When most people think about eating disorders, they think of anorexia and bulimia. Yet binge eating — an eating disorder described as frequent, uncontrolled eating binges without purging (vomiting, laxative use or excessive exercise) — affects many more people. Surveys show about 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men suffer the disorder, and it’s strongly linked to obesity. (Less than 1 percent (0.9) of women and 0.3 percent of men suffer from anorexia nervosa, and about 1.5 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men have bulimia.)
Don’t be fooled by the small percentages. At those levels, eating disorders are considered a major public health problem.
Of course, that’s not news to many women who’ve struggled with weight. Surveys show at least 1/3 of women who seek weight loss are binge eaters. It certainly affects a large number of the women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run. Many of these women think they’re alone in their problem. They don’t realize that many other women are binge eaters, too. That simple realization can be a huge step forward, helping a woman let go of some of the shame she has about the problem. Which can help her gain the courage to seek treatment for binge eating.
Binge eating is often triggered by dieting, and many women are helped by learning to give up notions of good and bad foods, and giving themselves permission to eat what they like, part of the definition of mindful eating. In essence, the understanding and practice of a truly healthy lifestyle — one that celebrates the individual and the good things in life – can play a major part in helping women overcome binge eating.
Self esteem – and, hence, body image problems – lie at the root of binge eating. Which, of course, is a huge issue for women today. That brings us back to size and self-acceptance and that healthy lifestyle mentioned above.