prone to binge-eating, more than other eating disorders, and this is an eating disorder that can begin at an early stage of life.
Be healthy and get help if you find yourself binge eating.