Monday, November 2, 2009

Are you a binge-eater?

Following is a clinical description of a “binge eater” which I have excerpted from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition (DSM IV, 1994) used by the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations to identify and diagnose various disorders. One condition that they have labeled “binge-eating disorder” pertains to persons who eat in an out of control way. Following is a list of criteria that must be met in order for this diagnosis to apply. Please read the following information carefully. If you fit the criteria for binge-eating disorder (or if you struggle with Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa), I urge you to consult professionals who are knowledgeable and skilled in the treatment of food control issues.

Binge Eating Disorder

A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode is characterized by both of the following:
1. eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
2. a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)

B. The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
1. eating much more rapidly than normal
2. eating until feeling uncomfortably full
3. eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
4. eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
5. feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

C. Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.
D. The binge occurs, on average, at least two days a week for six months.
E. The binge eating is not associated with regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa. (If you are using these inappropriate, dangerous compensatory behaviors please do seek professional help.)

If you did meet the above criteria, begin by scheduling an appointment with your medical doctor for a complete physical (which includes appropriate blood work). You may also wish to consult someone who is open to holistic health and uses alternative practices in his or her work (such as herbal therapy, homeopathy, naturopathy, etc.) You may also want to consult with a nutritionist who is open to alternative eating styles and possibly to meet with a psychologist or psychotherapist. Having this support and guidance can help. Also, for many of us, it may be useful to view food abuse as a powerful addiction – as a dependency and to locate a professional who can work with us from that perspective. Only you know how problematic food is for you and only you can evaluate the degree to which you are dependent upon food and whether or not you should seek professional help.

You are worth taking care of!

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