What Causes a Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorders affect approximately 3 million people in the United States alone, and the reasons for which can be diverse and far reaching. There can be many reasons why someone eats to excess in a single sitting, including her own personal issues with peers, body image and even family lineage.  

There is no single formula that people who suffer from binge eating disorders follow. Some can have dramatic increases in body weight due to the huge amounts of calories that can be ingested at one sitting. Bulimia, on the other hand, involves purging the food or calorific content from the body after it has been consumed. Therefore, bulimics can show no discernible change in their weight.

Emotions

Sadness and depression are very common triggers in eating disorders, as people tend to “comfort eat” to feel better about themselves or their situation. Even boredom can lead to overeating in those who cannot find appropriate mental stimulation in their lives, and this can easily escalate until the eating gets out of hand.  If you find that you are comfort eating due to feeling sadness or depression, it may help to talk about your feelings with an understanding friend or family member.

Cultural Identity

In the case of bulimia, a common trigger for a binge eating session can be poor self image. Bulimia is generally more common in young girls who are in their late teens and early twenties. They can often compare themselves to skinny models gracing the covers of the hundreds of fashion and youth targeted magazines that are in publication in the Western world. The size zero catwalk model has long been seen and accepted–rightly or wrongly–as the image of beauty in the world. Therefore, a lot of people can feel pressured into trying to replicate that look in order to be accepted by their peers and society as a whole. Bulimia incorporates the binge eating of food for comfort, before engaging in extreme methods to void the calories from the body, such as excessive vomiting.

Biological Factors

Genetics may play a part in some forms of overeating disorders. Research is currently going on into how members of the same family sometimes seem to fall prey to the same disorders, although it is still in it’s early stages. If there are several family members suffering from the same binge eating disorder, it may well be that there could be an underlying genetic reason. It has also been suggested that an imbalance in chemicals in the brain can cause people to binge eat, as the signals that are sent to the stomach to indicate fullness go awry.  

Childhood Factors

A lot of the time, people with a binge eating disorder can trace the beginnings back to when they were children. As feeding children can be seen as a sign of love, affection and comfort, it can be easy for parents to go overboard on the food.  As the children grow up, they then associate food with love and comfort. This in turn means that in times of stress and negative emotions, they may turn to food as a comforter.

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