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A proper diet nourishes the body, satisfies the palate, boosts energy, and keeps neurotransmitters in check. Eating three to four times a day to quench hunger and fuel the body is necessary to maintain good health. Using food as a reward, to change or improve a mood, on demand or on principle, for most people is indulging -or over indulging.

However, consuming a large amount of food in a short period of time, feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not hungry, and feeling a loss of control are symptoms of Binging an Emotional Eating Disorder. Other symptoms include: consuming food alone, eating beyond feeling full, and feelings of depression and guilt after eating. Although often undetected or ignored by health care providers, Binge Eating Disorder affects the physical and psychological wellbeing. The counselors and therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services diagnoses and treat Emotional Eating Disorders.

Binge eating is a common eating disorder impacting a growing population of the United States. Unlike Anorexia and Bulimia, which generally impacts women and young girls, Binge Eating is common in men, women, and in overweight children. Different from the recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia, Binge Eating is often diagnosed in “yoyo” dieters, the severely obese, and linked to other mental health disorders. Although researchers have been studying Binge Eating Disorder (unrelated to bulimia), for decades, only recently has it been classified by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Causes have been tied to a combination of cultural, biological, and psychological factors.

As people in third world countries are starving, the rage in developed countries are super-sized “Biggy” foods and snacks. In addition, artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate, salt, sugar, and trans-fats have been shown to have a negative impact on leptin, the hormone that lets you know when you’ve had enough to eat. With easy 24-hour access, convenience, and round-the-clock advertising and marketing, eating as a way to cope with emotions and stress is spreading.

Untreated, binge eating can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, unemployment, failed relationships, loss of sexual drive, low self-esteem, and depression. With psychotherapy, medication, nutrition counseling, individual, couples, and group sessions, the counselors and therapists of Improving Lives Counseling Services can help. If you or someone you care about display fluctuations in weight, are constantly snacking, sneaking off to eat alone, or turning to food to sooth mood swings, call us.